Cruising to Deception Pass State Park

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In October of 2023, as part of our journey from the Hood Canal to the San Juan Islands, we spent a day cruising to Deception Pass State Park with our boat Pallin’ Around.

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After a short motor from Hope Island, we pulled up to the expansive steel dock at Cornet Bay County Park for an overnight stay. As our first passage through the tumultuous waters of Deception Pass, it was important for us to time the slack tide properly!

We planned to try our hand at crabbing, reload groceries, and explore the park before we departed at 10AM the next morning.

About Deception Pass State Park

This state park is the most visited in Washington, and for good reason. It is spectacular!

The highlight of Deception Pass State Park is the set of impressive bridges over the churning pass between Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. Taking a a short stroll through old-growth forest to seal-dotted beaches, the rugged rock walls and contrasting steel bridge captivate visitors.

Fun fact about the name: explorer George Vancouver thought that Whidbey Island was a peninsula and that the pass was actually a bay. He felt this misunderstanding was a deception!

Cycling Deception Pass State Park

Mooring at Cornet Bay County Park allowed for easy access to the park via e-bike (no charge for entry to the park on bike).

A quick cycle up the quiet residential Cornet Bay Road to the Highway 20 intersection at the North Whidbey RV Park leads to the state park entry. An e-bike or determination is recommended for tackling the hills in this park!

We brought ALL the toys on this trip- kayaks, electric bikes, and scuba gear!
Biking down the steel dock was fun! Perhaps not strictly allowed, but fun!
Biking to the western coast revealed a wind-swept beach piled with driftwood.

Cornet Bay Marina

Fun fact: this bay was named for an old sailing vessel, the SS Cornet, that was stranded here in the 1890s.

While it appears that the county has put more effort into the marina than their online presence, we found a well-maintained spacious steel dock for about $25/night.

There were many boats anchored in the cove. Boaters and nearby campers take note: there are coin-operated showers at the restrooms.

Access to the fueling station at the nearby Deception Pass Marina is very limited by the depth of the bay. We chose to fuel up at Skyline Marina before hitting the San Juans!

Our boat Pallin’ Around was right at home at this marina!
The marina has restrooms, showers, a boat launch, info about the local environment, and plenty of parking.

Kayaking Ben Ure Island

Even though it was a drizzly afternoon, we took the opportunity to paddle from the Cornet Bay Marina around the western side of Ben Ure Island and back to the marina.

We were careful not to get too close to the very strong currents that run through Deception Pass!

It was about a 45-minute paddle from the marina around Ben Ure Island.

Crabbing at Cornet Bay Marina

Since we saw several other folks crabbing and fishing from the dock, we figure we would try our hand at it, too. While it was entertaining, we did not eat crab for dinner!

That’s it??? Not much dinner for 4 hungry folks!
If you’re cruising through Deception Pass, Cornet Bay is a convenient place to get your feet on dry ground, have some adventures, and restock the essentials. Highly recommend!
Check out our next blog for our story through Deception Pass and on to the San Juan Islands off Western Washington!