Jones Island Marine State Park is an island located just west of the southwest tip of Orcas Island in the beautiful San Juan Islands. It is only accessible by private watercraft but is easily reached via kayak from Deer Harbor. There are two campites, one on the north cove and one on the south cove. Winds can make for an unpleasant visit if you end up on the wrong side so check the weather before you pick a side. There are plenty of trails around the island to explore and beautiful views of the other islands and the sunset. Raccoons can be a problem if you are unprepared and leave food out or in a non-raccoon proof container so be sure to secure your food.
Raccoons. However you get to Jones Island make sure that you have a way to guard your food from the raccoons. Simple tarps and/or dry bags are usually not enough. Although the last time I visited there were fewer of these pesky creatures than previous years, be prepared for a night time visit.
The island has three access points. The southern cove has buoys, anchorage, and an easy beach to land on. There are reservable three sided shelters along an open field and campsites scattered about. My favorite sites on the south side are out on the western point. There are two Cascade Marine Trail sites on the western side of the island for man and wind powered beachable watercraft only. If I'm kayaking or canoeing to Jones these are my favorites. The beach is rockier and at lower tides be aware of rocks. The northern cove has more buoys and a dock. I usually opt for the campsites above the beach on the eastern side if I'm arriving to Jones from the north.
Jones is easily accessible from San Juan, Orcas, and Shaw islands and is a decent paddle/sail from the outer islands which makes is a popular destination in the summer. Summer camp groups and expedition companies often use the island as well so arriving earlier in the day during peak season is a good idea.
There are trails looping the different sections of the island all of which are fairly moderate.
Best Sunset view in the San Juan Islands off the most SW side of Jones. I have seen orcas 300 feet away from the fire ring fishing off the eddylines. Seals often gather here to feed and play in the eddy. I have even seen humpback whales near the location from sea kayak.
I led commercial 4 day camping trips here twice a year for 4 yrs. Avg group size was 8 people and two instructors. This place is near the wasp islands. Its a great place to basecamp or use to help break up longer trips. Everyone generally enjoys the views and wild deer. Its the easiest place to have large groups but also is quite which is key for me. Most the island is paddle in only but does have a place for boats on the north cove.
There is also a group shelter with several picnic tables under the shelter in an apple field on the south end of the island. We found this field to be really nice for larger groups over 8.
Nice hiking trail around the island for day hiking and even potential whale watching. The deer will often feed almost from your hands and are generally very small.
This island is about a mile west of the south shore of Orcas Island. It is a very popular island to camp on because it can facilitate large groups, so there are often kayaking companies out with their clients. The north cove offers many mooring buoys, individual and group camping sites (reservable), as well as a large dock that can accommodate many boats. The south cove has a few mooring buoys, a lot of campsites, and a few Adirondack shelters with 4 bunks (reservable), but no dock. We found site 16 on the south side one of the best because it was far away to the east from the rest of the camping area and offered amazing views of the cove and San Juan Chanel, it also had a really short gear schlep because you can pull your boat up really close to the campsite on the eastside of the rock in the middle of the cove. Both North and South camping areas have very well maintained composting toilets and potable water, but no electricity.
The west side has the Cascadia Marine Trail sites, which are only for use for people who have paddled or sailed a small boat to the island, this is the most intimate camping area on the island, and offers the best sunset views. This is a great option, if you paddle up and find There are at least 2 campsites here which can accommodate up to 8 people. There is a very well maintained composting toilet but water is about a half mile walk to the other camping areas.
Cost: $12 /night