Sucia Island State Park - Washington

US National Parks and Monuments Travel Guide:

Park Overview

Sucia Island State Park is a 564-acre marine park with 77,700 feet of shoreline. Sucia Island is considered the crown jewel of the state's marine park system. It is consistently ranked as one of the top boating destinations in the world. Sucia Island and several smaller island comprise the "Sucia group."


The coastal Salish tribes of North America occupied this area for thousands of years. There is evidence from archaeological surveys that Sucia Island was used by Native Americans for more than 2,500 years. Deer, shellfish, fish, marine mammals, plants and herbs were harvested seasonally.

Europeans came to the island when the 1791 Elisa Expedition sailed into the area in search of the fabled Northwest Passage. The Spaniards named the island Sucia which meant foul or dirty in a nautical sense. This was in reference to the many rocks and reefs which "fouled" or "dirtied" the waters around the island. During the 1800s, white settlers homesteaded on the island, but their land claims were not legitimate because the island had been declared a Federal Lighthouse Reserve after the "Pig War" between England and the U.S.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission acquired about one-third of the island in 1952. Later, developers wanted to parcel up the remainder of the island into vacation lots. Seattle yachtsman Everett (Ev) Henry spearheaded a drive to raise money to purchase the island from developers. The Interclub (now incarnated as the Recreational Boaters Association of Washington) was formed and $25,000 was raised to purchase the land. In 1960, that land was donated to State Parks for use as a marine park. State Parks acquired the remaining parcels of private property in 1972, and Sucia Island in its entirety was a state marine park.

Interpretive opportunities

There are currently no interpretive opportunities at this park.

Physical Features

Sucia Island's geological formations are stunning for both the casual visitor and the trained geologist. This horseshoe shaped island with long, finger-like peninsulas and islands is a classic example of a formation called a plunging marine syncline.


Orcas, WA


Located in San Juan County.

The park is accessible only by boat. There is no commercial ferry service to the island. Sucia Island is 2.5 miles north of Orcas Island. The closest access points are Obstruction Pass on Orcas Island, Point Roberts, Blaine Harbor, Anacortes, and Squallicum Harbor in Bellingham.

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