It was great to be back on Whidbey. I first wrote about it when I worked for The Columbian, our local newspaper. I blogged about it in 2011. Ruth & I recently went from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC via Whidbey. It’s better than ever.
Whidbey is the 2nd largest and longest coastal island in the United States. Only New York’s Long Island is bigger. Whidbey is a 47-mile-drive from the Mukilteo to Clinton ferry, a 20 minute crossing, to Deception Pass. The only other ferry is a 40 minute ride from the must-see town of Port Townsend to Whidbey’s mid-section. The entire island is shaped like a seahorse.
Ruth and I have found 4 reasons to linger on south Whidbey, which is more rural, and Clinton isn’t one of them. The town of Langley is. Langley has the biggest concentration of b&bs in Washington State and the look of a New England seaside village instead of a tourist town. Some travelers also like Freeland, which has a number of antique shops in its popular shopping district. I prefer Langley. Greenbank Farm is where Whidbey is at its narrowest. Once a major loganberry producer, Greenbank is now a community founded, non-profit endeavor with a cafe specializing in pies, a shop, an organic farm school, etc. The other 2 notable stops are the Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens and South Whidbey State Park.
Near the ferry from Port Townsend terminal is this Island’s #2 attraction, the Admiralty Head Lighthouse. North of it is 17,500 acre Ebey’s Landing, the United State’s first historical reserve. Now a part of the National Park Service, Ebey preserves more than 400 buildings. Many of them are in my favorite Whidbey settlement, Coupeville, the 2nd oldest town in Washington. There’s lots to do here: a scenic wharf, mussel beds, a historical museum, etc.
North of The Landing on Highway 20, my absolute favorite Washington road (it terminates at the Idaho border), is the biggest and least interesting town on Whidbey, Oak Harbor. Mostly a service community with shopping centers and every imaginable fast food franchise, it’s for those stationed at the Naval Air Station Seaplane Base and the Navy’s Ault Field. Check out the Naval History Center at the Sea Plane Base.
At Whidbey’s north tip is its #1 attraction, the spectacular Deception Pass Bridge soaring over a historic water passage 185 feet below. Those who take the time to read about the building of this difficult bridge will learn why Deception Pass is a perfect name. Jet boat tours are popular here.