Spending a Day on Whidbey Island

It was late Friday evening when my wife Johanna and I decided to drive to Whidbey Island the next morning. A little bit of research on Instagram made our decisions easy. The island looked gorgeous!

As Canadians living near the border, we have been to Washington many times. We usually tend to explore Bellingham to do some hiking, biking, or just some shopping. Whidbey was a first for us and we were excited to explore a new area. The drive to Whidbey was stunning, as we passed by Lake Campbell and cozy communities dotting the landscape nearby.

Deception Pass Bridge

The first part of the journey welcomes you as you drive across the Deception Pass bridge. We love bridges, and this one was something else. We parked at a pullout and walked over the nearly 180-foot tall span that connects the island to the mainland. Cameras in hand, we photographed the structure itself, but something else caught our attention. Seals were feeding in the waters below! Fighting with hungry gulls looking for a freebie, they would surface with their catches, then swim just below the scavenging birds. It was a surprising sight that my 200mm lens wasn’t quite up to the task of capturing fully. Hiking below the bridge near the pilings was easy, as stairs and trails were abundant. It allowed us to capture some unique angles of this 85-year-old structure.

We left the bridge with excitement, as this was only our first stop on our road trip. Almost right away, we came across a sign for Lam’s Golf Links to our left. I quickly turned into the parking lot to the golf course so we could get some information. Considering we had an entire island to explore in one day, we decided to forego a round in hopes that we would return later in the year to play.

Exploring Coupeville

Driving down the main highway, we were greeted with stunning scenery, farmland, and quaint houses and businesses. We took a wrong turn and ended up in the heart of Coupeville, and we were glad we did! With stomachs growling, we walked down Front Street and stopped into what seemed to be an old store. It turns out it was a business called Toby’s Tavern. Built in 1890, it has housed many businesses in that time but now serves traditional pub fare. You could spend hours looking at the knick-knacks, posters and memorabilia on the walls while sipping pints.

We left Coupeville after a quick visit to the visitor center to pick up some maps. We’ll use these for our next trip when we have more time to plan our visit.

Whidbey Island Parks

I really wanted to get some seaside photos, so we drove down to Fort Casey State Park. Adjacent to the shoreline was a small but intriguing body of water called Crockett Lake, named after the Crockett family who homesteaded there in the middle part of the 19th century. The lake is now a wetland preserve for countless birds and the handful of humans watching them.

It was getting late in the afternoon, and we still had to drive back to Vancouver. One more stop: the Double Bluff County Park. What a wonderful little gem! There were ample opportunities to snap photos of the rippled sandy beach, as well as the piles of driftwood. The clouds were moving in and turning the sky grey, but the photos were still being taken.

The Journey Home 

A quick visit to the Whidbey Island Distillery Company found us taking a tour of the tiny distillery where they produce some of the finest liqueurs and spirits I have ever sampled. Each one of their fruity concoctions was better than the last. If we come back and stay overnight, then we will be taking advantage of the Blackberry Liqueur, but alas, time was running out and we had to get home.

Johanna and I headed off to the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry that crosses over to the mainland near Everett. A cute little vessel with ample seating and tables, and of course, great views.

Our next visit to Whidbey will include a more lengthy stay. I can’t wait to go explore Deception Pass State Park with my wife Johanna. Plus, a stop at Fort Ebey State Park to go mountain biking. There seems to be so much to explore on Whidbey Island and we have only grazed the surface on this first trip.

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Wayne Parsons

Wayne Parsons is a photographer, mountain biker and hiker living in Kamloops, British Columbia. He has spent the last twenty years traveling through the Pacific North West searching for new areas to explore and photograph. Check out his work on www.wayneparsonsphotography.com or on his Instagram accounts @wayne_parsons_photo and @wayneparsonsdesign

7 Comments

  1. Tracy Whitaker on November 15, 2020 at 8:26 am

    You made me cry when you mentioned eating at Toby’s- I miss the Island so much, but love it here in North Carolina too. Thanks!

  2. Sue Henry on January 2, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    The best part of my entire life was on Whidbey Island. My family owned a very simple 2-room cabin there and we kids slept in the attic or out on the beach under the stars. We fished for salmon, picked berries, built forts and rafts out of driftwood. We built campfires in the evenings and roasted lots of marsh-mellows. We hiked across Useless Bay at low tide and climbed Double Bluff. We swam all of the time. Life was so simple on The Island. It was absolutely the best place to grow up. My dad passed away this year from Alzheimer’s, and my brother and I, with our spouses, are returning to scatter his ashes into the bay. I remain homesick to the core. I will be 70 on my next birthday. Thank you for your article. It made me cry with longing and I’m still very emotional as I write this.

  3. Susan Wohr on January 8, 2021 at 8:37 am

    I know this place very well i was raised on whidbey island went ti school in coupeville and graduated from oak harbor i miss it very much

  4. Maryellen Robberts on April 5, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    I have spent most of my life in Texas and will always be a Texas girl but in the twilight of my life I have the good fortune of living in one of natures most beautiful places. Oak Harbor has so very much to offer, so many diverse things to explore and experience.com

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