Summer Fun at Jetty Island
Written by Abbey McGee
Filed under: Outings and activities
Originally published June 25, 2011; updated May 30, 2012
Puget Sound’s rocky shores teem with crawly critters and thriving tide pools, but when summer arrives, you want to sink your toes into some sand. Trade in your boots for flip-flops and head to Jetty Island, one of the region’s hidden gems.
Close-in beach getaway
Located just five minutes via boat from the Everett waterfront, Jetty Island features over two miles of sandy beaches and warm, shallow water that appears to go on forever. The island is only accessible by boat, but from July 1 to Sept. 3, 2012, the city of Everett partners with the Port of Everett to offer a free ferry. (Access the 2012 schedule here.)
Snohomish mom Mandy Stocker fondly remembers spending summer days on Jetty Island as a child. Now she enjoys sharing this perfect summer destination with her two children, Clara, 4, and Eli, 2. “I love that the kids can wander and explore. The island definitely encourages creativity,” she says. “There is nowhere else like it around here.”
Port-owned Jetty Island started as a rock jetty over a century ago, providing a protected harbor and navigation channel.
“Jetty Island emerged after years of dredging the channel and using the river sediment to create the unique beaches and marshes,” says Lisa Mandt of the Port of Everett. “In addition to being one of the only sandy beaches on Puget Sound, the island serves as a wildlife preserve for many species of waterfowl and juvenile salmon.”
With no electricity or running water, Jetty Island feels quite undeveloped. “It’s just you and the beach,” notes Kraig Hansen, Jetty Island’s chief naturalist. “The island’s rustic nature adds to Jetty’s appeal.”
Jetty Island with kids
A Jetty Island excursion can be a bit challenging with little ones, but it’s doable. Strollers and wagons cannot navigate the sandy pathways, so make sure you have enough hands to safely transport your gear and your children. (Keep in mind that the only bathrooms are located near the boat launch.) Visit at low tide and you’ll find a lot more beach to explore, and -- on sunny days – the kids will be delighted to find that the beach and returning tide get toasty warm.
Plan ahead and pack everything you’ll need to make your day enjoyable: food and drinks, a beach umbrella (there is no shade on the island), towels or beach chairs, sunscreen, extra clothes, and beach toys. Everything brought onto the island must be packed out, including garbage. If you like, bring supplies for a bonfire -- fire pits are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The city of Everett sponsors free educational programs throughout the summer, ranging from puppet shows to volleyball tournaments. “Our Hug-A-Bug and shark programs are most popular with the kids,” says Hansen. “There is something for everyone to enjoy.”
Maneuvering the ferry system can be a bit tricky. There is limited room on each run, so you may have to wait, especially if the weather is nice. When you arrive on the island, grab a return pass, so you can leave when you want to instead of getting stranded for the entire day. If you change your mind and there are passes still available, you can trade for a later time.
“It’s a little inconvenient to get there, but the rest of the day is so much fun that the effort is well worth it,” says Stocker. “My kids cried when we had to leave and can’t wait to go back this summer.”
Going to Jetty Island
Ferry travel. The ferry leaves from the 10th Street Boat Launch and Marine Park on the Everett waterfront, seven days a week. Pick up free boarding passes at the boat launch kiosk. Return passes are available on the island. (Access the 2012 schedule here.)
Ferry reservations are highly recommended, especially on sunny days. Everett residents may reserve ferry passes. Groups of 12 or more people may also make reservations.
Marina parking. Parking is free Monday through Thursday at the boat launch. On weekends, there is a fee.
For more information on ferry reservations and Jetty Island programs, call 425-257-8304 or visit ci.everett.wa.us.
Abbey McGee is an Everett-based freelance writer and mother of three kids ages 6, 5, and 1.