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Decatur Island is in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.


Decatur Island is located just east of Lopez Island across Lopez Sound and just south of Blakely Island across Thatcher Pass. Named by the Wilkes Expedition in 1841 for naval officer Stephen Decatur, it is 3.524 square miles (9.127 km²) in area.

There are no public facilities other than one public boat ramp on the north side of the island.

Get in[edit]

By boat[edit]

There is no Washington State Ferries service to Decatur; access is by private boat or plane. The airport on Decatur Island is private, for residents of the Decatur Shores community only. All other persons wishing to use the airport must obtain prior permission from the community.

By water taxi[edit]

Paraclete Charter Service and Island Express Charters provide passenger-only ferry service to Decatur from Anacortes. If you use the Decatur parking lot, you need to have a guest parking pass or a piece of paper with your host's name. Northwest Sky Ferry provides air service from Bellingham, Washington.

Get around[edit]

Cars are not allowed on Decatur Northwest except for golf carts and one or two trucks the owners have given an okay to. Outside of that, the island is open to cars (though it might be difficult to get yours up there). If you need it, you can ask the community center to use the truck or one of the golf carts.


James Island as seen from the Quillayute River
  • James Island State Park. is just to the east of the island this 113-acre marine camping and moorage park with 12,335 feet of saltwater shoreline on Rosario Strait. The park features a beautiful western view of the San Juan islands from a high bluff along the loop trail. The Wilkes Expedition named the island in 1841 to honor the earlier heroism of an American sailor, Reuben James. The federal government acquired the island and transferred it to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission in 1964. James Island has 13 campsites at three locations on the island. The Water Trail Site is on a hill above a pocket cove of the West Cove and has three campsites (sites 11-13) and a pit toilet. These campsites are part of the Cascadia Marine Trail and are strictly reserved for use by boats arriving by human- or wind-powered watercraft. The Saddle Area spans from the West Cove shoreline across the island to the East Cove. There are six campsites (sites 5-10), a picnic shelter and two picnic sites, composting toilet facilities, pay station and moorage dock. A trail leads to the East Cove where there are four offshore mooring buoys. The loop trail system starts and ends here. The bottom structure at the West Cove is rocky and steeply sloped. It is not a good anchorage site. The East Cove campground is a short walk from the Saddle area and has four campsites (sites 1-4), one pit toilet, bulletin board and pay station. From here, the loop trail leads southwest to the Water Trail campsites on the southwest side of the West Cove. Boaters moored in the East Cove are exposed to wakes from boat traffic in Rosario Strait. -There is no potable water on the island and no garbage service. Visitors need to pack-out what they pack-in. Boats may not use dinghies to reserve moorage space on the dock or buoys. Campers and boaters must self register and pay fees at the bulletin board/pay station.
  • Decatur itself has astonishing natural beauty, and even just hiking or walking around can provide entertainment for hours.


  • Decatur has a nine hole rustic golf course. The golf course is private but welcomes all players, furnishing clubs and balls for your use. A donation is suggested to help defray operating costs.
  • There are tennis and basketball courts located in Decatur Northwest (near the community gardens on Thatcher Pass), which are open to use, but are used by tennis camps in late July and early August.
  • The Bill Baker Lecture Series, which is held twice annually (July 4th and Labor Day weekend) and provides lectures on a variety of topics.
  • There's a model pirate ship you can climb on, located on Decatur Head road, past the schoolhouse.


  • Decatur Island Farmers Market. From Memorial Day to Labor Day there is a Farmer's Market each Saturday on the school grounds.


Eline Saglik Cafe, which is located on 641 Decatur Head Dr, and has a lot of cinnamon rolls, lemonade, and lunch specials, is the only restaurant on the island.



There's no hotels on the island (though as of July 2020 there are two Airbnbs, one of which is above Alma's Country Store) - if you're wanting to sleep, you might have to catch a ride to nearby Lopez Island, which has a lot of inns and cottages you can rent. Alternatively, you might want to come up with someone who lives there.


Cell service is definitely a little spotty and varies depending on where you are. The Country Store has wi-fi, but you might have to ask to get in.

Go next[edit]

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