A Day on Whidbey Island

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After my time on the Olympic Peninsula, I made my way slowly to Lummi Island to visit friends.  On the way, I spent a day on Whidbey Island.

Getting to Whidbey Island

In order to reach Whidbey Island from the Olympic Peninsula, I took the Port Townsend-Coupeville Ferry.  Having only ridden the Washington ferry system one time ten years ago, I popped online for a refresher.

Fortunately, I did.  Apparently, this is an extremely popular ferry route and reservations are recommended.  I had to get the 6:30am ferry because the others were sold out!  It costs around $15 for a car and person which is paid at the toll booth.

The ferry was enormous!  Somehow, I lucked out and got to park on the very front next to a semi-truck.  I enjoyed a lovely view on calm seas as we spent 30 minutes crossing the Puget Sound.

Langley, Whidbey Island

Upon arrival at Fort Casey, I turned south first to visit Langley.  I read that the small town is a popular weekend destination for people coming from Seattle.  I knew at 7:30am there might not be much open, but I hoped for at least a coffee shop.

NOPE!  The coffee shop didn’t open until 9am!!  The handful of locals out walking their dogs did not have any caffeine laced drinks in their hands either.  It seems ironic that I came up empty handed given Starbucks was started in Seattle (just 35 miles away) and has expanded worldwide.

As you can imagine, if the coffee shop wasn’t open, the surrounding shops, restaurants, wineries, and galleries also had their lights out.  As a result, I shared the street with a mama and baby bunny before walking down to a short path below town.  I found myself most amused by the “pizza box only” trash can and the stuffed animal on the poop bag container.

Fort Casey Historical State Park

The town is quaint and seems like it could be cute for a weekend, but it was very sleepy this weekday morning.  After a bit of a bust in Langley, I returned to Fort Casey.  What an interesting place!

Fort Casey, Fort Worden, and Fort Flagler were constructed in the late 1800’s to protect the entrance to Puget Sound.  They were known as the Triangle of Fire. 

Fort Casey was equipped with a pair of rare 10-inch disappearing guns.  While the guns were the height of technology in the early 1900’s, better airplanes and warships soon rendered them useless.  The fort closed in 1940. 

Now visitors can explore the batteries. I really enjoyed reading the interpretive signs and learning how the soldiers packed and raised the ammunition to the guns.  There is a lot that goes into just firing one round!

fort casey on whidbey island

On the other side of the park from the battery stands the Admiralty Head Lighthouse.  It was built in 1903 to withstand earthquakes and the gun concussions.  It is no longer active and has been fully restored.

admiralty head lighthouse on whidbey island

Coupeville, Whidbey Island

From Fort Casey, I skipped Fort Ebey State Park as I visited it 10 years ago and drove north to Coupeville.  Perhaps it was because I arrived a little later, but I found Coupeville to be cuter than Langley.  I loved walking out on the dock and taking in the reflection of the quaint downtown on the smooth waters of Penn Cove. 

coupeville, whidbey island

In addition, Coupeville’s streets are dotted with cute sculptures.  I particularly like the dog peeing on the fire hydrant.  A local spotted me snapping the photo and suggested if I liked sculptures to visit the Price Sculpture Forest just a few miles away.

dog and fire hydrant sculpture

Deception Pass State Park

I was already set on hiking in Deception Pass State Park, my next stop, so I passed on the suggestion, but maybe next time.  Ten years ago when I visited Deception Pass Bridge, which connects Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island, I only stopped at a small pullout on the side of the road and snapped some close up photos.  Now the pullout is being used from construction on the bridge!

This time I visited the park for a hike.  I followed the Rosario Head Trail to Lighthouse Point and Lottie Point.  The moderate, 4.7 mile path is extremely popular.   Personally, I’m not sure why.  Of course, it provides some nice views of the San Juans and the Deception Pass Bridge, but it follows the coastline through camping and picnic areas and even parking lots at times. As a result, the hike felt disjointed to me.  I guess sometimes you have to take the good with the bad, and it is a nice path for the locals who camp at the park.

Anacortes, Fidalgo Island

After our hike, we continued North to Anacortes on Fidalgo Island.  I was in shock when I arrived at a city of 16,000 people after having spent all days at places with less than 1,500 folks.  I don’t remember it being so big 10 years ago when I stopped at a shack at the port for oysters.

I immediately went in search of a quiet place to relax and found a lovely view of the port, Mt. Ranier and the Cascades at Cap Sante Park.  I found this out of sheer luck, but it seemed popular among the locals who came and went, some showing their tourists friends around.


From Anacortes, I crossed over to the mainland and ended up camping at a viewpoint off Chuckanut Dr. overlooking Samish Bay.  At first, I wasn’t too excited about the teenagers who come up to park and smoke.  But I met four young men, two from Texas, who were rather interested in VANgo.

We got to chatting and soon I had a plan for the following day.  I hike to Oyster Dome in the morning, have oysters for lunch, and head to Fairhaven, the historic district of Bellingham for the afternoon and evening.  ETB

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Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

6 thoughts on “A Day on Whidbey Island

  1. Gorgeous scenery! Could not get 4 second video of bunnies to open. The other video worked great!

  2. Those islands look like an inviting place to wander. You have to be patient for the coffee shop to open! Small towns don’t always start early (I live in one).

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