Poulsbo’s historic waterfront, known widely as “Little Norway,” is a near-perfect example of a tucked-away Puget Sound treasure. The town truly earns the name Little Norway with murals of longships underway, streets such as “King Olav Vei,” and sculptures of Vikings in public parks. The Sons of Norway Lodge that hosts Wednesday Norwegian lunch buffets isn’t far from the King Olav Public Parking lot, and words such as “Velkomen” (“Welcome” in Norsk [Norwegian]) grace the sides of the antique malls and boutiques that line cozy brick roads.
The streetlights, complete with floral arrangements, cast a warm glow on the idyllic scene when the sun sets. Are we still in Washington? It is easy to forget the techie buzz from across the Sound as church bells chime the hour and the masts of sailboats in the marina are reflected on the pond-like mirror of Liberty Bay. Poulsbo has ice cream, an aquarium, and plenty of running space for the kids while dignified watering holes, abundant fine dining, and cultural museums will give the adults plenty to do.
Located only 13 nautical miles west of Seattle, Poulsbo is tucked in the northernmost corner of Liberty Bay that is sheltered by Bainbridge Island’s western coast. The geography means that the shallow bay is about as protected as it gets, but be mindful of the channel markers. When transiting to Poulsbo, the skipper can either approach from the north or south side of Bainbridge Island. The northern passage is shorter, but one should time the Agate Pass transit, which lies between the northern limit of Bainbridge Island and the Kitsap Peninsula, with a favorable tide (the tidal currents have velocities up to six knots). Watch out for the Seattle-Bremerton ferry if you approach from the south between Bainbridge and Manchester. You’ll get the full tour of Bainbridge off starboard on the way up and the Olympic mountains, on a clear day, to the port.