In the PNW, summer around the Full Moon is the time for low tide wanderings, especially when the are minus 4 foot tides. We drop everything and go to the beach if I see one is going to happen, especially middle of the day.
The west side of Whidbey Island is the place to be, with the (mostly) sandy beaches that go out far. The closest beach, with said sand, to us with good public access is Robinson Beach, outside of Freeland, Washington – and yes, it is on the west side, facing the Olympic Mountains and the end of the Salish Sea, where it becomes the Puget Sound as you go farther south down the island.
This is Mutiny Bay, a massive bay with a deep drop off, not far from where the ultra low tide line ends. And as I said…has excellent public access. It’s a wide beach for the public part, now with access for wheelchairs, walkers, strollers and even those who have problems with balance, they can now get out to the sand. This is one of the very few with disability access here.
This is pretty cool, and was installed over the winter of 2022/2023.
The boat ramp has not been restored at this beach, it disappeared a few years back and between the pandemic and a lack of support for it in the county level, it seems maybe it might not come back. I am OK with that. It was for only tiny boats or kayaks, but it cut a deep swath across the beach and made it far harder to walk the beach. Now the beach is back to normal the past couple of years and flat. No high piles of sand moved about by machinery every year.
Looking north in the far distance is Admiralty Inlet, which is a strait connecting the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Salish Sea) to the Puget Sound. It lies between Whidbey Island and the northeastern part of the Olympic Peninsula. And as well you can see the land that makes up Ebey’s Landing and Fort Casey.
The key in walking beaches in Washington State is finding a public access point that is cool with it. There are many points for access, but many are surrounded by mean people who don’t want anyone using them. You might be lucky to get 1 or 2 parking spots, and you will get glared at by grumbly Richie Riches who don’t want riff raff daring to look upon their sand. Yeah, I get it. You paid 2.5 million for a dumpy black mold filled cabin built in 1938 with no bank waterfront. Doesn’t mean I won’t stick my tongue out at you. Or at the $10 million dollar mansions that now tower on the beaches.
And that is why I like Robinson Beach. It has TONS of good parking. Easy in and out. The road to it is easy to access. And the people around seem overall pretty chill. Like I have yet in many, many visits ever been yelled at. In summer the ice cream truck shows up. It’s the beach to be at.
The key is…just stay below high tide line. You are legal there. Especially if you are walking past houses with signs claiming they call the sheriff’s office for “trespassers” (Spoiler alert…..they don’t come). But on days like this….you have a vast wide beach to walk on. And you are so far away from the houses, that you can barely see them washing their hands out of silver faucets (yes, there is a house there with silver faucets….lol). OK, I’ll stop. Just stay low and you are fine.
Robinson Beach also has minor tide pools, an oddity this far south on the island.
When you have a minus 4 foot tide, the beach is very wide and the water takes a long time to pull out. I typically have us show up an hour to an hour and half before “high tide”. That way you see even more on your way back.
Bald Eagle resting.
Our goal is usually the long pier that is randomly built across the beach. It has great pools to watch tiny crabs and fish in.
It’s got blocks of old concrete that are home to barnacles and more. The view across the Salish to the Olympic Mountains is always a favorite of mine.
A good size Dungness Crab that didn’t make low tide, but hadn’t been eaten yet.
Moon Snails are so prolific here. If you don’t see one, you will definitely see their egg collars they leave behind. If you walk in the pools, walk carefully to not crush any on accident. We came across one Moon Snail that was alive and helped it out a bit, to avoid the massive numbers of Sea Gulls, Herons and other sea birds, all looking for an all-you-can-eat brunch on the water’s edge.
I love seeing Herons though. They are such a pretty large bird.
This beach has a healthy crop of sea grasses, sea weed and Bull Kelp.
Just don’t miss the low tides, if you are near a beach. You just never know what you might see or find on each visit.