Sucia Island State Park: Shallow Bay & Fox Cove – Cruiser’s Review September 2019

In September 2019, we got to take a week’s vacation and visit some of the more remote islands in the San Juans in Northern Puget Sound. We enjoyed a fantastic sail from Stuart Island to Sucia Island and picked up a mooring ball for the night in Shallow Bay.

Mosaic sailing from Stuart Island to Sucia Island in the San Juans

Stuart Island to Sucia Island in the San Juans

Ultimately, we spent 2 nights at Sucia Island and we just fell in love with the island. We will DEFINITELY be back next year!

Our first night, we sailed in from Stuart Island and picked up a mooring ball in Shallow Bay on the NW corner of the island.

Cruiser's Review of Sucia Island September 2019

Our first night at Sucia Island Marine State Park: Shallow Bay

We pulled into Shallow Bay in the early afternoon on a Friday. We weren’t sure what to expect for the availability of a mooring ball, but cruising guides indicated that there should be about 8 state park mooring balls in Shallow Bay. When we pulled into the bay, there were 4 or 5 balls available so we grabbed one near the entrance in hopes of getting a nice sunset view that evening.

Shallow Bay on Sucia Island Marine State Park

Of note, definitely be sure you stay between the entrance buoys when coming into Shallow Bay. At low tide, you’ll see why it is so important that you respect these aids to navigation!

Entrance to Shallow Bay on Sucia Island

Rocky bits at Sucia Island State Park - Shallow Bay

Avoid the rocky bits!

We knew we were likely to stay in Shallow Bay the one night, so we dropped the dinghy and headed to shore. There is a nice sandy/small pebble beach for landing.

Looking out at Mosaic in Shallow Bay on Sucia Island

Looking out at Mosaic in Shallow Bay on Sucia Island

We wanted to hike over to fossil bay and try to find some of the famous fossils. Unfortunately, we knew that less favorable weather was coming, but we didn’t know that we would actually be caught in pretty heavy rainfall for the last hour+ of our little walk and would get back to the dinghy and then the boat just completely drenched!

Poor Planning: check!

Shallow Bay to Fossil Bay and Fox Cove hike

As we were briefly checking out Fox Cove it started to rain on us. Soon, it was raining heavily and we had an hour+ ahead of us to get back to the boat. So we abandoned the fossil hunt for the day and headed back.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a map of the island and had no cell service so at the light blue arrow mark we further complicated the situation by taking the wrong turn and heading toward the beach. We thought we would be able to trek along the beach to where we’d left the dinghy, but it was impassable that way and we ended up just adding a significant distance to our rain-hike.

Echo Bay on Sucia Island

These boats were moored in Echo Bay across the tiny spit of land between Echo Bay and Shallow Bay.

Dinghy landing at Echo Bay

Dinghy landing at Echo Bay

Fossil Bay on Sucia Island

Northeast bit of Fossil Bay

Fox Cove on Sucia Island

Fox Cove on Sucia Island

Our second night on Sucia Island: Fox Cove

We decided to get up early the next morning and make the 15-minute hop from Shallow Bay over to Fox Cove where we were, again, able to pick up a free mooring ball.

Thankfully, the rain had stopped and we were able to head ashore again to get in more exploration in Fossil Bay. And, this time, we found fossils!!

Mosaic on a mooring ball in Fox Cove

Mosaic on a mooring ball in Fox Cove

Fossil Bay fossils!

Amateur fossil hunting in Fossil Bay on Sucia Island

Amateur fossil hunting in Fossil Bay on Sucia Island

Amateur fossil hunting in Fossil Bay on Sucia Island

Amateur fossil hunting in Fossil Bay on Sucia Island

Amateur fossil hunting in Fossil Bay on Sucia Island

We stayed out exploring the fossils for several hours. The kids LOVED it, and really we did, too! We will definitely be coming back to spend more time at this amazing and rural island.

Interested in more of the history of Sucia Island?

I took this information from the Washington State Parks website: https://parks.state.wa.us/594/Sucia-Island

Among the northernmost of the San Juan Islands, this horseshoe-shaped island is accessible only by watercraft. Boaters venturing into its coves and harbors quickly discover why Sucia Island is considered the crown jewel in the state marine park system and a boating destination that’s world class.

The main island, surrounded by picturesque rocks and smaller islands, gave pause to the Spanish explorers who navigated its waters in 1791. They called it “sucia” or “foul,” a nautical term describing navigational obstacles such as the rocks around the island. The island and its waters are, in fact, pristine, and the satellite rocks make for interesting diving and kayaking.

On April 10, 2012, part of a femur bone from a theropod dinosaur was discovered in a rock on the island. (Theropods are a group of meat-eating, two-legged dinosaurs, including T. rex and Velociraptor.) The 80-million-year-old fossil was spotted and excavated by paleontologists at Seattle’s Burke Museum.

Known for its emerald waters and forested trails, its magnificent sunsets and sandstone formations, Sucia Island is prized by locals for its off-season beauty and solitude.

PARK FEATURES
Sucia Island Marine State Park is an 814-acre marine park with 77,700 feet of shoreline and abundant camping and moorage. The main island and several smaller islands comprise the “Sucia group.” There are no services on this island, and fossil collecting is strictly prohibited in this and all Washington state parks.

 

3 thoughts on “Sucia Island State Park: Shallow Bay & Fox Cove – Cruiser’s Review September 2019

  1. When we had Cariba at Point Roberts Sucia was one of our favorite haunts.. Shallow bay wasn’t my favorite anchorage as it was often rolley. It can be a very busy spot in the summer.. don’t forget about the linear moorage in Echo Bay, it often has room as many are not sure what it is! lol

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    • Cool, yes. We’ve not ever used the linear moorage system before but are familiar with how it works, in theory. 🙂 It was pretty rolly in Fox Cove when we were there, but Shallow Bay was comfy. I believe you about the whole place being busy in the high season. No doubt! Pretty cool spot! Where are you guys now?

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