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About Samish Island

Last update: February 14, 2021

Autumns arrival

Community | Location & Geography | Geology | Marine Environment | Recreation | Camps | Maps & Driving Directions Page | History Page | Services Page| Photo Gallery Page

The Samish Island website is a community page, serving new & established residents, visitors, and others interested in western Skagit County.


Samish Island is a residential island community in Skagit County, Washington, between Anacortes and Chuckanut Drive. It has limited services and small businesses.

There is no "island center" or town with coffee shops, small shops, or other social places. We are about 15-25 miles from anywhere. View the various services on the island.

Residents are a mix of working people, retired people, young families, small business owners, small and large landowners, and many summer residents. There are approximately 480 houses on the island. The population grows on weekends and in the summer.

Island residents gather several times a year for potluck dinners and the Community Center. The Center is also available for rental by individuals for private or public gatherings. Fees vary from free (with board approval) to $125, depending on residency and purpose.

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Location and Geography


Samish Island looking east toward the mainland, from Point William, 2009

Samish Island is located off the northwest coast of Washington State. In the past it was an island, but has been connected to the mainland by a dike since the 1930's. View the maps page.

Samish Island is informally considered one of the "inner San Juan islands", along with

Guemes, Eliza, Vendovi, Lummi, Cypress, Sinclair, and other small islands to the east of the larger San Juan Islands.

Island size: 3.56 miles x 1 mile, measured from Point Williams to Scott Point, and Point Williams to Kirby Spit respectively.

Map coordinates are 48°34'34"N, 122°32' 23"W.

Samish island was part of the ancestral homelands of the Samish Tribe, a Coast Salish group of the Pacific Northwest.

Samish River Basin map, small
Click map to enlarge

The island is located on the estuary of the Samish River which enters Samish Bay and Alice Bay on the southeast side of the island.

Samish is located on the rainfall map in the 30-40" zone. It is in garden zone 7B, with average minimum temperature of 5-10°. Some protected areas of the island are in gardening zone 8. One household grows a banana tree, with winter protection.

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Geologically speaking, Samish Island is really two small rocky islands. Glaciers piled millions of tons of sand and gravel on top of them, making them higher and wider, and connecting them with a narrow ridge of sand (tombolo) to produce Samish Island's distinctive hourglass shape. View the tombolo in this picture.

Sea levels were much higher after the glaciers melted, so for thousands of years the Samish Flats were flooded, and Padilla Bay and Samish Bay together formed one very large bay with Samish Island in the middle.

As recently as 1887, according to maps made by the U.S. Navy, Samish Island was separated from the flats by a slough or salt marsh. Dikes and drainage ditches were built to create more farmland. By the 1930's the connection was dry between the island the mainland.

Samish island is generally considered part of the Nanaimo Formation. This formation is much younger than the other terranes in the San Juan Islands and consequently is much less deformed. Read more about the general geologic history of the islands at the Anacortes Kayak Tours web site.

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Marine Environment:

Samish Bay is the site of several oyster growing operations: Blau Oyster, Taylor Shellfish farms along Chuckanut Drive, and several small oyster growers along the shorelines of Samish Island. Check the businesses page for links.

crab iconCrabs, clams, salmon, oysters & bottom fish love the waters of the bays, and provide residents and fishermen with in-season catch. Eel grass along the muddy bottom forms an excellent habitat. Seals visit all year long on the hunt club island. The resident blue heron colony and the year-round eagle and hawk population are a joy for bird-watchers.

Large container ships, tankers, and tugs are also part of our marine environment in Samish Bay. Read more about them in an article by a marine lawyer.

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heron iconThe island has several recreation facilities: The Samish Island Playground and Tennis Court; walking and biking on (fairly narrow, no-shoulder) roads. The DNR/Skagit County Park is day use only.

In addition, there is a watsu pool (private, by appointment), a bird watcher's group, and other recreation groups on the island. View the groups page, or the Samish Shore Lines for more information on various activities of recreational interest. More things to do in the area of Samish Island.


Camp Kirby watercolor from an island watercolor workshop

There are two camps on the island, Camp Kirby at the west end of the island, owned by Camp Fire Samish, and "Camp Samish" (Samish Island Campground) at the east end of the island on Scott Road, owned by Community of Christ. Each may be available for rentals to non-profit groups.

Camps are not open to the public, except by invitation at particular events.

Camp Samish
Camp Samish (Samish Island Campground) is private property. There is a county road going north/south at the east end of the camp off Scott Road which was originally intended for beach access, but is now overgrown. Beach walking at low tide is generally acceptable.
camp samish west
Camp Samish (Samish Island Campground), looking southwest at Scott Point.

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