We’ve been big fans of the Washington State Park cabins since our first stay at Wallace Falls shortly after we moved to Seattle, but the Cama Beach cabins blow other options out of the water (literally, they’re right next to the water).
Here are 5 reasons you should consider booking a waterfront cabin stay this winter:
1. Location, location, location
Cama Beach (and nearby Camano Island State Park, which also has cabins — and our COVID campers loved it last summer!) is just over an hour’s drive from Seattle and there are well-paved roads the whole way. I love the idea of a remote cabin in the snow for a romantic getaway, but sometimes things go wrong when camping with kids and it’s nice to, well, get away.
You’re also only about 15 minutes from the Camano Commons Marketplace, where you can pick up coffee and pastries to take back to your cabin. I donned my mask and went in alone while my husband waited in the car with the kids, so I may not have told them about the Mexican Wedding cookie I saved for myself …
2. Amenities abound
Most cabins at Cama Beach offer a separate bedroom and some kitchen facilities (a fridge, microwave and kitchen sink) that are uncommon in other state parks. The deluxe cabins also feature a private bathroom, which made me feel safer vacationing during a pandemic since we could minimize contact with people outside of our household.
Only four other spots were occupied when we checked in, and cars aren’t allowed in the cabin area. While it meant we had to wheel our gear down a steep hill, we rarely saw other people and the kids could play freely.
The cabin area has a small wooden boat to climb on, a horseshoe court, a tiny playground (two swings and a rowboat) and a basketball hoop. My daughter’s favorite feature by far was the giant chess set – she wanted to wake up early to play every day during our visit!
3. Easy waterfront access
The undeniably tricky thing about a winter beach visit is the potential for rain and storms. Since the cabins are all located within 50 feet (or less!) of the water, we could head out to the rocky beach to play and know our cozy cabin was nearby if we needed to dry off or warm up. Our kids are young, so we did supervise them more closely given the proximity to unpredictable winter waves.
4. Nearby family-friendly hikes
Early check-in was available on the day we arrived, so we were able to transfer our bags to the cabin with plenty of time for a hike to Cranberry Lake. At just 2 miles round trip, the trail is fairly flat and offers mushroom sightings, a small boardwalk section and lake views (although it’s more of a marsh).
Since my daughter couldn’t be pulled away from the chess set one morning, I took my son for a “hiking nap.” We drove 10 minutes away to Four Springs Nature Preserve and I looped around old buildings and wetlands for about an hour (roughly 1.7 miles round trip) while he slept in the baby carrier. It almost felt like time to myself!
Nearby Camano Island State Park also has a trail along a bluff and the Al Emerson interpretive trail offers half a mile of signs about the native plants in the area.
5. Wildlife sightings right from the beach
Perhaps it’s the lack of human disturbance, but we got a great showing of wildlife on this trip. A harbor seal swam around during our time on the beach, popping up to greet us frequently. Chattering away in a tree top, a pair of bald eagles took breaks to soar overhead. We even think we saw a whale one morning — it didn’t seem like the right season, but its breathing sounds and distinctive dive gave us hope.
Most of us are coping with the disappointment of not seeing close friends and family this season in addition to the usual gloom of shorter days and stormy weather. A little change of scenery close to home brought all of our spirits up — my kids are already talking about “their” cabin and when we can go back!
Winter rates for standard cabins at Cama Beach range from $62-92 per night depending on location and timing (weekends cost more), while deluxe cabins range from $89-$107 per night. Beach bungalows, which sleep up to 8 people, range from $152-$182 per night.
Cama Beach cabins: What to know. Camping reservations include access to Cama Beach and Camano Island State Parks, which otherwise require a Discover Pass. Four Springs Nature Preserve is an Island County property and is free to enter.
Originally published Dec. 23, 2020
More places to go, things to do: