Grandmother’s Cove on San Juan Island

by Maggie Lesoing
(San Juan Island, Washington)

Grandmother’s Cove on San Juan Island, Washington state, is my favorite beach! It’s the quintessential beach for all the right reasons -- lovely clean sand, hardly any people, privacy, it’s great for building sand castles (hey, I’ve got kids!), and sometimes you even see whales from there. How can you top that?



Another great plus is that it’s off the proverbial beaten path. You park up at the American Camp Historical Park Visitor Center and follow the path through the gate down to a trail that meanders across the grasslands and finally slopes down a sandy walkway onto the beach. It’s steep at the end there, so be careful!


Nothing is ‘developed’ here, no benches or bathrooms or snack bars, just a long stretch of sandy beach framed between two rocky arms with great tide pools and climbing opportunities. Driftwood logs are piled up along the bluff and makes for the most comfortable seating a beach can provide. Seals and river otters often swim along the shoreline, but it takes a sharp eye to catch a glimpse.


Spend your time walking along the waterline looking for rocks and empty shells or sparkling pieces of beach glass. Or, just lie back and work on your tan, sunscreen optional.

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