While the famous Seattle skyline lies just across the water from Naval Base Kitsap, and the bustling Emerald City is only a ferry ride away, your life on the lush Kitsap Peninsula is a far cry from urban living. You’d be hard-pressed to find more natural beauty at a CONUS duty station. Bald eagles and porpoises make their home in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s not unusual to spot either an any given day.
Naval Base Kitsap includes Bremerton Naval Base and Bangor Submarine Base, which are about 15 minutes apart. Bremerton Naval Hospital is conveniently located about halfway between the bases on Highway 3.
Where to Live
Silverdale neighborhoods will give you that nice suburban experience, with everything from Target to Costco and a mall right at your doorstep. The heart of Bremerton is as urban as it gets on the Kitsap Peninsula if that is your style. And, Port Orchard offers a small-town feel while providing all the amenities you’d need — grocery store, Wal-Mart, and Starbucks.
Let’s get right to the big issue here. Yes, it rains for months on end. Yes, it’s gray and drizzly. Definitely familiarize yourself with brands like North Face, Patagonia, and Columbia. Just visit REI, and they’ll set you up — for real; the NEX offers a decent selection as well.
Invest in some quality base layers and a good rain jacket, and you’ll be set. No umbrella is necessary unless you want to stick out like a tourist.
Then, somewhere around mid-April, the temperature will climb to a sizzling 55 degrees, and you’ll experience a phenomenon known as the First Sunny Day of the Year. Happier people cannot be found on this Earth than those in the Northwest on this day. Strangers in tank tops and sundresses will smile at each other in solidarity. You will see people break out into spontaneous games of Frisbee, dust off their bicycles from a long winter in the garage, and high-five each other, declaring summer to be just around the corner.
The truth is that Pacific Northwest summers are fantastic. In July and August, the sun doesn’t set until around 9:00 p.m., and if you don’t own a boat, make friends with someone who does. You’ll want to be cruising on the water, teaching your kids to wakeboard, and picking up a dockside dinner.
If you get one thing right while making your home at Naval Base Kitsap, it will be your understanding that the water you see all around you is the Puget Sound. It is not the ocean. It is not a lake. It is not a river. Nothing will peg you as an outsider faster than declaring it as such.
Besides ferry swell from the Bremerton to Seattle run, the waters are calm, and the beaches are begging to be explored, especially at low tide when starfish, sand dollars, and crabs abound. Protect your feet with shoes, though, barnacles and seaweed cover the rocks at most beaches.
If you wait for a sunny day before you start exploring around Naval Base Kitsap, you might never leave home. Instead, bundle up and hit the road.
There are so many great places to visit in the local area — something for everyone, we promise! Try Poulsbo, a Norwegian town famous for its bakeries and Viking theme, and it’s only a quick 15-minute drive from base.
Winslow is a picturesque waterfront town located on nearby Bainbridge Island, accessible by bridge. Your kids won’t want to leave Calico Toy Shoppe, and make sure to stop by the Blackbird Bakery for coffee and a pastry, or visit Mora Iced Creamery, known for unique and delicious local flavors.
Another great option is Gig Harbor, a 30-minute drive east on Highway 16 from Bremerton. It’s the home of a working fleet of fishing boats. Dine at the Tides Tavern, a favorite among locals and tourists, known for its laid-back vibe, fish and chips, and stellar view from the women’s restroom (seriously). Visit The Nook for a beautiful selection of locally made housewares and gifts.
Take the ferry from Bremerton to downtown Seattle and experience the city on foot. Pike Place Market, the Seattle Aquarium, and the Seattle Great Wheel are within walking distance. Join the throngs of 12s and take in a Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field. If baseball is your thing, the Mariners play next door at Safeco Field. (Always check ITT for discounted tickets on attractions and games.)
Did you know that your backyard is home to Olympic National Park? Sol Duc Falls and Marymere Falls are fantastic family hikes through moss-covered, tree-lined paths. Want to hike on the beach instead? Dungeness Spit juts out into the Straits of Juan de Fuca and is the longest natural sand spit in the United States.
Bottom Line up Front
Whatever you do, make sure you eat all the seafood and drink all the coffee while stationed at Naval Base Kitsap. You will learn that a little rain can’t keep you down because you’ve got nature’s playground in your backyard, a North Face hoodie keeping you dry, and the Northwest mentality that summer has got to be just around the corner.
Photo Credit: Unsplash