You have likely never been to– or even heard of– this little hidden gem. Tucked between the south end of Lummi Island and Chuckanut Bay, Eliza Island is a private island in the San Juans, and you might pass by here on your way out on the bay. Since it is private, only owners and invitees of owners are allowed to set foot on this little piece of paradise.  

Featuring a mix of cabins on the beach and in the woods, Eliza Island is a getaway where homeowners can enjoy a slower pace of life. The island is reachable with only a 20-minute boat ride, and most people own their boats. Others fly in on small private aircraft or take a walk-on water taxi from Squalicum Harbor or Anacortes. There are not any rentals (long- or short-term) allowed, so you always know your neighbor. 

Eliza Island was the first Washington State-certified small island to install a reverse osmosis system, and residents make power through solar panels, generators, and battery inverter systems. Transportation is primarily by golf cart, bicycle, and walking. 

Let’s look back on some of Eliza Island’s history! Named for the Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza, the island was originally a black cat ranch where hides and pelts were processed. Next up was the world’s second-largest chicken ranch, followed by a potato farm. Pacific American fisheries then bought the island for $5,302.81, and they used it for dry tar, repairing fishing nets, processing fish waste into fertilizer, and ship repair.  

Many years later, in 1940, the U.S. Navy used it as bombing practice, and after, Oregon State University leased the island to raise king neck pheasants. (Incidentally, to this day, there are no rodents on the island.) In 1954, Jim Bolster bought Eliza Island for $25,000. He built an airstrip with plans for a high-end resort but ultimately agreed to let a real estate firm subdivide the island into 150 lots and advertise them as a local getaway. 

My grandparents were original lot owners and built the second cabin in 1962, making me a third-generation owner. Now, as a realtor, I help buyers and sellers discover what this magical island in the Pacific Northwest has to offer.