If you’re planning an outing on a beach on Whidbey and Camano islands, this book should be in your backpack.
The third edition of Sound Water Stewards’ “Getting to the Water’s Edge on Whidbey & Camano Islands” is now out. The guidebook has been a must-read for footloose beach walkers since 1994, and the 2020 edition is bigger and better than ever, with details on 69 public shorelines for hiking, birdwatching, fishing and launching small boats.
“That’s the beauty of the book — using it to find a favorite beach or two,” said Joan Schrammeck, Camano coordinator for Sound Water Stewards and one of 67 volunteers who put in a total of about 1,500 hours updating the guidebook.
The book gives comprehensive details on all 69 sites, listing in a handy table format what can be found at each beach, including boat launches, trails, fishing, clamming, bird-watching, picnic tables, rest rooms, overnight accommodations, parking and more. It also describes 53 upland trails, places where dogs can run off-leash, and good choices for children to play on a beach.
You’ll get an education on exploring beaches safely and with respect for the environment and adjoining private property. You’ll learn about the critters and seaweed you’re most likely to see in intertidal zones. And there’s information on which beaches are accessible to those with limited mobility.
In addition to the site descriptions, the book contains a multitude of sidebar essays on the island’s human and natural histories. How did Possession Point get its name? What’s the story behind Maxwelton Creek, Whidbey Island’s largest watershed? How long did it take to get from Utsalady on north Camano to Seattle by steamboat in the days before good roads? (6½ hours.) When do you do if you encounter a stranded marine mammal?
The essays are new to the guidebook’s sixth edition. Also new is a chapter addressing climate change and how the crisis makes stewardship more important than ever.
The book’s spiral binding makes it easy to use on the beaches and trails. It’s printed in full color on good-quality paper. The cost to print 6,000 copies were paid by $33,000 in donations from sponsoring businesses, nonprofits and Sound Water Stewards members.
The book doesn’t cover every public beach access on the islands. Some are narrow strips of shoreline at the end of county roads, with no place to park and no way to walk the beach without trespassing.
“Some sites you can get to the water but you can’t really walk on the beach to the right or the left without trespassing on people’s property,” Sound Water Stewards President Linda Ridder told the South Whidbey Record. “We only included beaches where at least two cars can park without obstructing driveways and you can actually get to the beach and move in one direction or the other.”
So, of the 69 beaches that are in the book, which is Schrammeck’s favorite?
“I love all the beaches, but Barnum Point on Camano Island, one of the two new ones in the book, is just great,” she said. “On a clear day you can see both Mount Baker and Mount Rainier.”
The third edition’s timing is fortunate, Sound Water Stewards volunteer Jeanie McElwain told the Record.
“In some ways this is an ideal book to buy during the time of COVID,” she said. “Beaches are places where we can safely socially distance and still have a fabulous time with others, and the Northwest’s beaches are a great place to go year round.”
Where to find it
You can buy “Getting to the Water’s Edge on Whidbey & Camano Islands” at www.soundwaterstewards.org. It also is available at these local shops. Note that it’s not sold on Amazon.
• Ace Hardware
• Cama Beach State Park Welcome Center
• Camano Commons Marketplace
• Elger Bay Grocery & Gifts
• Kristoferson Farm Stand
• Picnic Pantry
• Studio 271
• Ace Hardware in Freeland and Oak Harbor
• Bayview Farn & Garden, Langley
• Coupeville Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center
• Greenbank Farm Wine Shop
• Kingfisher Books, Coupeville
• Langley Whale Center
• Linds on Whidbey, Freeland
• Madrona Supply Co., Clinton
• Moonraker Books, Langley
• Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Exchange
• Wind & Tide Bookshop, Oak Harbor
• Wild Birds Unlimited, Freeland
• J. Matheson Gifts, Kitchen and Gourmet
• Edmonds BookShop