*Update since this writing: Argosy no longer has boats that go to Blake Island and the Cafe is also closed indefinitely.
Twenty-seven minutes to paradise. That is it. Twenty-seven minutes. Okay, it’s Blake Island Marine State Park, but to us, it’s a local paradise. Your arrival at the island puts you directly into another world. You will be greeted with grazing deer, possibly a bald eagle, the sounds of birds chirping and the waves crashing over the rocks on the beach. There are families interacting and playing and the views are well, magnificent. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Well, it gets better!
Getting to Blake Island is part of the adventure! The only way to get there is by boat. We usually take our private boat to Blake Island for what the locals call “A Blakation,” but this time we let someone else drive! If you do not own your own boat or are not lucky enough to have a friend that owns a boat, the Argosy Cruises added a fast foot ferry to their fleet last year that runs hourly from Pier 54 in Seattle, every weekend from April through October. During the summer, the ferry runs five days a week. You can purchase single round trip tickets ($29 RT), or they have a discounted five trip pass ($125) and an unlimited seasonal pass ($250). Be sure to book your roundtrip on their website!
As you depart the Pier, the view of Seattle, the Space Needle, the Great Wheel and the Seattle waterfront adds something special to the beginning of your experience. It still gets me every time and I am a local! We enjoyed every minute of the ride. The crew was fun, informative and you could tell that they love their job!
If you only have a day to spend at Blake, I highly recommend exploring the five miles of beaches and choosing any of the 8 miles of hiking trails throughout the entire island. Hint: If it has been raining, it can be extremely muddy on the island. Have appropriate footwear! If you are into mountain biking, they even have seven and a half miles of bike trails for you to traverse! There is plenty of wildlife to search for on the island including black tail deer, eagles, osprey, geese (beware of these guys during nesting season… just trust me), racoons (don’t leave ANY food out unattended!) and even river otters! There are guided nature hikes during the summer if you would like to learn more about the wildlife and plants on this amazing island. ($20 for 1.5 hours)
When it is time for a break, grab your picnic lunch and sit at a picnic table that looks south, down Puget Sound like the Tilicum Village to Mount Rainier (Tahoma). The Vashon Island ferries run right in front of the mountain presenting a perfect photo op!
If you do not want to bring a picnic lunch, the Longhouse Café is open on the days when the ferry is running. They offer northwest inspired light entrees, soups, salads, drinks and desserts including s’mores kits that you can roast over a fire! We shared the combo and we were blown away with how much food we received! We cannot recommend the Smoked Salmon Chowder enough! Yumm! Enjoy your meal outside where there are many options of seating, but believe me, no seat has a bad view! You might catch otters playing in the water as we did, watch boats come in and out of the marina, and you will take notice of the iconic ferries crossing the Sound all day with the Seattle skyline and the Space Needle as the gorgeous backdrop. As we relaxed there and finished up our beers, we looked at each other and just said, “We live in such an amazing place!”
For some local history be sure to check out the Coast Salish Cultural Presentation that lasts about 60 minutes. It includes dancing, storytelling, a question-and-answer time and more. This is a fabulous opportunity to learn more about our Native Americans here in the Puget Sound. It’s available select days mid-June-September, and cost is $18. For more history, be on the lookout for the markings for the Historic Trimble Mansion Estate!
For the more active and adventurous, kayaks ($50/hour for two) and SUP’s ($25/hour) can be rented to explore around and end of the island and in the marina (June-September). Blake Island is also a great place to scuba dive. Crabbing, fishing and clamming are allowed during their seasons and with licenses. Dig some clams, start a fire and make your own clam chowder, right next to the beach! What an adventure!
To finish off your busy day, enjoy a local wine or beer tasting during the summer weekends ($20). This island REALLY does have it all!
Content and maybe tired, head back down to the marina to catch your scheduled ferry back to Seattle.
Make your adventure extra special by staying and camping for a night or two! Watching the sun set behind the Olympic Mountains on the west side is an amazing experience or seeing the city come alive with lights after dark from the southeast side is also truly a treat. The campsites like the Cascadia Marine Trail Campsites are spacious, they have a campfire ring, picnic shelters, tables and magnificent views. If you thought your sunset was amazing, wait until you see the sunrise from Blake Island! Yeah, breathtaking…
A few last things. There are restrooms on the island camping ground, both flush and vault toilets. Blake Island State Park has no garbage cans. It is a “pack in and pack out” island so all of your trash must leave with you. Please prepare for this. Be sure to thank the friendly park rangers who help keep Blake Island the kind of place you will want to return to again and again. My last tip is to book your roundtrip ferry early! They are capped right now at 17 people. Summer is going to be busy!
Blake Island Marine State Park is a gem. This is the place to create an amazing adventure for your family or friends. There is something for everyone and for every age at Blake. Start planning your adventure in one of the best Washington State Parks now!