San Juan County: Lopez Island
When visitors come to Lopez Island, they feel like they’re part of the neighborhood. Known as the “Friendly Isle,” inhabitants wave to everyone they pass. Rumors claim the kind gesture isn’t actually about being friendly — it’s from Prohibition times when islanders discreetly warned one another that federal inspectors were on the island. Nowadays it’s simply a sign of pleasantness.
Lopez Island is on the quieter side compared to Orcas Island and San Juan Island. Its rich farmland grows everything from grapes to apples, even kiwis, and grazing sheep are a common sight. It’s not uncommon for locals to have two or three jobs. A reflection of the island’s hardworking mindset, its real estate appeals to homeowners who want a good deal and are OK with doing a bit of renovation work.
There are serene bays and 63 miles of shoreline to explore. The gently rolling hills, sparse traffic and miles of back roads make it a bicyclist’s haven. The island even hosts Tour de Lopez every spring. Quiet Lopez Village is the business center of the island, housing a few shops, grocery stores, and restaurants. In winter the activity drops significantly with many locals migrating to warmer climates. Heidi Hernandez, owner of Village Cycles and a real estate broker with Windermere Lopez Island, finds the biggest challenge for locals is learning to deal with winter’s solitude. People “either head to warmer climates or take up a hobby,” she said. On the other hand, the smaller population lends itself to building very strong community ties.
Becca Ramon, an employee at Just Heavenly Fudge Factory, has had family on Lopez Island since the 1920s. She was raised here, moved away, but came back when it was time to raise her kids. She values the strong community, but does wish the island had some more commercialized establishments. But “that’s exactly what I don’t want,” chimed in a colleague. With island laws in place that prohibit chain restaurants and stores, it looks like Ramon won’t be getting her wish any time soon.
On the Market
214 Doe Rd., Lopez Island $570,000 | MLS# 935704
With a spacious interior, large deck, and generous gazebo, this three-bedroom, three-bath 2,866-square-foot waterfront home is great for large gatherings. The property shares a dock with two neighbors and offers beach access with recently rebuilt stairs directly to the water.
Year-Round Residents: 2,400
Average Days on Market: 256
Homes Currently on Market: 39
Schools: Lopez Elementary, Middle, and High School