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San Juan Island’s Best Hidden Beaches

driftwood piled up on a beach

A stay here on the San Juan Island is not complete without a few visits to some of our scenic beaches. We may not be able to boast the warmest beaches or salty water perfect for swimming. But our beaches are perfect for long walks, picnics, whale watching, reading or enjoying a fresh cup of locally roasted coffee while listening to the endless rhythm of the waves. A few of our larger, more popular beaches host many visitors during the summer months. They are never crowded, even on the warmest of days. If you are in search of a quiet beach a bit off the beaten path, I have a few of San Juan Island’s hidden gems to share with you. Just don’t tell anyone that I’ve spilled the beans on these favorite local hidden beaches!

Granny’s Cove at American Camp

This sandy shored little beach is nestled below the cliffs that line the south western side of San Juan Island at the historical American Camp. Surrounded on three sides by rocky hills this beach has incredible views over Haro strait out to the Olympic mountains. Not to mention, a smattering of driftwood along it’s edges make this private beach a perfect spot for a romantic picnic, a morning alone wrapped in a blanket reading or a summer afternoon of sun bathing with friends.

At low tide, more of the beach is exposed. Only the brave at heart attempt a quick swim in the chilly, protected waters of this little cove. To get here park in the American Camp lot and follow the trail toward the ocean. A small sign pointing to Granny’s Cove will lead you in the right direction. There are also many beautiful small trails worth exploring that follow the coast line all the way to South Beach a mile or so south.

Reuben Tart Park near Roche Harbor

This small beach is only a few miles from Roche Harbor Resort on the island’s northern end. It is chillier and more protected from the sun than beaches on the West and South side of the island. The small cove at Rueben Tart is open to the cold, strong currents of the San Juan Channel. It’s perfect for salmon fishing at certain times of the year. You can also launch small boats from the shore here. Experienced paddle boarders and kayakers often use this beach as their starting points. The views here are not to missed, just don’t forget your jacket! To get here, take Rouleau road (off of Roche Harbor road), turn right onto Limestone Cove road and curve right at the yield sign.

“Sea Glass Beach” at Cattle Point

This unofficially named beach is at San Juan Island’s most southerly tip just past the Cattle Point light house. Slightly protected from the strong currents of Cattle Pass, this little beach has soft sand and gets great sun in the summer. This is a good beach for children too as it has a nice mix of sand, driftwood, and skipping rocks. It’s a great place to search for sea glass, small pieces of glass rubbed smooth by ocean water and sand. At low tide this beach is good for wading. To get here just follow the small path to the left of the parking area at the Cattle Point Lighthouse.

Eagle Cove Beach near American Camp

red chair on san juan island This beach is a true local’s favorite and is a very well-guarded secret amongst islanders! In the summer months, this is one of the few island beaches that is seen as “crowded”. Island families and children spend many low tides playing in the sand and swimming in the (barely) warm water. The path leading down to the cove is a bit long and uphill heading back! But it’s worth it as this is one of the only beaches that could be considered a “swimming hole”.

At high tide, the waves reach up to the where the driftwood lies and just a small section of pebbly beach is above the water line. But during low tide the beach triples in size as the sand flats are exposed. The water stays shallow during low tide and has had time to warm up. This makes it one of the few beaches where swimming and splashing in the waves is actually possible. To get here take Eagle Cove road off of Cattle Point road.

After a Day of Exploring, Relax with us at the Harrison House Suites

When you stay at the Harrison House Suites, our team will gladly share our favorite beaches with you as well! We love sending our guests on adventures around the island. Call us today and ask us about our winter specials.


Courtney ~ Local Blogger for the San Juan Island Inn Collection

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