Covering 36 acres on the west side of San Juan Island, Lime Kiln Point State Park is an ideal location for spending a day in nature. Situated on a rocky point overlooking the ocean, the park is popular for viewing wildlife such as whales, porpoises, seals, and otters. Lime Kiln Point State Park is also home to a lighthouse that was constructed in 1919 and still operates as a navigational beacon to ships coming into the Haro Strait. The diverse environment includes a jagged shoreline leading back into wooded uplands, with the lighthouse stretching out as a landmark toward the peaceful water. Enjoy a relaxing day at Lime Kiln Point State Park, and wait until sunset for some truly spectacular views!
How to Spend Your Day at Lime Kiln Point State Park
Picnicking in the Park
Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island is a wonderful place for sprawling out on a blanket with an afternoon or evening picnic. While staying at Tucker House Inn on the island, you can request a special picnic to take with you during your adventure. The Coho Restaurant provides gourmet picnic lunch menus to choose from for your delectable basket. A sample menu includes curried chicken salad on freshly baked brioche, smoked albacore tuna wrap, caprese on freshly baked ciabatta, chips, a freshly baked cookie, seasonal fruit, a side salad, and a non-alcoholic sparkling beverage. You can get all of this for $20 per person.
Touring the Lighthouse
There are plenty of things to see and do at Lime Kiln Point State Park, but one of the focal points is the incredible historic Lime Kiln Lighthouse along the shoreline. The still-working lighthouse is operated by the Friends of Lime Kiln Society (FOLKS) and is open for tours on Thursday and Saturday evenings from 7pm until sunset during mid-May to mid-September. There are also Whale Talks with Dr. Bob Otis on Fridays and Saturdays at 3pm from mid-June to mid-August. The lighthouse also serves as a center for ongoing orca research.
Lime Kiln Point State Park is also known as Whale Watch Park. This is because of the spectacular water views that commonly include whale tails, along with porpoise, otter, seal, and sea lion sightings. Visitors can check the board at the Lime Kiln Lighthouse to see when the whales last passed and which direction they are headed. There is often an on-site naturalist available to answer questions as well. Bring your binoculars to see whales further out in the strait, and keep on the lookout for not just orcas but also Minke whales, Humpback whales, harbor porpoise, and Pacific white-sided dolphins. Even when whales aren’t present, the Olympic Mountains still provide breathtaking scenes over Haro Strait.
Kayaking to Dead Man’s Cove
Dead Man’s Cove in Lime Kiln Point State Park is a secluded bay with a pebble stone beach and tide pools. This is another great space for a picnic in Lime Kiln Point State Park, and the adventurous can kayak to the cove from a point along the shore. The cove is known for a history of smuggling, serving as a hiding spot from the US Customs Department for decades.
There are several hiking trails throughout Lime Kiln Point State Park as well. These routes range from easy to moderate, and the trail to the lighthouse and whale watch overlook is wheelchair accessible. It is just a short hike to the historic lime kilns. The Limekiln Preserve encompassing the waterfront stretch has trails that connect with those in Lime Kiln State Park, creating a series of loops throughout the area. A new trail leads down to Deadman’s Bay, while old roads from the days of lime quarries and kilns are still in operation. Side trails will even take you to these old quarries if you’re looking for an extra adventure.
Tucker House Inn Retreat
After seeing what a morning or evening at Lime Kiln Point State Park has to offer, come back to Tucker House Inn for a luxurious Friday Harbor retreat. You will be able to dine in full at Coho Restaurant after enjoying your earlier picnic lunch and then settle down for a good sleep before waking up to gourmet breakfast. For more to do on San Juan Island, download our free vacation guide!