Chautauqua at Skiff Point on Bainbridge Island
Once the site of a glamorous hotel and as well as host for entertainments, lectures, and adult education in the turn-of-the-twentieth-century chautauqua style, the Skiff Point area was an important destination.
People arrived by one of the Mosquito Fleet* ferries or by steamer as island roads were rudimentary. Later the hotel’s expansive property facing Manitou Beach, north of Skiff point, became a private school, then a naval-themed prep academy, and finally was converted to its present use – a nursing home.
Skiff Point marks the northern point of Murden Cove, site of a World War I gun emplacement and home to thousands of sand dollars and moon snails. Walk the shallow cove carefully at low tide as the delicate sand dollars sit on their edge, covered with tiny purple tentacles to filter the tide for food. “When the hops were grown in Duwamish Valley,” writes Dave and Alice Shorett, “tribes came from as far as Canada to harvest hops, using Skiff Point as one of their stopping points.”
The community of Rolling Bay, a local hub for the Sunrise, Skiff Point and Manitou Beach area, holds one of the island’s most delightful stores, Bay Hay and Feed. Housed next to what was, and still is, the post office and located at the corner of Valley Road and Sunrise Drive, Bay Hay has preserved its historic nature while maintaining an eclectic inventory in their country store worthy of a special trip.
Stop in at Bay Hay to purchase feed for your goats or buy chicks in the spring, browse for shoes and clothing, or housewares and gifts. Pick up one of their iconic tee-shirts or sweatshirts, a sure sign you are an islander at heart, and stroll through their nursery with coffee and a sandwich in hand. Friends from off-island always request a stop at fascinating Bay Hay when they visit.
Lodging resources in the Rolling Bay area include these amazing vacation rentals:
• Skiff Point Guesthouse and Retreat with two charming self-contained units with Puget Sound views and loft sleeping as well as a convenient separate meeting room for up to 20.
• Eagle’s Perch Guesthouse farther north along Sunrise Drive with stunning views of Puget Sound from Mt. Baker to Mt. Rainier, perfect for a family reunion or girl’s weekend with 3 bedrooms, a hot tub on the deck and a large living room for great conversation.
• Kellerman Creek, a delightful self-catering Hawaiian-themed studio as well as access to one of the best breakfast cooks on the island – your host Jean Kellerman.
- *Mosquito Fleet: passenger ferries that plied the Puget Sound during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Each shoreline community on Bainbridge Island had a store and ferry dock. Water travel was much easier than overland on slippery, muddy island roads.
- Walks on Bainbridge by Dave & Alice Shorett, p. 46.
- Picture Bainbridge, Bainbridge Island Historical Society, p. 139-146