Whidbey Island History

Everyone and every group starts somewhere. Looking back helps everyone to look forward. This is the history you may want to know about with as much detail as can be mustered. Take it all into consideration when judging the website and its sponsors.

Once inhabited by members of the Lower Skagit, Swinomish, Suquamish, Snohomish and other Native American tribes Whidbey Island is located in the inland water way of Puget Sound and 30 miles Northwest of Seattle.

The first European sighting of Whidbey Island was during the 1790 Spanish expedition of Manuel Quimper and Gonzalo López de Haro on the Princesa Real. Named in 1792 by Captain George Vancouver for Joseph Whidbey who circumnavigated Whidbey Island in June.


The first overnight stay on Whidbey Island by a non-native American was by Catholic missionary, while traveling across Puget Sound in 1840 and from there many have followed. The island stretches some 40 miles North to South and has hundreds of miles of shoreline, making it the third largest in the contiguous U.S.

Permanent settlers were not common until 1850 when Isaac Ebey became the first permanent European resident on Whidbey Island claiming a square mile of prairie with a southern shoreline on Admiralty Inlet. Today over 50,000 residents call the island home.