One of Washington State’s largest islands at nearly 40 square miles, Camano Island sits north of Seattle in the Possession Sound area of Puget Sound between Whidbey Island and the mainland. A bridge connects Camano Island, which is in Island County to Stanwood on the mainland in Snohomish County. For anyone not local to the area, Puget is pronounced Pew-jet (NOT Pug-et). It derives its name from early explorer Peter Puget. Camano Island is named after far less known Spanish explorer Jacinto Caamaño who explored the west coast from Mexico to Alaska.
Early inhabitants included people from various groups of the Coast Salish tribes. Currently the island is home to 2 state parks and 13 local parks. Both state parks have campgrounds and the island also has Airbnb and other vacation homes as well as 2 inns. Camano Island Inn started life as a boarding house in the late 1800’s. The current inn has 9 guest rooms and a separate beach house. Sea Mist Waterfront Inn is a former family home turned into a 5 guest room BnB. Most of the beaches on the island are on private property, but both state parks are on the beach and there is access at a couple other parks and some other beach areas. Some of the vacation homes come with private beach access.
Camano Island is a great place to go for a quiet retreat. Besides beaches it has acres of wooded trails at 2 state and 3 county parks. There are also other things to do on the island besides hiking on the trails, hanging out on the beaches, or enjoying nature and the views. There’s a zipline called Canopy Tours Northwest, a marketplace, a sculpture park, several wineries, a brewery, boat tours, and a couple restaurants. The island also has farms and farmer’s markets.
The whole island is unincorporated and semi rural, though not nearly as full of wild open land as it was way back when I bought my first horse there when I was just a kid. He was a feisty unbroke dark bay gelding named Tabu. An inexperienced kid training an unbroken horse was not the best idea, but we both eventually learned and he became one of the best riding horses I ever had. He was so tuned in to me I just had to think what I wanted him to do and he’d do it. He would also rear up on his hind legs on cue. Not the best thing to teach a horse, but what can I say, I was a kid.
I hadn’t been there in ages, but when looking for a quiet social distance getaway, Camano Island seemed perfect. After all the most isolated places are generally islands, forests, or lonely beaches and Camano Island has all three. It’s also an island you can get to without a boat or plane, which is a bonus when avoiding public transportation.
Like most places over the years Camano Island has seen development. While it’s still a quiet place without a city, what was once mainly wild untamed land has largely given way to large, sometimes manicured yards surrounding permanent or vacation homes instead of acres of undeveloped land. At least in the area of the island where we stayed, but odds are the rest of the island has seen development over the years too. It’s not exactly isolated with a population of over 13,000 – 17,000 (depending on the season) within the island’s nearly 40 square miles of land. It’s still open enough that we didn’t see much traffic or a whole lot of other people during our stay. Even hiking at one of the state parks we only came across a few people.