Did your family just get orders to head to NAS Whidbey Island in Washington? Doing a bit of anticipatory research on where the Navy might be sending your family next?
Our contributor for this weeks post in the Duty Station Spotlight series is from Rebecca of The Navy Life of a Pilot’s Wife She and her family were stationed at NAS Whidbey August 2015 to November 2018.
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What first ran through your head when you found out you were moving to NAS Whidbey?
We were so excited! Washington is beautiful and we were excited for the opportunities to be outdoors and visit parks.
I am so jealous!
After living there for 3 years do you still have the same impression of Washington?
We LOVED living in WA and we took full advantage of living in a place with so many outdoor opportunities. We loved living in the San Juan Islands, where the base is located, but it was hard, especially since we were coming from Japan. Whidbey Island doesn’t have a ton of amenities, like a Target, so it helped to live further from the base in Anacortes, which is on a neighboring island. My husband had a longer commute and we paid more for our home, but we were closer to Bellingham, Seattle, and stuff to do on the mainland.
What did you do to prepare for moving to the duty station?
Yes our main preparation was looking for a place to live! We worked with Janis McHarg at John L. Scott Realtor in Anacortes. She was SO helpful with narrowing down which community worked best for our needs as a family of two adults and two dogs. I also did research about the local parks and things to do.
What are your must have items to set up for success at this duty station?
I recommend a really good rain coat and a nice light jacket. You’ll wear both often! Also, good clothes for in-between temps and weather.
Do you live on base, own a home or rent elsewhere?
We lived off base in Anacortes. Families tend to live either very close to the base in Oak Harbor or further away in Anacortes. Housing prices are pretty high, but there are lots of rentals in Oak Harbor, including rentals in buildings right in town on the water. We considered living there if we didn’t find a home to buy in Anacortes. The housing on base is nice, and the primary complaint I’ve heard is about the fencing between the homes. It’s chain link, which can be hard if you have dogs. This is totally a seaside community!
Is NAS Whidbey Island easy to get to?
NAS WI is literally on an island. It takes about 20 minutes to get off island from base, or you can take a ferry to a town near Seattle. It’s 90 minutes – 2 hours to SEATAC airport from base. It’s kind of remote. You will definitely need a car.
Any tips for surviving through what mother nature has to bring to the island?
All four seasons exist in the San Juan Islands! The temps are super tolerable. It’s usually only hot for 2 weeks during the summer and really cold for a month during the winter. Most people don’t have AC, or they only turn it on for a week or two every year. Some people have those swamp cooler systems, which work well, too. This is a really comfortable place to live, temperature wise. Also the island is in a “rain shadow”, so we don’t get the amount of rain that Seattle does.
NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND SPOTLIGHT MAPEach of the locations around NAS Whidbey Island described below have been plotted on this google map. You can use the filters below to show only the locations you are interested in or open in google maps to save for later!
What is your favorite spot to grab a coffee at this duty station?
EVERYWHERE IS GREAT for coffee in WA! Go to ALL the coffee stands before you go to Starbucks! I LOVE Starbucks, but the local coffee places are to die for, and there’s a coffee stand on just about every corner. You can’t miss them.
After just a few questions I am already feeling like I need to figure out how we can pcs to WA.
Is brunch a big deal around the duty station’s town? If so, where is your favorite spot and what do you order off the menu?
Whats the best spot for having a lunch?
I love Gereadeli in Anacortes. It’s the best deli I’ve ever been to, but they have non-traditional deli foods, too.
What is your go to place to grab dessert?
Oh man, check out The Corner Market in Anacortes. They have THE BEST muffins and cookies, and they usually have tons of choices of both. I also love the brownies at Gereadeli!
DATE NIGHT EATS
When you managed to align schedules to go out for a date with your husband, where are you headed?
We loved A’Town Bistro in Anacortes. It’s pricy so it wasn’t an every week kinda place for us, but it was our favorite place to go. Locally sourced food and drink, and the menu rotated seasonally.
Where is the best spot to grab a drink?
Beer and wine can be bought in every pharmacy and grocery store. Spirits can be bought in grocery stores. We bought most of our alcohol on base. I love Ale Spike, which is off island and further south.
TO DO AROUND TOWN
Where is your favorite place to work up a sweat?
I joined Thrive, which is a local chain. There is a location in Anacortes and one in Oak Harbor. Eventually I cancelled and focused on going to the base gym because base has better lifting equipment, and there are great trails on base where I could jog along the water.
Are there any nearby outdoor recreation areas you like to visit?
Washington has AMAZING outdoor recreation opportunities. Check out Deception Pass, which is 10 minutes from base. We also loved Rosario Beach in Anacortes. There are tons of trails along local water ways in the mainland. I loved going to parks and walking/jogging my dogs along the water.
If your family had to dream up the perfect outing together in your area, where are you headed?
We love Guemes Island, which is a 5 minute ferry ride from Anacortes. They have live music at the Country Store during the summer. We would bring over our own chairs, order food and beer from the bar, and enjoy the sunset and evening on the island.
Where is your go to place if the weather is calling for rain?
It rains somewhat frequently in Whidbey, so I recommend getting over it! Get a nice rain jacket and a cute pair of rain shoes or boots, and to your thing anyway!
If you manage to sneak away for a few hours to spend time spoiling yourself where are you headed?
I didn’t find a nail salon that I loved, unfortunately, but there are tons to choose from. I love the spa at The Majestic Inn in Anacortes. I think they’re the nicest spa in the whole area.
FINAL WORDS ON NAS Whidbey Island
What would you say to a military family who just received orders and is doing the frantic google search to learn all the things!
Reach out to Key Spouse of your unit – I am a Key Spouse and we love to give this same information or find out information to make the adjustment a little easier.
Have you been stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island? We would love to hear about your favorites around town! Let us know your experience stationed here in the comments below!
Rebecca is a nurse & Nursing Science PhD student, corgi mom, gardener, crocheter, and a wife to an awesome dude, who happens to fly pointy nose jets for the US Navy. Her blog, The Navy Life of a Pilot’s Wife, is an honest, researched information source for loved ones on the aviation side of the Navy. You can also connect with her on Instagram.