Who says you can’t navigate paradise from the comfort of a ferry ride? Our experience when taking a ferry to or from Whidbey Island is that it offers a unique and picturesque experience that is packed with charm and several noteworthy advantages. Follow along to find out the top 10 reasons we suggest you take a ferry the next time you need to cross the water.
The Washington State Ferries treat passengers to breathtaking views of the Puget Sound, surrounding islands, and the majestic Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. It’s a visual feast for nature enthusiasts and photographers.
Our ferries offer a peaceful and leisurely mode of transportation. Not only do you not have to navigate the hustle and bustle or sit in stop-and-go traffic to get to your destination, but ferry passengers can unwind on deck, enjoy the fresh sea breeze, or simply gaze at the tranquil waters, creating a serene and enjoyable journey to your destination.
The ferry system is an integral part of the Pacific Northwest’s transportation network. It offers a convenient way to connect Whidbey Island to the mainland, making it accessible for both commuters and tourists.
Time to Unplug:
Depending on who you are, you will either love or hate, the absence of Wi-Fi on most ferries. However, this absence of connectivity encourages travelers to unplug from the digital world, promoting relaxation and providing an opportunity to disconnect, unwind, and take in the spectacular atmosphere surrounding you.
Keep an eye out for marine life during the journey. It’s common to spot seals, sea lions, dolphins, and various seabirds while crossing the Sound. If you get to snap a picture, don’t forget to tag us at @windermere_whidbey_island on Instagram.
Passengers often strike up conversations and share stories while riding the ferries which fosters a sense of community. It’s a chance to connect with fellow travelers or engage with locals who cherish their island home. Such an opportunity for learning about the island if you are new here. If you are hoping to learn more about the island or looking for a place to live and aren’t currently working with a realtor, connect with us here so we can be your guide.
Adventure Starting Point:
For tourists, the ferry ride to Whidbey Island marks the beginning of an exciting adventure. It is the gateway to exploring the island’s charming towns, outdoor activities, and natural wonders.
Ferries are child-friendly, so you don’t have to feel like you can’t go because you have kids. You can stay in your own vehicle if you choose to do so, however, many ferries offer play areas and tables for kids. In fact, the experiences of riding a ferry can offer opportunities to teach children about marine life and navigation.
Cafes and Dining:
Many ferries feature cafes or dining options where passengers can enjoy a meal or snack while taking in the views.
Sunsets and Sunrises:
This might just be one of our favorites. The early morning and evening ferry rides provide an opportunity to witness stunning sunrises and sunsets over the water, creating magical moments for travelers. We highly suggest you experience a sunset or sunrise ferry ride at least once in your life time.
In essence, taking a ferry to or from Whidbey Island is not just a means of transportation; it’s an experience that adds to the overall allure of the island, combining convenience with a touch of adventure and a generous serving of natural beauty. Click here to check out the Washington State Ferries schedules and to book your next ride. If you have fallen in love with Whidbey and are considering staying connect with us here.
Whidbey Island is a spectacular destination in the Pacific Northwest that offers residents and visitors many opportunities to explore the natural world. One of the most popular activities on Whidbey Island is clam and mussel harvesting. If you are looking for a fun and rewarding way to experience the island’s unique ecosystem, clamming and mussel harvesting is a great way to do it.
Best Time to Harvest Clams and Mussels on Whidbey Island
The best time to harvest clams and mussels on Whidbey Island is during the summer months. During this time, the tides are low and the weather is generally mild, making it an ideal time to head out to the beach. It is especially important to check the tide charts before you head out to make sure you are arriving at the beach during low tide.
Clam and Mussel Harvesting Locations on Whidbey Island
There are a plethora of places to go clam and mussel harvesting on Whidbey Island. Some of the most popular locations for clam and mussel harvesting on Whidbey Island are:
- Penn Cove – Located on the northeast coast of Whidbey Island in Coupeville. Penn Cove is a great place to go clamming and mussel harvesting. This area is known for its large geoduck clams, which can be challenging to harvest but are well worth the effort.
- Double Bluff Beach – Located on the southern end of Whidbey Island in Freeland. Double Bluff Beach is known for its butter clams, which are easy to harvest and delicious to eat.
- Mutiny Bay – Located on the southwestern coast of Whidbey Island in Freeland. Mutiny Bay is known for its Manila clams, which are small but abundant.
Tips for Clam and Mussel Harvesting on Whidbey Island
Before you head out to harvest clams and mussels on Whidbey Island, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Make sure you have an active permit – Check here to make sure you have not only the right permit but also to buy your permit online or locate a local license dealer.
- Check the regulations – Make sure you are familiar with the regulations for clam and mussel harvesting on Whidbey Island before you go. You can find them by visiting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website here. These regulations can change from year to year, so it’s important to check them before you head out.
- Bring the right gear – You will need a few basic tools to go clam and mussel harvesting, including a shovel, a bucket or bag to carry your harvest, and a clamming or mussel harvesting license if required. You’ll also want a sturdy pair of rubber boots or waders.
- Respect the environment – When you are harvesting clams and mussels, it is important to respect the environment. Only take what you need and make sure to leave the area in good condition for future harvesters so that you can enjoy harvesting year after year.
Clam and mussel harvesting is a fun and rewarding activity. With its many beautiful beaches and abundant shellfish populations, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the island’s unique ecosystem. Whether you’re a seasoned shellfish harvester or a first-timer, Whidbey Island is a great place to go clamming and mussel harvesting. Interested in making this beautiful place your home? Connect with us so we can help make your dream come true.
The Pacific Northwest, or PNW, is a region known for its varied and often unpredictable weather. Located in the northwest corner of the United States, the PNW is home to a diverse array of climates and landscapes, ranging from the rainy, temperate rainforests of the coast to the dry, high-desert regions of the interior.
One of the most distinctive features of the PNW weather is the rain. The region is home to some of the wettest parts of the country. Some areas receive over 100 inches of rain per year. While the rain can be a nuisance at times, it is also a vital part of the region’s ecosystem. The rain provides the water needed to sustain the lush forests and vegetation that thrive in the region.
In addition to the rain, the PNW is also prone to fog and mist, especially along the coast. These foggy conditions can last for days at a time, creating a unique and sometimes eerie atmosphere.
Weather on Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island, located in the northwest corner of Washington state, is no stranger to the PNW’s unpredictable weather. Located in the Puget Sound, the island is influenced by both the maritime climate of the coast and the inland climate of the region. As a result, the weather on Whidbey Island can vary significantly from one day to the next. Sometimes a sunshining clear skies day gives way to rain and fog in a matter of hours.
One unique aspect of the weather on Whidbey Island is its location in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. The rain shadow effect occurs when moist air is forced up and over a mountain range. When this happens it causes it to cool and release its moisture in the form of rain or snow. As the air descends on the other side of the mountain range, it warms and becomes drier, creating a “rain shadow” region that receives less rainfall.
Due to its location on the leeward side of the Olympic Mountains, the areas of North and Central Whidbey Island experience this rain shadow effect, resulting in significantly less rainfall compared to other parts of the PNW. While the island still gets its fair share of rain and fog, it is generally drier and sunnier than the surrounding region. Less rainfalls makes it a popular destination for those seeking a respite from the rain.
Despite the often-variable weather, the PNW and Whidbey Island are beautiful and unique places to visit or call home. The diverse landscape and varied climate create opportunities for a wide range of recreational activities. Many people enjoy hiking and camping in the summer to skiing and snowboarding in the winter. So, whether you’re a seasoned resident or a first-time visitor, be prepared for a little bit of everything when it comes to the weather in the PNW and on Whidbey Island.
When you fall in love with the island and want to stay let us help you find your dream home. Connect with us here.
Firefighters, we respect them. We get out of their way when they’re racing to a scene. We crowd around their trucks when they’re at a fair or a parade. We can tend to think that every firefighter is like every other firefighter, hanging out at a fire station while waiting for a call that demands immediate action. Yes, and no.
But what does firefighting look like on an island? Follow along as we discuss firefighting island style.
Firefighting Island Style
Oak Harbor is a city with paid firefighters and a place where a lot is going on in a small space. Trucks have to navigate a grid of streets and the traffic on them. Houses are close and that can mean fires are close, too, but so are fire hydrants. There are plenty of stereotypes that can apply. Spotted mascot optional.
In most parts of the country that might be enough, but the island is large enough and long enough that some other solutions are necessary. If the neighborhood is remote enough, they may have some creative solutions to fight fires in the interim after getting to safety and making that call to 911. An easy situation to imagine is a waterfront house that may require a fireboat. It takes time to collect the crew, launch the boat, and power their way to the site – tides, currents, and weather allowing. A lot can happen in the first few minutes of a fire. Any help can be appreciated – and incredibly valuable.
Rural areas also have to guard against brushfires and barn fires. Long roads mean accidents can happen far from the station. Even places that are accessible by a pickup may be too windy and twisty to maneuver in a firetruck, which eventually also has to turn around and get back to the station. Some fires may even be on boats, both in the marina and off-shore.
A Unique Mix
At the other end of the scale is the unique fire district that is the Navy’s. Airports have special requirements and tools, and military airports have to handle even more specialized situations because of what their planes can carry. The need for an immediate response is an understatement.
Fortunately, while there are various types of firefighting arrangements, when the need is there they all gather to help each other. City, base, and rural doesn’t matter as much as ‘where is the fire and how can we help?’
If you haven’t heard much about the variety, great! That means the crews are doing what they have to do to stay out of the headlines. In firefighting, boring can be good. Too exciting can be too much. This is firefighting island style.
Whidbey has some other attributes worth remembering. Whidbey is a lot of small-town America wrapped around a city and a base. Most of it has fewer people because it is rural. That also means that firefighting crews can sometimes be understaffed. (Pay attention to the election initiatives to see their current situation.) While rural can be quaint, sometimes the small-town nature that leads to smaller firefighting crews becomes critically apparent. A few places have paid firefighters, but much of the island is served by a few stations with a few paid firefighters who rely heavily on backup volunteers. They have rules to follow, just like the rest of us. (In 2018, another fire department in WA was cited for violating the state’s version of OSHA’s two-in two-out requirement.) Of course, more paid firefighters mean they need more budget. Not an easy problem. Think about that. A few paid people; and other people who risk their lives for us for free. They deserve greater thanks than they receive. (Please, volunteer!)
Surprisingly the bulk of their workload comes from medical emergencies. Over 60% of their time is spent with Basic Life Support calls where they work side by side with the paramedics. In some places that is over 80%. They have to be ready for everything: motor vehicle accidents, rescues on land or on water, storm responses, traffic control, power outages, and downed lines. It isn’t just about fires and ambulances.
So much for sitting around the firehouse. These people are busy.
How you can help
Of course, there are ways to keep them less busy (and keep costs down). Much of this is variations of the messages we’ve heard since school: follow safety instructions, keep fresh batteries in smoke detectors, make sure any electrical work is done right, remove trash and other flammables. Some things are even simpler: don’t leave burning candles or fire unattended, don’t burn during burn bans, handle fireworks legally and safely. Keep fire extinguishers handy and up-to-date.
There are plenty of other precautions, but that’s part of being a responsible adult.
How this relates to homeowners on Whidbey
Understanding a place’s fire situation is also something to keep in mind when considering buying a house. What is the firefighters’ response time? Where’s the nearest hydrant or nearest firehouse (is it even staffed)? Is the house marked well enough for a crew to be able to find it in the dark, maybe during a storm? Your insurance company may have some ideas to add to the list.
If you live in rural Island County some additional services they might offer include: installing high visibility house address numbers; home safety surveys to reduce the risk of harm from fire, accident, or illness; smoke and carbon monoxide detector check; fire inspections for businesses; CPR training; child car seat safety checks.
Chief Helm says “In an emergency, we need to be as efficient as possible, and the partnership between homeowners and the fire department is critical. Maintaining reflective address signs and driveways that fire trucks can navigate down is very important. One of our biggest hurdles is locating the emergency in a hurry, and then navigating a driveway that may or may not be able to handle a 40,000lb, 11-foot tall truck. Many times, the storybook-style narrow wandering lane, sounds peaceful and relaxing, but can pose serious problems if our trucks cannot access your house. Please remember to maintain not only driveways but the surrounding vegetation and hanging branches that will damage a truck the size of ours. Together with your help, we make this Island a safer place to live and work. We are more than happy to visit your driveway and test fit our apparatus, as well as bring you a reflective address sign anytime.”
One of the most delightful rural traditions on Whidbey is the annual Santa Mobile where Central Whidbey Fire Department drives around different neighborhoods with Santa Claus on top of one of their Fire Engine for multiple nights in a row in December. They will put out a schedule and a map on their Facebook page in preparation every year. Kids love it! It’s also a fundraiser for collecting food and donations for the food pantry in Coupeville.
Fortunately, most folks pay attention to safety. It’s part of being a homeowner and a good neighbor. Do enough of those boring but necessary steps, and free up time to relax and enjoy the rest of island life. Just check for burn bans before stoking up a campfire.
If you have additional questions about firefighting island style your reliable Windermere real estate agent can help you get them answered. Don’t have an agent? Connect with us here.
Island Transit is the public transportation system serving Whidbey Island, located in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. The system consists of fixed-route buses and paratransit vans, as well as additional programs such as vanpools and bike locker rentals.
Island Transit began on December 1, 1987 as a response to the increasing traffic congestion and lack of transportation options on Whidbey Island. Today, the system serves a population of approximately 73,000 people, covering a service area of approximately 400 square miles. The buses pick up passengers from bus stops like the Northgate Terrace bus stop pictured above throughout all of Whidbey Island.
In addition to its fixed-route buses, Island Transit also operates a paratransit service for individuals with disabilities who are unable to use the fixed-route buses. The paratransit vans offer door-to-door service and can be reserved by calling Island Transit in advance.
Island Transit’s vanpool program is a convenient and cost-effective alternative for commuters who travel long distances or have irregular work schedules. Participants in the program share the cost of gas and vehicle maintenance and can save money on the cost of driving alone.
The bike locker rental program allows riders to securely store their bike at a convenient location and use it to complete the first or last leg of their commute. The lockers are located at select bus stops and can be rented on a monthly basis (check out prices and apply here) in addition to public use lockers that are on a first come first served basis.
In recent years, Island Transit has made efforts to increase sustainability and reduce its environmental impact. Learn more about their initiatives here. As a result, hybrid buses have been added to its fleet all while keeping Island Transit buses fare-free.
Overall, Island Transit plays a vital role in the transportation needs of the residents and visitors of Whidbey Island. The convenient and reliable services, as well as its vanpool and bike locker rental programs, make it a valuable asset to the community.
If you have further questions or are interested in learning more about living on Whidbey Island please do not hesitate to connect with us. Contact us here.
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Whidbey Island is a beautiful and picturesque destination located in the Puget Sound, just a short ferry ride from Seattle. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and abundance of outdoor activities, it’s no wonder that Whidbey Island is a popular destination for travelers and residents alike. In this blog, we will explore the top 10 best things about Whidbey Island, from its scenic beauty to its thriving arts and culture scene.
Top 10 Best Things About Whidbey Island
- Scenic beauty: Whidbey Island is known for its breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Whether you are driving along the winding roads or hiking through the forests, you will be treated to stunning vistas at every turn.
- Outdoor activities: With its numerous parks, trails, and beaches, Whidbey Island is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you are into hiking, biking, kayaking, or just soaking up the sun on the beach, there is something for everyone on this beautiful island. One of our favorites is Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve in Coupeville.
- Small-town charm: Despite its proximity to Seattle, Whidbey Island has a laid-back, small-town feel that is perfect for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The island’s charming towns and villages offer a variety of local shops, restaurants, and breweries that are worth exploring.
- Local produce and seafood: Whidbey Island is known for its rich agricultural heritage, and the island is home to a number of farms that produce fresh, locally grown produce. The island is also home to a thriving seafood industry, with local fishermen bringing in a variety of fresh, locally caught seafood. Seabolts comes highly recommended.
- Wineries and breweries: Whidbey Island is home to a number of wineries and breweries that offer tastings and tours. These local businesses offer a chance to sample some of the best wines and beers produced on the island.
- Arts and culture: Whidbey Island is home to a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues that offer a variety of performances and exhibitions throughout the year. The island is also home to a number of festivals and events that celebrate the island’s rich cultural heritage.
- Accommodations: Whether you are looking for a luxury resort or a cozy bed and breakfast, Whidbey Island has a wide range of accommodations to choose from. The island’s many hotels, inns, and vacation rentals offer a variety of options for travelers of all budgets and preferences.
- Dining: With its abundance of locally grown produce and seafood, it is no surprise that Whidbey Island is home to some excellent restaurants. From seafood shacks to fine dining establishments like Frasers Gourmet Hideaway or China City, the island has something for every taste and budget.
- History and heritage: Whidbey Island has a rich history and cultural heritage that is worth exploring. The island is home to a number of historic sites, including Fort Casey State Park, which offers a glimpse into the island’s military past.
- Accessibility: Despite its rural location, Whidbey Island is easily accessible from Seattle and other major cities in the region. The island is just a short ferry ride away, making it a perfect getaway for those looking to escape the city for a few days.
Whidbey Island is a truly special place that has something for everyone. From its breathtaking views and outdoor activities to its charming small towns and delicious local cuisine, there’s no shortage of things to see and do on this beautiful island. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, Whidbey Island is the perfect destination for those who love nature, culture, and a slower pace of life.
If you are thinking about moving to Whidbey or just have questions about the area please do not hesitate to connect with us here.
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Whidbey Island has an interesting geological history. During the last glacial age (around 15,000 years ago) Whidbey was so weighed down with ice that it was submerged far underwater. High bluff areas like the ones on West Beach, pictured on the front, are well above the waterline now but the wind, waves and slowly eroding bluffs keep geology enthusiasts coming back for interesting finds. These have included mammoth bones (no kidding!), huge erratic boulders dumped by glaciers, bands of black peat, and even shell middens left by the Coast Salish. Insane right? Tell us what you have found walking along the high-bank waterfronts of Whidbey.
This stunning photo is brought to you by: Willie Shaw