Lopez Island Things to Do
The San Juan Islands are famous for Orca sightings. Local pods live around the area, and there are even web sites that track sightings. Because of this, Whale Watching is a popular activity.We watched them from the shore (with binoculars), where I took the picture that shows (if viewed enlarged) the boat tours that chase the whales around. It doesn't seem like a very nice thing to do to the whales - chase them around in a power boat, but if you want an up close view, I guess it's that or a kayak : )
Lopez Island has beautiful sand and rock beaches. It's a rock collector's dream. One afternoon we kayaked to a beach and probably spent an hour wandering around with our heads down looking for the coolest rocks.
The picture shows some rocks and baby crabs, but I took the picture because of the crabs. There are much prettier rocks : )
Visit the Farmer's Market
The Farmer's Market is held in Lopez Village, the main retail area on the island from May / June through September. Merchants sell fruits & veggies, meat & fish, and arts and crafts. My favorites were the lady selling beaded serving utensils, a few pottery stands, and, as shown in the picture - fudge! Free tastes! I was so full. The chocolate, coconut walnut was the best, with peanut butter a close second.
Lopez Island Restaurants
Vita's Wildly Delicious Gourmet ... To Go: Gourmet to Go (or stay)
Vita's has a deli case with delicious take-away items and a selection of baked goods on the counter. We had a snack of curry chicken salad, broccoli salad and a corn muffin/pancake item. They also sell dinner items that you take home an warm up, and have a nice selection of wine at quite reasonable prices.
While mostly designed for take-away, there is a little bar in the shop for your snack, and they have a few picnic tables outside.
Lopez Island Transportation
Lopez Island Ferry Terminal
There really isn't much to this ferry terminal. It has a small terminal building, and passengers are given a head start to walk up the ramp before auto traffic chases after them. There is no real community within walking distance of the ferry terminal, as the community locations were developed before people drove everywhere, and instead walked directly to smaller boats. With automobiles now dominant, the communities on the island have little direct transport to the outside world, and instead people drive to the ferry, but there is not enough demand to create a new community at the ferry terminal here.
Kenmore Air offers seaplane flights to and from Lopez Island (along with other locations in and around the Puget Sound) from Lake Union, just north of downtown Seattle. It's a huge time saver ~ 35 minutes vs. the ~ 3 hours it takes to drive up to Anacortes and take the ferry. But you do pay for the convenience. Sometimes fares are available for $75 each way ($150 rt), but can be as much as $225 round trip.
Along with providing transportation between locations, Kenmore Air also offers sight-seeing flights.
Washington State Ferry
The most common way to get to the Island is by Ferry. The Anacortes Terminal, about 2 hours north of Seattle, has a large car Ferry servicing Lopez Island, along with ferries serving the other San Juan Islands. You can drive your car or motorcycle onto the ferry, or walk-on. The ferry terminal in Lopez, however, is far from town, so if you walk on, you will need someone to pick you up when you arrive.
You pay west-bound (to the island) only. I've heard that as long as you are a walk-on, you don't pay to go between islands, either. Some of the islands ferry terminals are near town, so this may be a good adventure.
Lopez Island Local Customs
When driving outside of the village, it's customary to wave at other drivers you meet on the road. A wave typically consists of raising your hand (or in some cases, a finger) off the steering while while driving. A full, homecoming queen parade wave is not required.