Written by Alexa Zizzi
March 2020

At the tip of the Pacific Northwest, the largest contiguous islands in the United States encompass Washington’s mountainous waterfront. Just below the Canadian border, 18 wondrous miles of the Saratoga Passage separate the beautiful Whidbey & Camano Islands.

Rich with lush forests and scenic state parks, Whidbey & Camano Islands stretch only 8.89 NM apart across a spectacular view of Puget Sound. A peaceful escape from downtown Seattle, Island County is made up of several islands in the northwest.

Beach at Deception Pass by camknows on Flickr | Whidbey & Camano Islands | Marinalife
Beach at Deception Pass by camknows 

A sight you don’t want to miss is Deception Pass, a strait that separates Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island at its north end. Glacier-carved steep cliffs, dramatic headlands and deep, mist-shrouded forests spark a wonderous mystery as you cruise through this breathtaking waterway. The indigenous Coast Salish tribes once occupied this area, and the community continues to honor their rich history amidst centuries-old trees and sacred land.

Deception Pass State Park is a must-see destination made up of windswept beaches and serene forests where visitors enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, swimming and even scuba diving. The area is also a boating haven and offers a boat launch with overnight moorage, vehicle parking and a self-serve stationary pump out attached to the pier.

Deception Pass State Park by April Rose | Whidbey & Camano Islands | Marinalife
Deception Pass State Park by April Rose

If you want to check out the vibrant, artsy scene, visit Langley on the south end of Whidbey Island. Experience quaint brew tours and tastings at Whidbey Island Distillery or Spoiled Dog Winery less than a mile away, where you can roam the gorgeous family-owned farm and vineyards with your pooch.

For arts and culture, visit the Langley Whale Center and become part of their “Orca Network,” or visit the Earth Sanctuary to experience a spiritual connection between wildlife, ecology and art. Take a ferry over to Camano Island to see the Matzke Art Gallery and Sculpture Park to explore beautiful works of art nestled among trees and fauna. The island is also home to a variety of historic state parks.

For a family-fun day on the water, Whidbey Island Kayaking specializes in guided tours for kayaks, canoes and paddleboards. In Coupeville on the north side, visit the historic Fort Casey State Park for recreational boating and brisk kite flying atop lands where U.S. soldiers trained for battle. For the best beach on the south side, check out Double Bluff Beach, a dog friendly retreat with a designated off-leash area.

Deception Pass State Park by William Zayas Cruz on Flickr | Whidbey & Camano Islands | Marinalife
Deception Pass State Park by William Zayas Cruz 

Two of the local’s favorite spots to frequent include the Star Store, a natural market with fun mercantile and shopping, as well as the seasonal Bayview Farmer’s Market, open Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. featuring local artists. Another fun activity: visit Orchard Kitchen, a fine-dining restaurant that offers cooking classes and special event dinners.

Don’t miss the excitement of the Whidbey Island Fair in Langley, held this year from July 16-19, or the annual Penn Cove Water Festival in Coupeville where families come together to celebrate Native American culture along the water. Activities include tribal canoe races, native arts and crafts vendors, music, exhibits, storytelling, and authentic native foods. This year’s event will be held May 16.

WHERE TO DOCK:

City of Oak Harbor Marina
360-279-4575

At the north end of the island, this spacious marina has 420 slips, ample guest moorage, side-tie moorage, and 96 dry storage sheds. Only a mile away from retail, restaurants, and hotels, the Island Transit service runs free shuttles on weekdays.

South Whidbey Harbor at Langley
360-221-1120

This public marina overlooking the Saratoga Passage offers overnight moorage and floating docks open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. They offer a boat launch, restroom and shower facilities, parking, as well as fishing and beach access.

WHERE TO DINE:

Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar (Whidbey Island)
360-221-5474

Taste the town’s delicious fresh catch at this local seafood restaurant. Enjoy everything from clam chowder, lobster rolls, and fish and chips, to mussels, clams and an excellent selection of oysters.

Rockaway Bar & Grill (Camano Island)
360-926-8920

This laid-back restaurant offers a comfy experience in the dining room near the fireplace on cold days, or on the patio during the summer where you can relax and watch local golfers.