The largest island in Washington state is waiting for you. It holds many secrets and hidden gems that are worth visiting. Many of which we will explore in this article.
Whidbey Island is a large island, with a total land area of nearly 169 miles, with many fun things to do, beautiful things to see, and several historical sites to explore.
If you are from Seattle, or if you are visiting and want to explore more of the state of Washington has to offer, then visiting Whidbey Island is a must.
I had the chance to see the best the island has to offer over the course of a couple of days, so today, I’m going to guide you through my list of the best 15 things to do on Whidbey Island, WA.
What is Whidbey Island known for?
Whidbey Island is known for beautiful landscapes, numerous outdoor recreational activities, rich history, and splendid national parks.
The northern tip of the island is home to Deception Pass State Park, the most visited state park in Washington.
Although Whidbey Island is suited for both weeklong and shorter day trips, I believe visiting 2 to 4 days allows visitors to see all the best sites the island has to offer.
However much time you have to visit, it’s all about planning ahead so you can have a great time at one of the most beautiful islands in Washington.
How to get to Whidbey Island from Seattle by ferry
There are two routes for getting to Whidbey Island by ferry – the Mukilteo-Clinton and Port Townsend-Coupeville ferry routes.
1. Mukilteo – Clinton Ferry
You can get to Whidbey Island from Seattle by catching the Mukilteo – Clinton ferry located at 910 First Street, Mukilteo, WA 98204.
This quick ferry ride of just about 20 minutes takes you from north Seattle (Mukilteo) to the Clinton Ferry Terminal on the south side of the island. Visiting Whidbey Island from Seattle is quite easy and enjoyable with this ferry. And it’s fairly cost-effect, as well, with fares starting at $5.80 for adults, $2.90 for seniors and FREE for children under 18.
2. Port Townsend – Coupeville Ferry
If you plan on visiting Whidbey Island from the western part of Washington, then you’ll want to take the Port Townsend – Coupeville Ferry from 1301 Water Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368.
This ferry ride has a 35 minute crossing time and lands you at the Coupeville Ferry Dock near Fort Casey Beach and Fort Casey Campground in Fort Casey State Park. Fares for this route start at $3.95 for adults, $1.95 for seniors and FREE for children under 18.
Taking a ferry to Whidbey Island is the first of the many great things that you’ll do on your adventure – the stunning scenery of Puget Sound makes both these ferry rides, in my opinion, some of the best ferry rides in Seattle.
15 Things to do on Whidbey Island
Brace yourself: we are about to explore one of the most naturally beautiful places in the Puget Sound region.
It is worth noting that Whidbey Island is a “relaxing” location that suits outdoor lovers more than party-seekers.
Therefore, let’s take a deep look at things to do, museums, and national parks to explore during your trip to Whidbey Island, WA.
1. Stay around Oak Harbor
The largest community on Whidbey Island is Oak Harbor. At roughly 24,000 inhabitants, it is a charming place that has many beautiful things to see and nice people to meet.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly place to stay while exploring Puget Sound, Oak Harbor is an excellent choice. This town has a variety of spacious motels that are perfect for families, and casual restaurants are plentiful where you can grab a bite to eat. With its comfortable accommodations and convenient location, Oak Harbor makes an ideal basecamp for your family’s Whidbey Island adventure.
If you aren’t looking to stay overnight in Oak Harbor, you should still visit their historic downtown district and walk Pioneer Way where you’ll see amazing public art displays and shops filled with local arts, crafts, decor and books that are truly unique to the area.
2. Go on a wine tasting tour
Are you a wine lover? If so, then you can’t visit Whidbey Island without visiting a great wine shop where you can taste awesome wine: The Spoiled Dog Winery, at Langley, WA.
The Spoiled Dog Winery is a family-owned Vineyard, Winery, and Tasting Room on Whidbey Island. They are known for their Pinot Noir and are located just minutes from the Clinton Ferry Terminal. They have have outdoor seating and four covered gazebos with heaters, if you still want to visit on chilly days.
People from all over Washington State come to the island just to taste some of the delicious wine that this place has to offer its visitors.
3. Explore Deception Pass State Park
Deception Pass State Park is a special place in Washington. It is located at the northern tip of Whidbey Island, and connects the island to Fidalgo Island.
It offers over 3,854 acres of marine parks, campgrounds, unbeatable views and outdoor adventures.
The scenery at the park is truly awe-inspiring and is some of the best on the island. You can hike along cliffs while soaking in the incredible views of the water, forests and mountains. Or, for the more learning inclined, check out the Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center to learn more about the park’s rich history which dates back to the 1800s.
Finally, don’t miss your chance to take a picture with the iconic Deception Pass Bridge in the background – it is a memory that you will treasure forever!
4. Learn more about Whidbey Island at the Island County Historical Museum
The Island County Historical Museum is a small yet highly interesting museum located in Coupeville, a historical town and the second-oldest community on Whidbey Island.
The Island County Historical Museum archives all the information you need to learn about Whidbey Island’s history. The most interesting historical artifact they have here is the first car that was ever driven on the island back in 1902.
If you are into the marvels of history and want to know more about the place you are visiting, then this museum is a must-stop for sure.
5. Enjoy the view at Fort Ebey State Park
Fort Ebey State Park was once a coastal fort during World War II, but it’s now an incredible 645-acre camping park with about 25 miles of walking, hiking and biking trails. Many well-preserved historical relics line the paths and trails.
If you plan on camping, standard campsite fees start at $27 and full-utility campsite fees will cost you $40 to $50.
Also interesting, if you are visiting the park in April and May, you can harvest seaweed on the beach. Just make sure to secure the proper seaweed and shellfish license before doing so.
This state park has two things that I love: the hiking and biking trails are fun to explore, and the background and history of the park are as interesting as they get. I’d give it a ten out of ten!
6. Discover South Whidbey State Park
Relax and enjoy the views the 381-acre day-use South Whidbey State Park has to offer.
The park is located at the southern end of Whidbey Island. It boasts many outdoor activities and 3.5 miles of hiking trails to explore. Here, you can catch a great view of the Olympic Mountains of the Olympic Peninsula.
If you are bringing the entire family, make sure to stop and have a nice picnic here. It is one of the best state parks to lay out a blanket and eat a fresh lunch while the beauty of the nature surrounds you.
Unfortunately, if you were looking forward to camping here, please note that camping at South Whidbey State Park has been permanently closed due to tree diseases.
7. Watch storms at Joseph Whidbey State Park
Not only is Joseph Whidbey State Park known for its beautiful views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Lopez Island, but its prime storm watching, too. One of the more unique experiences you can have here is watching the storms roll in because they form in this section of the Pacific Northwest with uncanny regularity.
While the Joseph Whidbey State Park is a day-use park, and closes at dusk, camping is available at nearby Fort Ebey State Park.
8. Go scuba diving and enjoy the beach
Access the beach and explore the ocean at one of the many beach access poitns on Whidbey Island. Here’s a list of my personal favorite swimming and scuba diving spots:
- Possession Point State Park: This park boasts a stunning saltwater shoreline on Whidbey Island, perfect for a fun family day out.
- Keystone (Fort Casey Underwater State Park): For the more adventurous, scuba diving at the Keystone Jetty at Fort Casey is an exciting experience. Scuba divers from Seattle, WA and Vancouver, B.C. commonly dive here. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll see Giant Pacific Octopus resting in their dens in some of the boulders or even giant wolf eels, which sometimes make an appearance in the area.
- Langley Tire Reef: Located at Langley Marina, this shore accessible salt water dive site features several thousands of tires underwater. Anemone, crabs and fish all make their homes here making for a really neat dive.
9. Visit Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve
Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve (managed by the NPS) is a protected historical district on Whidbey Island over 19,000 acres large.
The reserve includes the community of Coupeville, Fort Casey State Park, Fort Ebey State Park, Admiralty Inlet Natural Area Preserve and a section of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.
While here you should visit Coupeville Wharf or have a taste of the famous Penn Cove Mussels (learn more about Penn Cove Mussels here).
10. Dive deep into history at Fort Casey State Park
Fort Casey State Park is located right next to the Coupeville Ferry Terminal, which connects Port Townsend with Whidbey Island.
Here, you can see the military systems that were implemented to defend Puget Sound during war times.
If you are into curiosities and facts about WWII, then this historical state park will certainly keep your interest for hours.
Finally, take a picture from the top of the Admiralty Head Lighthouse, a historic lighthouse built in 1903. From the top you have gorgeous views of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and the Port Townsend-Coupeville Ferry crossing.
11. Visit downtown Langley
Langley, WA is a small, charming, waterfront town that’s known for Mystery Weekend, a yearly mystery game on the last weekend in February and the Welcome the Whales Festival at the beginning of April every year.
For those that like to partake, there’s wineries to visit and wines to taste, spirits to taste at Whidbey Island Distillery, and pints to enjoy at Penn Cover Brewing Company.
Finally, no stop in Langley is complete without visiting the Langley Whale Center, a marine mammal education center and museum where you’ll learn all about the orcas, gray whales, and humpbacks that inhabit the Salish Sea.
12. Enjoy artwork at the Price Sculpture Forest
For nature and art lovers, there’s nothing better than enjoying unique art exhibits while surrounded by big trees and unique wildlife.
The Price Sculpture Forest is a relatively new attraction on Whidbey Island. The outdoor collection of sculptures was opened to the public on October 23, 2020 and features two paths with different art themes. The Nature Nurtured path features nature-inspired sculptures while the Whimsy Way path features sculptures more playful in nature.
13. Go to the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum
The Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum (PNWNAM), located in Oak Harbor, is a place that celebrates and preserves the history of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NAS Whidbey Island).
The museum features 11 display areas spanning different eras in military history such as World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. There’s also interactive exhibits like a PBY gun turret that you can climb into and night vision goggles that you can wear and try out.
Don’t show up on Monday or Tuesday, however. PNWNAM is only open Wednesday through Sunday. Regular tickets are $7.00 while military and seniors can purchase tickets for $6.00. Children under 6 are free making it a very budget-friendly family outing.
14. Go to a farm
Many Whidbey Island visitors go to the island to purchase fresh produce that they can take with them back home.
The nice weather and large open fields on the island create many great agricultural opportunities for the locals.
Greenbank Farm and Bayview Farm are good examples of two farms you can visit to experience the freshness and deliciousness of the products that can be found on the island.
15. Bring your pet to Double Bluff Beach
Double Bluff Beach is not only one of the most famous beaches in Washington State, but one of the most dog-friendly beaches, as well. Bring your dog to this off-leash beach and have a great time with them!
At approximately 2 miles long, Double Bluff Beach is popular among kite-boarders and a great place for bird-watching. Birds such as herons, eagles and Peregrine falcons are frequently spotted around the beach.
And, on clear days, you’ll get views of Seattle, Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Peninsula.
Whidbey Island is one of the best places that you can visit in Washington. I hope my list gave you some ideas for things to do on Whidbey Island. The amazing state parks and charming small towns scattered across it truly have something for everyone to enjoy.