TheKiteMag 50 On the List Jetty Island Aerial Photo 2 Jetty Island 1200x800 - Jetty Island

Jetty Island

Washington, USA

Nestled pretty much halfway between Squamish, BC and Hood River, OR, the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest is home to many amazing kite spots that allow for year-round kiting.

WORDS: Christopher Newton
PHOTOS: Christopher Newton

Fall, winter and spring months bring southerly winds at a near consistent pace with anywhere from 15 to 35 knots, which is perfect for Seattle-based kiters to get out and enjoy kiting right in their backyards, at popular spots such as Golden Gardens Park in Seattle, Edmonds Marina Beach just a few miles to the north, or Iverson Beach a bit further north on Camano Island. Another really popular spot during southerly storm winds is Double Bluff Beach on Whidbey Island. Just a few miles drive after the short 20-minute ferry ride from Mukilteo to Clinton on Whidbey Island, Double Bluff is the perfect setup with shallow waters, a mostly sandy beach, and a three-sided inlet open only to the south. With winds blowing SSE, the side onshore wind direction is great for those learning to kite – just make sure you are prepared to face the nearly five degree Celsius water temps in the winter! Double Bluff often has strong steady winds and plenty of choppy waves and rollers to boost from. Don’t be surprised to see an abundance of local talent putting on a show for the spectators, even in the harshest winter conditions.

But the real gem of the Puget Sound region lies a few miles northeast of Double Bluff, about 30 miles north of Seattle: Jetty Island. Jetty Island is the result of decades of dredging a channel and depositing the dredged material a few hundred meters offshore to create a protective barrier along the length of the marina and naval base in northern Everett. The total jetty length is over two miles long and is almost entirely perfect beach sand. Possession Sound in which Jetty sits is a very gently sloping, shallow, sandy-bottomed shelf. During the warmer months of the year (May to September), Jetty sees a nearly daily side onshore thermal breeze of about 15 to 18 knots. The afternoon thermal winds are typically so steady and reliable that it is often referred to as “steady Jetty”. Besides this reliable wind there is something else that makes Jetty Island truly special…

Aside from the select few days between July 5th and Labor Day (first Monday of September) when the pedestrian ferry is running, the only way to access the island is by boat, kayak, paddleboard etc. It is not uncommon on a windy weekend day to see over 30 kayaks and paddleboards parked along the east shore of the Jetty. The required paddle over tends to keep most people away, leaving the island almost exclusively to the enjoyment of the kiters – the “Jetty Island Natives” as they are sometimes called. With the paddle to the Jetty’s east bank, and then a short hike carrying all your kite gear to the west side of the island before you finally get to kite, it certainly takes devotion to the sport to participate in the Jetty Island “triathlon”. But the reward for the effort to get there pays off big time.

Jetty Island is as close to perfection as it gets for learning to kite. In contrast to the rest of the Sound’s cold waters and rocky, rugged shoreline, Jetty Island’s sandy shores and the unique shallow shelf of Possession Sound allow the water to warm from the sun about five degrees Celsius more than the rest of the sound – pretty much the only place in Puget Sound where kiting without a wetsuit is feasible. It’s as if a tropical island beach was transplanted into the middle of the Pacific Northwest. The warm waters, shallow sand beach, and the fact that it’s almost exclusively other kiters on the island make it an easy and safe place to learn to kite.

For those that don’t need lessons and just want to work on their tricks, wait for the tide to come up a bit and a lagoon in the center of the island will fill up creating a perfect flatwater pond. You’ll often see many talented local riders in the “pond” working on their freestyle, and for those not interested in flatwater riding, the small roller waves coming onshore in front of the jetty are perfect little kickers for those Big Air lightwind boosts.

It can be hard to appreciate all that Jetty Island offers for kiters of all levels, from the very beginner to pro level rider, without simply experiencing it. The amazing backdrop created by the Olympic Mountain range to the west, Cascades Mountain range to the east, and the ever-prominent Mt. Baker to the north, means the landscape and scenery are truly spectacular. Jetty Island, along with the other dozen plus intermediate to advanced kite spots scattered around the Puget Sound, will spoil any kiter with an abundance of local places to ride, especially considering there is almost no off season for wind here…

Getting There

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will bring you just south of Seattle. From there, head north 40 miles to get to the boat launch at Everett Marina. A 10-minute paddle, a five-minute hike and you’re ready to kite!

Staying There

Both Everett, Seattle and the cities in between have a plethora of hotels to choose from. Take your pick.


A 3/2 wetsuit is plenty in July and August at Jetty or bring a 4/3 for other months. For fall, winter and spring at the other spots, a 5/4 with gloves, booties and hood is a must.

In the Bag

12 to 14m kites for summer at Jetty Island. 7 to 9m for the fall, winter and spring season at most other Puget Sound kite spots.


Seattle and its surrounding areas are home to some of the finest craft beer in the world. Just expect to pay $8-10/pint.

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