In the mid-1800s, early settlers on Whidbey Island relied completely on boat traffic to ferry passengers and goods to their long island in the Puget Sound. But with the opening of Deception Pass Bridge to Fidalgo Island on the north side in 1935 and the development of the Naval Air Station during World War II, Oak Harbor began its boom in building and housing. Now 27,000 people call it home.
Six miles out of town you can find the best mussels around in Penn Cove’s long-established mussel farms. On the north end of the island, Deception Pass State Park has 4,100 acres of breathtakingly beautiful views of the San Juan Islands, Victoria, B.C., Fidalgo Island and even Mount Baker on the mainland. The bridge itself stops traffic as the mist rises from the ocean below it and the light plays on the span. Just three miles west of Oak Harbor is Joseph Whidbey State Park, a 112-acre day-use park with 3,100 feet of saltwater shoreline. Fort Ebey State Park, designed for camping, is just eight miles south of town, and covers 645 acres of former defense installation. Windjammer, a waterfront city park, offers covered picnic areas and an exercise trail. For bird watching – catch sight of the more than sixty pairs of bald eagles that reside on this island – whale watching, or just people watching, Whidbey Island is the place to be.
For those hoping for a more “civilized” experience, there is the Farmers’ Market, Pioneer Way and the Harborside Shops in the historical district, and Whidbey Playhouse, a volunteer-run community theatre with a proud and prolific 45-year history. The Whidbey Island Naval Air Station is the premier naval aviation facility in the Northwest. At the Seaplane Base, the PBY Heritage Center contains memorabilia and educational exhibits from all conflicts from World War II to the present. And to give your need for nostalgia yet another hit, the Blue Fox Drive-In, one of only five drive-in theatres left in the state, still offers double features and retro food and drink to go with.
It would be hard to imagine a property type or price you couldn’t find in this area. From below $100,000 to a million dollars, from buildable lots to water-view townhomes, from single-family executive homes to starters, Oak Harbor has a place for just about any homebuyer. Oak Harbor has deep roots in its rich history, incredible vistas around Puget Sound, a vibrant lifestyle and welcoming atmosphere. There’s a place for everyone here.