Things to Do on Washington's Islands

Tucked within Puget Sound and beyond, Washington State's islands offer a variety of unique opportunities to explore the unparalleled beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Here are few ways to experience Washington's archipelago, which includes Whidbey and Camano islands and the San Juan Islands.

Bike Camano Island.

Pedal around Camano Island on a scenic 45-mile loop that winds through rolling hills, dense forests and flat farmlands, or dip into Camano Island State Park for an easy mile on car-free routes.

Dive into Langley Tire Reef.

Just off the coast of Whidbey Island, the Langley Tire Reef—made from thousands of tires, wood logs, and tons of chains—is home to octopi, crab, rockfish, sculpin and lingcod. Divers of all skill levels take the plunge to get up close to the sea creatures.

Admire the Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens.

Showy rhododendrons, flowering trees and conifers fill Greenbank’s Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens on Whidbey Island with lush color and life. Tour the display gardens or wander along more than four miles of trails within the woodland preserve.

Explore historic Coupeville.

Nestled on the south side of Penn Cove on Whidbey Island, waterfront community Coupeville was once a bustling port of commerce, ferrying products and people between the mainland and the island. Today its historic wharf is more a place of leisure worth a stroll with charming boutiques and cafes, plus the real skeletons of Rosie the gray whale and Rudy the Dall’s porpoise.

Explore Deception Pass.

Rugged cliffs plunge into turbulent, swirling waters at Deception Pass, a saltwater canyon separating Whidbey and Fidalgo islands. Quickly changing tides and swift currents can lead to treacherous conditions, including whirlpools, eddies, standing waves and class II and III rapids. Explore the surrounding Deception Pass State Park for hiking trails that wind among old-growth forests, pristine freshwater lakes and 174 different types of birds.

See the view from the top of Mount Erie.

No climbing gear is required to reach the top of Mount Erie, the highest point on Fidalgo Island. A paved road leads right to the summit, where proud, er, mountaineers clamber onto viewing platforms to see amazing vistas of the surrounding waters and isles.

Visit the San Juan Islands whale museum.

Three blocks away from the ferry landing in Friday Harbor, the largest town in the San Juan Islands, The Whale Museum has dozens of exhibits and artifacts devoted to the massive marine mammals. Learn about the resident J, K, and L orca pods living here in the waters of the Salish Sea, see real whale skeletons, listen to different underwater “songs” in the whale phone booth and even adopt an orca.

About the Author

Angela Cabotaje