1 Mile in Watmough Bay (Lopez Island, WA)
DATE OF SWIM: 7/7/20
Featuring turquoise blue waters at the cove, a secret beach, grassy peninsula climb and giant kelp beds
Lopez Island: The Beautiful San Juans
A little over two years ago, I visited Lopez Island (WA) for the first time. Lopez Island is one of the San Juan Islands, an agricultural land of rocky coastline that reminds me of a temperate Maine. I spent a week farming on Midnight's Farm, a farm specializing in heritage pork and Murray Grey beef. Midnight's Farm also has a yoga studio, greenwaste compost business, and bakery on site (Barn Owl Bakery). I fell in love with Lopez then and always planned to return. When I visited Lopez then, I didn't swim once. I wasn't a long distance open water swimmer then.
My boyfriend and I decided to plan a trip a few months ago to visit Lopez (socially distant, of course) and hike, swim and kayak. Coming to Lopez now with so much swimming under my (eh, swimsuit?), I knew I would view the land with completely different eyes. So many coves! So many little islands to swim around! So much water! And apparently Ned Denison thinks the same.
When I first visited Lopez Island, one of my favorite spots was Watmough Bay. It's a gorgeous bay in the south end of Lopez, past the little general store (the only grocery store on this side of the island). You get to Watmough Bay by walking directly down a short path (that's surprisingly very handicap accessible too, I always appreciate this) that opens up to remarkable views of Mount Baker on a clear day. Vacationing in Lopez this time around, I knew I'd want to swim the bay.
First, my boyfriend and I scoped out the area and did a short coastal hike on the route that we would swim the next day. Then, our first official full day of vacation, we headed out from the bay to the little grassy peninsula overlooking Boulder Island. The swim was about a mile total (out and back). We passed giant kelp, but no lions manes. The water was cooler than Alki Beach in Seattle. For me, it's always a challenge swimming in new, unknown water. I don't know where there are rocks, what lurks beneath, what the tides are like. For our first time swimming in this area, 1/2 a mile out and back was plenty. I definitely felt nervous at moments, but I felt safer with my boyfriend by my side.
Climbing onto the grassy peninsula overlooking Boulder Island in our swim booties, I felt free and powerful.
A Swimmer's Paradise
My boyfriend and I are now dreaming of moving to Lopez Island after spending another week there. I imagine regular swims around Blind Island, Castle Island, all of the islands! The San Juans are truly an open waters swimmer's paradise.