Discovering Unexpected Treasures on Whidbey Island, WA

Crossing the Admiralty Inlet from Port Townsend, we ferried over to our next Washington adventure, Whidbey Island, the longest island in the lower 48 states.  For the next three days we would have our own personal tour guides, Frank and Mary, eager to impart their knowledge of the rich history of the island.  This lovely couple is our winter next-door neighbor and had extended this generous offer before we left So Cal in May, which also included a private “mooch-docking” site in their driveway…sweet!

A beautiful Whidbey Island sunset looking out over the lagoon at Frank and Mary's
A beautiful Whidbey Island sunset looking out over the lagoon at Frank and Mary’s

Whidbey Island boasts five state parks and America’s first national historic reserve, Ebey’s Landing.  And the views of the Olympic Mountains and pristine seas are breathtaking.  Let’s go exploring!

Beginning in the town of Coupeville, where Frank and Mary live, we stepped back into the 19th century as we strolled the finely preserved Victorian downtown and wharf overlooking Penn Cove, one of the only remaining original wharfs and wharf building in the Pacific Northwest.  Getting into the local groove, we dined on world-famous Penn Cove mussels at Toby’s and gourmet ice cream bars at Lavender Wind.   This quaint town, the second oldest in Washington, sits within Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

Stunning wharf and wharf building
Stunning wharf and wharf building

Here is a glimpse of what our lovely tour guides had on the agenda for our stay:

1/  Fort Ebey State Park

Once a coastal defense fort during World War II, it is now a state park with a cozy campground tucked in the woods.   We took a hike along the bluff with views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, then down into the kettles, with Frank offering a brief history lesson on these Ice Age geologic formations.

2/  Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve

This, the first national historic reserve in our nation, preserves the 1850’s character of its 25 square miles, including farmland, beaches, parks, trails, and nationally registered historic buildings.  A feeling of serenity flowed as we walked the paths and looked out over farmland and shimmering seas.

3/  Fort Casey State Park

World War I gun batteries and bunkers can still be seen in this state park, along with miles of hiking trails, camping and fully restored Admiralty Head Lighthouse.  Fort Casey Underwater Park is nearby for you scuba lovers.

4/  Admiralty Head Lighthouse

Admiralty Head Lighthouse
Admiralty Head Lighthouse

This stately lighthouse, companion to Point Wilson Lighthouse sitting four miles away in Port Townsend, on Admiralty Inlet’s western shore, was deactivated in the early 1920’s. In 2012 a historic reconstruction of the lantern house was installed atop the tower. Student volunteers from three Whidbey Island high schools completed all the work…very impressive.

4/  Lavender Wind Farm

Clouds billowing over a lavender labyrinth
Clouds billowing over a lavender labyrinth

On a much smaller scale than Sequim, Coupeville’s Lavender Festival was still very sweet.  Educational talks, strolls through gently swaying aromatic fields, and walking a lavender labyrinth added to the joy of the day.

5/  Greenbank Farm

Gorgeous Greenbank Farm
Gorgeous Greenbank Farm

Living history Greenbank Farm, a gathering place since its start in 1904, is home to beautiful gardens, café, farm and gift shop, and art galleries. But it is perhaps most known for its Organic Farm School, organic seed project, community gardens, and Naturalist Training Program. This is a place I would love to explore in more depth.

6/  Captain Whidbey Inn

This lovingly restored 1907 historic inn overlooks Penn Cove and the world-famous Penn Cove mussel rafts.  This inn’s rooms are reminiscent of Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone NP.

Our short stay with Frank and Mary was a whirlwind of activity but what will linger most is the deepening friendship forged.  Early evenings spent on their deck over a glass of wine, dinners revisiting the day’s adventures, Mary’s morning T’ai Chi Chih classes on the deck, surrounded by gentle breezes and soothing music, while eagles soared and kingfisher chattered, these are the memories that fed our spirits. Pure gratitude is what I feel when I think of these two generous souls.

We left after three days, content with the knowledge that there would be many more memories made when we see them again this winter.  A brief stop at Deception Pass State Park, with a hike down to the beach and a walk out over the iconic bridge to peer into the turbulent waters, rounded out our sightseeing on this wonderful island.

We spent a couple of nights at Washington Park in Anacortes to round out our time on Whidbey Island and prepare ourselves to catch a ferry to the San Juan Islands.  As luck would have it, our good friends from Colorado, Kevin and Erin, were in town visiting Erin’s mother Sally.  We spent a leisurely evening at Sally’s home enjoying a dinner prepared by Kevin, our wine, coffee, tea, and foodie connoisseur.  We have spent countless engaging hours of conversation over many of Kevin’s culinary treasures and we walked away once again in awe of his talent.   Although I didn’t capture this time with photos, we will never forget the lovely conversation and generous nature of these two.  So glad we were able to meet Erin’s mother as well, a delightful woman.  Thank you for a wonderful ending to our time on Whidbey Island.

Next Up:  San Juan Island

26 thoughts on “Discovering Unexpected Treasures on Whidbey Island, WA

  • Sounds like your trip to the PNW has been one enjoyable sojourn after another and shared with wonderful company. What beautiful land and great photographs. I look forward to hearing about your time on San Juan Island …. say hi to Laurel for me 😉

  • With all of your activities on Whidbey with your friends, I was very surprised to read that you were only there for three days! Busy but very fullfilling days:) Thanks for sharing the island with us. Mussels sound like a perfect dinner to me:) Yum! I love the photo of the four of you with “JOY” in the lavender:) Perfect summary of your time together.

    How nice to meet up with yet more friends and one that cooks!

    Your photos are so beautiful. The clarity and reflections are wonderful.

    • Thanks Pam. Our personal tour guides packed so much into three days and I still felt like there was so much more to see. It’s always nice to save some for the next trip. 🙂

  • Man can you two packed in a ton in three days!

    Thanks for the beautiful tour of the Island. It looks like Paradise Island. I love the beauty of the trees next to the water. And, I especially enjoy looking at lighthouses. We have a friend that lives on Whidbey Island, Of course as luck would have it, we did not get to visit him when we were up that way. He was visiting friends in AZ.

    • We did cover a lot of ground during our three days with Frank and Mary. Whidbey is a beautiful island, with such rich history. How wonderful to have friends who live here. I see a visit on your horizon. 🙂

  • What a beautiful place, LuAnn! You captured the gorgeous clouds. I love the shot of the water reflections and trees, beautiful composition! 🙂

  • What a wonderful visit — the joy of your time with good friends shines through in your lovely post, LuAnn. Such a sweet photo of the four of you in the lavender field. We’ve driven through Whidbey Island many times on our journeys to Lopez, but you’ve inspired us to linger there a bit on our next trip. I think I’d enjoy Greenbank Farm!

  • This looks like a beautiful place! I’m heading right over to google maps to get a clear understanding of exactly where it is….. I do spend time in Seattle each year…. hmmmm…..

    • There is so much to do on Whidbey Island. I will be writing about some of the San Juan Islands next. Have you been? Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • Lovely PNW! Looks like a delightful island – I would love to stop by the lavender farm and the lighthouse. There is just something charming about lighthouses:)

  • How fortunate you are to enjoy the beautiful island with a personal tour. LuAnn all your captures are beautiful especially the reflection shot and the sunrise shot(the first one).
    We have been to Deception Pass but don’t recall hiking down to the turbulent waters below. We did enjoy our stay in Anacortes and also took a ferry to San Juan Island.
    I hope we will explore more in that area next year especially now that you have scouted it for us.

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