There is something to be said for the allure of the island life.
There is something to be said for the allure of the island life. Whether it’s an afternoon at the water’s edge with the ocean breeze on one’s face, aquatic adventures enjoyed atop the waves, or simply a desire for a slower pace of life, there are many advantages to island living. Washington state is home to a range of island opportunities, from weekend getaway spots up in the San Juan Islands, to commutable full-time locales in the north and south Sound, and our “in-city” destination at Bainbridge Island. Regardless of the island one chooses, one thing is certain: something truly unique happens when one heeds the call of the water.
A private and secluded sanctuary awaits you in the island community of Bainbridge Island, Washington. Only a 35-minute ferry ride away from Seattle, the community wows residents and visitors alike with its stunning mountain views, gently rolling hills, and small-town America feel. With gourmet food shops, a vibrant artisan community, and an impressive selection of local wineries, it’s no surprise that Bainbridge Island continues to be a favorite hamlet for those seeking luxury real estate and a low-key island lifestyle.
The charm of Bainbridge Island begins to show itself the moment you step aboard the ferry that connects it to Seattle. In fact, the commute to and from the Island is one of the biggest reasons people consistently choose the Island over mainland locations a similar distance away. For those residents, traffic and honking are things of the past, a far cry from the gently lapping waters of the Puget Sound and the sun setting on the mountains in a panoramic view. The ferry ride is different every day, allowing unparalleled enjoyment of the changing seasons and sometimes even a sighting of the elusive Orca whales.
It’s almost as if time travel is achieved by getting off the ferry at the bustling dock on Bainbridge Island. Suddenly you are transported back to a time when people walked down Main Street, live music floated on the air, and the dominant aroma was roasted coffee and cinnamon muffins. For many, the town center, affectionately called Winslow, is a storybook community.
With only 65 square miles of land and just over 24,000 residents, Bainbridge Island could have fallen into the trap of being just another sleepy village. But its thriving artisan industries and the resulting strong economy based on small and medium sized businesses have made the town into a strong intellectual and cultural center. The variety of contemporary art available, as well as the traditional crafts that residents are so proud of, continue to draw many visitors each year.
Once you experience everything that Bainbridge Island has to offer, itʼs likely you wonʼt want to go anywhere else. And yet the ability to do that, to go somewhere else quickly and easily, is one of the Islandʼs most endearing qualities. Seattle is not the only destination nearby. The Kitsap Peninsula and Hood Canal are wonderful spots for weekend travel and are accessible by bridge.
Bainbridge Island unites more than just the country with the city. It unites the convenience of modern life with idyllic values from long ago: artisanship, community, and natural beauty. And that has made it more than just a place to live. It has made it a place to relax and enjoy the best that life has to offer. And that, even more than the ferry ride to get there, has made all the difference.
As Washington’s largest island, Whidbey Island creates the northern border of the Puget Sound. Nearly 55,000 residents call Whidbey home. Divided into two areas, the northern end of the island is home to, and economically driven by, Whidbey Naval Air Station. South of the town of Oak Harbor, you will find more service-based businesses and relies heavily on tourism, small-scale agriculture, and the arts. And on Whidbey the arts are celebrated – there are music festivals including the Oak Harbor Music Festival and DjangoFestNW. Among its many other annual celebrations, you’ll discover the Zucchini Festival and the Penn Cove Mussel Festival, as well as activities to keep all ages entertained including Kite Festival, Langley’s Mystery Weekend, Choochokam, Tour de Whidbey, and more.
Although a county in themselves, the San Juan Islands are such a comparatively small market that they compare best against similar exurban waterfront areas around Puget Sound. They are an ideal location for family compounds of affluent urbanites living in Seattle, the Eastside or Vancouver, British Columbia. There are several schools of high quality in the San Juan Islands. Friday Harbor High School and Orcas Island High School are both ranked highly by U.S. News. Spring Street International School in Friday Harbor is an SEVP school with a substantial number of overseas students. People come to the islands to escape the city and, for these residents, remoteness is a feature rather than a baller of island living.
Orcas Island is a charming community with a small-town atmosphere. Given its gorgeous natural surroundings, it is no surprise that the Island has long served as a popular haven for a diverse population that includes celebrities, artists and creatives—some of whom travel to the Island on holiday and others call it home year-round. The idyllic village setting provides services to meet any need, including medical facilities, grocers, a hardware store, boutique shops, galleries, and other purveyors of local goods. Residents and visitors enjoy the level of privacy and recreational opportunities—by land and sea—that Orcas Island affords.
Camano Island is the second of the two main islands in Island County with an easy drive to Seattle – no ferry required. Breathtaking vistas and views are found in hidden retreats, modern getaways and bungalow homes. The local chamber of commerce has positioned the island as a retirement haven or vacation retreat where residents find peaceful getaways at Utsalady Bay in the north, Madrona Beach on the western shore, Driftwood Shores along Triangle Cove and the island’s eastern coast, and southeasterly by South Camano Drive along the banks of the Saratoga Passage. Known for spectacular seafood, people are often found digging the sand for butter clams or finding mussels on the rocky shoreline.
Fox Island is a small community of approximately 3,000 residents near Gig Harbor. It’s known for its small-town island feel and recreation, which includes beachcombing, fishing, and scuba diving. The town affords all of the amenities one needs for daily living, including a post office, grocery store, and a collection of small businesses along Island Boulevard. Fox Island is regarded for its views of Mt. Rainier, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, McNeil Island, and the Olympic Mountains.
Just hop on a ferry and when you land on Vashon Island, you will feel like you just stepped into a much different world, a little bit slower paced, larger lots, lovely trees, a quaint downtown with the Hardware Store which is a Cheers like restaurant where everybody knows your name. It is a tight community that embraces both being social and being private. Being an island it obviously has many waterfront property opportunities from high-bank, low-bank, no bank and even walk in properties. You can purchase a build-able waterfront lot from the high $400s or an amazing waterfront estate with almost 1,000 feet of waterfront for around $12 million and everything in between. There are several little communities like Burton, Maury Island and Docton to name a few. Once you arrive to Vashon expect to step into Island time and embrace a world filled with beaches, art, music, great food and wine and fabulous people.