The COVID-19 pandemic has enveloped most of us in a fog of wanderlust, leaving us longing for our fading bucket lists of seemingly impossible destinations. But there’s one destination that will never be off limits: our wild side. Honor yours with a visit to Whidbey Island in Washington.
This is a place where you can kayak over a gorgeous burst of small white jellyfish, see a bald eagle land where the surf meets the sea and watch your children dance on a cedar deck, laughing and playing as you all settle in for a cozy campfire clambake.
Why not do it in style?
Nestled in a fairytale cedarwood forest, the Sweetwater Yurt is a seaside glamping (think camping with glam) gem that has plenty of room for a family of five. Climb up a few stairs to the redwood deck and take in the forest’s jaw-dropping panorama. Inside, discover extravagant artisan touches. The rustically elegant kitchen includes beautiful natural wood counters, hand-blown glasses and pottery that ups the cozy factor on your morning cup of joe. Your crew will love dancing to the eclectic collection of LPs you spin on an old-fashioned record player.
Later, unleash your inner artist with a handy stock of supplies from watercolors to pastels. Musicians will enjoy serenading the family on the acoustic guitar. And when the kids fall asleep, retreat to the hammock where talking with your partner until the wee hours will feel deliciously indulgent. A lovely outdoor shower tops off the back-to-nature experience and is perfect after a day spent at the beach.
The island has plenty of hiking trails and beautiful beaches to explore nearby. A hidden gem at Possession Point State Park lies about eight minutes south of the yurt. Enjoy a picnic on this deserted beach while viewing all kinds of sea life, even whales. If it’s warm, take a dip in the cool, calm sound. It’s free to visit and a good place to get away from it all. Since people are few, picnic tables are easy to find and parking is easy.
Jake and Aja Stewart are the owners of Sweetwater Yurt. They left the corporate world behind to buy land to farm and raise their daughters, River, 6, and Rainey, 4, in a more sustainable way.
They are wonderful hosts who make guests feel welcome and cared for right down to the farm fresh goods they have waiting upon arrival. About a day before check-in, they send guests a list of the available seasonal organic goods. They usually have their organically raised “rainbow” eggs as an option. The colors of the eggs range from white to brown to blue to green to speckled, and everything in between. Fresh chives and edible flowers accompany the eggs and make for a memorable farm fresh feast. Potatoes, dug to order, are different from and more flavorful than the ones you’ll find at your local store. Also available is tantalizing bounty such as braids of heirloom garlic, apples, plums, dragon tongue beans, kale, chard and rainbow beets. If their farm grows it, they offer it!
In the winter, the farm’s fresh offerings are limited. But the yurt turns into an even more magical, cozy retreat with its wood stove, locally sourced teas and coffee. And you can enjoy the simple pleasure of Pacific Northwest rainfall on the dome. Jake and Aja are currently building a solar-powered farm stand so that guests can stock up on goods before they head home, and will also feature local artists’ work for a true taste of Whidbey’s local art and artisan scene. Both should be up and running for the 2021 season.
Speaking of fresh farm offerings, enjoy getting off the beaten path to sample Glendale Shepard Farm’s New York Times-featured sheep’s milk cheeses. Owners Lynn and Eric Swanson are open on Glendale Heights Road in Clinton, Wash. – just a few minutes away from your yurt. They also deliver.
Nearby Langley is a quaint town where you can enjoy restaurants such as Saltwater Fish House for seafood and Prima Bistro for pizza. Jake and Aja recommend sitting out on the patio where you might also spot a few whales.
Once you’ve enjoyed the island’s many nature and culinary adventures, head back to the solace of the Sweetwater Yurt, a perfect melding of rustic and glam, surrounded by trees and the sweet sounds of nature.