Just off of the northern shore of Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands is an archipelago of 10 islands. Overall, this group of islands is about 2.5 miles in length and just short of a half mile wide; the largest of this cluster is Sucia Island, which is also designated as a Washington State Marine Park. When paddling from Orcas Island to Sucia Island, it is apparent why Sucia has this designation, as wildlife is abundant and you will likely encounter a range of creatures in the sea and air.
With nice weather, Sucia Island is clearly visible from Orcas Island for the entire length of the paddling trip. It is an easy launch from North Beach to get underway to Sucia Island, and once you cross the channel, there are numerous sandy beaches on which to land for camping, lounging or just soaking up the views of the surrounding islands.
The island's name originated before 1800 with Spanish Captain Francisco de Eliza. He named it "Isla Sucia," which in Spanish means "dirty," or in a nautical context, "foul." The designation refers to the dangerous reefs and hidden rocks along the shores. However, these hidden reefs and rocks are not too treacherous for kayaks, so don’t let the name keep you from a trip through the exceptional, isolated coves and bays that the area offers.