About Samish Island

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.

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 at the Community Center. The center is also available for rent by individuals for private or public gatherings.

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.

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

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. 

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. Geologically speaking, Samish Island consists of 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 as seen in the photo. 

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 1930s 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. 

Samish Bay is the site of several oyster growing operations.

Crabs, clams, salmon, oysters & bottom fish love the waters of the bays and provide residents and fishermen with an in-season catch. Eelgrass along the muddy bottom forms an excellent habitat. Seals visit year-round. Blue herons and the year-round eagle and hawk population are a joy for bird-watchers.