Jackson Beach, San Juan Island

Jackson Beach is one of those beaches that the locals don’t like to put on the map.  It is a long, sandy curve of beach without the steep climb down that characterize many of the beaches here.  Most of the beaches are also rocky instead of sandy.

Jackson Beach will never be mistaken for a white sand beach in a warmer clime.  We visited it on a day when the high temperature was 65 but there were still people sunbathing and playing in the water.  The ocean stays around a cold 50 degrees here year-round, which means moderate winters and cool summers.  People who swim, kayak, or even surf around here do so wearing wet suits to protect against the cold.

New driftwood coming in
Driftwood cabin
Water is so clear
Ruined pier
Finding shells
Sunbathing
Someone put a face on this kelp stalk

Jackson Beach is within the town limits of Friday Harbor, on the south side of the County Fairgrounds.  There is ample parking with picnic tables and fire rings.  The piles of driftwood along the beach can be used for fires.  The amount of driftwood on any of the beaches surprised us.  You climb over piles of driftwood before reaching the water.  I’m not sure where all the wood comes from but there are plenty of forests around here.

King of the driftwood

An old pier adds a sense of history to the beach.  There are chunks of concrete and piles of timber standing in the water.  I’m not sure how long the pier was used or when it was destroyed.  But my imagination conjures up a fierce storm that battered the valiant pier until it could resist no longer.

We walked up and down the beach for a while.  We talked to people throwing sticks chased by dogs.  One ecstatic dog was rolling on her back in a pile of rotting kelp.  We saw remains of fanciful driftwood castles built further up the shore.  And, even if the locals don’t want to put Jackson Beach on the maps, they are very friendly if you find it.

  • Kristine Moye

    50° is pretty cold. I guess you won’t see many people swimming at the beach!

    • revkaren54

      Just about the only ones swimming are the dogs – and they are wearing fur coats!