Turn Island Marine State Park
Turn Island is a kayaker's dream. With its pebble beaches and shoreside campsites, this marine state park is a social destination for the paddling crowd, or a quiet place in the off-season.
After beaching your kayak (or tying up to a mooring buoy and bringing your dinghy ashore), take some time to discover this interesting park.
The island's perimeter trail, best taken counterclockwise, starts in a stand of madrone trees above a rocky beach, where blue herons share space with raccoons. The path goes up and down (trekking poles are recommended), boasting water views around every turn. A field of fuzzy mosses and lichens makes an excellent rest stop before rounding the final bend.
Set up camp on a small butte above the beach (first come, first served), or enjoy some chill time before paddling through the islands. You also can head across the water to the shops and eateries of nearby Friday Harbor.
Turn Island is a 35-acre marine state park in the heart of the San Juan Island chain. The island is part of the San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Accessible only by boat, Turn Island is best reached via Jackson Beach on San Juan Island, or via Anacortes.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns the land, and Washington State Parks manages campsites and restrooms. Therefore, pets or fires are not allowed on this island.
There is no potable water on the island and visitors must pack out what they pack in.
- A recreational license is required for fishing and shellfish harvesting at Washington state parks. For regulations, fishing season information, or to purchase a recreational license, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
- San Juan Islands state park brochure (PDF).
The main area to access the island is on the cove on the northwest harbor. The cove to the west has a reef that extends out from the small island. It is not recommended to use this beach.
this park offers phone in buoy registration
How it works:
- When you arrive at a buoy, call the phone number on the mooring ball.
- Provide your buoy number and length of stay (3 nights maximum).
- Pay with a credit or debit card or provide your Annual Boat Moorage permit number.
- There is a $4.50 convenience fee to register by phone.
- All buoys are first come, first served and $15 per night.
Turn Island has 12 primitive campsites and three buoys. Camping is available on a first come, first served basis. This island is a wildlife refuge. Visitors should stay on designated hiking trails. Fires are not permitted. Camp stoves are allowed. Please do not disturb the wildlife.
Pets are not permitted.
Fees For fee information, check out our camping rates page.
Turn Island was originally mapped as a point on San Juan Island by the United States Exploring Expedition of 1841. American explorer and naval officer Charles Wilkes named it Point Salsbury, after crewmember Francis Salsbury. It was later found to be an island at a turn in San Juan Channel, and was named Turn Island on the 1858-59 British Admiralty Chart by Admiral Sir George H. Richards.
The island was managed as a marine state park under a lease from the federal government from 1959 until 1976 when it was included in the newly established San Juan National Wildlife Refuge. Management for recreational purposes by Washington State Parks has continued since 1959.