When I think of all the island I’ve explored that are part of the San Juan Island group, I never gave much attention to Lummi Island. Mainly due to its close proximity to the mainland. It’s a short paddle across the channel. But I shouldn’t. When Jason suggested we spend a weekend exploring this place I did realize that this island like its sibling island is full of beauty, charm and a ruggedness that make you forget all about the mainland.
The island is accessible by a 22 car ferry, the Whatcom Chief run by Whatcom County Public Works. It is a 6 minute passage from Gooseberry Point on the mainland to the island. On the island there is one general store, two restaurants, several bed and breakfasts, a small library, post office, fire station, one church, a Boys & Girls club, a Salvation Army camp, and a vintage 1919 elementary school.
Little islands are all large prisons: one cannot look at the sea without wishing for the wings of a swallow. – Richard Burton
The island was originally called Sa nam a o (“High Mountain”) and Skallaham by the native people. In 1792 Spanish explorers dubbed it Isla de Pacheco, and it was later known as McLoughlin Island. In 1853, the U.S. National Geodetic Survey charted the island as Lummi, naming it after the tribe. It is believed the name comes from luminara, referring to the bonfires the Spanish saw upon arrival and whence the tribe also took their name, though there are also theories that it is derived from a native word or phrase. The Island post office came into existence in 1882. At that time mail was addressed to “Beach Washington” which was the name of the town. Today Island mail is addressed to “Lummi Island Washington”, though the Beach School and Beach Store Cafe retain the Beach community name.