Semiahmoo Resort and Whatcom County

May 13, 2024

Elizabeth Fagin at Semiahoo Resort

Ocean Views, Fun Outdoor Activities, and Fantastic Food

Semiahmoo Resort

The entire drive from Seattle to Semiahmoo in Northwestern Washington State is lovely, but the last mile to the resort is incredibly stunning. Drayton Harbor has views of Mt Baker and the Twin Sisters Peaks to your right. To the left is Semiahmoo Bay, with views into British Columbia, the Georgia Strait, and the open sea. The resort, located on the very narrow Semiahmoo Spit, offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. It is located just north of Bellingham, Washington, in Whatcom County, on the Washington and British Columbia, Canada border.

Semiahmoo Resort is a vibrant, down-to-earth resort that offers an abundance of experiences that will be fun for the whole family. The options are endless - dining, spa treatments, golf, pickleball, bonfires with s'mores, biking, and many other activities. The first challenge is where to start. We began with breakfast at their Packer Kitchen + Bar and enjoyed the tasty and perfectly cooked Eggs Benedict. Don't miss their unique Crispy Smashed Potatoes. Small, unpeeled potatoes are boiled whole, flattened (smashed) and fried. They are crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside! They are a true delight!

Semiahmoo Park, right next to the resort, is a treasure. I grabbed one of the complimentary bikes and biked the short distance (less than a mile) on the Coast Millenium Trail. This paved path is on the southeast side of the spit and offers views of Drayton Harbor and the majestic Mt. Baker.

Near the end of the paved path, I crossed the street into a parking lot where a cluster of buildings stood. These historic structures were once the bunkhouse and offices of the Alaska Packer's Association fish cannery, adding a touch of nostalgia to the surroundings. Today, one of these buildings houses a museum operated by the Drayton Harbor Maritime Society, offering a glimpse into the area's rich maritime history. With its unique charm, the bunkhouse, is available as a venue for weddings, parties, meetings, and other events, providing a one-of-a-kind setting for special occasions.

You can see the open sea towards British Columbia on this side of the spit. There is a 1.6-mile loop to walk during low tide. I had the bike, so I made a note to return and walk at low tide. But I continued another 8 miles on the pleasant, paved trail for now.

Drayton Harbor

Our next fun was taking our kayak out on the protected and calm waters of Drayton Harbor. Several spots along Semiahmoo Parkway allow you to park and launch your boat. Here is a brief list of places to launch your kayak or SUP in the area. If you need to rent a SUP, you can rent one at Kite Paddle Surf in Bellingham. Always check the weather and tides before you go.

We had a leisurely paddle, enjoying the incredible views. It was a sunny and warm, 70-degree day with light winds. After about two hours, we returned to the resort because my wife did not want to be late for her massage appointment.

The Spa at Semiahmoo

Elizabeth had chosen a 90-minute Heated Himalayan Salt Stone Massage and reported that it was a slice of heaven here on Earth. The rounded stones were made of pure, pink Himalayan salt. She felt her body relax as the heated stones were placed on her back. The salt of the stones also lowers blood sugar, boosts bone health, reduces inflammation, and gently exfoliates the skin.

Sunset at Drayton Harbor

After Elizabeth's massage, we strolled along the beach to enjoy the sunset. Many families had come out to watch the sunset, but the kids seemed much more interested in roasting marshmallows and having s'mores.

Great Dining Options in Blaine

The next day, we ventured outside the resort and headed into downtown Blaine. However, before arriving in Blaine, we wanted to get some exercise.

The first stop was Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve. This short walk, less than one mile one way, offers views of the Strait of Georgia and the San Juan Islands. The flat, well-kept trail is fully ADA accessible. We enjoyed the ocean views and the walk through the forest.

Birch Bay State Park

The next stop was the nearby Birch Bay State Park. With two miles of coastline, you can enjoy views of the open ocean and the Cascades mountains. Many campsites had ocean views and were close to the boat launch. This certainly deserves a return trip to camp and kayak.

We took the leisurely drive along Birch Bay, and before we knew it, we were in downtown Blaine, which curves around Drayton Harbor. The first stop was at Drayton Harbor Oyster Co., where we met with one of the owners, Mark Seymour. We had been looking forward to returning here since we first tasted their oysters in 2018 when Mark's dad, Steve, served them up. Steve had barbecued some oysters for us on the boat next to their oyster bed. The oysters had blue cheese crumbled on them, and my wife quickly became an oyster lover.

Oysters from Drayton Harbor Oyster Company

Well, six years later, Mark served up some more gems. Talk about fresh! They were harvested at 9 in the morning, and we ate them at noon. The record time for getting the oysters from the sea (less than a mile away) to the store is 13 minutes. My highlight was the delicious FRESH oysters on the half-shell, served in a mignonette (sauce) of red wine vinegar, minced shallots, and spices. Elizabeth's favorite was once again the grilled Bacon Blue Cult. That yummy blue cheese!

We chatted with Mark about the company's history and plans while the servers rolled out more fresh oysters, a crisp and delicious grilled romaine salad, and some Oyster Stew. The stew was really more like a chowder, creamy and delicious with a spicy kick. The history of Drayton Harbor is fascinating. Mark's dad, Steve, started oyster farming in 1985, but there were periodic water quality issues over the years. However, a major cleanup took place, and in 2013, the Drayton Harbor Oyster Co. was officially born. Father and son have been serving oysters to a grateful community ever since.

Gateway 1890 Taphouse & Grill

Later that day, we checked in at Gateway 1890 Taphouse & Grill. We had a great visit with the owner, Gary Slavin. Gary took us downstairs to his newly established Smuggler's Tunnel Speakeasy. Gary chatted about the history of the city dating back to 1890. The core business was fishing and logging. However, a different business sector flourished when prohibition was enacted in Washington state in 1916 (four years before the 18th amendment!). Bootlegging along the shared coastline of Canada and Washington State continued until the end of prohibition in 1933.

Gary proudly showed off his carpentry in the Speakeasy and told us a great story about some modern-day bootlegging. Twenty years ago, a drug smuggling tunnel was built between a Quonset hut on the Canadian side of the border and a house on the US side of the border. On the US side, federal agents would watch as hockey bags were loaded into cars. They would then follow the cars leaving the house, eventually arresting everyone involved.

Burger at Gatehouse 1890 Taphouse and Grill

After the speakeasy tour, we went upstairs to their main restaurant to order a 'Shroom Swiss Burger. The 8-oz charbroiled, natural beef burger was delicious and was served with Sidewinder fries, which were thick and crispy. I usually do not eat fries and could not stop with just one—they were fantastic!

We told Gary that when we returned, we would sample some of the specialty drinks found on the "secret" Bartender's Choice Cocktail Menu (you need to know the password to see the menu) in the Speakeasy. We also talked about riding on the historic Plover Passenger Ferry, which is being restored. Once it is operating again, it will run from Blaine to the Semiahmoo Resort.

Editorial disclosure: food, beverages, and lodging were generously provided.