A Night On Cockenoe Island

The other day, alert — and adventurous — “06880” reader Seth Schachter headed out to Cockenoe Island. 

He’d been there often. This time though, he camped out overnight.

The experience was so special, he offered to share it with “06880” readers. He writes:

A few weeks earlier, I had reserved our camping location through the town Conservation Department. There are only 4 spots available. A shout-out to Emily Wadsworth, who was so friendly and helpful at Town Hall.

A Westport friend and I loaded up our kayaks. It was Saturday afternoon, and we headed to the state boat ramp underneath I-95.

And they’re off!

My friend had done this once before. His lightweight camping and cooking gear all came in handy.

After our 45-minute paddle, we checked in at the “front desk” (aka unloaded our kayak at the beach), and set up camp.

Home for the night.

We then enjoyed the large “swimming pool” in our back yard, and the incredible views and sounds that surrounded us.

The “yard.”

The sunset; the constant sounds of wildlife (Cockenoe is a nesting ground and habitat for threatened and endangered birds); the almost full moon; the morning sunrise — it was all amazing.

(We did not get to see a humpback whale, unfortunately!)

Sunset on Cockenoe.

The island was beautiful. It was a great time. That Cockenoe could have housed a nuclear power plant — so close to Compo Beach — is hard to fathom. The hard-fought, successful lobbying by Westporters in the late 1960s is very much appreciated.

Driftwood at night.

I hope these photos help recap some of the magic that enveloped us on this 1-night journey so close to mainland Westport.

I look forward to my next overnight experience on Cockenoe. If the opportunity presents itself, others should do the same!

The view in the morning. (Photos/Seth Schachter)

A map of Cockenoe Island on the Town of Westport website shows the 4 reservable campsite.. Numbers 2, 3 and 4 all point toward Compo Beach and the Westport shoreline.

14 responses to “A Night On Cockenoe Island

  1. Joshua Stein

    As a Cockenoe lover and one-time over nighter, some pro-tips: 1) do not camp there when its 85-100 degrees as some times there is a breeze other times there is not, 2) do not leave anything below the high tide mark as by the time you wake up it may be under water or floated away, 3) keep food well guarded as the wildlife may take an interest.

  2. thanks for sharing—i grew up in westport and always regretted not going to the island!

  3. I have lots of fond memories of camping at Cockenoe. My father used to take me and my brothers out every summer to camp. There are some hidden gems on that island – so much to explore. It is the best!!!

  4. Barry Tashian

    I was fortunate enough to spend time at Cockenoe while growing up in Westport. I loved the water and the beach. My time on Cockenoe was during the day when a friend and I sailed, or motored out there are just explored for a while. One night, years later, me and my spouse spent a few nights anchored just off the island, sleeping in our boat. All wonderful experiences-

    • Michael Calise

      Hi Barry,
      say hi to Holly. Spent many nights at Cockenoe long before permits were required. A wonderful experience. one tip: bring mosquito netting.

    • just missed getting a Barry and the Remains LP at a garage sale here on
      Whidbey Island.You led one of America’s greatest bands ever, imho.
      in the early 50s, with no permit needed, i often sailed my 16 ft. catboat from Cedar Point out to Cockenoe of an afternoon to spend the night, often with my brother Roger along. evidences of past activities were abundant and fun to discover. never ran across another human out there. next morn would sail back, usually making it in time to go to work for Capt. Bob, driving the Cedar Point launch (75 cents an hour !)

  5. Jack Whittle

    Sounds magical and I too am a huge fan of Westport’s wonderful Cockenoe Island, and a frequent visitor. It should be pointed out that camping on Cockenoe requires a permit, which can be obtained from Conservation Department at Westport Town Hall.

  6. mary cookman schmerker '58

    I was also fortunate enough to spend time on Cockenoe in my youth. It was a magical place. I am so happy that the power plant failed, due to the hard work of many, and that areas are now protected.

  7. I’ve Camped out there many times. I remember hearing that years ago (maybe 1950s or 60s) there was a family that would set up an army tent on the island and spend the entire summer there. They were sort of the caretakers of the island. Anybody know any more about them?

    • Jack Whittle

      There was a family that camped out on Cockenoe for the summer during the mid – late 70s, they kept a CB radio and were active on the LI Sound channel (ch 13 if memory serves) with the handle “Cockenoe Base”

    • Jack Whittle

      Dave Eason advised two years ago that it was the Palmer Family that camped out there for the summer

  8. Anyone know who owned Cockenoe before the town owned it? – Chris Woods

  9. Another summer camping family were the Pavers. Officer Don Paver was our Marine Officer at the time and commuted by police boat.

  10. Sharon Paulsen

    I’ve never camped out overnight on Cockenoe, but spent many day trips anchored there for swimming and lunching, from childhood to adulthood.

    Great memories, and experienced a great many methods of getting there too! (Sailed, motor boated, and … very very small outboard motor boated. Never kayaked out there … my kayaking was strictly done in less aggressive waters, lol).

    Thanks for sharing this mini-adventure!