Visiting the Olympic Peninsula guarantees one thing. Water will surround you for the entire stay. Whether on the Sound or on the Pacific side, water dominates both landscape and lives.
Residents sail, cruise, surf, fish, dig the beaches, etc. Crab traps, oyster barges, and sea birds vie for the bounty of the sea. The visitor cannot and should not miss the opportunity to join in.
Named for the actor, John Wayne Marina is a great way to begin a leisurely stay on Washington’s thumb. This impressive marina played home to The Duke whenever the man wanted sea time. An avid sailor, Wayne moored his boat at this marina for weeks on end. With affection and respect, his name became synonymous with the facility and was later made permanent.
Early summer or late, slips are filled with boats. A Coast Guard cutter waits at anchor for its next patrol. Specialist boat medics stand ready to assist any who have limped into dock with mechanical difficulties. Tasty treats tempt with luscious aromas stealing through the air, luring their own catch to the dinner table in the club house.
For lunch and an afternoon’s relaxation, John Wayne Marina can fill anyone’s need for a glimpse of the sailor’s life.
If you’re hankering for lighthouses, take a run up to Port Townsend to the Point Wilson Station. You’ll find a marvelous working lighthouse, defensive artillery bunkers left over from WWII, and plenty of Coast Guard history for any buff. The grounds give room to stretch, views to take home in the camera, and opportunities to meet fellow visitors from all over the world.
When you travel along Hwy. 101 around through Port Angeles, you’ll see supertankers, ferries to Victoria, BC across the straits, and families who live there. The atmosphere is more hustle and bustle, but Port Angeles is a working port with daily shipping in anchorage. Feel free to explore the downtown shops or sit at water’s edge to watch the ships come in.
Continue down the Pacific of the Peninsula to visit the Ilwaco lighthouse. Along with the Discovery Trail, Cape Disappointment, and Point Columbia State Park, you’ll find one of the other working lighthouses. Get out and stretch your legs. Bring out the camera for those shots that last only seconds. The views here are windswept and delightful. Explore the museum created from the original keeper’s residence. Walk the short trails.
Don’t rush. Leisure is the name of any visit here on the Peninsula. So much is missed when the clock rules the road. Enjoy yourself in the moment.
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