Slow play is a menace at a great many golf courses around the world. At Holmes Harbor Golf Course, it might be welcome. The 18-hole layout checks in at a featherweight 4,279 yards for a par of 64, meaning most full rounds can be played in just over three hours. For some, that's precious little time spent soaking in the panoramic views of Puget Sound, watching golf balls float against the backdrop of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, and building trust with the course gophers. For beginners and novices, however, the course is an opportunity to enjoy golf in a picturesque setting without the usual punishment inflicted by more difficult courses. Though most of the holes are short??No. 18 is the lone par 5??they aren't without drama: the par 3 eighth hole, for example, features a 100-foot drop in elevation from tee to green.
The tenure of US Coast Guard?certified Captain Brett as captain of the Island Whaler began as a dream. In the course of nine months, he had a recurring dream about an unusual flatbed boat, which replaced his normal dreams about beating up Napoleon with Horatio Hornblower. More than a year after the visions stopped, Brett discovered his fantasy boat sitting in a parking lot in Anacortes. He now owns that boat and pilots the open-topped Island Whaler through picturesque waters to view the multitudinous wildlife found in and around Deception Pass.
The open deck and low-slung cabin of the seafaring sloop grants easy, panoramic views of the steep, rocky landscape. Captain Brett chimes in against the breeze with educational details about the pass's historical significance, structures, and ecology. Throughout the tours, spritely fauna with unevolved senses of stage fright perform lively, natural ballets as visitors potentially lock eyes with bald eagles, seals, porpoises, gray whales, and Pacific Northwest giant squid.
It sounds just like a movie: a former Disney employee and a former mayor team up to run their own theater. That's exactly what Jeff Brein and Sam Granato did in 1988 with Bainbridge Cinemas, where they still spend Friday and Saturday nights tearing tickets and scooping popcorn. Besides Bainbridge Cinemas, their theater collection—Far Away Entertainment —oversees seven other local theaters, including the historic single-screen Lynwood Theatre. Opened in 1936, Bainbridge Island's first talking picture house now specializes in independent features and foreign films in which actors rearrange the English alphabet to make strange new sounds.
Over at the two-screen Admiral Theater, projectionists give newer Hollywood releases a second run, plus host screenings every year for the Seattle International Film Festival. Far Away's five remaining theaters, each with three to five screens, show digital versions of Hollywood's freshest celluloid. Lean back in the Anacortes' reclining seats, or scarf down an all-beef frank at Oak Harbor while taking in a flick or live screening of the Metropolitan Opera.
At age 5, second-generation islander Johannes and his father paddled along San Juan Island, their kayaks crossing paths with troops of orca whales. This foray ignited the young adventurer’s twin passions for kayaking and stewardship. Now, Johannes’ team of outdoor enthusiasts deftly navigates the waters surrounding San Juan Island, imparting knowledge of marine wildlife to paddlers. Guides not only skim the region’s waterways, but lead expeditions across the islands during multiday tours. Groups may paddle along remote islands in search of seabirds and lost tugboat captains, and then hop on bicycles to pedal down rural back roads dotted with lavender and alpaca farms.
Nestled in the bucolic scenery of coastal Washington, Whidbey Golf and Country Club’s par 72 course stretches across 6,467 yards of water-kissed terrain. The round begins with a challenge, as the first tee gives way to the longest and most difficult hole, a 516-yard par 5 where drives must touch down on a narrow landing strip flanked by bunkers or circle in the atmosphere until they get signal clearance. Multiple ponds come into play throughout the round, upping the ante on certain shots with high-risk, high-reward scenarios. Before embarking on their pin-hunting expedition, duffers can trace power draws into the sky or take aim at invading weather balloons at the driving range.
Those hoping to more thoroughly scout their verdant foe can pore over the website’s hole-by-hole description. A one-hour drive or ferry trip north of Seattle, the course is playable year-round, with closures only for Christmas, New Year’s, and Chi Chi Rodriguez Day.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Length of 6,476 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 70.7 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 123 from the farthest tees
Four tee options