Stuart Island Marine Park is another of our favorites in the San Juan Islands. The park encompasses two excellent harbors (Reid Harbor to the south and Prevost Harbor to the north) and 85 acres of land between the harbors. There are numerous buoys in each harbor and room to anchor. Each harbor has a dock for small boats and for landing your dinghy.
Stuart Island satisfies all five of our “family friendly” criteria.
1. Not accessible by ferries, shuttles, or cars.
2. Easily and safely reached in a small boat.
3. Safe for anchoring or for tying to a buoy or dock.
4. Multiple opportunities for fun activities for everyone.
5. Preserves the natural setting while making it possible for thousands of people to enjoy the natural beauty.
Stuart Island is located north of San Juan Island at the north end of Haro Strait. The weather is typical for the San Juan Islands, with prevailing summer winds from the N.W.. The most popular times to visit are July and August. Before Memorial Day and after Labor Day the crowds drop off and in May and September there will be empty buoys and room at the docks, especially on week-days. Entry and exit into the harbors is easy but there are charted reefs and rocks near each entry so take care and watch your location. (Do not enter or exit Prevost Harbor at the east end.)
There are numerous activities for families. Crabbing is good in both harbors and there’s good clamming in Reid Harbor when the season is open. The harbors are perfect for kayaking and on warm summer days the kids can go swimming. (It’s best at high tide after the water has come up over the warm gravel.) The trails are great and the walk to Turn Point sometimes ends up being the high point of a San Juan Islands trip. (We have spent hours watching Orca pods swim by in the Haro Strait currents on their way to Goergia Strait and Point Roberts.)
Between Prevost Harbor and Reid Harbor there are campsites, fresh water spigots, and composting toilets in outhouses. The loop trails around the campsites have nice views of each harbor. One trail goes west through the woods and intersects with the road at the schoolhouse. It is a shortcut to the Turn Point Lighthouse that eliminates walking down the stairs to the Reid Harbor beach and then back up the hill on the county.
Reid Harbor is larger than Prevost Harbor and has several small floating docks detached from the shore. However, the floats may not be suitable for deep draft vessels at low tide. There is a floating pump out station in the harbor. Reid Harbor also has a large public beach with good clamming when the season is open. There is a campground next to the beach and a county road ends at the beach and leads to the small schoolhouse, the cemetery, and all the way to the Turn Point Lighthouse. Its a very nice walk.
Prevost Harbor is very scenic with fewer buoys and less protected anchoring. The current runs though the harbor and can cause anchored boats to swing erratically. There is a county dock at the west end of the harbor. The county road that runs from there to Turn Point. (The walk to Turn Point is considerably shorter if you land your dinghy on the shore near the county dock.) There are nice campsites in the woods that overlook Prevost Harbor.