The least expensive place to stay on the island is unique Vashon Island Ranch and Summer Hostel (12119 Cove Rd., 206/463-2592, www.vashonhostel.com, open May–Oct.). The owners have created an amusing Western-theme hostel with tepees, covered wagons, a log bunkhouse, and barn. The ranch sits on 10 acres of meadows and woods. The lodge houses two dorms ($20) and has a full kitchen. Guests can also stay in the covered wagons and teepees, or pitch their own tent, all for the same price. Guests can borrow the old one-speed bikes and rent sleeping bags or lockers.
A free do-it-yourself pancake breakfast, volleyball and horseshoe games, barbecue grill, and the evening campfire provide chances to trade tales with fellow travelers. This is a very popular place for adventurous travelers from all over the globe, with 50 or so visitors on busy summer nights. The owner picks up folks at the Vashon Thriftway grocery store on weekdays or at the ferry terminal on weekends, but call ahead to make arrangements.
Run by the same folks who own the Vashon Hostel, Lavender Duck B&B (16503 Vashon Hwy. SW, 206/463-2592, www.vashonhostel.com, $85 s or d) is a century-old farmhouse facing Mt. Rainier. Inside are four comfortable guest rooms with private baths. Kids are welcome, and a pancake breakfast is served.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition