Whidbey Island is another one of my favorite getaways from Seattle. It offers a snapshot of the best Washington state has to offer: hikes along the water, breathtaking views at Deception Pass, rolling farmland, historic towns, abundant wildlife and great food. Did I mention the whales? Yes, you can do whale watching there too!
You can choose to visit Whidbey traveling on a loop from Seattle going north, then over Deception Pass, traveling south over Whidbey and returning to I-5 just north of Seattle in Everett/Mukilteo.
Getting to Whidbey: You can travel north on I-5 and passing Mount Vernon, take exit 230 for Highway 20 toward Anacortes, heading west. Before
reaching Anacortes take a left and follow Highway 20 through Oak Harbor and over Deception Pass. (more about this favorite spot later) Drive time from SeaTac to Deception Pass is about 2 hours. Allow more time for scenic stops along the way (see previous blogs) or for rush hour traffic leaving Seattle.
You can also catch the ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton on Whidbey Island. Take I-5 north to Exit 182 for WA-525 N toward WA 99. Follow WA-525 and signs for the Mukilteo Ferry. Check out the Whidbey Island ferry schedule here. (be sure to check for the appropriate schedule based on dates and season.) Once you land at Clinton, follow WA-525 up Whidbey Island and then take WA-20.
Drive time from SeaTac is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (allow more time during rush hours) and the ferry crossing takes about 20 minutes. Plan on arriving at least 30 minutes before departure times and allow more time in the summer season. No reservations necessary for the ferry. You can pay by credit card or using your Orca card at the ferry terminal.
Getting Around Whidbey: For Whidbey, you need a car. There are a number of charming small towns, great areas for hiking and whale watching….all accessed best by car.
If you are determined to try public transit and have lots of time,there is an extensive Island Transit bus system on Whidbey. (check schedules and route maps here) You can catch a bus from the Clinton ferry terminal that stops at most small towns all the way to Coupeville and eventually ending in Oak Harbor. If you plan on visiting just one town like Langley or Coupeville and really do not want to take a car, you can catch the Sounder Train at King Street Station in downtown Seattle to the Mukilteo stop. (information on the Sounder Train from Seattle to Everett here) From here you can walk on the ferry and then catch the Island Transit bus to either Coupeville or Langley. From the bus anticipate a fairly long walk to local accommodations. Also, once in Langley or Coupeville, it is difficult to access the best hiking trails as well as Deception Pass without a car.
So, you can certainly get to Whidbey Island via public transportation, you can’t actually SEE Whidbey without a car. (ok, serious cyclists, this does not apply to you!)
My last word….take a car and explore the island. Take your time….there is a lot to see and do.