Posey Island – An Easy Sea Kayak Adventure

Venture into the San Juan Islands by sea kayak for a few days and the inevitable question arises about where to camp overnight ashore. One favorite destination is Posey Island, a one-acre marine state park located north of Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. It’s a short one-half mile paddle to the tiny island known for its charm, occasional pod of Orca whales, spectacular sunsets over Vancouver Island, and wildflowers.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Originally believed to be part of Pearl Island, the small island was called Spit Point. Its name changed when residents told the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey crew mapping the area they picked bouquets of flowers and called it Posey Island. This name stuck and is marked on nautical charts today.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a posy (a.k.a. posey) is not a specific flower like a pansy, petunia, or poppy, but a bouquet of several flowers. It can also be a brief sentiment, motto, or legend. An example is the nursery rhyme, folk song, and playground singing game “Ring Around the Rosie.” This common American version is said to describe the Great Plague of London in the middle 17th century.

Ring Around the Rosie

Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.

Illustration by Kate Greenaway, from Mother Goose (1881)

Photo Credit: Wikiwand.com

Posey Island is part of the Cascade Marine Trail system. This means its two primitive campsites (8 people each) are for the exclusive use of visitors arriving in human-powered or sailing watercraft. Boaters with motorized vessels may enjoy the park during the day only.


Photo credit: Washington Dept. of Ecology

The island is located near the main entrance to Roche Harbor and Pearl Island’s vacation homes, so it is not a remote retreat. But it is a great location to paddle over to Battleship Island, northwest of Henry Island, to view seals, river otters, eagles, and peer down into the kelp forest to discover treasures hidden underwater.


Photo credit: Kevin Ryan, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

“…He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalms 23:2-3)

Come sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands and discover Posey Island for yourself. Thank you for reading!




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