How to Whidbey Island

Beginner’s Water

No matter where you go or what you study, it’s best to have a home base or a benchmark. So the second year of Tidal Life begins with an introduction to how to Whidbey Island, the place it all started.

Whether living on Whidbey or visiting, water is the number one consideration. Water surrounds the island, it defines the beaches everyone comes here to enjoy, and it falls from the sky. A lot.

Whidbey Island Garb and Gear


In spring, Whidbey’s longest season, wear a light, water resistant jacket everywhere. Usually with a hearty sweater underneath. Be sure to wear a t-shirt underneath that. Jeans or khakis. Bring rubber boots, hiking shoes, running shoes, dress shoes and flip flops. It’s best to have at least two options in the car at all times. Some like the Birkenstocks with socks thing. Personally I find them useless, except for cafe sitting. Which can be done quite well in hiking boots.


In summer – which starts July 5 – I advocate a tank top and a jacket, but keep that hearty sweater near to hand for after sundown. Jeans and shorts. The flip flops are my staple and the hiking boots vie with casual sandals for second most worn. Forget the Birkenstocks, they’re slow.


In fall – which doesn’t attack in earnest until late October, though it lobs grenades from mid-August on – instead of the tank top, opt for a long sleeve t-shirt and augment the sweater with a fleece pullover. The rain coat is a must, no Bireknstocks, your socks will only get soggy if you’re going anywhere but the coffeehouse. Hiking shoes, running shoes and loafer or deck shoes are the keys to marching through this season.


Winter begins a few days after New Year’s, lasts until the last weeks of February when there is a mini-spring, then returns until roughly tax time. Start with the raincoat. Zip in that insulated lining. Bring the fleece and the sweater, the long sleeve t shirt should probably be a thermal mock turtle, a silk version for dress occasions. Jeans. Hiking boots or Sorels, leather tennies, dressy loafers with thick soles. Forget the Birkenstocks with socks except for sitting around the fireplace.

No matter what season, or what you’re planning to do, always pack a spare pair of socks.

Remember the unofficial Whidbey Island motto: What’s an Umbrella?

Where to go once you’re kitted up

  • Meerkerk Gardens
  • Ebey’s Landling
  • Any beach
  • Deception Pass Bridge
  • Pass Island
  • Oak Harbor
  • Fort Ebey
  • Ebey’s Prairie
  • Fort Casey

What you’ll find along the way

  • Idyllic farms
  • Spectacular vistas
  • Military history
  • Interesting architecture
  • Seafood
  • Coffee houses
  • Captain Whidbey Inn
  • North/South differences
  • Art
  • Gardens
  • Jim Freeman
  • Boats
  • Wildlife
  • Hiking trails
  • Local color
  • Clam digging
  • Picnic spots
  • Artists
  • Filmmakers
  • Glass blowers
  • Alpacas
  • Tall evergreen trees

You might also like – How to enjoy a beach

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One Comment

  1. Yeaaaa! She is afloast but moored to the post in the mainstream of her beloved Whidbey Island! Spend the seasons collecting cameos of the pulse and flavor of life.

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