Kites dot the horizon during the Jetty Island Light Wind Olympics on Jetty Island on June 23. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The ferry is running! How to enjoy Everett’s Jetty Island

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It’s the Riviera of Puget Sound.

Sandy beaches. Sparkling water. Total R&R.

No cars or electricity.

What’s up with that?

Jetty Island.

It’s a resort for all walks of life, and it’s only a few minutes from downtown Everett.

The man-made 2-mile strip isn’t a hidden gem — it’s right across from the marina for all to see.

Still, many people don’t know it’s there. Those who do keep coming back.

Jetty draws about 50,000 visitors every season, which runs from July 5 through Labor Day. The only cost is $3 for parking at the Port of Everett before boarding the ferry, which has a suggested donation of $2 for adults and $1 for kids.

If you have a boat, canoe or a kiteboard, you can use it to get there.

There’s nothing to buy on the island. No vendors selling hot dogs, cold drinks or T-shirts. This means you have to pack it all in: coolers, chairs, blankets, buckets, balls, kites, toys, sunscreen.

And then pack it all out.

Leave the beer at home. Alcohol isn’t allowed. Neither is skinny dipping, so bring a swimsuit. This is a family-friendly beach.

The ferry ride itself is quick. A few minutes and you’re there. It’s a short walk to the west beach area populated by kids armed with sand shovels and forts made of driftwood branches.

There are trails and places to explore. Some people go to birdwatch. There are ospreys and the herons are copious.

Others go to people watch. It’s great for that. Stretch onto the memory-foam sand and observe the cross-section of humanity.

Jetty is also a popular destination for kite-flyers, as well as kiteboarders who spin and sail across the water on boards propelled by a power kite.

The water is calm, warm and shallow for a long way out, so it’s good for toddlers and seniors.

Wiggle your toes. Play in the water. Be a kid again.

“I absolutely loved the activities as a child,” said Taylor Johnston, 32, of Everett. “Loved the field trips there. Loved the boxes you reached your hand into to guess what sort of beach object found was hidden inside. Loved spotting seals. It’s a unique little place in our town.”

She still loves it.

“The jetty is nice and long so there is usually a spot you can find to have at least a little more privacy. Always fun beachcombing there. We take our canoe there sometimes, too.”

10 things to know about Jetty Island

1. There are no lifeguards on duty or food vendors.

2. There are restrooms.

3. Kids under 12 must come with an adult.

4. Dogs are not allowed, except for service animals.

5. The beach is open daily (weather permitting) through Labor Day.

6. Jetty has sports camps, programs, nature walks, interpretive classes, treasure hunts and more.

7. Depart from Jetty Landing by the Port of Everett’s boat launch at 10th Street and W. Marine View Drive. There’s a $3 fee for parking. Pick up boarding passes at the kiosk at Jetty Landing Park. Return passes are available on the island.

8. Ferries typically run 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. A donation of $2 for adults, $1 for kids is suggested for the ferry ride.

9. Reservations are encouraged. Everett residents can make reservations for any number of people. Reservations by non-residents can only be made for groups of eight people or more. These must be scheduled two business days or more in advance. Those without reservations can ride if seats are available.

10. Call 425-257-8304 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to make reservations. A real person answers the phone and gives you a confirmation number.

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Jetty Island events

Opening day pirates: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. July 5. A demonstration of traditional pirate skills and folklore will be followed by a treasure hunt in the sand of Jetty Island.

Nature crafts: 2 to 3 p.m. Sundays. Make treasures to take home. All supplies provided.

Late night campfires: 7 to 8 p.m. on July 8, 14, 22 and 28; Aug. 5, 11, 19 and 25; and Sept. 2. Includes gooey marshmallow snacks.

Sandcastle contest: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 22. Bring buckets, shovels and other tools to compete for prizes in age categories. From first-timers to to serious sand sculptors.

Senior day: Noon to 3 p.m. Aug. 16. Special activities for seniors include nature walks, Jetty bingo and refreshments.

Fresh Paint float find: 10:30 a.m. Aug. 19. Hunt for a blown-glass treasure. Reservations on early boats strongly suggested. Note: Early ferries will be added and the west beach will be closed to all visitors until the 10:30 a.m. start time.

Closing activities: On Labor Day, Sept. 4, say goodbye to summer and the Jetty with a celebration of good stewardship in the Trash Bash. Smokey Bear will be on hand and a local Scout troop color guard will lower the flags for the closing celebration.

A little Jetty Island history

Jetty Island is composed of sediment deposited by the Snohomish River. It began as a riprap jetty in the late 1800s and provided a protected harbor and navigation channel. The Port of Everett gained ownership of Jetty Island in 1929 and, with the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, built a new marsh of dredged river materials in 1989.

The original dredged material is more than 100 years old and has been added to over time as the result of maintenance dredging of the Snohomish River Channel. Juvenile salmon, waterfowl and bald eagles are just a few examples of the wildlife currently living on and around Jetty Island.

Source: Port of Everett

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