Natural beauty is abundant around Washington state so if you ask a resident for suggestions on where to spend a summer day you’re likely to get a very long list. However unless you ask the right person you probably won’t be told of the hidden gem that is Jetty Island.
Luckily for me Nathan grew up near the town of Everett which is 25 miles north of Seattle and he discovered the magic of Jetty Island as a teenager since the two mile long island lies right across from Everett Marina. It quickly became one of his favorite local destinations so it goes to follow that he would share this unique sanctuary with me when we started dating.
Beautiful Jetty Island
I was awed by the untouched beauty of the island and was sold instantly. We have since spent many hours exploring the sandy shores, swimming in the shallow warm waters and even building forts out of the driftwood strewn along the beach. When we arrived back in the Pacific Northwest for the summer Jetty Island was high up on our list of places we wanted to visit so we hauled out our trusty (we hope after nine months of storage) inflatable kayak and paddled off to make some new memories. Maybe the following photos and tips will make you want to do the same.
What to Expect
If you don’t have a boat there is a free ferry (although donations are appreciated) which runs daily between July 1st and Sept 1stand will take you to the island in less than five minutes. Your first steps on Jetty Island will take you up a ramp to a sandy path cutting through beautifully unkempt grasses and wildflowers. Halfway down the path you’ll find a couple of rustic looking buildings which house, among other things, equipment for kite boarding. Jetty Island is very popular with kite boarders as it offers the perfect combination of sandy bottomed shallow water, consistent wind and is often less crowded than many other spots. Kiteboarding lessons are even offered on the island and in the late afternoon and evening you will find dozens of boarders flying across the calm water or huddled together on the beach sharing epic stories and fire roasted hot dogs.
Activities on Jetty Island
Continuing straight ahead along the sandy path to the multiple volleyball nets, picnic tables and fire rings will take you to the top of the slight rise in the center of the island. From here you have a panoramic view where looking west across Procession Sound you can see Whidbey Island and on a clear day all the way to the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. Facing north will be the year-round snow covered mound of Mt Baker and east (back the way you just walked) are the majestic Cascade Mountains. Sometimes you may even be able to spot the peak of Mt Rainier to the south.
Now you’re just steps from the beach and if the tide is out the sand will seem to stretch all the way to Gedney Island (locally known as Hat Island) and make you feel like you can literally walk there. Actually even if the tide is in the water stays shallow for quite a distance. If you time it right and hit the tide coming back in over the warm sand on a summer day you will be rewarded with water so warm you’ll swear you are on a beach in southern Mexico.
All you have to do now is decide how to spend your day in this tranquil oasis. Do you explore the trails through the tall grasses and marshland or do you beachcomb for shells and driftwood? Maybe you’re a birdwatcher…you’ll find many different species in this wildlife sanctuary including ospreys and herons and many bald eagles. Or are you just there to relax with a good book, soak up the sun and maybe go for a warm swim?
Jetty Island is also great for kids as there is so much to explore in a relatively enclosed area. Although we don’t have kids of our own we’ve made sure to test out the activities. Some of our favorites include sinking up to our hips in the patches of soft sand created by the tiny clams, building driftwood forts, jumping off sand cliffs and searching for treasures washed up on the shore. Whatever age you are you will find something you love on Jetty Island.
What to Bring
Jetty Island is unique in that there is no plumbing or electricity and no shops so you will probably want to pack a lunch or at least bring some water to drink. You will find picnic tables and fire pits for cooking and eating though. There is only one restroom facility on the island and it is found on the floating dock where you depart the ferry. It can be quite a walk back to here if you’re on the other end of the beach so plan accordingly. It’s also a good idea to bring an umbrella or shade tent as there is virtually no shade on the island. Other than that just bring the usual things for a day at the beach…swimsuits, sunscreen, towels etc. Oh and unfortunately you can’t bring Fido as there are no animals allowed on the island since it is a protected wildlife sanctuary.
How to Get to Jetty Island
There is pay parking and a boat launch at Everett Marina if you’re lucky enough to have a boat. If not you can catch the ferry every 15 min between July 1st and September 1st and you can pick up boarding passes at the kiosk next to the flagpole. Everett residents and groups larger than eight can make ferry reservations and this is highly recommended as there are sometimes waits of an hour or two at peak times. When you get to the island you will need to take a card with the return ferry time on it. You can change the time later if there is still availability so if you don’t get the time you want right away you can keep checking back.
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.