Birdwatching at the beach Birdwatching at the beach

Unearth the Hidden Gems of Carmano Island: Beaches, Trails, and Wildlife

Camano Island is essentially an adventurer’s paradise and can be found tucked away in Washington State’s Puget Sound. The island has much to offer with its green forests, unique wildlife, and tranquil beaches.

Nestled within Washington State’s Puget Sound, it’s clear why many consider this destination a hidden gem. Beyond its green forests, wildlife, and beaches, Camano Island boasts an array of activities for those willing to explore its natural beauty.

For hiking enthusiasts, Camano Island doesn’t disappoint. The island features several trails that cater to all levels of experience. Among them, the Camano Ridge Forest Preserve offers a network of trails through a stunning landscape of mature forests, wetlands, and wildlife habitats. This small island makes for a great escape from the chaos of city life.

1. Where is Carmano Island?

Carmano island beach
Image: Jackie from Unsplash

Located east of Whidbey Island and just a short drive from Seattle, Camano Island truly has scenic beauty. To the east, you’ll see the Cascade Mountains looming over you while other spots on the island provide panoramic views of the Pacific Northwest waters surrounding it. Connected by a bridge to the mainland, visiting this island is quite easy.

2. Whidbey vs Carmano

The BEST of Whidbey Island | Day Trip to Washington's Largest Island

These islands are very similar, but they each come with their own unique experience. Whidbey and Camano Islands provide a serene escape with their stunning landscapes and rich wildlife, each offering its unique charm.

Whidby Island, larger and more frequented by tourists, is known for its historic towns like Coupeville and Langley. These communities are steeped in local history and culture, providing a window into the Pacific Northwest’s past. The island is also home to Deception Pass State Park, one of Washington’s most popular state parks, famous for its breathtaking views, hiking trails, and the iconic Deception Pass Bridge.

On the other hand, Camano Island focuses more on providing a retreat into nature, with its less crowded parks and beaches making it an ideal spot for those seeking tranquility and a deep connection with the natural world.

Its accessibility from the mainland without needing a ferry ride adds convenience for visitors looking for a quick getaway. Additionally, Camano Island’s smaller size fosters a more intimate exploration of its landscapes, from shorelines dotted with driftwood to quiet forests that invite peaceful walks.

While seemingly similar in their offerings of natural beauty and recreational activities, both islands cater to different visitor expectations. While ferry rides are part of Whidbey’s charm, Camano spares you all that hassle by allowing quick access to natural beauty.

3. Explore Carmano Island’s Beautiful Beaches

3.1. Cama Beach State Park

Virtual Tour - Cama Beach Historical State Park

What once was a fishing resort now stands as Cama Beach State Park! It still holds its old-fashioned charm with historic cabins located throughout the park & picturesque views around every corner! People have been flocking to this beachside destination for years to create memories along its shoreline!

3.1.1. Beach Access

Sometimes, finding a good spot on busy days can be hard, but this park prides itself on simple beach access topped with picnic areas for guests enjoying lunch by the ocean.

3.1.2. Wildlife Spotting Opportunities

If you’re paying attention, there will surely be some incredible creatures swimming or flying about at Cama Beach! Orcas have been known to swim close enough for human eyes to catch them from shorelines & seals often sunbathe on rocks during low tide! Look up in the sky, and you may see a bald eagle soaring above the clear blue water.

3.2. Elger Bay

Elger Bay is perfect for kayaking, with calm waters and a rocky shoreline! Its beach stretch is also the ideal place to take some time and look out into the open ocean.

3.3. Rocky Shoreline

Carmano beach shoreline
Image: John from Unsplash

In addition to breathtaking views, this rugged coastline is also home to tidal pools! Come during low tide if you’re brave enough & explore around in search of sea creatures!

3.4. Walking Trails

Plenty of walking trails on Camano Island wind through forests just waiting to be explored. These should do the trick if you’d rather keep your feet dry.

If you’ve packed your day with so much fun that it doesn’t look like you’ll return home anytime soon, maybe staying overnight isn’t such a bad idea. The Upper camping loop of the state park has everything an outdoorsy person could need.

3.4.1. Campsites and Facilities

Tent campers and RV campers are both welcome! All campsites have basic facilities so that you can guarantee a comfy stay. And there’s no need to worry about needing water or dumping anything because they have fresh water stations and dump stations.

3.4.2. Nearby Stanwood & Puget Sound

If you don’t want to camp for multiple days in a row, no problem. If you need a touch of civilization, the town of Stanwood is only a hop and skip away. Or, if you’d rather stay by the water all night long, Puget Sound is great for boating and fishing.

4. Wildlife and Nature on Carmano Island

The wildlife in Carmano island
Image: Lalit Gupta from Unsplash

The island is home to many different ecosystems, allowing animals of all kinds to survive here and plants. A few examples of plants found here are Douglas firs and wildflowers.

If you’re into birdwatching, then this place will be heaven for you! Birds of prey, shorebirds, songbirds— they’re everywhere on the island.

Although these two smaller islands may not have their parks, they provide stunning views from Camano Island State Park. Plus, there’s nothing more rewarding than discovering new things for yourself while exploring nature.

The calm waters that surround Camano Island offer great boating conditions. There are also many bays and inlets to explore if that interests you more. Sometimes, we just need some peace and quiet. And walking through these forests provides that peace we crave when life gets too loud.

Camping at either state park will let you experience what it’s like to connect with nature. Falling asleep under the stars and waking up to the sound of waves is one thing— but doing it here? Nothing else quite compares.

Birdwatching at the beach
Image: Marco from Unsplash

Camano Island’s culture extends past its wildlife population. Its local wineries and art galleries show off the creative spirit of the Pacific Northwest. The trip to Camano Island should be pretty easy, given how accessible it is by road. Parking shouldn’t be much trouble if you have a Discover Pass.

There aren’t many activities along this trip where you’ll find yourself saying, “I’m bored,” or “I’ve already done this before.” With so much available, doing everything at once is almost impossible. Keep coming back for more when countless wildlife events pop up year-round!

Last Updated on February 28, 2024 by Ipsita