My husband and I are outdoorsy people and enjoy being out in the wilderness… before having kids, camping was something we did almost every other weekend in the summer! However, adding children to the unplugged/wilderness experience makes everything exponentially more complicated… we still want to get away but had to rethink how we went about it. Not only do kids have tons of stuff to lug, but they have no patience or filter. Even with one kid, what should be a 20-minute tent assembly turned into hours of work while one person tried to set things up on their own, and the other chased a toddler around trying to keep them away from ravines, sticker bushes, poison ivy… the list goes on forever! So, as parents of two now, we seek out campsites that offer cabins for a more seamless experience. That way, when we show up we can just open a door and walk in… the containment area is all ready to go, haha! This allows us more time to simply unpack the trunk and relax, instead of worrying about pitching a tent, blowing up an air mattress, making a bed, and so on.
This is our littlest’s first summer, and we were determined we would take her on her first camping trip. We sadly didn’t have tons of time off work, so we were on the hunt for a quick little over-nighter close by that offered a cabin experience and something on the peninsula sounded like it could be what we were looking for. My husband was raised north of Seattle and had heard about Cama Beach on Camano Island in the past.
If you are unfamiliar with Camano Island, it is just north of Seattle and is the inner-most one of the San Juan Islands. For us, the drive was about an hour… from downtown Seattle or Bellevue you might be around an hour and a half. Cama Beach State Park is on the west side of the island looking directly at Whidbey Island, oh and the sunset, of course 🙂 It actually is a historical state park, opened originally as a fishing resort in the 1930’s, and sold to the State of Washington and was restored decades later. All cabins have been returned to their original make and color, so walking them gives you a quaint/nostalgic feeling. Rates vary between $49-$149 depending on season and have a two-night minimum, but you can call and see if there is availability and they may squeeze you in for just one night if they have a cabin open.
We learned some really cool/important things while staying there! Here is my list of notable takeaways:
You are not able to drive down to the campsite – since it is a historical area and the seawall is being delicately preserved, you must check in and park in one of the upper parking lots and wait for an appointed shuttle to pick you up. Make sure you check shuttle hours before you set off and plan that into your schedule… it is a long walk especially with lots of gear if you miss it! However, there is appointed handicap parking (the only exception to the rule), just make sure to let them know you need this as you make your reservation. Our shuttle driver was very friendly and even gave us a little history lesson on the place on the way down! I also appreciated there were not cars driving around all the kids playing at the cabin area, it felt very safe compared to campsites I have stayed at in the past where cars were allowed to drive through.
The cabins are well equipped! Ours was like a studio with attached additional bedroom which worked out well for our setup. There was just enough room next to our bed for our pack and play for the baby, and the 4 year old took the adjacent room. There was a refrigerator, microwave and coffee pot already on site, and the cabin to our surprise even had a heater! My advice would be to bring some kind of mattress pad to sleep on on-top of their beds because they are HARD, and you need to bring your own pillows and blankets too.
There is a Center for Wooden Boats on site! I was so excited by this – I actually had no idea they had a secondary location to the one on Lake Union. All their wooden boats are hand-crafted on-site and are just as quaint as the cottages. You can rent paddle boats or ones under power; either are a great option.
There is tons of crabbing just off the shore! Be sure to bring your crab license and crab pots just in case. We didn’t remember ours and my FOMO was bad. The crabbing area is so close you could even paddle a canoe or kayak out to it easily, or one of the wooden boats would suffice fantastically too.
There are grills between cabins you can share, but make sure to bring charcoal! There is a little store on site but it is easier to not rely on them. There are also several communal fire pits that have firewood provided!
Believe it or not, there actually is a restaurant on site! It is an adorable little cafe walking distance from the cabins called the Cama Beach Cafe. We did not expect this and brought our own ingredients to make breakfast, but next time we are there I absolutely plan to dine there! Online reviews for it are actually fantastic and it is somewhat of a destination on Camano Island.
In all, I feel our little trip was nothing short of magical. I found the nostalgia of the place adorably peaceful, and I enjoyed the tranquility and closeness to the water. We enjoyed a little paddle in our kayak in the sound, a family walk on the beach, bbqing beach-side for dinner, and making friends around the campfire while we enjoyed s’mores. I sat on the beach and watched the sun set and enjoyed the noise of waves washing up on the shore while I fell asleep.
We enjoyed our stay at the cabins on Cama Beach SO MUCH that we only wish we knew about them sooner! This will be a family summer staple for us every year I am sure. Also, I am determined to give them a try in the fall… I think if you pack extra blankets and some board games, it would be an adorable place to stay and relax in the off season and have some super cozy family time then too.
Have you ever stayed at the cabins at Cama Beach before? Or will you consider now after reading more about them? If you know of other cute cabin stays like this in the Northwest I would love to hear about it!
X.O. – Abbey Co.