Written by Lindsey Smith
I couldn’t believe after two years on the island I had yet to visit the infamous Wescott Bay Shellfish Co. As a lover of most shellfish and a trier-of-anything-once, I decided I couldn’t let another San Juan summer go by without making a visit.
As a photographer for Coho Restaurant Catering, I am often fortunate enough to photograph the beautiful shellfish sourced from Wescott Bay. Chefs Tim, Ryan and Anna Maria will fire-grill the mussels, clams, and/or oysters for gourmet barbecues held at gorgeous waterfront venues. Last week, my grandparents made a one-day visit from Minnesota. Grandma was eager to experience some local Pacific Northwest shellfish. Grandpa has been skeptical of shellfish ever since it made him sick decades back.
I decided the time had come. We would make the trip out to Wescott Bay and hope for the best!
Visiting the Farm
After a 15-20 minute drive out of downtown Friday Harbor to the northwest side of San Juan Island, we approached several helpful wooden signs directing us to “Oysters.” We parked in their gravel lot and walked down the grassy path through what looked like a beautiful waterfront venue. There was a rustic “Net Shed” on the water with sandy floors and string lights.
Further down the path we approached the main event. There were several community-style picnic tables to have a shellfish lunch on site. Their staff had a large grill fired up to prepare grilled oysters and teach visitors how to barbeque them at home. Next we saw the impressive ice chests, labeled with the different shellfish species that were being farmed and harvested just steps away in Wescott Bay. The staff provides you with gloves, metal buckets, to-go bags, and scales so you can take your pick of oysters, mussels, and clams. Not to mention getting the experience of plunging your arm into 50 degree water while searching for the perfect oyster.
Summer (May 17 thru September 1): The farm is open to the public six days a week 11am-5pm. They are closed on Tuesdays. Closed Labor Day.
Off Season (September thru May): During their off-season, the farm is open Saturdays from 12pm -3pm. There is no indoor seating, so dress accordingly in inclement weather! (They usually have a fire going on most cold/rainy days, and the table umbrellas keep you fairly dry).
Summer Season: Wednesdays thru Mondays. Closed on Tuesdays.
Retail Sales: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Lunch: 11:00am – 3:30pm (picnic-style at communal tables)
Winter Season: Saturdays only, 12-3:00
Barbecued oysters: During the summer season they barbecue oysters weekdays and Sundays from 11-3:30. Saturdays is shuck-your-own raw oysters (plus all of their regular picnic fare).
Boat: 20-foot maximum, bow- tie-only
Car: Park in the lot at the entrance, and walk to the farm via the field trail
Hike: You can hike in from English Camp on the National Park trail; 1 mile each way
- Oysters $16-$18/dozen (depending on size)
- Clams/Mussels $9/lb
- Ice provided for take-away shellfish.
Enjoying Shellfish During your Stay
During your stay at the Harrison House Suites or Tucker House Inn, it’s only a car or cab ride away to experience local shellfish on site at Wescott Bay Shellfish Co., or pick some to go and grill them on your suite’s private grill! If you want to enjoy the farm’s shellfish, but don’t want to do the preparing, visit the San Juan Island Inn Collection’s dining house, Coho Restaurant, who’s seasonal menu often sources from our friends at Wescott Bay as well.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about Grandpa, he devoured it all that day. He’s back in the shellfish game.