The Curious Existence of Point Roberts, Washington

Kristin Wuhrman
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Point Roberts, WA (aka "The Point"_) _is a naturally gated community of authentic U.S. land, considered a true geopolitical oddity surrounded by water and Canadians. With its island-like feel, this isolated, five-square mile backcountry getaway is tacked on the tip of Canada, roughly 23 miles south of Vancouver.

But the journey to get there from Seattle—an approximately three-hour drive, including two international border crossings—is well worth the effort. And what you find there—a peaceful, outdoor-centric lifestyle that blends Canadian and American culture—will certainly keep you coming back.

Technically falling below the 49th parallel, The Point is part of the U.S. mainland, though it's not physically connected to it, providing a buffer for its land, motley culture, and residents. Visible on a map, this tiny portion of Washington State is located on the southern tip of Canada's Tsawwassen Peninsula, with views of the Georgia Straight, the Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island to the east. To reach it, you'll need to leapfrog through two checkpoints: first at the Blaine checkpoint to get into Canada, and then at the Point Roberts checkpoint to cross back into the U.S.

Views at Point Canoe are spectacular.
Views at Point Canoe are spectacular. Kristin Wuhrman

What’s life like?

Life here reflects the cultures and influences of two countries. Everything is quieter: the roads, nature, and beaches, all with plenty of small-town charm. Time moves much slower when you’re on The Point. Nearly everyone who finds this magical place falls in love with its authentic simplicity.

There are roughly 1,300 year-round residents, who refer to themselves as "Pointers." Many of the Point’s homeowners are Canadians from Vancouver, and the dichotomy is apparent everywhere. The town's bars, restaurants, and grocery stores accept Canadian currency as the norm. Plenty of beach homes are available to rent with practically no traffic. Shindigs known as "hi-yus" in nearby Canada are virtually nonexistent here. You may go an entire day and only see a couple riding bikes with matching toques, or someone riding a horse down the road. It’s not unusual to see Vancouverites making fuel runs on weekends, due to lower prices and taxes than in neighboring BC.

Life between two countries means displaying two national flags.
Life between two countries means displaying two national flags. Kristin Wuhrman

The main drag

After a day of beach hiking, check out out the charming village shops and grab a healthy bite at Brewster’s. This locals' joint is also a country store and full-service restaurant with a bakery, espresso bar, and fresh ingredients, including organic, vegan, and gluten-free selections. They also provide catering and offer a wine club.

A see it, do it kind of place

The Point is an outdoor enthusiast's dream as well as a favorite training ground for athletes. With endless natural wonders, hilly terrain, beaches, trails, unspoiled wilderness, agolf course, and a refreshing change of pace, Point Roberts will guarantee a revitalizing escape.

Keep an eye out for eagles while paddling or walking the shoreline.
Keep an eye out for eagles while paddling or walking the shoreline. Kristin Wuhrman

Paddle the shorelines

Point Roberts is surrounded on three sides by water, making it a boater’s paradise. If you own a canoe or kayak, be sure to paddle along the shorelines first thing in the morning to catch the glorious sunrise and views of the bluff, while enjoying your cowboy coffee. You might even spot an eagle.

Navigate the ‘4 Points’

All four corners of The Point are state parks—and each one is very different. Winding trails in the bush lead right down to a beautiful beach with rocky, saltwater shorelines. Depending on which corner you explore, the views are killer, including Mt. Baker, Boundary Bay, Georgia Strait, and the San Juan Islands. In warmer months, you may be treated to a spectacle of jumps and tail slaps from orcas who frequently pass close by the shores.

A peaceful afternoon on the shoreline.
A peaceful afternoon on the shoreline. Kristin Wuhrman

Enjoy a little Canada with a day trip to Vancouver

If you feel like dodging town, head over the border into Twassassen and drive 23 miles (37km) north to downtown Vancouver, also known as Van, an urban center surrounded by nature. Enjoy the city's energetic restaurant and nightlife scene, outdoor adventures, endless activities, and super-friendly locals. While you’re there, earn some bragging rights with the Grouse Grind-Mother Nature's Staircase. Climb 1.8 miles for a grueling 2,800 feet before reaching the 3,700-foot summit, where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views overlooking English Bay, Greater Vancouver, Mount Baker, and Vancouver Island.

Insider Tip:

If you become a frequent "Pointer" or make regular trips to BC, get a Nexus Pass, which will get you over the border faster because it expedites customs and immigration processing. Any U.S. or Canadian citizen can apply for a NEXUS pass. It’s roughly a six-week process, and once approved it's valid for five years.

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