7.2 out of 10


47.4085964231777 -122.467058237296
Great for
  • Clean & Green
  • Parking
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Safe & Sound
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping Options
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers


4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5

"Right next door, but a world away"

It’s surprising how close Vashon Island is to Seattle, because when you’re there, it feels hundreds of miles away from any city. It’s probably most suitable for Seattle workers looking for a more secluded and quiet lifestyle. Retirees and families also find the island’s slower pace appealing.

The largest island in Puget Sound, Vashon Island is just off the coast of West Seattle neighborhood, and northwest of Tacoma. In fact, ferries connect Vashon to both of those places, with one terminal at the north end of the island (to West Seattle or Southworth, on the Olympic Peninsula) and another at the south end (to Tacoma). During weekdays, there’s also a water taxi that goes straight to downtown Seattle so that commuters can bypass the bus ride through West Seattle.

The main road is Vashon highway / 99th, which runs north to south. East/west roads branch off regularly to access the rest of the island. In the summer, people like to bicycle on these roads, but you have to really love a good workout, because the hills are tough.

A big reason people live here is because of the proximity to nature and recreation.

Most of the island is wooded and green, with a smattering of large lawns and small farms in the central part of the island. Fisher Pond, just off Bank road, has a maze of public trails surrounding it and the nearby land. If you’re looking for a break from the city, wandering through the forest here is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. In late summer, there are tons of blackberries growing wild here, so bring a bucket!

Another reason to come here for recreation is sea kayaking. In particular, nighttime sea kayaking. Now, normally kayaking in the ocean at night is not advisable. Quite dangerous. Frowned upon. But on Vashon, you have the luxury to dip your paddle in the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve (Vashon Island is also called Vashon-Maury Island), which at first glimpse seems like a lake, but is actually a deep inlet of Puget Sound. Being so protected, the waters are perfectly calm, there’s practically no current, and on a clear night you can see the stars. Try to go on a night that doesn’t have a bright, full moon though, because you won’t be able to see the most amazing thing--the bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is when tiny organisms in the water light up when your paddle brushes against them. So each time you paddle, miniscule underwater fireworks gently follow the wake of each stroke. It’s magical.

If you’re not interested in kayaking, it’s always a fun day trip to drive around the island enjoying the occasional beach, and stopping in the downtown area.

Vashon is also the name of the main town on the island, which is located on 99th and SW Bank Road. There are a few blocks of shops and eateries that you could easily walk around and visit in under an hour. I recommend May Kitchen and bar, which has a-May-zing Thai food. (har har).

The last thing I’ll mention is that there’s no bridge connecting Vashon to any other land. Theoretically, there could be, because it’s a very short distance to Southworth on the Olympic Peninsula. But there’s not, which is part of the reason why Vashon is so special.
  • Close to nature
  • Quiet and secluded
  • Water taxi to downtown Seattle
  • Minimal amenities
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers

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