Patos Island

Patos Island is at the top of my list of favorite places on earth (we all should have such a list)—top five, for sure. It’s one of the outer San Juan Islands in Washington State – also one of the smaller and least visited of the park islands. There’s a kayak camp, a lighthouse, an outhouse, and not too much else.

Patos Island: View From Near Lighthouse
When I was in high school, I did a three-week Outward Bound trip around the San Juan Islands. I learned important things like the fact that kelp is edible (along with Vital Life Lessons about leadership and stuff, I’m sure). Our group kayaked into Active Cove on Patos on a day when we were all grumpy and snapping at each other. Rather than letting us sulk around the campsite eating kelp, our wise leaders made us get in the water and have crazy kayak races (this was probably the Vital Life Lesson part). That night, in much better moods about each other and life, we walked out to the lighthouse for sunset.

I have beautiful memories of Patos, but it’s also just a beautiful place. I’ve convinced my parents to go back with me a few times since then (most recently last August). In doing so I’ve discovered that it’s sort of a pain to get into the harbor in any boat that’s larger than a kayak, so I appreciate them being good sports. The lighthouse is now open for visitors a few days per week in the summer, and there is also a great fictionalized account of life on Patos during the early 1900s, by the daughter of the original light-keeper.

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