Exploring Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands

Exploring Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands

Beautiful Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands are sure to make anyone yearn to want to take up sailing or boating. This area is full of islands, waterways, Orcas, Whales, breathtaking views, soul-nourishing sunrises and romantic sunsets.

We cruised these waterways from Anacortes to Victoria, BC, a route that takes you right through many of the islands. That trip was outstanding, one of those memorable vacations that will stay clear and foremost in our memories for quite a while to come, if not forever.

When staying at Anacortes, it made sense to us therefore to do some exploring of the islands to see more of them, but from the vantage point of solid-land. We decided on the Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands.

In researching the areas, a few locations resonated with us and we decided to go see for ourselves.

La Conner

La Conner
Picturesque La Conner with Cascade mountains in the background

Strictly speaking LA Conner is not on Fidalgo Island, but we felt it was close enough to be included in this blog post.
What a delightful town! It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the host of the annual Tulip Festival, an event we sadly missed.

The town is gorgeous though and well worth a visit, even if just to stroll along the picturesque waterfront, or enjoy a cool drink or coffee and generally slow down and reflect on how wonderful life can be.

All this area used to be the home of several native indian tribes: the Swinomish, Samish, Lower Skagit, and Kikiallus, who joined together to form the present day Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

The Swinomish Reservation lies just to the left in the picture above, right opposite La Conner. There is a park with some structures, clearly intended for community activitie.

On display there was a beautiful Swinomish poem by Caroline Jana Edwards, a Swinomish Tribal Member

Deception Pass

Deception Pass is the strait that separates Fidalgo Island from Whidbey Island. You cross from one island to the other via a pair of impressive bridges (also listed on the National Register of Historic Places).
The views from these bridges are nothing short of spectacular! There are car parks on either side of the bridges so getting to the views is easy, but somewhat intimidating for folks with a fear of heights (like myself) as the bridge is high and the pedestrian walk-way is narrow (so you can’t “stand back” from the edge). I did see a Bald Eagle soaring above me too. You’ll have to take my word for that as I had the wrong lens on my camera to get a decent shot.

Deception Pass
Deception Pass seen from the Deception Pass Bridge.
Deception Pass Bridge
Deception Pass Bridge

Langley

At the South end of Whidbey Island is the small town of Langley, another gorgeously picturesque place to visit.

Langley, WA
Albert and his buddy looking out towards Puget Sound – Photo by Linda de Bruijn

Langley is quite famous for art so it should be no surprise that we visited a gallery there. The gallery was owned and operated by 36 local artists. A Co-op. That made the work on display refreshingly diverse. Paintings, photography, drawings, sculptures, encaustics, you name it, it was there, in about any size and color imaginable. We ended up chatting to the “artist on duty” who told us about how the place functioned and gave us some tips about the community that is Langley.

Langley
Quaint Langley – We visited that Art Gallery see on the left

He told us there is a pod of Orcas that resides in the area and that the town is very proud of that and has even installed a bell along the waterfront that you can ring if whales or Orcas are spotted. How cool is that!

Ring the bell if you see whales
Ring the bell if you see whales – Photo by Linda de Bruijn

In looking up some information about Langley, some interesting tidbits came up. For example, did you know that Langley was the first municipality in the US to have a woman-only council? This was back in 1919, just after Congress signed the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. Very cool.

Another piece of interesting trivia for you is the fact that Langley attracted many “hippies” in the 60s and 70s. Initially, this caused some uneasiness with the established citizens, but over time, these two cultures assimilated, essentially adding their artistic skills and progressive ideas into the community. This of course, helped create today’s culture that makes Langley such an attractive place to live, work and visit.

Whidbey Island
Looking out towards the mainland from Whidbey Island – Photo by Linda de Bruijn

Water and Sunsets

Unless it rains, you can pretty much be assured of getting a nice sunset anywhere on the island that has some sort of view. Beautiful colors, soft and gentle transitions between sea and sky, the odd island silhouette to add compositional interest, yes it is all there on these beautiful islands.

Sunset over Guemes Channel
Sunset over Guemes Channel
Sunset over Fidalgo Bay
Sunset over Fidalgo Bay

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