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.
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.
It’s great to start the Ridge Trail in Ebey’s Landing at Sunnyside Cemetery. See if you can find the two monuments that originally stood in the first Ebey Graveyard located on Ebey’s Prairie near Isaac and Rebecca Ebey’s home. You will discover a plethora of history about Whidbey Island here but don’t forget to stop and enjoy the view! The trail takes you past Jacob Ebey’s house and blockhouse on your journey towards the edge of the bluff. At the ‘T’ you can follow the trail left to the Ebey’s Landing Parking lot at the beach or head right for some impressive views along the bluff. It’s your choice to continue down the switchbacks to the lagoon below and you can follow the beach back OR turn around for an out and back.
Check out the rest of Whidbey’s beautiful destinations from this series 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.
Whidbey Island, is home to some of the best ice cream spots in the region. Whether you are a resident or just visiting for a weekend getaway, add these ice cream shops to your must-try list.
The Whidbey Island Ice Cream Company is located in Freeland and has been open since 2008. Their one goal? “To bring joy to our community through the deliciousness of ice cream.” All their ice cream is locally made. Check out their website here before you go.
Find Kapaws in the heart of Coupeville. This ice cream spot is only open during the sunny times of the year. Tour the town of Coupeville and stop by this ice cream shop for anything from single-scoops, waffle cones, and cake cones! Bring the eager kids who love combining all the different flavors – a must-stop spring/summer ice cream location. Check out their Facebook here before you go!
The Farm Stand ice cream on Whidbey Island is a locally made treat using the freshest ingredients from the surrounding area. With a variety of flavors to choose from, each scoop is a unique and delicious experience. Enjoyed at the Farm Stand or taken to go, this ice cream accurately represents Whidbey Island’s bountiful offerings. Learn more about the Farm Stand here before you head out.
Whidbey Farm & Market ice cream is made with the freshest, locally sourced ingredients to provide the best possible flavor and quality. With a wide range of flavors, they are dedicated to creating a memorable experience with every scoop. Whether enjoyed at the farm or taken to go, Whidbey Farm & Market ice cream is a treat like no other. Check out their website here.
No matter which ice cream spot you choose, you’re sure to find a delicious treat on Whidbey Island. These ice cream shops are the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day and experience a fun outing with friends and family. Share your adventures with us at @windermere_whidbey_Island on Instagram.
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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Located on Whidbey Island, Fort Casey State Park is a great place to visit for those looking to explore the Pacific Northwest and Whidbey Island. It’s hard to pick just one thing that makes this place so special! So we picked three!
#1 The park’s location is perfect for history buffs who also love the outdoors. There are miles of trails winding through forests filled with towering Douglas Fir trees, open grassy fields, and dotted throughout are all the historical infrastructure. It affords several unique photo opportunities from the expansive water views, military relics like the large cannon guns, the infamous Admiralty Head Lighthouse, and fauna like bald eagles and deer.
#2 There are so many stories associated with this one location. History buffs will learn about the Civil War-era military fort that was built here in order to protect against a potential invasion via water from Japan or Russia during World War II with the “Triangle of Fire. The Admiralty Head Lighthouse adds another slant of historical intrigue. The original lighthouse, which was built in 1894 and first lit on January 21st of 1895 could be seen as far away as 14 miles with a focal plane of 128 feet above the high tide line. You can now visit the lighthouse in its expertly restored state and learn from the volunteer docents that keep the small museum housed inside. Learn more here http://www.washingtonlighthouses.org/data/lighthouse_ah.html
#3 So many ways to stay! If a day trip is not long enough to soak it all in you can book a campsite at the base of the bluff on the Southern end of the park. It’s located on a bit of a sandy plateau right next to the Ferry landing that serves the Washington State Ferries Port Townsend to Coupeville route. In fact, a neat feature of weekend camping here is that you can walk on the Ferry and explore the historical Water Street in Port Townsend! Grab an amazing meal from one of Port Townsend’s excellent restaurants just don’t miss the last ferry back! If that sounds too risky then head over to Callens Restaurant for some of Coupeville’s best food and drink. If camping accommodations is not your thing you can stay at Camp Casey with a variety of accommodation types. Check it out here https://casey.spu.edu/staying-at-camp-casey/lodging/
Whichever you choose, a day trip or an overnight stay at Fort Casey State Park is sure to leave you with some one-of-a-kind memories!
When overlooking Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve in Coupeville, it is easy to spot the most iconic building in the reserve. The Ferry House. The house was built by Isaac Ebey’s family shortly after he was killed to help support Isaac’s sons. From the early 1860s to around 1900 the inn operated as a tavern, post office, grocery store, and hospitality inn for people traveling through Admiralty Inlet and to families who claimed Whidbey as their home. The National Park Service acquired it in 2000 and is committed to its preservation in partnership with Friends of Ebey.
Long before European Explorers discovered Whidbey Island, Penn Cove hosted one of the largest native populations in the region. The Coast Salish People used the well-protected cove with easy access to the rest of Puget Sound for ample trading opportunities while the nearby prairie produced bountiful crops. As settlers came, Coupeville remained the central trading location on the island and by 1881 was the Island County government seat. The town prospered due to shipping fish, produce, lumber, and timber to the mainland via the Coupeville Wharf. Unlike many other historical towns, Coupeville’s historic waterfront buildings remain remarkably intact.
Check out the rest of Whidbey’s beautiful destinations from this series here.
Gracing the waters of Penn Cove floats a particularly unique & quite famous feature of our island. Wood & rope intertwine to create seemingly countless rafts bobbing on the waves above and creating magic below… You may not know this, but Island county is home to the oldest & largest mussel farm in the United States. Penn Cove Mussels, Inc. began culturing mussels in 1975 with the desire to harness the cove’s naturally nutrient-rich water to harvest bigger and better mussels than the ones currently available on the market. The results were incredible! Penn Cove mussels grow at a remarkable rate, enabling the mussels to reach harvest size within one year. This rapid growth rate causes Penn Cove mussels to have a firmer texture, sweeter flavor, and a thinner shell with more meat. These crowd-pleasing mussels are a favorite of chefs all over the country and with only two hours separating Penn Cove from the Sea-Tac Airport; mussels harvested in the morning are easily on dinner plates in Houston by the evening. To read more about this local aquaculture visit our blog here.
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Check out the rest of Whidbey’s beautiful destinations from this series here.