Find Great Puget Sound Beaches and Outdoor Recreation on Camano Island

This charming destination offers family-friendly island fun without the ferry
Nearby Camano Island boasts some of the best beaches around

This article appears in print in the October 2019 issue, as part of the Fall Road Trips cover story. Click here to subscribe.

Camano Island is where life slows down to “island time,” yet it doesn’t require hours of logistical planning to get there. Though referred to as an island, geographically speaking, Camano is really more of a long spit connected to the mainland by a bridge. That narrow strip of land boasts some of the finest beaches in the Pacific Northwest, and is a favorite destination for those looking to try some crabbing and maybe get out on the water. Don’t expect any fancy shopping options here—this is a relax-and-soak-in-the-views kind of place.

First, by land: Swing by Canopy Tours Northwest, on the historic Kristoferson Farm, for an exhilarating zip-lining adventure, where you’ll fly through the trees while getting a lesson in forest stewardship from the guides. The family-run farm is more than 100 years old, and the zip-line course (six zip lines in all, plus a cool log bridge between trees) is just one effort to keep the farm sustainable while educating the public. (Besides, it’s lots of fun for all ages.) On the ground, this certified organic farm has an impressive pumpkin patch and hosts a monthly “Dinner in the Barn” with local wineries. The five-course meals are prepared using only seasonal, local ingredients.

Next stop is Cama Beach Historical State Park. If you’re lucky, you can book one of the historic cabins for an overnight stay—the accommodations are as delightful in the cooler months as they are in the summer—but The Center for Wooden Boats is a perfect destination for a day trip. It’s the Camano branch of the South Lake Union stalwart, and you can rent a kayak, canoe, rowboat, sailboat or motorboat for a day on the sound. You can also rent a crab trap and try your hand at bringing in dinner. The crabs are plentiful; we watched folks dropping off traps by paddleboard only to pick them up a few hours later by boat, dinner on board.

Camano Island State Park, just over a mile up the road (there’s a connecting hiking trail), is another jewel in the state park system. It makes a perfect spot for picnicking; you can park your car and grab one of the many tables overlooking the water. Or, if you want to stretch your legs, there are multiple walking trails that are suited to all ages.

Stay the night at the Camano Island Inn, where you can relax with a glass of wine in the gazebo overlooking the water, or mosey down to the beach for a perfect sunset view. Take relaxation to the next level at the spa facilities (try the Exotic Frangipani Body Nourish Wrap or a hot stone massage) and head back to the city refreshed.

Camano Island is just under an hour-and-a-half drive north from Seattle.
Why we like it: Camano has those San Juan Island vibes without the ferry hassle, and then there are its beaches, which go on for days.
Main attractions: Beaches, crabbing and zip-lining through the trees make it a nature lover’s paradise.
Don’t miss: Slake that thirst with some beer tasting at the new Ale Spike Camano Island Brewing tasting room or try wine tasting at Dusty Cellars Winery.

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