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Everett Archives: Jetty Island

Everett Archives: Jetty Island

It’s an unexpected thing: a sandy beach just off the coast of a Pacific Northwest city. Jetty Island is a place where nature and city collide, and it’s better for those two elements combined. 

Jetty Island brings delight to summertime people near and far.

Here’s how it came to be.

The Jetty is a manmade island. It’s comprised of sand dredged from the Snohomish River about 100 years ago—silt reinforced with broken rocks called riprap.

The island creates an artificial harbor, a “breakwater”. A breakwater is what it sounds like—an artificial land shield protecting moored boats at the Port of Everett. 

The Jetty Island breakwater was once comprised of busted-up old boats, including a storied pygmy schooner called the Equator.

The Equator was a San Francisco-made vessel that lived many lives before being beached at the Jetty. It made journeys to South Asia for pineapples, powered through the arctic as a fishing vessel. It was once chartered by famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, the guy who penned “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. 

In the 1980s a committee of concerned Everett citizens led by a dentist decided to preserve the boat. They had the Equator drydocked and began preservation efforts, even getting the boat on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. 

Today Jetty Island is a haven for birds in migratory flight. 45 species of avians stop here amid their peregrinations. The waters around Jetty are teeming with harbor seals. These seals are, by nature, friendly and curious like dogs. You’ll often see them popping their heads up above the waves to say hello to aquatic passersby.

The island is still a favorite for water action sports and other floating recreationists like paddleboarders, kayakers and canoeists (yes, this is a word!). The west shore of Jetty Island is a favorite for kiteboarders—that is, people who surf with a wind kite dragging them along as they go. 

Final fun fact: the mouth of the Snohomish River (near the north tip of Jetty Island) is a hotspot for krill that attract grey whales to the shallows. As such, it’s a top stopping-point for whale watching expeditions every year. 

To walk on the shores of the Jetty is to stroll on over one hundred years of history.

If you’re interested in visiting Jetty Island, you can learn more about the free Summer passenger ferry here.

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Photo credit: Jake Campbell

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