It is winter in Western Washington, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be trapped indoors on your Fidalgo Island getaway.
In fact, Anacortes is in the “Banana Belt” and receives less rainfall than Seattle and has around 23 more days per year of sunshine. Depending on what type of island adventure you want, you can fish for salmon, SUP in lakes or bays, climb indoors or on a mountain, and walk through time.
In the Anacortes fishing world, there are two words on everyone’s lips during the winter months–blackmouth salmon. The stomping grounds for these juvenile Chinook salmon are the San Juan Islands and it’s common to catch a fish weighing into the teens. Charter companies like R&R Charters, Highliner Charters, Catchemore Charters, and Jolly Mon Charters provide all fishing gear, one-day fishing licenses, and have covered and heated boats. Check their websites for rates and customized trips. If you plan to stay overnight, R&R Charters has a Fishing Package with the Swinomish Casino and Lodge, and the Majestic Inn & Spa has a Catch & Keep Fishing Excursion with Jolly Mon Charters.
Stand Up Paddleboard
Sound Yoga and SUP offers stand up paddle board lessons and guided tours. It’s best to call and talk over the details of your experience. Choices range from SUP’ing in one of Fidalgo Island freshwater lakes or the calmer seas near Seafarers’ Memorial Park or Deception Pass, as well as, a SUP tour with a picnic lunch. Sound Yoga and SUP also provides wetsuits and booties for most people. SUP rates range from $50 to $75 depending on the length of time and gear required. Once a month, they also have SUP yoga at Fidalgo Pool from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m. The next session is December 11. If you need a board, the cost is $25, if you bring your own $15. Pre-registration is required.
Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Anacortes
Want to experience Anacortes history at your own pace? The self-guided Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Anacortes identifies 30 historic buildings and takes about 1.5-hours. Along the route some of the highlights are a century old park the community built, a historic Carnegie library turned museum, and a 126-year-old building that was rolled eleven blocks in 1904 to its current location – it is now the Majestic Inn & Spa.
Fidalgo Island Hiking
Anacortes has almost 2,800 acres of forests lands with 50 miles of multiple use trails. What can one expect when hiking the trails? Patches of old growth forest, extensive woodlands, marshlands filled with bird song, and breathtaking seascape and island views. Anacortes Forestlands include Whistle Lake, Cranberry Lake, Heart Lake, and Washington Park.
The paved and mostly flat Guemes Island and Tommy Thompson trails are popular with bikers and dog walkers. The Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve trail, near the Anacortes ferry dock, is a favored spot for spotting freshwater and saltwater birds. Another prized destination is Deception Pass State Park, and its three parks on Fidalgo Island– Pass Lake, Rosario Beach, and Bowman Bay. Pass Lake is also a fly-fishing only freshwater lake and most days there will be one or two fisherman angling to catch German brown and rainbow trout. And, Sharpe Park Montgomery-Duban Headlands is a spot to hike and take in the sunset.
Anacortes Indoor Rock Climbing
Want to learn the fundamentals of rock climbing or sharpen your rock climbing skills? Anacortes Indoor Rock Climbing is open five days a week. Anyone can drop in or join a class like bouldering basics to learn climbing fundamentals or a ladies bouldering basics class. Hours are Wednesday through Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m. Drop-in daily rates are $5 for children 12 and under, $6 for students and $7 for adults. They also rent rock climbing shoes for $3.
If you’d prefer climb in the great outdoors Mt. Erie’s eight south-facing wall groups draws rock climbers from Canada, Montana, and California. The rock has a variety of routes, like beginning top rope routes, multi-pitch trad, and 5.13 sport routes. For those unfamiliar with Mt. Erie, the book Rockin’ on the Rock, a Guide to Mt. Erie Climbing lists over 400 routes, and includes contour maps, color topos, and photographs. It is available digitally, and hard copies are available for purchase at the Lake Erie Grocery Store, which is also a great place to pick up drinks or snacks.
by Lara Dunning