Mt. Baker looms over the marina in Oak Harbor

Get Lost Here

Mt. Baker and Oak Harbor
by Laura Hilton

Whidbey and Camano Islands are great spots to get lost. Both islands are packed with beautiful hidden places and striking, unexpected views. You could truly have a wonderful day here just driving around exploring.

An island is the perfect place to go searching without a map, because the handy thing is it’s impossible to stay lost for long. You might follow a scenic road into an unfamiliar area, and get turned around. You might start getting worried when you drive into one of our peaceful pockets of no cell reception, and can’t connect to your maps. But never fear! It’s difficult to drive more than ten minutes in any direction here, without coming to either a beach or the main road. Unless you cross a very noticeable bridge (one per island), it’s not as if you can accidentally venture somewhere else.


    Amazing views, like this one of Ebey's Reserve, are everywhere.

    So switch off your GPS and let curiosity guide you. Whidbey and Camano are both long and thin, so there are endless little winding roads through forest or farms, packed in on all sides with those stunning water and mountain views the Pacific Northwest is so well known for. In these socially-distant times it’s especially important to keep our plans flexible. If the beach or trail you were headed for seems too crowded, simply jump in the car and on to the next! Plenty to go around here.

    This Way - That Way

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    Did you ever play This Way, That Way as a kid? Driving around with our parents, at every new crossroads my siblings and I would take turns deciding right, left, or straight to see where we ended up. As a child who can’t drive and doesn’t get to make many decisions, there was a real sense of power in that. As an adult who usually has a plan for where they’re driving or a schedule to keep, you too can find power in throwing plans out and indulging in some childlike discovery. It can be difficult to drop the daily agenda and just putter around a bit, but it’s so delightful when you get the chance to!

    To have a truly relaxing time with us you’ll need a temporary island home. Whether you’d prefer that to be a tent in the woods or a private house on the beach, check out the many lodging options here, we’ve got something for everyone. You’ll find restaurants, cafes, and food carts in your wanderings, but for specific dining info check here. Most places are offering takeout these days, so while exploring you can search out the perfect picnic spot. Just a few things to watch out for, and you’ll be on your way:


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    Drive Times on the Islands

    Though neither island is very wide, both are surprisingly long. Keep in mind it takes about half an hour to drive from one end of Camano Island to the other, and just over an hour for Whidbey Island.


    Cherry Trees in bloom along a country lane.


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    Private Roads and Dead Ends

    Plenty of these are around but they are usually clearly marked. The same goes for private beach access.

     

    RATHER HAVE A MAP?

    Need detailed information on where to drive?  See the PDF!

    View the Map
     

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    Deer and Other Wildlife

    Whether it be on land, air, or sea, you’re bound to see some beautiful creatures when you visit our islands. Just look out for them in the roads! Deer crossing are a particularly common sight, so keep an eye out, especially if you’re driving after dark.

    Students at their workstations in cooking school at The Orchard Kitchen
    A buck wanders next to a Coupeville street.
    Students at their workstations in cooking school at The Orchard Kitchen

    Along the road at Ebey's Landing.


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    Cyclists

    If you have the energy, this is another great way to explore the islands! This is a popular place for cyclists, especially in the summer months, so watch those shoulders.


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    State Parks

    For a relatively small county we are very fortunate to be dotted with so many State Parks (including the most visited in Washington: Deception Pass State Park!). Please be aware that you’ll need a Discover Pass to access these particular treasures. For a day they are just $10 (per car, not person), or a worthwhile investment of $30 for a whole year.


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    Islander Conversations

    Both Whidbey and Camano have one fast-moving main road that travels the length of the island, but when you get out onto the smaller side roads it’s a slower pace. So much so that you may come to a car that’s fully stopped, near another car or a pedestrian. You may wonder if something’s wrong, but more than likely they’ve just passed someone they know and stopped for a chat. They’ll get going again once they see you’ve come up behind them or wave you around if it’s an important conversation!

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