Spotlight on Your Community: Whidbey Island, Washington
by Nicole J. Messmer, National Military Family Association Volunteer
Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island is located in Northwest Washington, 90 minutes from Seattle. Home to both the Navy and Marines training command for Prowlers and Growlers, the island is brimming with activities for those who love the outdoors. The Naval Air Station (“NAS”) offers many activities for the military families that are fortunate to call this island home for their assigned tour.
The island, known to locals as “The Rock”, is 35 miles long and is home to many small towns, farming communities, and of course military aviation. NAS is located in Oak Harbor, WA at the northern tip of the island. Although it is often dark and rainy in the winter, the 4th of July marks some perfect weather for the locals. There is no humidity, highs in the 70’s daily throughout the summer with sunset at 10pm. This makes for perfect weather for the outdoor enthusiast.
Activities abound from sailing the Puget Sound and watching race regattas. Digging for dinner on the beaches with clams and mussels. Summer peaks with crabbing for Dungeness Crab and fishing for salmon. The Commissary has many varieties of local seafood and fresh catches from the commercial fishermen in Alaska.
You can tour the island from the sky and many of the aviators have their private pilot license to tour this beautiful area. You can island hop around the San Juan Islands and stop in picturesque locations such as Anacortes, Friday Harbor and Port Townsend.
The island is covered with many rolling hills for the avid road cyclist and mountain biking trails that are sure to get your heart rate racing!
If you enjoy wine, the island has more than ten vineyards that make their own wine, and tasting rooms for your discovery. There are two wine tours on the island: one for Valentine’s Day offering red wine and locally produced chocolate and one to welcome the spring with locally produced food samples.
Speaking of festivals, you can attend the Musselfest in Coupeville to sample mussels that are harvested right here on the island in Penn Cove. The murder mystery weekend in Langley turns the entire town into a “crime scene” where the audience tries to find out whodunnit. The Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley draws visitors from all across the state to see vibrant colors of tulip culture origniating from some of the early Dutch immigrants to the area.
There are also activities for those willing to brave the cold. Washington has some of the best ski mountains promising fresh powder for boarders and skiers alike. The locals call it “shredding the pow pow.” Mt. Baker, Steven’s Pass, or for those looking for a ski village experience, Whistler, in BC all offer amazing skiing. You can also go snow shoeing, sledding, sleigh riding with sled dogs, or snowmobiling all within a few hours drive of the island.
For those seeking an excuse to head off the island, there are many cities within a short distance to explore. You can head to Seattle and visit the famous Pike Place Market, Portland, OR to try out some food trucks, or head to Canada (passport needed!) and cross the Capilano suspension bridge in Vancouver or have high tea and feed the sea lions in Victoria. Still off the island, but close enough for a day trip is Bellingham, WA. If you can get a couple days off why not grab a 4 hour flight to Hawaii or for the truly adventourous book a cruise out of Seattle to Alaska! This is just a snapshot of the many things you can do here on our island--now you just need to come for a visit and you won’t be disappointed!
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