Pacific Northwest Area Information

Island County


Island County (population 80,300 in 2009) is comprised of Whidbey Island, the largest island in the continental United States that is surrounded by saltwater. Access to the island is via State Route 20 and the bridge over Deception Pass, as well as two state ferry routes.

Primarily a rural region - its largest city, Oak Harbor, has only 23,360 resident - Whidbey Island also is within two hours of a pair of North American metropolitan jewels, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. A plethora of possibilities for outdoor enthusiasts - including skiing, hiking, fishing, golfing and boating -- await to the east in the Cascade Mountains and to the west among the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound.

Island County's average rainfall is significantly less than the Seattle area because of the "rain shadow" effect of the Olympic Mountains. The pleasant temperatures enjoyed year-round make it a wonderful place to live or to visit.

The waterfront community of Oak Harbor has been home to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island since 1942. Consequently, many residents are active-duty personnel, retired veterans or linked to the base through business or relationships. Nineteen active-duty squadrons are based at NAS Whidbey Island, including 15 EA-6B Prowler squadrons.

Oak Harbor's small-town flavor continues to be displayed in the numerous annual celebrations. The community's Dutch heritage is celebrated the last weekend of April during the annual Holland Happening celebration. Whidbey Island Race Week, held each year in July, has been rated among the top 20 yachting regattas in the world and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2007.

The other incorporated cities on Whidbey Island are Coupeville and Langley.

The waterfront community of Coupeville (population 1,910) is the county seat of Island County. Coupeville residents ensure the town maintains its historic character, which provides a glimpse into 19th-century life. Coupeville, just 11 miles from Oak Harbor, features numerous art galleries, restaurants, lodgings and shops, all locally owned.

Langley (population 1,100) is perched on a low bluff at the southern end of Whidbey Island. The community overlooks Puget Sound and enjoys stunning views of the Cascade Mountains. A thriving arts community, Langley is home to many regional and national artists. The village offers numerous art galleries as well as shops with handmade clothing, jewelry, glass and furniture. Langley is just 27 miles from Coupeville and 38 miles from Oak Harbor.

Whidbey Island is a great place for outdoor recreation. Fishing, kayaking, hiking, biking, boating, bird watching, clamming, golfing and camping are favorite activities for residents and visitors alike. Some enjoy sailboarding and diving. A full-service marina in Oak Harbor is available for boaters.

The island also offers many state and county parks along the shoreline. Fort Ebey State Park, a 645-acre camping park with a freshwater lake for fishing and three miles of saltwater shoreline, is just two miles north of Coupeville. Fort Casey State Park, a former coast artillery post with two historic guns on display, overlooks the Keystone ferry landing just six miles south of Coupeville. Deception Pass State Park, 20 miles north of Coupeville, draws more than 3 million visitors annually. The 4,134-acre park includes 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline and three freshwater lakes. Deception Pass is a narrow, deep and turbulent channel. Many walk onto the two bridges, about 180 feet above the water, to gaze down upon it.

Whidbey Island is linked to the mainland by the bridges over Deception Pass at its north end and two state ferries to the south. Some residents commute on the 20-minute ferry between Clinton and Mukilteo, just south of Everett. Another ferry with a 30-minute crossing time travels between Keystone and Port Townsend on the Olympia Peninsula.

A Whidbey Island campus of Skagit Valley College is located in Oak Harbor.

Quick Links:

Island County Government
City of Oak Harbor
Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce
City of Langley
Langley Chamber of Commerce
Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce
Skagit Valley College
Deception Pass State Park

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Photography & Information Courtesy of: Photography Magic, Lawliss Creative, Scherrer Photography, Jon Brunk Photography, Getty Images, iStock and the following Chambers of Commerce's and Visitor Bureau's from: Bellingham/Whatcom County, Birch Bay, Blaine, Bow, Everson-Nooksack, Ferndale, Mt. Baker Foothills, Point Roberts, Sumas, Anacortes, Burlington, Concrete, La Conner, Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley, Camano Island, Central Whidbey, Coupeville, Langley, The Greater Oak Harbor, San Juan Island, Lopez Island and Orcas Island.