Fidalgo Island is in Skagit County and is the island you drive across from the mainland to get to Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound. Fidalgo island has eight lakes, Lake Erie, Campbell, Pass Lake, Little Cranberry, Heart, Mud, Trafton/Crater, and Whistle. It is known for its lookout point and hikes up Mt. Erie. Fidalgo Island has the charming old school town of Anacortes which sits on the beautiful Fidalgo bay. Fidalgo Island holds Bowman bay with the beautiful Rosario Beach and lots of hiking and camping and the tip of Deception Pass State Park starts on Fidalgo Island before crossing over to Whidbey Island. There is a lot to do and see in the outdoors and charming towns to explore on this little island.
How to get to Fidalgo Island
Fidalgo Island is the first island off the mainland that you can drive to. It’s about a 7-mile drive from Whitney, WA the closest town on the mainland. When you drive onto Fidalgo Island, you are only 10 minutes away from the beginning of Deception Pass State Park if you head towards Whidbey instead of going up north further into Fidalgo Island.
Things to Do on Fidalgo Island
Pass Lake (Fishing/kayaking)
This is my favorite lake on the island because it is a small, quaint lake surrounded by evergreen trees on the edge of Fidalgo as you enter Whidbey Island. This lake is a popular spot for fisherman and is a quiet and peaceful lake because no power boats are allowed. This is a great spot for a beautiful kayak in a safe inlet. It’s also right across from Bowman Bay and Rosario Beach. This is my spot for solitude when I visit the island. A Discover Pass is needed to park in the free parking lot.
The Discover pass is only $30 annually and allows you access to any campground, state park, and national park in the state.
Rosario Beach is one of my favorite beaches on the island and, in my opinion, is the best beach of all the beaches on Whidbey and Fidalgo island. This beach is a beautiful small rock and eggate beach that sits on Sharp cove, an inlet that is great for kayaking and other water sports, or swimming. There are some hiking trails that go out to Rosario head one of the best lookout points on the island. The lookout has a grassy knoll that is perfect for a picnic and if you go during the Spring you will see plenty of wildflowers. Sharp Cove has a dock and a great spot for swimming and hanging out in the summer. This beach is also known for tide pools by Urchin Rocks on Rosario head lookout area.
At the beginning of the trail to Rosario head, sits a totem pole of a woman holding up a fish. She is called the Maiden of Deception Pass. The story is told that there was a maiden named Ko-kwahl-alwoot who risked her life to save the Samish people from starvation. She married a man of the sea when he threatened her that if she did not marry him he would take away the animal life of the sea. Ko-kwahl-alwoot’s father was angry and told her she needed to come back every year. But, after four years, it was too hard for her to come back to the village. She is thought to live eternally underwater. The legend of the local Native American tribes lives on and you can watch a documentary here.
Mt. Erie/ Lake Erie
Mt. Erie park has lots of hiking trails and overlook views of Fidalgo and Whidbey Island. You are able to drive to the top peak of the island if you don’t feel like hiking. This is also an amazing place to watch the sunset over the island and has one of the best views of all the islands. There is camping in Lake Erie that is a pretty well-kept secret. This is a low key, beautiful spot on the island that is not trafficked by the tourism of Deception Pass State Park. To camp at the spots along the lake, enquire about them at the small, Lake Erie Grocery & Trailer store. The tent spots are $15 a night and very few people know about this gem of a spot.
Anacortes is only about a 20-minute drive from Whidbey Island. This is a great half day trip to walk around the cute, old-fashioned downtown area. The main street is called Commercial Ave and has all the great cute boutique shops, book stores, and coffee shops. Alley cat Vintage Decor, Watermark Book Co, and Pelican Bay Books & Coffeehouse are a couple of highlights. Calico Cupboard on this street is a great place for lunch and Cap Sante Park is an overlook at a nearby park that overlooks Fidalgo Bay and Anacortes Harbor with all the boats. There is also a Lopez Island Ice Cream truck that parks by Anthony’s the restaurant and is a must-stop spot if you are visiting. The farmer’s market held here in the summer is tremendously popular for its local food and produce.
Bowman Bay & Camping
Bowman Bay and the campground are right across the street from Pass Lake and just next door to Rosario Beach. Bowman Bay has hiking trails that go to the Rosario head overlook and connect to Rosario Beach. Bowman Bay is famous for Lighthouse Point and a hike that circles around the Bay with phenomenal views of the islands. Bowman Bay includes Lottie Bay which is a smaller bay on the opposite side of Lighthouse Point. There is a boat launch, bathrooms, showers, and a great campground on one of the most beautiful stretches of the island. This area is known for kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and boating. There are tons of hiking trails with quick access, but keep in mind this is a popular spot to camp so you need to book your spot early. You get to camp close by the water, just inland a bit, but you still get to hear the sound of the waves at night.
Bowman Bay Campground
This campground only has 20 sites, all close to the beach. Only two sites are hookup sites, and the rest are standard. There are showers in the campground restroom. Bowman Bay Campground is open seasonally.
There is a single Washington Water Trails campsite (open to all boaters) at Bowman Bay. All boater-only sites are first come, first serve.
The reservations depend on time of year and the updated lists are found here.
Park Hours (Deception Pass State Park)
6:30 a.m. – dusk
8 a.m. – dusk
The park is open year round for camping and day use. Camping during the winter is only open at Quarry Pond Campground. See the park winter schedule for details.
- Check-in time is 2:30 p.m.
- Check-out time is 1:00 p.m.
- Maximum of 8 campers per site
- Maximum of one recreational vehicle per site.
- Pets are allowed on leashes
- Campsites may not be held for someone arriving later
- Campers may stay up to 10 days in the summer, up to 20 days in the off season
- Quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Generators must be turned off by 9 p.m.
- Extra vehicles are allowed at $10 per night if space permits.
Deception Pass State Park
Deception Pass State Park is located between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey island connecting them to the mainland. Deception Pass State Park is the most visited state park in Washington. The park encompasses 4,134 acres of ancient forest with saltwater shores, freshwater lakes, camping & 38 miles of trail. This is the most beautiful place for hiking, camping, and beach hunting. There is amazing kayaking in the Sound between the islands and lots of different whale tours to see gray whales as well as orcas depending on the time of year. This is my favorite place to visit on the island, and I come here every time I visit, normally multiple times a trip. There are so many places to explore in the park. Make sure you buy your Discover Pass for parking. It’s only $30 annually for entrance to all the parks in the state and free parking.
Whidbey Island Day trip
Whidbey Island is a close 40 minute drive away from Fidalgo island from the north or 20 minutes from the south. Whidbey Island has gorgeous beaches, Fort Ebey Park and bunkers, charming towns, and Deception Pass State Park to explore.
San Juan Islands Day Trip
Fidalgo Island is the gateway to the nearby San Juan Islands. San Juan Island is about a 1.5-hour ferry ride from Anacortes to Friday Harbor. The island is small and beautiful packed with lots of outdoor adventure activities.