Seattle’s abundance of rocky shoreline makes for amazing afternoon tide pooling. But when it comes to sandy beaches, Seattle could definitely take a few tips from sunny San Diego. So what’s a family to do when they need to feel the sand between their toes and the sun on their backs? Head to Jetty Island in Everett, that’s what! This quick island getaway has two miles of prime sandy real estate just waiting to be claimed by your beach towel and umbrella. So pack your beach bag and read on for the deets.

photo: S I. via Yelp

Getting There
The Jetty Island passenger ferry is located at the 10th Street Boat Launch and Marina in Everett. It’s easy to find and has plenty of parking for those looking to make the quick (less than 5 minute) crossing to this sandy paradise. Parking is just $3 and there’s no time limit to worry about. Once you’ve parked (and paid) you can enjoy the day without worrying about feeding a meter.

photo: Leslie R. via Yelp

Grab a Ticket and Plan to Wait
On sunny days especially, expect a wait (sometimes up to two hours) for space on the passenger ferry. Tickets go quickly once the park opens in the morning, and are doled out on a first come, first serve basis. We suggest getting there an hour before you’d like to ferry over, just to be on the safe side. Then, enjoy the big grassy field and some boat watching in the marina while you wait. Bring some chairs to lounge in and play a few rounds of Eye Spy to pass the time.

Bonus: Everett residents and parties of 8 or more (lucky!) can make reservations by calling 425-257-8304. The reservation line is open Monday thru Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Saturday and Sunday. Be sure to call at least 48 hours ahead to guarantee a seat on the ferry of your choosing. Then, you’ll be off on your island adventure before you know it!

Getting there

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

If Ever You Needed a Sherpa
Jetty Island is an only-bring-what-you-can-carry kind of destination. When packing your beach bag think big and light. Beach towels, dry clothes, sunscreen, water and food for you and your little beach bums (plus a little extra) are must-haves. And although strollers aren’t verboten, they are highly discouraged because they’re cumbersome both on the ferry and along the sand paths. Strapping on babes is the way to go, and it still leaves hands free for sibs and your stuffed-to-the-rim beach bag.

No Shade Zone 
If shade is your thing, be sure to pack your own, because beach is the word on this island adventure. Sun hats, sunglasses and even a sun tent will be welcomed additions to your expedition. And the mantra with sunscreen is apply early, apply often, then slap on some more. The upside of this seriously sunny beach? It’s a kite flyers delight. No trees and the cool breeze equals killer fly time!

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Plenty of Room to Roam
Jetty Island is affected by some crazy dynamic tides, and chances are you’ll experience either tides rolling in or tides rolling out during your visit. Lucky you! Low tide also leaves plenty of room for little beachcombers to run, explore and build sandcastles that rival Olivia’s with some of the best building sand around. And either tide means easy spotting for the little ones, as there’s nothing to block your view from the beach. So sit back and relax, or join in the play.

Beachside Eats
Since there’s nowhere to buy eats on the island, pack plenty of food and drink in your over-sized beach bag. Where’s Hermoine’s never-ending purse when you need it? Families can picnic on the beach or plant themselves on one of the many picnic tables that line the beach. Then, pass the munchies and marvel at the kiteboarders (sweet!) off in the distance. Or, if you’re looking for a little relief, try the shaded picnic shelters near the dock.

Daily activities

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Daily Activities
Jetty Island offers free daily programs to visitors. From nature walks to tide talks to sea creature spotting, visitors can learn about Puget Sound wildlife, flora and geology throughout the day. Check the online class schedule before you head out or the markerboard when you land for the day’s activities. Families can also enjoy special programs throughout the season like nature crafts and late night campfires designed for all ages!

photo: Kristina Moy

When the Day is Done
As soon as you get to Jetty Island, be sure to grab your tickets for the return ferry. They go quickly and are limited in number. But don’t worry if you don’t get the ferry you want. Just put your name on the standby list (talk to the naturalists that greet you when you disembark) and then head over about 15 minutes before the return time that works best for you. If you don’t catch that ferry, you’re almost sure to be on the next. Bottom line is… they won’t leave you on the island (even if you beg!). Just pack a few extra munchies and some drinks for the standby line, then keep your eyes peeled for playful sea lions who like to hang out around the docks.

If ever you needed a Sherpa

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Jetty Island
10th St. and W. Marine View Dr.
Everett, Wa 98201
425-257-8304
Online: portofeverett.com/recreation/beaches-kiteboarding/jetty-island-290

Dates: July 5 – Labor Day
Hours: Mon.–Thurs., 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.–7 p.m.

Do you plan to visit Jetty Island this summer? What is your favorite part about the island? Tell us in the comments below. 

— Allison Sutcliffe