The Peace Arch City is one of Blaine, Washington’s slogans. The other is “Where America Begins.” Both are rooted in its northwest Washington location on the US-Canadian border. Many people know Blaine as the place where they drive across the border in their vehicles. However, its location at the edge of the Salish Sea on Semiahmoo Bay and its rich maritime history, make it a wonderful Pacific Northwest boating destination at either of its two conveniently located marinas. In addition, over the last couple of years, the City of Blaine and local businesses have invested in many desirable amenities – flavorful food, unique history, beautiful parks – that visiting mariners will welcome and enjoy.
Semiahmoo Spit juts into Semiahmoo Bay creating a channel leading into Drayton Harbor. On the port side of the channel is Blaine Harbor, a marina operated by the Port of Bellingham. On the starboard side of the channel is Semiahmoo Marina, privately owned by Semiahmoo Resort. Both offer guest moorage. Be mindful that there can be a strong current in the channel on larger tidal exchanges.
See the Waggoner Cruising Guide for specific information on each marina.
An Amazing Pacific Northwest Resort
Semiahmoo Resort, Golf, and Spa is situated on the end of Semiahmoo Spit, an easy walk from the Semiahmoo Marina. They offer rooms and suites, a relaxation and wellness spa, three dining options, beachcombing, and golfing on a world-class Arnold Palmer-designed course. Kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals are available. Or, rent a bicycle and explore the many trails. I walked the Semiahmoo Spit loop from the resort to the county park and back, a distance of about 3 miles including some beach detours.
Salmon Canning at Semiahmoo Spit
Long before the resort was built, Semiahmoo Spit was home to the world’s largest salmon cannery and Alaska Packers’ Association (APA) operated here for nearly 80 years. The APA Cannery and Fishing Museum is housed in an original cannery building (one of several) and showcases antique machinery, historic photos, and even an old fish boat. You can’t help but notice the iconic water tower, a remnant of the cannery that was used to provide water pressure for processing salmon.
Historic Plover Ferry
The oldest foot ferry in Washington, the m/v Plover, was used to shuttle cannery workers from across the channel in Blaine. The historic m/v Plover was restored and is now used to treat passengers to views of Blaine’s working harbor, Semiahmoo Bay, Drayton Harbor, and local marine life, birds, and more. The m/v Plover is not operating presently due to the pandemic but is planned to resume operations in 2022.
A Trip to Blaine
After enjoying the amenities on the Spit, I dinghied across the channel to Blaine Harbor, tied up to their guest dock next to m/v Plover, and walked ashore. It is a short and easy walk to downtown Blaine where they have grocery/liquor stores and several new restaurants and improvements such as The Rustic Fork with Capone’s Hideaway in back. There’s patio seating on H Street Plaza for Drayton Harbor Oyster Company (serving fresh oysters from Drayton Harbor). And, there’s a new covered deck at The Vault Wine Bar and Bistro. Also, that lighthouse on the corner is actually a Starbucks.
Peace Arch Park on the US-Canadian Border
A few blocks north of downtown Blaine is Peace Arch Park marked by the dramatic 67-foot white arch straddling the border and devoted to peace and serenity. Peace Arch Park is unique in that it consists of two parks in two countries. The southern half is a Washington State Park and the northern half a British Columbia Provincial Park. People entering the 43-acre park (total of both countries) are able to stroll to the opposite park’s boundary amid flower gardens, ponds, and works of art without having to go through customs.
Walking back to the marina I passed Blaine Marine Park featuring an amphitheater, an orca sculpture, trails, and interpretive exhibits. Adjacent to the marina is the expansive waterfront Marine Park Playground for kids. I finished with a walk to Jorgensen Pier overlooking the channel entrance at the end of Marine Drive. This is a popular place for fishing, crabbing, and admiring the views.
Should You Visit The Peach Arch City?
Yes! Whether you spend a couple of days or a couple of weeks here, Blaine, Washington offers plenty of fun and interesting activities. A valuable resource for trip and activity planning is www.BlaineByTheSea.com. In this post, I highlighted only a few of Blaine’s many restaurants, activities, and events. However, there’s so much more to discover!
Tips for Boaters
To get to Blaine, boaters must transit the southern U.S. portion of the Strait of Georgia. I took the short route across from Patos Island in the San Juans heading northeast to Semiahmoo Bay, a distance of approximately 15 nautical miles. So pick a good weather window and cruise to Blaine, you won’t regret it!
WG Field Correspondent