Waterfront homes make up a large percentage of the luxury real estate in Greater Seattle. Whidbey Island and other nearby cities will often have waterfront homes available in a variety of locations. Seattle-area waterfront properties include luxury lakefront homes on Lake Washington, Puget Sound waterfront estates, and floating homes and houseboats on Lake Union.
Whidbey Island is located about 30 miles North of Seattle in Island County. The largest of nine islands in the county, Whidbey has a population of around 60,000 and covering 170 square miles. The island's dramatic length (35 miles) creates a number of distinct cities including Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Greenbank, Freeland, Langley, and Clinton. Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in the North end of the island is a strong influence on the development and employment of Oak Harbor and surrounding areas, while the South end of Whidbey is more of a tourist destination. Crossing from North Whidbey Island to the mainland is done via the towering Deception Pass Bridges.
Whidbey Island (historical spellings Whidby, Whitbey, or Whitby) is the largest of the islands composing Island County, Washington, in the United States. (The other large island is Camano Island, east of Whidbey.) Whidbey is about 30 miles (48 km) north of Seattle, and lies between the Olympic Peninsula and the I-5 corridor of western Washington. The island forms the northern boundary of Puget Sound. It is home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
Whidbey Island is home to 67,000 residents (according to the 2000 census). An estimated 29,000 of Whidbey Island residents live in rural locations.
Whidbey Island is approximately 55 miles (89 km) long (if measured along roads traveled from the extreme north to extreme south), or about 37 miles (60 km) when measured along a straight line from north to south, and 1.5 to 10 miles (2.4 to 16.1 km) wide, with a total land area of 168.67 square miles (436.9 km2), making it the 40th largest island in the United States. It is ranked as the fourth longest and fourth largest island in the contiguous United States, behind Long Island, New York; Padre Island, Texas (the world's longest barrier island); and Isle Royale, Michigan. In the state of Washington, it is the largest island, followed by Orcas Island.
Whidbey Island was inhabited by members of the Lower Skagit, Swinomish, Suquamish, Snohomish and other Native American tribes. The Salishan name for the island was Tscha-kole-chy. These were peaceful groups who lived off the sea and land, with fishing, harvesting nuts, berries and roots, which they preserved over the winter.
The first known European sighting of Whidbey Island was during the 1790 Spanish expedition of Manuel Quimper and Gonzalo López de Haro on the Princesa Real.
Captain George Vancouver fully explored the island in 1792. In May of that year, Royal Navy officers and members of Vancouver's expedition, Joseph Whidbey (master of HMS Discovery) and Peter Puget (a lieutenant on the ship), began to map and explore the areas of what would later be named Puget Sound. After Whidbey circumnavigated the island in June 1792, Vancouver named the island in his honor. By that time, Vancouver had claimed the area for Britain. On 4 June 1792, the King’s Birthday, near Possession Point at the southern end of Whidbey Island, Vancouver took formal possession of all the coast and hinterland contiguous to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, including Puget Sound, under the name of New Georgia.
The first known overnight stay by a non-Native American was made on May 26, 1840 by a Catholic missionary, Father François Norbert Blanchet, during travel across Puget Sound. He had been invited by Chief Tslalakum. Blanchet remained on the island for nearly a year and guided the inhabitants in building a new log church.
Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, commander of the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838–1842, sailed the USS Vincennes into Penn Cove in 1841. By that time, the log church was already being built by the Native Americans beside a huge wooden cross (24 feet long) that they had erected. Wilkes ordered his men to use no force except in self-defense when dealing with the "savage and treacherous inhabitants". In fact, he encountered few problems with the indigenous people who had already been poorly treated by visitors and suffered from diseases they had introduced.
Wilkes named the lower cove Holmes Harbor, after his assistant surgeon, Silas Holmes. During this time he charted Puget Sound. Other sites in the area that were given names by Wilkes included Maury Island (Vashon), Hammersley Inlet, Totten and Budd Inlets, Agate Passage between the Kitsap Peninsula, Hale Passage and Dana Passage.
Thomas W. Glasgow filed the first land claim on Whidbey Island in 1848, attempting to become the first settler. He built a small cabin near Penn Cove, planted some crops and married a local lady, Julia Pat-Ke-Nim. Glasgow left in August of that year however, having been forced out by the local inhabitants. Colonel Isaac N. Ebey arrived from Columbus, Ohio, in 1850 and became the first permanent white settler, claiming a square mile (2.6 km²) of prairie with a southern shoreline on Admiralty Inlet. He took advantage of the 640 acres offered free of charge to each married couple, the first to do so, on October 15, 1850. In the fall of 1851, his children, his wife, three of her brothers and the Samuel Crockett family arrived to join Ebey. In addition to farming potatoes and wheat, Ebey was also the postmaster for Port Townsend, Washington and rowed a boat daily across the inlet in order to work at the post office there. Colonel Ebey also served as a representative in the Oregon Territory Legislative Assembly, as Island County's first Justice of the Peace, as a probate judge and as Collector of Customs for the Puget Sound District.
On August 11, 1857, at age 39, Colonel Ebey was murdered and beheaded by Native Americans, said to be Haida who had traveled to this area from Haida Gwaii. Some sources however, refer to his killers as "Russian Indians called Kakes or Kikans, Kufrinoff Island, near the head of Prince Frederick's Sound. Ebey was slain in proxy-retaliation for the killing of a Haida chief or Tyee and 27 other indigenous people at Port Gamble. Fort Ebey, named for the Colonel, was established in 1942 on the west side of the central part of the island, just northwest of Coupeville.
Admiralty Head Lighthouse is located in this area, on the grounds of Fort Casey State Park. The area around Coupeville is the federally protected Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, named in honor of Isaac Ebey.
On September 25, 1959, a U.S. Navy P5M antisubmarine aircraft with an unarmed nuclear depth charge on board crash-landed into Puget Sound near Whidbey Island. The nuclear weapon was never recovered.
In December 1984, the island was the site of a violent encounter between law enforcement and white nationalist and organized crime leader Robert Jay Mathews of the group The Order. A large shootout occurred between Mathews and FBI agents in which Mathews was killed during a house fire. Mathews' followers have since gathered on the island at the location where he was killed by FBI agents on the anniversary of his death to commemorate it.
Whidbey Island is divided economically into two different regions: the northern end of the island (encompassing Oak Harbor and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station), and the remainder of the island (encompassing Coupeville, Greenbank, Freeland, Langley, Clinton and the smaller communities in-between).
The economy of the northern end of Whidbey Island is strongly influenced by the presence of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station near Oak Harbor (N.A.S. Whidbey). N.A.S. Whidbey is Oak Harbor's largest employer; thus, Oak Harbor has a predominantly service-based economy and several national chain stores have been attracted to the Oak Harbor area.
The economy of Whidbey Island south of Oak Harbor relies heavily on tourism, small-scale agriculture, and the arts.
Tourism is especially important for both Whidbey and Camano Islands. On Whidbey, tourists find a wide range of amenities in the towns of Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Freeland and Langley. Coupeville's Penn Cove Mussel Farm exports large quantities of its highly renowned Penn Cove Mussels. This aquaculture facility, along with a number of small farms, reflects the rural agricultural nature of most of central Whidbey Island. Many of these small farms host farm stands onsite, where customers may buy produce, flowers, meat, eggs and other locally raised products directly from the farmers.
Often referred to as Puget Sound's Largest Artist's Colony, Whidbey is home to numerous working artists, writers, and performers. These include many well-known painters, sculptors, glass artists, wood workers, metal workers, mixed media artists, photographers, authors, poets, actors, and musicians.
In addition to being a haven for artists, the southern end of Whidbey Island also serves as a minor bedroom community for the nearby cities of Everett, where the Boeing Everett Factory is located, and Seattle. Commuters to and from those areas use the Washington State Ferries system's run between Clinton and Mukilteo.
Whidbey Island is often claimed to be the longest island in the continental United States (or another similar claim), but according to the Seattle Times it cannot be correctly considered so. Whidbey Island has four lakes that are part of its interior hydrology: Cranberry Lake (inside Deception Pass State Park), Deer Lake, Goss Lake and Lone Lake (both near the town of Langley).
Whidbey Island contains Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, the first national historic reserve in the US created by the National Park Service to preserve the rural history and culture of the island and to protect the area's rare and sensitive plants.
Washington State Parks located on the island include Deception Pass State Park (the most visited state park in Washington), Joseph Whidbey State Park, Fort Ebey State Park, Fort Casey State Park, Possession Point State Park, and South Whidbey Island State Park. There is also a series of county operated parks throughout the Island.
Earth Sanctuary is a nature reserve, sculpture garden and retreat center on Whidbey Island. The ponds and bog fen complex have been designated as a "habitat of local importance" by the Whidbey Audubon Society and Island County Critical Areas program.
Whidbey Island hosts many festivals and celebrations throughout the year.
Our exclusive Local Market Research helps you make more informed decisions. Each week we publish market updates for Whidbey Island. You can see the latest trends in pricing, affordability, supply and demand. We invest in this research so our clients always have the latest insights to make the best decisions with confidence. Below are the latest home pricing trends for Whidbey Island based on zip code 98260.