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Everything you need to know about Whidbey Island: a travel guide

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

A forested view of the Puget Sound with a beach cove, tall trees, blue skies and ocean with a tiny island in the distance for Whidbey Island WA travel guide on Manifesting Travel. ©AlonzoWright
The view from Deception Pass Bridge featured in everything you need to know about visiting Whidbey Island, WA ©AlonzoWright

A haven for wild berry brambles, stretches of green pastures, tall grasses and sweeping water views are what you can expect from Whidbey Island, the largest of the islands in the Puget Sound. It’s a great place to get back to the simplicity of nature and all the physical, mental and spiritual benefits that come from salt water and rolling green hillsides.

So, if you’re feeling cooped up and like you need a little bit of room to breathe, some long lonely stretches of beach to walk down, or to hit pause and uncomplicate things for a little while, Whidbey Island may be just what you’re looking for. Read on for our Whidbey Island Travel Guide.

A snow capped mountain in the background with thick alpine forests lining the Puget Sound with boats floating through the coves for the Manifesting Travel's Everything You Need To Know About Visiting Whidbey Island. ©AlonzoWright
The Deception Pass Bridge connects Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island. ©AlonzoWright

How to get to Whidbey Island, WA

from seattle or kirkland

Whidbey Island ferry at Mukilteo

Driving from Bellingham

from Fidalgo Island to Deception pass

If you’re coming from Seattle, you’ll drive north up the I-5 for a little over half an hour to the Mukilteo ferry terminal. There’s a decent chance the Seattle traffic will be gridlock, so you could take the 405 north through Kirkland if the traffic is lighter.

The Mukilteo ferry comes every 30 minutes, and it only takes 15 minutes to get across to the Clinton ferry terminal on Whidbey Island. It’s important to note, if it’s a busy holiday weekend, the ferry fills up quickly so you could be waiting for upwards of 90 minutes for a spot on the boat. The fee is per person and per vehicle, so if you’re a group of four in a standard car, you’ll pay somewhere around $50 for a round trip ferry ticket.


If you’re going to Whidbey Island from the Bellingham Airport (BLI), you’re in for a pretty, albeit slightly longer drive south on the I-5 to WA-20. It’s only an hour (roughly 43 miles) from Bellingham to Deception Pass at the bridge from Fidalgo Island to Whidbey Island.

You’ll pass through some really picturesque sights along the way, like the Skagit Valley tulip fields if you’re traveling in the spring, Fidalgo Island with several good choices for lunch in Anacortes, and the worth-pulling-over-for Deception Pass State Park.

If you’re staying on the southern end of Whidbey Island, the drive could take you closer to 90 minutes to two hours. Honestly, it’s still worth it for the scenery alone.

A dirt trail winds through the thick green forest with soaring trees and fallen trunks lining the trail, a blue sea and sky through the trees in the distance featured in everything you need to know about visiting Whidbey Island on Whidbey Island Washington for Manifesting Travel. ©AlonzoWright
A forested trail leading down to North Beach on Whidbey Island. ©AlonzoWright

Why you should visit Whidbey Island, WA

Mother Nature

Seaside Towns

Great Restaurants

Excellent Breweries & Wineries

Whidbey Island is the largest of the islands in the Puget Sound, which also means there’s a lot more to do and see as well as places to eat. While nobody comes to the San Juans for the blazing nightlife scene, it can get downright sparse on some of the islands.

So if you’re craving some down time but don’t necessarily want to be isolated in a remote location, Whidbey Island is a happy medium. It’s chock-full of rolling farmland and pastures, lush scenery, lots of water sports, cute seaside towns and a couple of great restaurants, breweries and shops.

Everything you need to know about visiting Whidbey Island featuring a garden with white Adirondack chairs circling a firepit and overlooking a beach with fallen driftwood and a bluff in the background on Manifesting Travel. ©AlonzoWright
Useless Bay is a perfect place to rent a beach house with views of Double Bluff and tons of wildlife. ©AlonzoWright

Where to stay on Whidbey Island, WA



Sunlight Beach

There are so many charming little towns on Whidbey Island to stay in like Coupeville and Langley, but with so many beautiful beach houses to choose from on the island, our pick is Sunlight Beach. It’s a distinctly local vibe with a laid back and small town “everybody knows everybody” feel.

The neighborhood is on a two-lane road with the Puget Sound on one side and a lagoon on the other. There’s only one road in and out so it’s peaceful and secluded, making it perfect for small group vacations. With a mixture of vintage bungalows from the 1920s to 30s and beautifully renovated seven-figure homes, it’s an eclectic and approachable neighborhood for just about anyone.

Everything you need to know about visiting Whidbey Island including where to eat, a gray shingled restaurant with two vintage lanterns hanging above a wooden sign that reads "the oystercatcher, simply good food." ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
One of the highest rated restaurants on Whidbey Island, The Oystercatcher does not disappoint. ©AlonzoWright

Where to eat on Whidbey Island

Little Red Hen

Shrimp Shack


Three Sisters

Whidbey Island isn’t necessarily known for cutting-edge gastronomy, but there are still a few gems that are worth checking out. With its proximity to rich farmlands and all the sustainable fishing a chef could want, it’s important to point out that it is ripe for the picking for major culinary players to move in. Which hopefully doesn’t happen because as it stands, it’s really about the food, not the celebrity chefs behind it.

For breakfast, Little Red Hen in Coupeville has amazing stuffed hash browns and everything croissants with smoked trout. For lunch, Shrimp Shack is a hole-in-the-wall joint just three miles from Deception Pass. Technically, this is just across the bridge on Fidalgo Island but it’s less than five minutes from Whidbey. It’s important to note, the line and wait time for food is a bit nuts, and the fried food and burgers come with mixed reviews so order the fresh shrimp and fries and you won’t be sorry. If you don't want to wat for this one, try Cozy's Shrimp Shack in Clinton.


For dinner, head to the Oystercatcher in Coupeville. It’s a restaurant that celebrates hyperlocal ingredients, like the famous Penn Cove mussels that are harvested a couple blocks down. Order the briny, cold-water oysters on the half shell, the buttery Penn Cove mussels simmered in roasted onions, garlic, parsley and crème fraiche, and the locally caught halibut that’s cooked in a hand-made clay pot, allowing it to bubble in its own juices before the top is fire-blistered and browned. The result is silky perfection with a wafer-thin crispy layer on top.

Head to Three Sisters Market for dessert and more artisanal goodies, their Whidbey Island Marionberry Pie is out of this world good.

Everything you need to know about visiting Whidbey Island for Manifesting Travel features a golden sunset view of Sunlight Beach, with docked boats on the bay and houses perched on a green hillside just below a thick line of evergreen trees. ©AlonzoWright
Golden hour on Sunlight Beach in Useless Bay, Whidbey Island. ©AlonzoWright

What to do on Whidbey Island, WA

Visit Front Street in Coupeville, WA

Penn Cove mussel barges

Whidbey Island Wineries

Whidbey Island Distillery


The Whale Museum

Ebey's Landing

Deception Pass

Prepare to relax and stroll on Whidbey Island. It’s a very slow-paced destination, which is the draw, isn’t it? Don’t miss historic Coupeville, it’s the second-oldest community in Washington and its charming Front Street has lots of shops and restaurants and its own wharf. At the end of the pier, you can see Penn Cove’s famous mussel barges, pup seals sunning themselves and taste exclusive Washington wines at the Vail Wine Bar next door.

Wineries and distilleries are a way of life on Whidbey Island, so visit the island’s Dancing Fish Vineyards for a great Super Tuscan-style red that is aged 22 months in French oak, and the Whidbey Island Distillery which is home to multiple award-winning blackberry liqueur. If you call ahead, you can even schedule a tour.


Langley is also a great place to visit on the waterfront. You can schedule a guided kayak or whale-watching tour from the marina, explore the shops and galleries and visit the Langley Whale Center complete with a sculpture garden right next door to it. A couple notable restaurants to try while you’re there, Prima Bistro and Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar.

And for your dose of Pacific Northwest nature at its finest, stroll the beaches at Ebey’s Landing and Deception Pass, then climb up to see the Deception Pass Bridge from above too. If you rent a beach house like we suggest, there are usually kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and many more water crafts to enjoy and we highly recommend you do.


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Headshot for Manifesting Travel's editor in chief, Ashley Onoz-Wright

Ashley Oñoz-Wright has been a travel writer and editor based in Las Vegas, NV for the last nine years. Her work has been featured in Manifesting Travel, Modern Luxury, Sophisticated Living, Greenspun Media Group, and She holds a degree in Sociology & Anthropology from DePauw University.


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