Mitchell Bay Landing
2101 Mitchell Bay Road, Friday Harbor, WA, USA
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Mitchell Bay Landing Friday Harbor Reviews
Glorified Backyard Camping Mar 08, 2008
Mitchell Bay Landing campground wasn't at all what I was expecting. I expected it to be more of a traditional campground....rustic, far enough from town to feel outdoorsy, etc. If that's what you're looking for, then this isn't it. It's a large, waterside backyard behind someone's house. Now, that isn't to say that we didn't have a wonderful stay.
After my initial disappointment, I found that this place was just perfect for our needs. (We went to the San Juan Islands for a kayaking adventure; camping was just an added bonus!) The campground sits right on the water in Mitchell Bay, which is a prime location on the northwest side of the island. You can paddle down the coast to Lime Kiln Point State Park, reportedly one of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of the whales. Since it’s on the west side, it’s also ideal for stunning sunset kayaking.
The owner (I'm so bad with names) was just a wonderful, fatherly man who went above and beyond to make our stay perfect. As we were there a couple weeks before the main tourist season started, and we had the pick of the place! Once we settled into our little camping nook, the owner brought the kayaks to us, gave us a frank introduction to the equipment and paddling tips for the surrounding waterways (where to see whales, what to avoid, etc.), provided us with a waterproof chart of the water, made sure we had the coast guard's number in our cell phones, and bade us bon voyage! He was so thorough and seemed genuinely interested in our safety and enjoyment. He even let us use the showers in one of the unoccupied campers!
We were there for 2 days, and each time we came in from the water, he came out to chat with us about our adventures. The first day, we had a stunning sunset kayak. The water was amazingly still, almost glassy, and the colors of the sunset on the water were just mind numbingly beautiful. The next day, the wind was up and the water was choppy. Every paddle was a struggle. We didn’t make it too far on the second day, but we still enjoyed ourselves immensely before having to throw in the towel and return to base. Although we never saw any whales (we were still a bit early for whale season), we had plenty of aquatic company. The local seal and otters came out to investigate. On several occasions, the seals would pop their heads up just a foot or two from our boats. The first time it happened, I startled so badly, I nearly capsized myself! They seemed to enjoy swimming near us, and we definitely enjoyed the company!
Overall, it was a wonderful stay, and probably one of my favorite travel memories. Mitchell Bay Landing isn’t a place to go if your looking for a real camping experience. But if you’re like us and looking more for water play than camping, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
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