Surfing on Whidbey Island Fort Ebey State Park

 

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The view from the Tower

Can you surf on Whidbey Island? Is it worth the drive from Seattle? Are there locals to contend with? What is the surf break situation? How consistent are the waves? What are the best conditions? Read on to find out!

How to get there: Whidbey Island is a short jaunt from Seattle. From Seattle, you take I-5 northbound to the Mulkiteo Ferry (about 40 minutes North of Seattle). The Ferry ride to Whidbey Island is about a 15-minute ride. Once on the island, it is about a 40-minute scenic drive to Fort Ebey (watch out for deer and speed traps!). Ignore Google Maps trying to take you all the way north on I-5. Seattle-Mulkiteo Ferry-Whidbey Island is the way (unless you are coming from Bellingham or north). Fort Ebey State Park is well marked from the main highway. When you enter the park, you will pass by the ranger station where you will present your Discover Pass (if you do not have one, there is a station to purchase a daily pass ($10.00 at the time of this writing) in the parking lot. If you do not have a Discover Pass you will get a $ 99.00 ticket, guaranteed, so don’t chance it.

How to get to the Surf Break: There are two parking lots, an upper and a lower. The upper parking lot has decent bathroom facilities and access to the coast but is less desirable than the lower parking lot, which is a short walk to the surf break. The lower parking lot has about 12 spaces so it is best to get there early and claim one for the day. If the lower lot is full then the upper will do just fine. From the lower lot, you will be able to see the water. Walk straight out from the lot to the water’s edge. From there you will go left about 75 yards to the point. This is where the left point is (there is also a shipping marker up the cliff that marks the spot you will sit while in the line up). About 300 or so yards to the north is a right point.

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This is the tower you use to line up on the point

 

The Surf: The left is a left point over a rocky reef. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to slice your feet off if you touch the rocks lol. Also, don’t get intimidated by the rocky bottom, just respect it and be aware. Don’t fall head first. When you fall, fall backward or sideways. Don’t ride a wave all the way in, kick out (or fall smartly) before that point. The best swell for this spot is an 8’+ WNW swell on the incoming tide (though my last surf was on a solid W swell and it was just fine). The water was 47 degrees. I wore a 4/3 full suit, booties, gloves, and a hood and if it were not for my leaky booties I would have remained warm the whole time. The take-off zone for the left depends on the tide/swell but you can use the shipping lane marker as a guide and line up there or just a smidge north of the marker. With the right swell, the waves are super fun, consistent, and have an excellent shape. On an 8′ swell, you can expect shoulder high sets. You may even happen upon a small barrel towards the inside section. The right point had some nice sets coming in as well but I surf goofy foot and I was having too much fun riding the lefts. There were a few regular footed surfers surfing the left point too so perhaps the left is the better of the two. You can check the swell, wind, and tide forecast here. I would not make the trip unless it was a W or WNW swell direction with a minimum of 8′ but I would gladly welcome a larger swell. During my session, the wind was 15-20kts and a combo of side shore and offshore. At one point the conditions seemed completely blown out, but as I was waiting for a set wave to ride in, the winds changed back to offshore and I surfed for another hour. In summary, if you go when the conditions are such, you are going to catch some fun waves. Important to note, this is not a spot for beginners. A beginner will have a miserable time here solely because of the rocks. You should only surf this spot if you can consistently pop up on a wave and ride it. Otherwise, you are not going to have fun here.

The Locals: If you do a quick search on Google you will get misinformation about localism on Whidbey Island. In short, there are no locals. There are just a bunch of friendly surfers that welcome you with open arms. During my session, there were 3 obvious locals surfing. One local in particular, I think his name was Rob (surfed a fun board with several strips of tape on the nose, regular footed), went out of his way to make me feel welcome. Rob was cheering me into waves and complimenting me on my surfing. He chatted with me about the surf break and was perplexed that more Seattle surfers did not come to share the spot. When you do come to surf Fort Ebey, please make sure to keep an eye out for Rob and give him a big hello from his new Seattle friend!

Grinds: Not a lot of obvious options for after surf grinds. However, the espresso business just south of Fort Ebey (in the gas station) had an array of organic and healthy treats in addition to tasty coffee. There are also a few grocery stores. Otherwise, pack it in, you are not going to find many fast food choices here.

Final verdict: If you live in Seattle you should be surfing Fort Ebey, Whidbey Island, every chance you get. It is a short drive from Seattle, and the trip is a mini surfari. Fort Ebey State Park has numerous trails with amazing views. There are also many options for picnic’s and the State Park is dog-friendly (keep them on their leashes though).

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Gus approves of this surf destination

 

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23 thoughts on “Surfing on Whidbey Island Fort Ebey State Park

    1. @squizz thanks for your comment. Westport is definitely the most consistent option! However if you catch the swell as mentioned in my blog, you can get some great point surf closer to Seattle. Whidbey is a hidden gem.

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    2. Westport is a sure thing, thank you for your suggestion Squizz. Whidbey is a really nice trip and if you time the swell you can get some really nice point break surf. This Saturday the swell is looking to be perfect.

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  1. Thanks for the write-up on Ebey.

    I typically surf Westport, been out to La Push a few times. Only been to Ebey once and was skunked. Walked around with my dog for awhile and explored the park. It’s a nice beach area and park, so even if it’s flat or not surfable there is enough to do for a day trip from Seattle to make it worthwhile.

    At the very least it’s a nice drive and ferry ride to Whidbey, and if you loop in the north end of the island you get to enjoy Deception Pass as well. Hoping to catch it this weekend–fingers crossed.

    Also, looks like you’ve seen a ton of sweet bands! I’m jealous.

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  2. Thanks for the write-up on Ebey.

    I typically surf Westport, been out to La Push a few times. Only been to Ebey once and was skunked. Walked around with my dog for awhile and explored the park. It’s a nice beach area and park, so even if it’s flat or not surfable there is enough to do for a day trip from Seattle to make it worthwhile.

    At the very least it’s a nice drive and ferry ride to Whidbey, and if you loop in the north end of the island you get to enjoy Deception Pass as well. Hoping to catch it this weekend–fingers crossed.

    Also, looks like you’ve seen a ton of sweet bands! I’m jealous.

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    1. You are welcome Shawn. I imagine that Ft Ebey is going to be off the hook beautiful this weekend weather wise and looking at the swell it looks like you are going to get some waves (Swell is perfect for Saturday)! Let me know how it goes and have fun!

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  3. If you are going to catch a ferry, head on over to Neah Bay, La Push or the Straits, way more options out there, Ebey is fickle and can’t handle a crowd.

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    1. @Stuart, all great suggestions. We are fortunate to have so many diverse/great places to surf in Washington. Ebey is actually pretty consistent. You just need to catch it on the aforementioned swell. The rocks will thin out the crowds. My dream is to buy a cabin on the Straits. One day…..

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  4. Ebey is not consistent in any way shape or form. My Dad lives on West Beach Rd. and cathedral drive before that. It is completely tide, swell, and wind dependent. You will get skunked 3 out of four times. The only way to consistently surf this wave is if you live on island and can “check in”. Also, Stop advertising surf spots you kook! Hey Seattle come and get it! That’s what’s needed, a hundred people competing for a semi existent wave! Go back to Westport

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    1. Thanks for sharing your feedback. Exclusive entitlement to something that is meant for everyone is exactly why this post was written. Thank you for the validation. No hard feelings, come say hi the next time we share waves and let’s be friends.

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  5. great information thanks Mark..I’ve just moved in north of Seattle (Everett) from Malaysia and looking for people to go surf with,, if you go out to anywhere Westport / LA push/ Whidbey do let me know I would love to join you . hope to share a wave together!

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    1. Seriously! Have you looked at the cams yet? Here is a link to the cams: http://www.surfwa.org/ Surf has been looking so clean all week. I had sinus surgery last week so I am dry for 4 more weeks! If you go make sure to let me know how it was. I’ll ping you in early November so we can get a session in the books.

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  6. Nice article. I’m glad I found it. I heard about Ft Ebey from a mountain biker I met on the Raging River trail a month back. I’m in Sammamish and was hoping to find a spot closer to home. This looks to be promising and thanks for the swell direction tip. I started back up surfing this past summer surfing Westport after taking a few years off since my move here from San Diego. Tbh, I actually enjoy the cold water but my perception may change getting into the 40° temps. It was a balmy 59° at westport when I surfed there a couple weekends after labor day. Give me a shout when there’s going to be surf over the weekend. Cheers!

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    1. I hope the waves you got in the 30 mins were epic! Tuesday is looking interesting indeed. I am not able to partake but sending good energy your way to catch some good surf. Have fun and stay safe!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hey, just moved to Vancouver from England! Looking for a driveable wave (albeit two hours and across a border). How was today there? Trying to gain some knowledge on what swells work here! Thanks, Tom

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      1. Hey Tom, welcome to the Northwest! Vancouver is super cool. You should check out Tofino on Vancouver Island. Whidbey is probably your closest option. If it were me, I would checkout Whidbey first, then if it was not happening you can drive to the straits. You can start checking for waves as soon as you pass Joyce. WNW swell works best, 8’+.

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    1. Definitely not as consistent as other spots but yes, very neat. I think a big appeal for me is that it is an adventure. Even if you get skunked, you can still enjoy all the trails, the state park, Greenbank Farms, etc.

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