Whidbey Island is a serene space to unwind in nature with plenty of hiking trails to explore. There's the small town of Langley with scenic restaurants and boutique stores. Further north is Deception Pass State Park. The crowning jewel in Whidbey Island, here you'll look over mountain vistas, islands and spectacular shorelines.
Even though Whidbey Island is surrounded by sea off the West Coast of US, you can still easily drive to it. You get there conveniently by crossing a bridge from Fidalgo Island or getting a ferry from either Port Townsend or Mukilteo on the mainland.
Keep reading to discover the best way to drive to Whidbey Island as well as the best things to do when you get there.
Can you drive to Whidbey Island?
Whidbey Island is in the US state of Washington and at 40 miles long, it's one of the longest islands in the US. To the north is Fidalgo Island and the tidal strait of Deception Pass separates Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island.
To the east is Skagit Bay. Across from Skagit Bay is the mainland USA and the state of Washington. Puget Sound is located to the south of the island. Part of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is the nearest major city. Seattle is around 12 miles from the southernmost tip of Whidbey Island.
To the west, across Mutiny Bay, is the westernmost part of Washington State and the Olympic National Park.
There are three great options for driving to Whidbey Island. The first option departs from Fidalgo Island and crosses Deception Pass Bridge to reach Whidbey Island. The crossing is also free, making it perfect for those on a budget.
You can also drive to Port Townsend and take a vehicle ferry to Coupeville on Whidbey Island. Alternatively, you can drive to Mukilteo and take a vehicle ferry to Clinton to arrive on the island.
How to drive to Whidbey Island from mainland USA
We recommend using the Deception Pass Bridge as it gives you direct access to the Deception Pass State Park. The bridge is a tourist attraction in itself. Standing 180 feet above the sea, it offers spectacular views of the tree-laden mountain shoreline.
Deception Pass Bridge also has the shortest crossing time; however, the fastest option depends on what direction you're heading to Whidbey Island from.
If you are headed from Vancouver to Whidbey Island, follow BC-99 out of the city and cross the border into the United States, and follow Interstate 5 (I-5) down south until you reach Burlington. Follow State Road 20 west, which will take you through Fidalgo Island and to the Deception Pass Bridge.
Follow WA-20 to arrive at Fidalgo Island and cross the Deception Pass Bridge onto Whidbey Island.
If you want to head to Whidbey Island from Seattle or Tacoma, the most convenient option is to take the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry. To arrive at Mukilteo, follow I-5 north out of Seattle and turn onto WA-525 past Alderwood to reach the ferry port.
Alternatively, you can take Deception Pass Bridge from Seattle. To get there, stay on the I-5 North past Exit 182. At Burlington, turn left onto WA-20 West.
If you are driving from major cities such as Portland, Sacramento and Los Angeles, I-5 will take you all the way north towards the Mukilteo ferry port.
Driving from the direction of Olympic National Park in the northwest USA, the most convenient way to arrive at Whidbey Island is to take the Port Townsend-Coupeville ferry.
Traveling from Forks, US-101 East will take you to the ferry port in Poty Townsend and if you are driving from Olympia, simply follow US-101 North.
How long does it take to drive to Whidbey Island?
From Dewey, Fidalgo Islands to Deception Pass State Park, Whidbey Island is 4 miles. This is the quickest and cheapest option as the toll-free bridge crossing only takes around 10 minutes to complete. Around 20,000 vehicles cross the Deception Pass Bridge per day so it's a popular method to reach Whidbey Island.
You can also take the ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville. This crossing is 5 miles long and will take 35 minutes. This ferry costs $10.55 for a one-way journey or $21.10 for a round trip.
The final option is the ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton. This crossing is also 5 miles long but only takes 20 minutes to complete. This option is slightly cheaper, costing $8.20 for a one-way trip or $16.40 for a round trip.
Traveling from Seattle takes around 1 hour to reach Whidbey Island, including ferry travel. Taking the ferry to Clinton Ferry Port will take you to the southern part of the island making it accessible from the mainland USA.
It'll only take around 30 minutes from Seattle to reach Mukilteo. You can then take the ferry to Clinton ferry point which will take an additional 20 minutes.
The 170-mile drive from Vancouver, Canada to Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island will take you 2 hours and 20 minutes via the Deception Pass Bridge.
Which port should you arrive at on Whidbey Island?
Which port you choose to arrive at will depend on what you are expecting from your journey. If you are looking for great scenery, small towns and attractions upon your arrival, please see the list at the bottom of this article for our top recommendations of things to do on Whidbey Island.
There are many popular tourist attractions on Whidbey Island including Deception State Park and the quaint town of Langley. Here's what's near each ferry port and the bridge crossing.
|Langley, Spoiled Dog Winery, Whidbey Island Distillery, Earth Sanctuary, and Double Bluff Beach.
|South Whidbey Island State Park, Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, and Fort Ebey State Park.
|Deception Pass Bridge
|Deception State Park, Joseph Whidbey State Park, and Ala Spit County Park.
Things you need to know about driving to Whidbey Island
Before any road trip, you should make sure you are prepared. Getting to Whidbey Bay is straightforward. Both the Deception Pass Bridge and Clinton Ferry are near the I-5, so are accessible from the interstate. Deception Pass Bridge is popular with around 20,000 cars passing over every day, so avoid rush hour.
You don't need to buy tickets for the Mukilteo to Clinton ferry. However, you can reserve a space on the Port Townsend to Coupeville ferry, so to secure a spot book ahead.
Here are our top tips when it comes to preparing for a drive to Whidbey Island:
For the Deception Pass Bridge:
- Avoid rush hours.
- Be careful when driving across in high winds.
For the Mukilteo to Clinton Ferry crossing:
- There's no need to book ahead. You can buy tickets upon arrival at the port.
- Check this website for crossings, real-time footage of queues and the spaces left for each trip.
- Arrive at least 20 minutes before sail time.
- Remember, you'll leave your vehicle, so take any essentials with you.
- There are amenities on the ferry with food and drink available.
For the Port Townsend to Coupeville crossing:
- This route sails less frequently, so check the schedules ahead of time.
- Reserving a spot is the best way to secure passage using this website.
- Keep in mind that a reservation is not a ticket, but you'll get a charge for no-show.
- Reservations aren't needed for foot passengers.
- Arrive 30 minutes before the sail time.
- Likewise, remember you won't have access to the vehicle, so take medication and essentials with you.
Things to see once you reach Whidbey Island
There are many things to see once you reach Whidbey Island. This amazing island is full of rugged terrain, beautiful beaches, hills and farmland.
- Goose Rock Summit Trail: A popular trail near Anacortes, this singletrack trail is surrounded by beautiful forest scenery as you climb up.
- Deception State Park: A marine and camping park, you need a Discovery Pass to enter this state park, which is one of the most popular spots in the area.
- Gun Point: A scenic area with shores on the Rosario Strait.
- Cranberry Lake: A lake popular for brown and rainbow trout fishing opportunities.
- Ancient Douglas Fir Tree: This old fir tree is located by the shores of Cranberry Lake. It is around 850 years old!
- Dugualla State Park: Located on the northern side of Oak Harbor, this lovely park has six trails that are perfect for hikers of all levels.
- Oak Harbor: This is a small city and the oldest community on the island. It is a great base to explore Puget Sound and is very family-friendly.
- Joseph Whidbey State Park: Located to the west of Oak Harbor, this lesser-known but scenic park has great hiking and walking trails.
- Ebey's Landing National Reserve: Take in breathtaking views of the Salish Sea at this seaport, where the earliest American pioneers north of the Columbia River arrived at. This reserve features cultural, historical and recreational opportunities.
- Langley: Sitting on the south end of Whidbey Island, Langley is a city that is home to the Whidbey Island Distillery, Earth Sanctuary and Langley Whale Center
A trip to Whidbey Island will take you to the serene island, filled with beaches and a rugged coastline. Whidbey Island has a bustling small town of Langley with scenic restaurants and boutique stores.