Views of Mt. Baker while soaking up the sun and floating in a protected bay; that is kayaking on the waters surrounding Whidbey Island. We left our home in Seattle and an hour and fifteen minutes later we arrived at Whidbey Island Kayaking. They are located at the Langley Marina on the Saratoga Passage, part of the Salish Sea, which includes the inland marine waters of southern British Columbia, CA, and northern Washington State, USA. WIK offers tours, lessons, and rentals of single and tandem sea kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and sit-on-top kayaks. We chose a guided 2 ½ hour guided tour in a tandem sea Kayak.
The Salish Sea offers an abundance of beauty! Views of the surrounding mountains, cliffs, and islands, are the backdrop to a stunning variety of sea-life that can be spotted on your trip, such as bald eagles, peregrine falcons, heron, seals, dolphins, and sometimes even whales!
Our tour started with at least 15 minutes of procedural and safety instruction on the beach. Then the guides helped us settle into our boats, and we were off on our adventure. Paddling in the sea is different and a bit more difficult than our previous lake expeditions. Our guide was patient and attentive, giving us tips, while also serving as a very knowledgeable tour guide. It was an excellent experience!
There are so many other kayak trips to take, whether it is with a guide or if you are experienced and want to venture off with your own kayak.
After giving our upper bodies a good workout, we headed to South Whidbey State Park for a short, but beautiful, hike through old-growth forest on the Wilbert Trail. Before hitting the trail, though, refueling was required. Less than 10 minutes from the park, the perfect place to stop is Greenbank Farm. Previously a working farm, it was saved from residential development in 1997 by a group consisting of the Port of Coupeville, the Nature Conservancy, and Island County. The Farm is now a community of shops offering a vast array of specialty food stores, art galleries, and pea patches. There are also great sandwiches available at the Greenbank Store, and since a hike is in the plan – why not a bit of dessert at Whidbey Pies?
After our very short walk in the old-growth, we headed back into Coupeville. We checked out the Coupeville Wharf, which was built in 1905.
Along with a fuel dock and boat moorage, the wharf also offers a café, gift shop, kayak rentals, and a coffee shop, not to mention some stunning views of Mt. Baker.
We wandered over to Ciao to pick up some dinner. Michael just loved his Fettuccine Alfredo with spicy shrimp, garlic, and marinara sauce. It was actually made to order for him because he couldn’t find exactly what he wanted on the menu.
I had the Spaghetti with meatballs and some very spicy sausage. The garlic bread was a really special treat. Hand stretched and wood-fired, the flatbread is slathered with whole roasted garlic cloves and a blend of five kinds of cheese, then baked in the wood-fired oven.
Our home in Coupeville was at Coupeville by the Cove. Our well-appointed room had gorgeous views of Penn Cove and was within easy walking distance of the shops and restaurants in town.
For breakfast, we headed out to Sunshine Drip. Along with some really great coffee, Michael enjoyed the Veggie, Egg, and Cheese sandwich with spinach, onion, and tomato, while I had some of the best avocado toast I’ve tasted. Locally made artisan toast, topped with a generous amount of avocado slices, tomato, sea salt and drizzled with olive oil. Delish!
Our travels that day took us to Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island’s biggest city. With a population of 23,000, Oak Harbor is also home to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. However, we think the main claim to fame is the gateway to Deception State Park. Before heading to the park, however, we stopped in at Seabolt's Smokehouse. Seabolt's is most famous for its smoked and canned fish products, which can be found worldwide.
The restaurant has an extensive seafood selection, way beyond smoked fish! Michael ordered the Manila Clams, which came steamed with garlic, white wine, lemon & butter. Simple and delicious. I was taken by the vast array of fish and chips selections. There are eight choices of beer-battered fish dishes, plus sampler and platter options. I had the Halibut, which was perfect. Flaky, hot, and tasty. We also tried the Seafood Stew – a variety of wild-caught fish, mussels, clams, and shrimp, swimming in a tomato-based broth with a touch of orange and saffron.
Finally, it was time to head to Deception Pass! We went to Bowman Bay, located just north of Deception Pass Bridge.
There are over 30 hikes in the park, many of them short – all of them beautiful.
While sitting in the park, and taking in the beauty, we enjoyed some locally produced, afternoon snacks. We had the world-famous Penn Cove mussels, smoked and canned by Penn Cove Shellfish, which turns out to be the same company that provided the clams Michael enjoyed at Seabolt's. A new discovery for us was the grain-and-gluten-free, all-natural, Toasted Coconut Granola, from Primal Island Paleo Foods. Owner and founder, Marybeth Shirley started her company when she realized that the paleo snacks she was creating for her own family were huge hits with her friends and neighbors, whether they were on the Paleo diet or not.
One of the many things we love about our travels close to home is that returning is so easy! On our next trip, we might try a longer hike and do the Pass Lake Loop. The trail is 3.4 miles, beginning near the boat launch for Pass Lake off Hwy 20. Whidbey Island is truly the best day trip from Seattle – lots of great outdoor activities and a myriad of wonderful restaurants to choose from. I can’t wait to get back!
Editorial disclosure: lodging, beverages, and food generously provided.