Deception Pass is probably the most scenic pass in all of the San Juans, and it draws thousands of tourists every year. Seeing it from the water, however, isn’t something that many people get the chance to do, but you certainly can during your charter! During ebb and flood tides, currents through the narrow strait can reach up to 8 knots and may result in whirlpools, standing waves, and roiling eddies. If you would like to pass below the bridge, make sure to wait for a slack tide or for the tide direction to be in your favor before passing through.
The most popular way to see Deception Pass is from the bridge above. The bridge is a section of State Route 20, and is two lanes that connects Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island. It was completed in July of 1935, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge sits 180 feet above the water, providing spectacular views of the surrounding islands. While you’re in the area, make time to stop at Deception Pass State Park. The park features both freshwater and saltwater shorelines as well as hiking along rugged cliffs with the sea on one side and old-growth forests on the other. The whole park offers great opportunities to view wildlife. You can expect to see dozens of species of birds, harbor seals, and abundant wildlife in the tide pools that you’ll find at Rosario Beach during low tide.
The area has been home to Coast Salish Tribes for centuries, and you’ll find a large totem pole at Rosario Beach that tells the story of the Maiden of Deception Pass.
Before you leave, make sure to make time to explore the Cranberry Lake Trail. The easy, 1/2 mile trail will take you through a sand dune environment, which is uncommon in this region of the state. As you loop closer to the shore, keep your eyes out for the 800+ year old Douglas Fir growing close to the forest’s edge. It is one of the oldest trees in the area.