Photo Credit: Nine Realms Media
Few are as fortunate as those who live in the Pacific Northwest. Blessed with diverse landscape, culture and lifestyle, Washington State and the Puget Sound are also home to more than 50 islands. Traced by the shadows of surrounding mountain ranges and lush woodlands within the Puget Sound’s “sun belt” lies a collection of islands, which includes Camano Island, the fifth largest in population of the inhabited islands. Almost as fortunate as those who live here are those who choose to visit, explore and enjoy Camano, “The Easy Island.”
No ferries, no tickets, no tolls—Camano Island is only 60 miles from downtown Seattle, a worthy day trip and a trip worthy of a few days.
If you do make a trip to Camano Island for an overnight stay, book a room in the island’s newest Bed and Breakfast, Sea Mist Waterfront Inn. You’ll be treated to magnificent views of Saratoga Passage, a private beach, eight-person hot tub surrounded by a rose garden, and a chef-inspired gourmet hot breakfast.
The Beach House at Tyee is a fully furnished vacation home, equipped with everything from an open kitchen and outdoor gas grill to sleeping accommodations for up to four guests. Comfortably park two cars, a boat and yourself on the patio of this private estate that welcomes in the sounds and sights of Tyee Beach on southwest Camano. Another private residence renting its quarters is The Island House on Camano, located within a wildlife sanctuary on the northern end of the island. The 3,000-square-foot Cabins at Cama Beach were built 10 years ago from trees on the property and boast high-vaulted beam ceilings, stained glass, a large kitchen and comfortably sleeps eight.
Camano Island Inn is an elegant nine-room inn with waterfront views of Whidbey Island and beyond from Camano’s west shores. The serene setting was once a boarding house and transitioned into a hotel in the early 1920s. Today, the modest yet charming and graceful inn welcomes guests into the luxurious suites equipped with canopy beds, indoor or outdoor hot tubs, private waterfront decks and more.
Rest your head beachside at both Camano Island State Park and Cama Beach. The former has 88 standard sites, two hiker/biker sites, five cabins, one dump station, two restrooms and two showers, and welcomes RVs to the upper camping loop. All campsites are first come, first served. Within the cabins, the rooms are furnished with one folding futon couch that sleeps two, one bunk bed that sleeps three and a table with five chairs. Each cabin provides a fire ring, an upright pedestal grill, picnic table and a covered porch. At Cama Beach, all overnighters are housed indoors at the waterfront cedar cabins and bungalows. Recently refurbished with all of the modern conveniences (including electricity, lights, refrigerators, microwaves and more), the cabins are available for rent year-round to individuals and groups. The two beach-side bungalows can sleep up to eight and include a large living room, kitchen area, two small bedrooms and a bathroom with shower, toilet and sink. The historic cabins include a living room, kitchen area and bedroom that can accommodate up to six people. Public restaurants and showers are available nearby.
It’s not a stretch to say that Camano Island has something for everyone when it comes to a range of outdoor activities. For a casual start, hit the links at Camaloch Golf Course. The 18-hole, par 72 course offers competitive pricing and has some of the best greens in the state. Camano Island is located in the “sun belt” of western Washington and receives half the annual rainfall as surrounding areas.
Take it up a notch by crossing the street to Canopy Tours Northwest, sited at Kristoferson Farm, a multi-generation family farm that offers zip-line tours through their wooded property. The two-and-a-half hour tour takes guests on six different zip lines, with the longest lasting 660 feet. Riders of all ages are allowed, as long as they weigh between 65 and 300 pounds and are 48-inches or taller. Rates are $103 for adults and $65 for youth 12 years of age and younger. Need a gift for someone who has everything? The zipline holiday special (buy 3 get one free) starts in November and is good through December 31st for both reservations and gift certificates that can be used in the future. During the month of February Cupid will be at Kristoferson Farm with the Sweetheart Zips – a 4 line zip tour at a discounted rate.
Another family-friendly outdoor site is up the road at the Rotary Adventure Playground, also known as Freedom Park. More than 1,000 volunteers helped to build the 10,000-square foot playground in only five days. The park includes a Viking ship, a small climbing wall and ropes, slides, swings and plenty of space to romp.
The parks on Camano Island are a great place to explore the natural beauty of the island. The largest and most prominent are Cama Beach and Camano Island state parks. Located on the southwest shore of the island, Cama Beach State Park faces Saratoga Passage, the waterway serving as the connector between Whidbey Island, Camano and into Skagit Bay. The state park preserves this unique site on more than 433 acres of waterfront, with the renovation and modernization of a 1930s-era fishing resort. Cama Beach offers boating, crabbing, scuba diving, fishing, swimming, hiking, horseshoes, wildlife viewing, lodging and 15 miles of trails. A historic boathouse is operated and run by The Center for Wooden Boats, a shop that offers boat-building classes, from new to antique, sailing, and crabbing boats.
A mile-long trail will lead hikers and curious travelers to the Camano Island State Park, the 173-acre camping park that boasts 6,700-feet of jagged rock shoreline and beaches for day-trippers, hikers, bikers and shellfish harvesters. Enjoy hiking and biking trails, areas for boating and diving as well as clamming, crabbing and saltwater fishing. Swimmers are welcome. Personal watercraft launch at one of two boat ramps for water skiing and fishing fun. An amphitheater sits along a stunning background for bird watching and other wildlife viewing.
On the southern tip of the island is Walter G. Hutchison Park, with a simple picnic area and easy trails. It leads to Tillicum Beach, another great location for picnicking. Get beach access at any of the bays and vistas, including Elger Bay, Cavalero Beach, Iverson Preserve and English Boom on the east side of the island, with Utsalady Point and Maple Grove offering locations on the western side. Inland, Camano Park offers a ball field, tennis court, picnic area, playground and multipurpose center. Camano Ridge offers hiking, biking and equestrian access to a trail system on 400 acres of forested uplands. Four Springs Lake Preserve, a 50-acre preserve with streams, a lake and plenty of walking trails, also has rental facilities. If you have exhausted all of those trails previously try out the newly acquired acreage at Barnum Point for beautiful vistas and beach access off the trails.
At Cama Beach, the Cama Beach Café offers provisions and island catering with fluctuating hours depending on the season (check www. camabeachcafe.com for current hours). Much of their down-home comfort food includes their homemade soups, salad, sandwiches, pastries and their breakfast featuring eggs laid by hens only two miles down the road.
Camaloch Golf Course offers its guests more than just links to hit. It is also home to Rockaway Bar & Grill, a beer-centric pub and eatery, inside dining for 21+ only although take-out is available (with a Kids Menu). Don’t miss out on the bacon-sautéed Brussels sprouts or the half-pound certified Angus beef burgers.
The Camano Commons hosts the island’s widest range of culinary delights, including the new Tapped Camano with dozen beers on draft and featuring dishes made in-house from local ingredients. Entrees available at the counter-order eatery include items such as Dungeness crab roll, crab mac and cheese, honey lime chicken salad, shrimp Louie and a Wagyu beef burger. Within the Camano Island Marketplace, amidst a selection of retailers Camano Island Roasters proudly serves coffee made from their locally roasted beans. Also inside is Scoopz serving up the perfect Lopez Island ice cream cone while Camano Pastry Café serves the most amazing fresh-baked French pastries. The Baked Café offers made from scratch bread, breakfast sandwiches, burgers, and if you are lucky the poutine will be on special. Next door Brooklyn Bros. Pizzeria serves up New York style pizza, baked in a stone oven.
In the mood for a glass of vino? Camano Island has two wineries Edward Lynne Cellars & Dusty Cellars Winery – both family-owned-and-operated boutique wineries. Both operations are typically open the first Saturday and Sunday of each month from 12-5 and have special events such as Red Wine & Chocolate in February. If casual dining is more your style – stop by Kara’s Kitchen at Elger Bay for a stellar cheeseburger or pizza, or call in for a delivery. A family friendly option for any meal of the day is Crow’s Nest with a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu. Pub 282 located in the Camano Plaza Shopping Center serves burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and also hosts live music, karaoke, and trivia nights.
For shopping on Camano Island, antiquing and secondhand stores take the spotlight and are all within a short stretch of Highway 532. At The Spare Room Flea Market, shoppers can find vintage items, antiques and secondhand goods from local signs, furniture, jewelry, glassware, shoes and more.
More than just a thrift store, the 2nd Chance Thrift Shop is staffed primarily by volunteers and provides nearly half of the budget for the Camano Senior Services Association. Outside of donations, memberships, event and rental fees, the nonprofit also relies on the shop’s revenues to pay for daily operations and special programs. Rest assured that you’ll snag some nifty thrift shop purchases like housewares and collectibles to vintage antiques.