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San Juan Islands Real Estate: San Juan and Friday Harbor, Orcas and Eastsound, Lopez Island, Shaw Island and the Outer San Juan Islands

About Lopez Island

Lopez Island is the third largest of the U.S. San Juan Islands, and the first stop of four on the Washington State Ferries' San Juan Islands run. A normal sailing takes 45 minutes from Anacortes to Lopez. There is a small airstrip on the island with daily commercial flights, and charter floatplanes sometimes land in Fisherman Bay. Lopez Island is 29.81 square miles (77.207 km²) in land area. The 2000 census population was 2,177.

Lopez Island was given the name Chauncey Island, after the American naval commander Isaac Chauncey. When the British reorganized the official Admiralty naval charts in 1847, Henry Kellett systematically removed many of Wilkes' names. He gave the island the name Lopez, for Gonzalo López de Haro, an officer of the 1791 Spanish expedition under the command of Francisco de Eliza. Although there is no known connection between Haro and Lopez Island in particular, Haro is reputed to be the first European to discover the San Juan Islands.

Iceberg Point at the southern tip of Lopez Island overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The island is longest in the north-south direction, with the ferry landing at the extreme north end. Near the ferry is Odlin Park, and Spencer Spit State Park is also on the north end. Near the center of the island, south down the coast from Lopez Village, is Shark Reef, another park. On the south-east corner of the island is the large Sperry Peninsula, the former site of Camp Nor'wester, which was purchased in the late 1990s by Paul Allen (a founder of Microsoft) for a private retreat.

Like most of the San Juan Islands, Lopez has had rapid growth in population in the last twenty years, driving up the price of real estate to a level where many traditional residents (mainly fishermen and farmers) find it hard to pay property taxes and their children struggle to buy a piece of land. The early homesteading families are either passing on or moving off. The late 1970s saw a gradual influx of idealists, many of whom still live on the island, often working in the arts. Self-employment is very high; the local school district is the biggest employer on the island.

While Lopez Island does not have a major hospital it is home to the Lopez Island medical clinic located in Lopez Village.  There is also a dentist and a hospice on the island.  The nearest major hospital is Island Hospital in Anacortes.  Medevac services  (  an ambulance helicopter  ) are available for the whole family for $79 per year from Airlift Northwest.  More information about health care in the San Juan Islands.

Lopez is much flatter than most of the other major San Juan Islands, which makes it a popular destination for bicycle tourists. However, many roads are narrow, leading to occasional congestion and conflicts between car drivers and cyclists.

Lopez, along with Orcas, Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor, has its own firework show, every year, on July 4th. The show is held at Fisherman Bay, the fireworks being set off from the end of Ottis Perkins Day Park.

Homes and Property for Sale on Lopez Island

Single-Family Residential
Multifamily Residential
Lots and Land

Condos for sale on Lopez Island
Green homes on Lopez Island
Farms for sale on Lopez Island

The Lopez Island Historical Museum collects and preserve regional history of Lopez and the San Juan Islands. The Museum features artifacts reflecting Lopez's contributions to maritime, fishing and farming. The museum has an extensive archive of documents of local historic, and artifacts depicting late 1800s and early 1900s Lopez life.

Lopez is locally famous for the longstanding custom of waving at every motorist, bicyclist, or pedestrian encountered on the island's roads. The gesture, known simply as the "Lopez wave", is a subtle indicator of relationship. Between strangers and casual acquaintances the wave consists of eye contact and a lift of a few fingers off the steering wheel. Friends, however, are known to lift as many as four fingers, and at times an entire hand, in the service of the greeting. Such emotive frugality can be attributed to the extreme frequency with which Lopez residents are called upon to greet one another.

Lopez Island is well known for having potlucks where each eater brings his or her own plates, silverware as well as food item. This Island also has the highest per capita volunteer ratio in Washington.

Due to high Ferry fares and limited amounts of land, Lopez Island, along with all the San Juan Islands, is becoming a very expensive place to own land. There is a pervasive fear that it will turn into another Martha's Vineyard, where only the wealthy can own and workers have to boat over to provide service.

Lopez Island as one of the lowest property tax rates in Washington state.

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