Sucia, in the San Juan Islands



Information: Sucia Island State Park is a 564-acre marine park with 77,700 feet of shoreline. Sucia Island is considered the crown jewel of the C C C state's marine park system. It is consistently ranked as one of the top C C boating destinations in the world. Sucia Island and several smaller C C C island comprise the "Sucia group."

Access: Boat access only. Sucia Island is 2.5 miles north of Orcas Island. The closest access points are Obstruction Pass on Orcas Island, Point C Roberts, Blaine Harbor, Anacortes, and Squallicum Harbor in Bellingham. For landing choices, see below.

Comments:C A short distance on water is like a long journey on land. C C Those who live on islands can attest to that seeming anomaly. And C C C those who cruise, even for a weekend, will surely agree. Folks living in C C Washington and having access to a boat have a perfect opportunity to "get away from it all,' and the only requirements are a little imagination, a C change of attitude, and will to do. The marine state parks are a perfect C C getaway.

Caution: Sucia is the Spanish word for foul or dirty (in a nautical sense). It was named by the 1791 Elisa Expedition and refers to the numerous C C rocks and reefs which surround the island. These threats have C C C C C grounded and sunk numerous boats since the exlorers named the C C C island in the 1790s. Boaters should check their charts frequently and pay particular attention to Clements Reef on the north shore of Sucia, the entrances to Ewing Cove, Fox Cove and Shallow Bay. There is a long reef which extends to the west of Little Sucia Island. Reefs also extend outward from Ev Henry Point, North and South Finger islands and the Cluster Islands.




CC There are many choices faced by the cruiser on Sucia -- do you tie to a dock, swing on a mooring buoy or anchor? Depending on your preference, you could visit Sucia from any of a number of places:

CC1.Shallow Bay: eight buoys, campsites, hiking trails, picnic shelter

CC2. Fox Cove: four buoys, campsites, hiking trail

CC3. Fossil Bay: sixteen buoys, two docks with 600 feet of docking space, twenty-five campsites, drinking water

CC4. Snoring Bay: two buoys, two campsites, hiking trail

CC5. Ewing Cove: four buoys, three campsites, hiking trail

CC6. Echo Bay: fourteen buoys, campsites, hiking trail

A Little History

C C Sucia has been home for Native Americans for more than 2,500 years. Deer, shellfish, fish, marine mammals, plants and herbs were harvested seasonally.

CC Europeans came to the island when sailed into the area in search of the fabled Northwest Passage inj the 1790's. During the 1800s, white settlers homesteaded on the island, but their land claims were not legitimate until after the "Pig War" between England and the U.S (see park).

CC The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission acquired about one-third of the island in 1952. Later, developers wanted to parcel up the remainder of the island into vacation lots. Seattle yachtsman Everett (Ev) Henry spearheaded a drive to raise money to purchase the island from developers. The Interclub (now incarnated as the Recreational Boaters Association of Washington) was formed and $25,000 was raised to purchase the land. In 1960, that land was donated to State Parks for use as a marine park. State Parks acquired the remaining parcels of private property in 1972, and Sucia Island in its entirety is now a state marine park.

Change of Attitude

CC Folks have often commented that they would love to do the long-distance cruising that we do. "If only we were retired, like you two." We understand that feeling, but sometimes it is said more from a yearning than a reality. "If only ..." may fit into the category, "someday" that we have also often heard from folks. Do you have to be retired to enjoy a cruise on your boat?

C C Some folks try to fit a long-distance cruise into the short time period they have available. "We have a two week vacation, live in southern California, and would like to take our boat up the Inside Passage from Washington to Alaska to see a glacier. Can we do it?" says the e-mail. "Well, not likely," we answer. We ponder the implication of the question. Do you have to travel a long distance to have an enjoyable cruise?

C C Do you have to be retired or travel a long distance to enjoy a cruise on a small boat? Our answer to such questions, regarding time or distance, is the same -- NO!

CC "What's the purpose of your cruising?" we ask. Is the goal of a cruise merely to say you've been to Alaska? Or do you want to have a relaxing experience on the water? We believe you don't need a lot of time or make a lot of distance to have a fine time with a cruise -- all you need is a change of attitude.

Change of Latitude

C C The old Jimmy Buffet song about changing attitude with a change of latitude got it mostly right, we think. We would merely add that the change could also be in longitude -- and that neither lat. nor long. need change very much.

CC Our son Brad, and his son, Bryce from Tucson are seasoned travelers on Halcyon. We four cruised in Alaska together for five weeks the summer of 2006. They joined us again in summer 2007 for some cruising in the San Juan Islands of Washington. They definitely changed latitude to come cruising with us, but that change was with a car. Once they parked their car, we only changed a few miles of lat/long with them aboard Halcyon.

CC Friends on Daydream and R-Matey joined the four of us for a weekend -- they merely changed a little latitude, since they live nearby. We all decided to share a weekend cruise only a few miles from the launch. We headed for Sucia Island.

A Walk Ashore

CC There's nothing like a walk on an island. The distance you can travel is bounded by water, and what you see seems like a world unto itself. Everything you see seems to be in sharper focus and, if you adopt the concept of island time, you have the time freedom to enjoy those sights, smells, sounds, and textures.

Care to Take a Walk With Me?


CC We love art (even co-authored a book on Art and Geology). In our former life, a favorite activity was giving a slide talk to University Art Classes. The photos were geological subjects (some photomicrographs) with no indication of scale or subject. Students were instructed, "Use your senses and your appreciation of color and texture. Don't use any left-brain conclusions as to what you are looking at -- just enjoy the beauty." Now, do this on your walk ashore on Sucia Island. Try it!



CC Sculpture is an art form we find particularly appealing -- imaginative, graceful, challenging. Nature abounds with marvelous sculptures, more exciting to discover than walking through a gallery, in our opinion. Let's take a stroll on Sucia, looking for sculptures.


CC Sucia Island's geological formations are stunning for both the casual visitor and the professional geologist. This horseshoe shaped island with long, finger-like peninsulas and islands is a classic example of folded rocks forming plunging marine anticlines (upfolds) and synclines (downfolds).


CC Our lives, today, are molded from our past. For years we taught adult education classes cooperatively with a good friend, a botanist. He opened our eyes to the excitement and beauty of botany, and we took university classes from him to gain more understanding of the field. Now let's stroll Sucia with botanic eyes:





CC Wildlife is harder to observe. Critters (except slugs and caterpillars) often don't hang around to be watched. But they watch us, and it's exciting to see them.




CC Now, after our walk, we have built up an appetite. Care for some grilled fresh Copper River Salmon?


CC Cruising is often as much about people as nature, and the best cruises combine both. On this weekend to Sucia, we shared the experience with family and friends.






Shared Times



Quiet Times


CC We hope these pictures have illustrated that you don't need to be retired or even have more time off than a weekend to have a wonderful time aboard. And you certainly don't have to go far from your homeport to see, experience and share a relaxing and enjoyable cruise.

Sunset Sucia

(06 - 07)

Top | Home