Can you Drive to Whidbey Island?

You can drive to Whidbey Island by using the bridge at Deception Pass, which connects the island with neighboring Fidalgo Island. Fidalgo Island is then connected with the mainland by the Swinomish Channel Bridge. These two bridge crossings enable a seamless direct road connection to Whidbey Island from the mainland.

The bridge crossings via Fidalgo Island are the only road connection on the whole island, despite the island’s proximity to the mainland.  The bridge crossings are situated on the far north of the island, so depending on your starting point, it might be easier to catch a ferry from either Mukilteo or Port Townsend instead.

Where is Whidbey Island?

Whidbey Island is located off the western coast of the U.S., close to Seattle, Washington. Measuring 37 miles in length, it stretches from the Olympic Peninsula in the south to Fidalgo Island in the north. The island traces the Washington coastline and is rarely more than 3 to 4 miles from the mainland, making it a relatively accessible island. 

Map showing location of Whidbey Island

How to Get to Whidbey Island

You would assume Whidbey Island’s size and proximity to Seattle and the Washington mainland that there would be plenty of connections, but the reality is very different. The island only has one road connection and two ferry connections to the mainland. Although this limited connectivity can make getting to Whidbey Island more challenging, it has preserved it as a quiet island getaway. 

Car – The only direct route to the mainland is via the Deception Pass Bridge, which connects Whidbey Island with Fidalgo Island. Two separate bridges connect to Pass Island in the center of Deception Pass and form the road connection. SR-20 runs across the length of the bridges and connects with the I-5 on the outskirts of Burlington on the mainland. On the island, SR-20 runs south to Keystone in the island’s center. 

Boat – Whidbey Island has two major ferry ports that connect the island with the mainland. Visitors from the Olympic Peninsula can take the ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville in the island’s center. The ferry carries vehicles and sails ten times daily, taking 35 minutes to complete the journey. Visitors to the south of the island can take the ferry from Mukilteo on the mainland to Clinton on the southern part of the island. It’s a short 20-minute crossing. The vehicle ferry sails every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. to midnight daily. Be sure to book ahead in summer.

Air – There are no airports on Whidbey Island taking commercial flights. The two public airstrips on the island are Langley Whidbey Airpark and Oak Harbor AJ Eisenberg Airport. These airstrips are generally used for pleasure flights. All visitors intending to visit Whidbey Island and arriving by air must fly into one of the nearby airports in Seattle, Everett, or Bellingham. From there, they will need to connect via road or ferry. 

Admiralty Head Lighthouse on Whidbey Island
Admiralty head Lighthouse is part of historic Fort Casey on Whidbey Island.

Can you Drive on Whidbey Island?

It’s both possible and easy to drive on Whidbey Island. The island is connected to the mainland via a bridge and several car ferries, making it easy to bring your vehicle. A good quality highway runs the island’s length, starting as SR-20 at Deception Pass before transitioning to SR-525 around Keystone.  SR-525 runs to the ferry terminal in Clinton on the island’s southern end. Roads off the main highway are generally asphalt, although some dirt and stone roads can be found in more remote locations.

Best Things to do on Whidbey Island

Whidbey Island’s attraction has always been its tranquillity despite its proximity to major metropolitan areas. It should come as no surprise that its main attractions are primarily the various State Parks and the great outdoors. Here are our top 5 things to do on Whidbey Island: 

Fort Casey Historical State Park – A marine fort constructed in the late 1800s, Fort Casey is an excellent historical sight. Home to Admiralty Head Lighthouse, these fortifications protected a strategic set of waters. Visitors today will find the lighthouse, batteries, and bunkers all intact and open to explore. 

Deception Pass State Park – A great place to both hike and camp. This state park is home to beach and forest trails, some incredible wildlife, including the Bald Eagle, and a great freshwater lake. Some hikes provide exceptional views across Deception Pass, providing the perfect photo opportunity. 

Fort Ebey State Park – Combining history and nature, Fort Ebey State Park is another excellent location on Whidbey Island. Home to over 25 miles of trails, the Bluff Trail down to the beach is the pick of the bunch. The main attraction is the WW2 battery dug into the hillside. The gun emplacement and bunkers are great fun to explore but bring a torch. 

Joseph Whidbey State Park – This is another great State Park with beautiful vistas across the sea. Several trails lead along the coastline or into the nearby woods. Sunset is a particularly spectacular time to enjoy the vast expanses of this park. 

Whidbey Island Vineyard – Home to Whidbey Island’s first-ever vineyard, this small local winery comes highly recommended. Drop by to sample local wines in their small, quaint tasting room. This is an excellent little option after the exertion of the various State Parks. 

Best Time to Visit Whidbey Island

The best time to visit Whidbey Island is from May to October. The weather is fine during this time, and rainfall reduces dramatically from the wetter winter months. The island’s proximity to the mainland means its climate is very similar to the neighboring city of Seattle.

May to October is considered peak season for visitors to Whidbey Island, so you’ll find it a little harder to get a reservation, and prices may be higher. However, the island’s quiet charm means that even during peak season, it never gets especially busy except for the ferry ports.

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