Explore Oregon

Northwest Destination — Retreat to Camano Island, a pint-sized nirvana for all manner of play

written by Heather Larson

In 1949, a group of 500 locals brought their tools and sweat equity to a beach site at Point Lowell on Camano Island and built a park in one day. Camano Island State Park became the first on the island, a place where residents and visitors could recreate.

In 2007, Freedom Park, a 12,000-square-foot wooden playground, was constructed in five days by 1,000 volunteers. Camano Islanders love the outdoors and have developed some remarkable spots for all to enjoy. The island feel remains rural, peaceful and mostly undiscovered, yet there’s enough to do to keep you on-island for however long you stay.


A ninety-minute drive from Seattle—no ferry ride required—the “easy island” stretches to almost 16 miles in length and extends 6 miles at its widest point. Edged by Port Susan on the east and Saratoga Passage on the west, water sports flourish.

The ideal genesis for your marine adventures is The Center for Wooden Boats at Cama Beach Historical State Park. Not only can the experts there tell you where to see whales, they’ll also rent you a boat.

For swimming, wading, beachcombing and sunbathing, proceed to Iverson Spit Waterfront Preserve. Be aware of the tides, though, or you could get stranded on the mud flats. Both state parks (you’ll need a Discover Pass, good for a year at $35) also have miles of shoreline open to the public.

Beaches and a multitude of other locations make ideal hiding places for “clue balls.” Great Northwest Glass Quest, an annual event that takes place each February, draws eager treasure hunters. A found clue ball holds directions to claim your limited-edition Glass Quest Ball crafted by Mark and Marcus Ellinger, a father-son glass-blowing duo. To view the Ellingers in action, visit their studio in Stanwood, just across the bridge from Camano.

Trade a land view for one on high by ziplining at Canopy Tours Northwest on the Kristoferson Farm. A few short hikes interspersed with six ziplines and a belay from a century-old cedar tree at the end will stir up your adrenaline.

In 1912, Alfred Kristoferson bought 1,400 acres on Camano where he maintained a thriving dairy farm. Today, the fourth generation of the family runs the business. One of the farm’s signature events, Dinner in the Barn, showcases local ingredients and chefs Donna King and Jeremiah Leighton with a five-course meal, plus wine pairings.

You can continue your wine tasting at Dusty Cellars and Edward Lynne Cellars, or try some craft brews at Ale Spike Camano Island Brewery. Both wineries open to the public during the art tours held on Camano.

Enchanted, fairylike and a place to spend hours and still not see it all, Matzke Gallery and Sculpture Park’s 10-acre display sends you around bushes, behind trees and straight ahead to discover what sculptors have conceived. Feel free to return, because depending on the time of day or season, the sculptures change in appearance. New ones are also added. Don’t forget to stop at the indoor gallery, which features the brightest artistic talent from the Pacific Northwest, the United States and Japan.

One last stop to visit Jennifer Short, a veterinarian and chief bee wrangler at Camano Island Honey. Find out what she’s doing to save the bees and pollinators. Schedule a tour, if you have a keen interest, by calling or emailing ahead.

When rest calls to you, the hot tub and luxury guest rooms at Camano Island Inn will reinvigorate you for your next island adventure. Equally as restful, with the waves slapping the shore and the clean-smelling air, are the beachfront cabins at Cama Beach Historical State Park. A trip to Camano Commons lets you take in the perfect number of calories of ice cream, baked goods or a full meal. Pick up some handcrafted items to remind you of an off-the-charts vacation. 


Cama Beach Café


Crow’s Nest on Camano


The Baked Café


Pub 282


Rockaway Bar + Grill


Camano Commons Marketplace



Camano Island Inn


Cama Beach Historical State Park


Camano Island State Park (cabins)


Sea Mist Waterfront Inn





The Center for Wooden Boats


Camano Island State Park


Kristoferson Farm


Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park


Camano Island Honey


Camaloch Golf Course


Hike Cranberry Lake Trail


Iverson Spit Waterfront Preserve


Camano Island Coffee Roasters


Great Northwest Glass Quest


Glass Quest


Whidbey Camano Islands


Published by
1859 Magazine

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