Sponsored by Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism
Located just a few hours north of Seattle are Whidbey and Camano Islands. Easily accessible by bridge or ferry, they provide visitors both a physical and mental makeover from mainland to island, transporting travelers to a slower pace. The islands are simple, yet sophisticated. with a certain rustic elegance. It’s common to dine nightly on fresh food harvested that day from local farms or surrounding waters. Beginning in early spring, the great gray whale migration through Saratoga Passage between the two islands is a once in a lifetime experience.
Nicknamed “the easy island,” Camano is laid back and friendly. It's known for its Dungeness crab, prolific arts community, and natural beauty. The roads create an uncomplicated driving loop for exploring uncrowded beaches, parks and winding forested trails. Two state parks both offer cabins, some right on the water for beach walking or whale watching from the shore.
The Great Northwest Glass Quest (Feb. 14-23) is the ultimate two-week scavenger hunt for stunning glass balls. The Stanwood Camano Snow Goose & Birding Festival (Feb 22-23) showcases this majestic migration. Arrowhead Ranch offers axe throwing for the adventurous. Matzke Sculpture Park is an outdoor art collection beyond imagination. Barnum Point is a grand stretch of beach recently opened to the public. Kristoferson Farm is home to Canopy Tours Northwest, with ziplines through old trees and farmland. An added benefit is that this island is accessible by bridge.
Photo by Sherrye Wyatt.
The dramatic beauty of Deception Pass State Bridge, one of the most photographed places in the state, make it a memorable way to arrive on the island from the north end. Whidbey is one of the longest offshore islands in the country and its storybook scenery make it a popular film location. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains and pristine waters, the main road is appropriately named the Whidbey Scenic Isle Way. It’s possible to see "Top Gun" pilots from the Naval Air Station training overhead.
History buffs love to wander Fort Casey and Admiralty Head Lighthouse. It’s common to see wild deer, seals or raptors overhead. Beaches, forests and beautiful farms are plentiful. Home to seven state parks, the island is the perfect balance of nature and a small-town vibe. Oak Harbor’s historic downtown, Coupeville, Freeland, Langley and Clinton are each a great blend of shopping, lodging, and dining. Made by local artists, public art is easy to find. The Coupeville Chocolate Walk (Feb. 8) creates a tasty stroll through the historic waterfront town. Two weekends of Red Wine and Chocolate (Feb. 8-9 and Feb. 17-18) offer stops at four wineries and two distilleries. During Langley Mystery Weekend (Feb 22-23), the entire town is the setting of a mystery to be solved by visitors and locals. Also, the Art Walk in downtown Oak Harbor takes place every third Thursday of the month, with the next one taking place on February 20.
Our iconic state ferries are a relaxing way to arrive or depart. Wait times are short in spring, so easing into island time is easy breezy. Click here for a complete list of lodgings and things to discover.
Photo by Sherrye Wyatt.