Ferry out to Jetty Island for sand, sun, and fun

Nature abounds on this manmade island

Starting this month, western Washingtonians have a happy alternative to the state's cold, rocky beaches, just a five-minute ferry ride away from Everett. Think Gilligan's Island, but with an exit.

Part of manmade Jetty Island's charm lies in what it doesn't have. No phones. No cars or roads or parking lots. No shops. Not even a soda machine, so pack a picnic. Nor does it have expansive space: It's just 2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide.

But it does serve as a sanctuary for 45 species of birds and for hundreds of people per day. You can spot killdeer taking refuge in the beach grass and ospreys nesting atop pilings (with their own "reality show"―check out the website listed above right). Guided treks, offered daily, include mudflat safaris, wildflower walks, lagoon walks, and bird walks. You might learn about digger bees' egg-laying habits or robins' drinking habits (elderberries get them drunk). "People want to hit the beach and play, but they come away with something more," says chief naturalist Kraig Hansen. ―Vanessa McGrady

INFO: Ferry rides are free (Wed-Sun Jul 6-Sep 4; depart from 10th St. at W. Marine View Dr.; www.everettwa.org/parks or 425/257- 8304).