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, opening for summer on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
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 accessible only by boat, and from July 5 through Labor Day (Sept. 4), the city of Everett partners with the Port of Everett to offer a free ferry. (2017 Jetty Island Ferry Schedule.)
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.”
In addition, Jetty Island runs many wonderful programs all summer, from a pirate treasure hunt to nature crafts and a sandcastle contest. There are also weekly interpretive programs and even day camps!
Tips for doing Jetty Island with kids
- A Jetty Island excursion is terrific for most kids, but can be a bit challenging with truly little ones, though 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, towels or beach chairs, sunscreen, extra clothes, and beach toys. Everything brought onto the island must be packed out, including garbage.
- You might bring a beach umbrella; there is no shade on the island.
- If you like, bring supplies for a bonfire -- fire pits are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Check the schedule to see if your visit can coincide with one of Jetty Island's free programs, from puppet shows to late-night campfires (see this year's list of programs). Popular programs include pirates on the opening day (July 5), and the sand castle contest (Aug. 22).
If you go: 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 boarding passes at the boat launch kiosk. Return passes are available on the island. While the ferry is free, a $2 per adult and $1 per child donation is requested and helps keep the ferry and the island's programs running. There is a parking fee of $3.
Find a group and reserve! Everett residents may reserve ferry passes and so can groups of eight or more -- find yourself a posse and book early! If you don't have a group, you may have to wait, especially if the weather is nice and on weekends, so arrive early.
Return passes: 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.
Marina parking: Parking at the Port of Everett costs $3.
For more information on ferry reservations and Jetty Island programs, call 425-257-8304.
Note: This article has been updated for 2017.