Holiday Vacation at Hood Canal

Madrona Waterfront SplendorWhy do so many people increasingly choose a vacation rental for holiday get togethers?
It is a way to create new memories in a completely different place. A way to start new traditions. Sharing a house offers both togetherness and privacy; you can enjoy meals together in the dining room, but you’ll also have enough space for everyone to come and go as they please.

Save Money
Price-wise, a rental home will often give you more space at a lower price than a hotel room. And being the off-peak season now, rates are lower too. You’ll also have access to a kitchen so you can save money on food by preparing your own meals. And Hood Canal is within easy driving distance to major cities like Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, and Vancouver BC, so you’ll reduce travel costs and the stress associated with travel. When choosing a home, remember there is a trade-off: a waterfront location will normally be more expensive than a forest cabin. However, the more amenities the rental offers (Fireplace, WiFi, Satellite TV, Beaches, fire pit, etc.), the less money you’ll need to spend on outside activities.

Vacation homes are not for everyone. Check-in dates are less flexible and if your plans may change at the last minute, keep in mind that a hotel reservation is much easier to cancel than a rental agreement. Also, a vacation rental may not be right for you if you prefer to have room service, daily housekeeping, and on-site restaurants and bars.

Tips for Things to Do
Hood Canal and the Olympic Peninsula offer a variety for both the outdoor and indoor adventurer. There are outdoor activities like Hiking (see below for several links), Beachcombing, Crabbing, Fishing, and Kayaking.  Rent bikes in Sequim or Port Townsend, or walk on the Discovery Bay Trail. Stop in the Visitors Center in Quilcene for free state, county, and back country biking and hiking maps. If weather is bad, head up to Port Townsend for the day for Shopping, Wine tasting, Brunch or a Play. In fact, encourage separate day excursions that you can share with each other when you meet back at the home each evening. (Scroll down to the end for helpful links regarding the best places to go). Once you are back at the home, plan some together activities that are fun for everyone. Bring games to play. Visit a craft store before the trip and bring items so everyone can create his or her masterpiece. Bring movies to watch while you play your favorite card games. Or for music enthusiasts, see if there will be a Saturday evening concert at Concerts in the Woods.

Typical Family?Making Your Plans
Start talking with your group and decide how many days you will stay, what days everyone is available, how much money you can spend, and what areas are convenient for everyone. There are discounts for stays of six nights or longer. Decide whose name will be on the rental agreement. It should be the same person who will be using his or her credit card for payment. That person should be the one checking on availability and getting quotes.

Availability and Quotes
Start searching for homes that fit your group size, budget and availability dates. Request quotes for several properties that meet your criteria. Once you have quotes in hand, you will need to make a group decision quickly, usually within a couple days, to make sure the home you want doesn’t get booked by another party. Once you have decided, you will return the rental agreement and your card will be charged, thereby preventing anyone else from getting your home.

food art

Have a Food Art Theme!

Now Comes the Fun Part!
Remember, one of the best things about a vacation is the anticipation of fun. Let everyone share in the fun! Use technology to keep people posted and get them excited as the trip draws near. Send out teasers and updates. You might want to create a reunion website to post details, maps, and links, as well as photos and updates after the reunion. There are plenty of free options. Find out everyone’s favorite social media or photo sharing sites. Assign and share tasks like shopping, cooking, clean up, movies, games, and event planning. Here is a packing list to help you get started. You might consider having a theme which will help everyone decide what to bring or do.

Tips on Getting Here
Coming from Seattle Take the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island and then north on 305 to Hwy 3 north, and then West on 104 crossing the Hood Canal Bridge. Along the way stop in Poulsbo where you can experience authentic Norwegian heritage, with plenty of quaint dining and shopping opportunities.
Coming from the south Take Highway 101 north out of Olympia. Along the way is the Taylor Shellfish store in Shelton where you can stock up for your shellfish feasts. Continuing north on 101, Hoodsport offers fun shops, a grocery store, and a winery. Further north on 101 is the Hama Hama seafood store in Lilliwaup for more shellfish supplies.
Coming from the north Take the Coupeville/Port Townsend ferry (tip: make ferry reservations) by going west off I-5 at Hwy 20, which can avoid some of the hectic traffic further south on I-5. That also takes you through Port Townsend for great shopping and lunch opportunities. If you are south of Hwy 20, take the Edmonds/Kingston ferry. From Kingston, take 104 toward the Hood Canal Bridge. Just before the bridge, you’ll pass through Port Gamble, a picturesque town filled with turn-of-the-century buildings and New England style houses on maple and elm tree-lined streets. Try Mike’s 4 Star BBQ (open Thursday-Sunday) or the Cafe at the General Store.

And when you get here, relax, slow down and enjoy each moment, because that’s what memories are made of.

Helpful Links:
Best Hood Canal Ideas:
South Hood Canal Ideas:
All of the Olympic Peninsula:

Hood Canal

Hood Canal from Mt Walker looking South

Hiking Links: Some of the most popular day hikes in north Hood Canal are Mt Townsend, Mt Zion and Marmot Pass. In south Hood Canal try Staircase, Lower Lena and Mt Ellinor. In central Hood Canal, Rocky Brook Falls is just a short walk to a spectacular waterfall. For a nice family trail try Steam Donkey at the Dosewallips Campground, and find out what a Steam Donkey really is. Or, the Dosewallips Beach Trail and it’s wildlife viewing platform (hopefully the local elk herd will be in town). Murhut Falls is another short waterfall trail. And for a good workout with a great viewpoint at the top (go on a clear day!) try Mt Walker. During the off season, the road to the top is closed and if you get an early start, you may have the top of the mountain to yourselves.


Hood Canal Upcoming Events

September Hood CanalSeptember is a fantastic time to visit Hood Canal. With the kids back in school and the summer crowds dying down, many of the most popular beaches and hiking trails are a bit quieter after Labor Day. Fall weather can be just as nice as summer—maybe better! If you’re thinking about visiting Hood Canal, we’ve got a list of events and top spots that will inspire and tempt you.

Olympic Music Festival. September 6 & 7th is the Final Weekend of the summer. Pack a picnic, bring your friends, and spend a wonderful day roaming the Festival grounds before the concert. Then sit back on a blanket on the lawn and let the music envelop you. Details at:

Jefferson County Farm Tour. Sunday, September 14th, 14 local farms will open their gates and offer tours. You’ll learn about farm composting and livestock; cheese making and other demonstrations; walk the vegetable CSA fields and learn about seed varieties; listen to live music and so much more. Many farms will host food vendors serving locally inspired dishes, and there will be many farm activities to entertain the entire family.

Quilcene Fair. September 20th. Small town fairs are fun and authentic. Kids can enjoy the carnival, you can listen to music, view the winning entries to the Garden Produce Contests and the Photo Contest and watch the Parade. This years theme is Quilcene: Gateway to Olympic Mountain Hiking. The North Hood Canal area features some of the greatest hikes in the state.  Find out by going to

Oysterfest Shelton. October 4th & 5th is the 33rd annual Oysterfest located At the fairgrounds in Shelton. Oysters, wines, microbrews, live music and so much more including the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championship.




Vacation Packing List

Packing List

In many ways, packing for a vacation home rental is like packing for a hotel stay; you’ll need your personal items like clothes and toiletries. In some ways, however, it differs. Because rentals allow you to cook your own meals, you will need to bring more food supplies than normal. Planning a menu will help make sure you don’t bring things you don’t need as well as having everything you do.
Knowing what is available ahead of time helps narrow down your packing list. Don’t assume that everything you need is provided. Bringing a few extras like towels and paper products can help make your trip worry-free while you’re at your home away from home. Check the amenities section of your vacation rental to see what is supplied
In some cases, you will have access to a washer and dryer. That means you can pack a little lighter on your clothing, since you’ll be able to do laundry. Once again, check the amenities section to see if a washer and dryer are available.
When you rent a vacation home, you will find that there are some things included with the rental and some things you need to bring yourself. Several items are commonly included with our vacation rentals include: Linens (but not beach towels), Dishes, Cookware, Utensils, Basic appliances, Basic cleaning supplies.
Also, just because a house sleeps 8 doesn’t mean there are enough towels for that many people, especially if you need both pool or beach and regular towels. Be prepared to pack extras of basic items, just in case.
Click Here for a printable Vacation Packing List to help you prepare for your trip!


Hood Canal Crab Season Starts July 3rd

happycrabCrabbing Season opens July 3rd and remains open through Sept 1st. Crabbing is only allowed Thursdays through Mondays.
Get your shellfish license at your local sporting goods store. You’ll need a crab catch license as well.

If you’re new to crabbing here are a few tips:

When: The time around high or low tide is the best time to crab. During slack water, crabs are generally walking around and foraging for food since they are not getting pushed around by tidal exchange. The best days for catching your limit of Dungeness crab are when there is a relatively small difference between high tide and low tide. Check your tide book for days when that difference is 5 feet or less.

What you need: Shellfish license, crab measuring tool, pots, sinking line, buoys properly marked, cooler, gloves, and bait. Bait: Turkey, chicken, fish carcass, herring, fish-based canned cat food, clams, etc. Fresh bait is best. To keep seals from eating your bait make sure the bait isn’t accessible to them, or use something they don’t like to eat, like turkey or chicken.

Harvesting: Female crabs must be returned to the water. A female crab’s abdomen or tail flap, which is folded closely against its underside, is much broader and rounder than the male’s. To legally keep a Dungeness crab, its shell (carapace) must be at least 6 and a quarter inches wide. The shell of a red rock crab must measure at least 5 inches across. Any crab you don’t keep should be gently returned to the water to protect their delicate internal body parts.

Storing and transporting: Crab should be kept alive and cooked as soon as possible. It’s essential to keep crab cool and damp until you are ready to cook them. Place the crabs into an ice chest and cover them with burlap or a towel soaked in salt water. Place ice over the burlap or towel to keep them cool. Don’t store crabs in water because they may not get enough oxygen.

Cooking: Use about one quarter cup of salt per gallon of fresh water and bring to a boil. Immerse the whole crab and again bring the water to boiling. Boil for about 18-20 minutes. Remove the crab from the pot and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process and cool the shell for handling. Remove the abdomen with your fingers (also called the apron, it is the flap of shell on the underside of the crab). Remove the outer shell (the back of the crab, also called the carapace) by sticking your thumb into the hole left from removing the abdomen and lifting up firmly. The shell will detach from the body with some guts attached. Remove and discard the leaf-like, spongy gills from either side of the body. Rinse out the greenish-brown guts. Break off and discard the mandibles, which are the mouthparts at the front of the crab.Turn the crab upside down, grip it on either side and p ace your thumbs underneath near the midline on the back (where the shell used to be). Push up with your thumbs and pull down with your hands; the crab will crack easily along its center line.

For more information go to:


Shrimp season gets a rocky start

shrimpingboatsSaturday’s opening day of shrimp season on hood canal got a “rocky” start. It was windy, rainy, and pretty miserable. There were white caps and those in smaller boats looked as if they would get swamped and sink at any minute. Friends came back with their 80 shrimp limit each and we feasted on shrimp for two days. My turn came Wednesday, May 7th. A little foggy to start (the picture), then a fine 70 degree sunny day! Not quite the limit of shrimp, but I’ll take the sunny day.shrimpcatch


Time to see Whitney Gardens!


Whitney Gardens, known for its hybrid Rhododendrons, is almost in full bloom. This week is supposed to be sunny and warm, so I wouldn’t wait until Mother’s Day to see it. Go soon. And take your camera!


Roosevelt Elk


Olympic National Park is home to the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt elk in the Pacific Northwest. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, they are the largest variety of elk in North America. Both males and females have dark brown heads and pale brown bodies. Males are larger than females, and identifiable by a set of antlers. Roosevelt elk are much larger than the black-tail deer that inhabit the same areas.
Where to see them
Elk are relatively versatile, and often occupy a range of habitats, from high meadows and forests down to the lowlands, where there is ample food. An excellent place to see elk is near Brinnon. These non-migratory herds stay in the Brinnon area throughout the year, banding together and consisting of females and their calves. Male elk, or bulls, can be seen singly or in pairs.
Elk are primarily crepuscular (active mostly at dawn and dusk), so early morning and late evening are the best times to observe them. But when temperatures soar or when they are harassed, elk may become more active at night.
When disturbance levels are low and temperatures mild, elk may be observed feeding in short bouts throughout the day. They are often seen around Dosewallips Park, near the Brinnon School, near the Fire Department, and off Dosewallips Road.
Other Facts about Washington Elk:
  • In the wild, Roosevelt elk rarely live beyond 12 to 15 years, but in captivity have been known to live over 25 years
  • Olympic National Park holds the largest number of Roosevelt elk living anywhere (about 5,000). This subspecies is the state mammal of Washington.
  • Elk are social animals, living in herds for much of the year. During spring, summer, and winter, elk tend to split into cow–calf herds and bull herds. Cow–calf herds are usually led by older, experienced cows and may include adolescent bulls.
  • In early fall, adult bulls find and temporarily join cow herds. By mid-October; bulls usually leave the cow–calf groups then and the herds disperse into wintering areas.
  • Cows have an eight- to nine month pregnancy, which results in the birth of a single spotted calf in late May or early June.
    The timing of birth seems to optimize calf survival by being late enough that the risk of cold, inclement weather has passed, but early enough so that there is considerable time for calves to grow before the onset of next winter.
  • Just before giving birth, a cow elk will leave the herd and select a birthing place. Because predators would easily detect large groups of elk, cow elk appear to avoid grouping with other elk until their calves are large enough (usually about two weeks of age) to run effectively to escape predators.

Source: National Park Service



Top 5 things to do this spring at Hood Canal

Hood Canal Guest House

  1. Hike the Olympics in Spring Bloom.
  2. View majestic elk, soaring eagles, curious seals, and stroll the beaches at low tide.
  3. Taste fresh oysters, clams, shrimp; the shellfish Hood Canal is famous for.
  4. The Brinnon ShrimpFest is a weekend festival celebrating Hood Canal Spotted Shrimp and other local seafood.
  5. Whitney Gardens when the Rhododendrons are in full bloom!

Romantic Getaway

valentineValentines Day is quickly approaching. Wouldn’t it be great to spend some quality time with your loved one? Somewhere away from the rat race, easy to get to, with a slower pace and time to relax and rejuvenate?
We have that special home for your personal vacation or that much needed getaway. There are homes with spectacular views perched on the waters edge while others reflect the sounds and smells of the forest for that refreshing and peaceful feeling. Our vacation homes have those special intimate details for relaxing and re-energizing your well being.
Book now and you can take advantage of our seasonal special: Stay for 2 nights and get the 3rd night free. Perfect for the Valentines Day/Presidents day weekend!


Hood Canal Winter Hike

Dosewallips River

Steam Donkey Trail

Chosen as one of the “Eleven Winter Hikes for Beach Views, Desert Birds, Waterfalls and More” by the Washington Trail Association, the Steam Donkey Trail is located in Dosewallips State Park on Hood Canal, here in Brinnon, Washington. It is just one of many excellent local hikes and is especially peaceful this time of year.  An excerpt from…

Dosewallips State Park provides an interesting convergence of forest with a saltwater delta. The park is best known for its shellfish beds and campground, but it offers some nice hiking too. The 3.5 mile Steam Donkey Loop Trail is an especially good choice in spring, with lots of creeklets, views of the Dosewallips River and silent forest. There is a strong chance that you will see wildlife in winter and spring. An elk herd resides in the area. And with the estuary so close, the area is rife with bird-life. As an added bonus for fall hikers, you can search for and pick chantrelle mushrooms. The trail is well-built, easy to follow and good for beginning hikers. Benches placed at strategic spots along the trail provide a chance to eat a snack or enjoy the roar of the river. The park also boasts a short trail that leads out to the delta overlooking Hood Canal. It is possible see whales and seals from the observation area.

Driving Directions: Dosewallips State Park is on Highway 101 along Hood Canal and just north of the town of Brinnon at milepost 307. To reach the park, drive 40 miles north from Shelton or 20 miles south from Highway 104 and follow the signs.For more information go to: