Whidbey Island, Washington

Best Places to Retire in Washington


Whidbey Island (population 70,000) is in Puget Sound, 35 miles north of Seattle. To reach the island you take a 30-minute ferryboat ride from Mukilteo to Clinton, which is at the southern end of the 45-mile-long island. Regular ferryboat service from Keystone, at the mid-point of the island, links to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula, and there is a bridge connection to the mainland at the northern end of the island. The three incorporated towns on Whidbey are: Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley. Other small communities include Clinton, Keystone, Freeland, and Greenbank. http://www.southwhidbey.com/

South Whidbey Island has a total population of 15,700. It includes the city of Langley and the unincorporated towns of Clinton and Freeland. Central Whidbey Island’s population is approximately 8,400. The area, which is defined by the Coupeville School District, extends from just north of Coupeville and south to Greenbank. North Whidbey, which includes the city of Oak Harbor and the Naval Air Station, has an estimated population of 43,000. Oak Harbor is the commercial center and largest city on the Island.

The island is populated by artists, musicians, retired executives, pilots, attorneys and others, and serves as a weekend get away for many.

The city of Langley (population 1,100) is a South Whidbey waterfront community on the east side of the island with views of Saratoga Passage and the Cascade Mountains. It is only minutes from the Clinton-to-Mukilteo ferry dock and many residents from the area commute to their mainland work locations. Its main streets, alleys and courtyards contain apparel shops, art galleries, antique shops, specialty shops, coffee houses, and restaurants. There are over 50 small inns, lodges, and bed & breakfast establishments in the area, which helps support a year-round arts program that features live theater, music, and dance. http://www.langleywa.com/

The city of Coupeville (population 1,700) is located on the waterfront at Penn Cove, near the middle of the island. It is the county seat of Island County and the second oldest town in the state with over 100 buildings on the National Historic Register. Coupeville is well-known for its historic waterfront district and wharf, and is home to the Island County Historic Museum. It has an active arts group that presents a wide variety of performing artists, and the community sponsors a number of festivals throughout the year. It has many small shops and galleries, and a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. There are an estimated 25 bed & breakfasts and inns in the area. http://www.gonorthwest.com/Washington/puget/Coupeville/Coupeville.htm

The city of Oak Harbor (population 21,000) is the largest city on Whidbey Island and the commercial center of Island County. It is named for the Garry Oak, which is unique to the area. Oak Harbor offers panoramic views of Puget Sound and the Cascade and Olympic mountains. Nearby is Ault Field Naval Air Station and the seaplane base. The old downtown section is the original commercial center with historic buildings, parks, a 420-boat marina and beaches. The area offers performing arts, entertainment, annual festivals and events, year-round golf, fishing, kayaking, hiking, biking, clamming, boating, and more. http://www.oakharbor.org/

Arts & Culture

Whidbey Island Center for The Arts in Langley offers a theatre series, family series, and special events. http://www.wicaonline.com/

Island County Historical Museum in Coupeville features local family and farm tools from the 1800s and onward. http://www.islandweb.org/history.php

South Whidbey Historical Museum, Langley – http://www.islandweb.org/swhs/

Whidbey Playhouse, Oak Harbor, which originated in the late 1960s, presents live dramas, musicals and comedies throughout the year. http://www.whidbeyplayhouse.com/

Clinton, Langley, Freeland, Coupeville and Oak Harbor libraries are all accessible on this Web site. http://www.sno-isle.org/page/?ID=1177

South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, Langley, present a series of free concerts in the park. http://www.swparks.org/

Island County Historical Society (and museum), Coupeville – http://www.islandhistory.org/

The Island County Fair in Langley is held annually in August. http://www.islandweb.org/fair/

Choochokam, the Langley Festival of The Arts ,is held annually in July. http://www.choochokam.org/

Greenbank Farm Loganberry Festival – http://www.greenbankfarm.com/

Whidbey Island Race Week is an annual sailboat regatta that offers five days of competitive racing, as well as music and other activities. http://www.whidbeyislandraceweek.com/

Coupeville Arts & Crafts Festival is an annual event held in August. http://www.coupevilleartsandcraftsfestival.org/

Penn Cove Mussel Festival in Coupeville is an annual March event. http://www.thepenncovemusselfestival.com/

Whidbey Island Kite Festival in Coupeville is an annual September event. http://www.whidbeykites.org/

Concerts on The Cove, Coupeville, is a non-profit organization that presents a wide variety performing artists. Performances include summer concerts on the Pavilion stage in the Coupeville Town Park, and at the Performing Arts Center at the high school. http://www.concertsonthecove.org/


There are 21 parks on Whidbey Island, including five state parks. There are beaches, great places for clamming, fishing, bird watching, whale watching, hiking, biking, picnicking, and sightseeing. http://www.islandweb.org/parkattractions.php

Fort Casey State Park is a 467-acre marine camping park. It features a lighthouse and over 10,000 feet of saltwater shoreline on Puget Sound. http://www.parks.wa.gov/parkpage.asp?selectedpark=Fort%20

Deception Pass State Park is a 4,000-acre marine and camping park with 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline and 33,000-feet of freshwater shoreline on four lakes. http://www.parks.wa.gov/parkpage.asp?selectedpark=

Fort Ebey State Park is a 645-acre camping park originally built as a coastal defense location for World War II. http://www.parks.wa.gov/parkpage.asp?selectedpark=

Merkerk Rhododendron Gardens has 53 acres of grounds and miles of trails. http://www.meerkerkgardens.org/

South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, Langley, offers a full program schedule including special events, trips, youth leagues and programs, camps, and adult/senior activities. http://www.swparks.org/

There are four public golf courses on Whidbey Island: Lam’s Links (360) 675-3412 (9 holes) Gallery Golf Course (360) 257-2178 (18 holes); Holmes Harbor Golf Course (360) 331-2363 (18 holes); Island Greens (9 holes – par 3 course). http://www.whidbey.com/islandgreens/

There are also two private courses: Whidbey Country Club (360) 675-1014, and Useless Bay Country Club (360) 321-5960.


Skagit Valley College has a campus in Oak Harbor http://www.skagit.edu/news.asp_Q_pagenumber_E_489, and a center in Clinton http://www.skagit.edu/news.asp_Q_pagenumber_E_619

Western Washington University offers degree programs in Elementary Education at Oak Harbor Center at Skagit Valley College. http://www.swparks.org/

Senior Programs

South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District, Langley, offers programs for adults/seniors that include golf lessons, tennis, recreational leagues, fitness walks, trips, and more. http://www.swparks.org/2004%20Spring%20Summer%20

Day Break Senior Center, Oak Harbor, offers classes, travel and recreation programs. http://www.oakharbor.org/details.cfm?id=14


Whidbey General Hospital, Coupeville, is a 51-bed facility with 24-hour emergency services. http://www.whidbeygen.org/

Airport & Transportation Services

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – Travel time from Clinton to the airport, including the ferry trip, is about 90 minutes. http://www.portseattle.org/seatac/

A.J. Eisenberg Airport (formerly Wes Lupien airport) at Oak Harbor has a 3,255-foot paved runway and is privately owned by Harbor Airlines. (206) 479-3333 http://www.city-data.com/airports/Aj-Eisenberg-Airport-Oak-Harbor-

Mukilteo Ferry-to-Clinton Ferry at the southern end of the Island, which is operated by Washington State DOT, is the primary link to Whidbey Island. It is a 30-minute trip and service is available every 30 minutes in peak times. There is also regular ferry service from Port Townsend to Keystone, which is at the mid-point of the Island. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/cameras/index.cfm?terminal_id=14

Island Transit is a free bus service with pickups at the Clinton-Mukilteo Ferry. The Transit provides transportation to Langley, Scatchet Head, Bayview, Freeland and Greenbank on the south and routes run continuously the full length of the island to Deception Pass. Island Transit is pre-paid with a local sales tax. http://www.islandtransit.org/


Average temperatures for February are a high of 44 degrees and low of 30 degrees. July averages are 76 degrees and 51 degrees. http://www.wunderground.com/US/WA/Whidbey_Island.html


Whidbey News-Times – http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/

Property Taxes

Island County Tax Assessor – http://www.islandcounty.net/assessor/Assessor.htm

State Taxes


Chamber of Commerce

Langley Chamber of Commerce – http://www.visitlangley.com/
Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce – http://www.centralwhidbeychamber.com/
Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce – http://www.oakharborchamber.org

State Aging Agency



Mukilteo ferry landing to Seattle – 26 miles
Mukilteo ferry landing to Everett – 6.5 mile
Oak Harbor to Clinton – 37.5 miles
Oak Harbor to Anacortes – 20 miles
Oak Harbor to Mount Vernon – 28 miles

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