The Ferry Ride from Seattle to Vashon Island: What to know

Coming to Vashon Island is an adventure on it’s own. There is something about driving your car onto the ferry and sailing across the beautiful Puget Sound to a remote island that time as not necessarily forgot, but perhaps ignored.

We have had some of our visitors ask us to give some tips and advice on how to get to Vashon Island via the ferry and experience the most out of their ferry ride. Well, here ya go, straight from the guy who has been riding these ferry’s his entire life:

  • Ferry Ride to Vashon Island, what to do, expect and see:
    • The ferry dock is located in Fauntleroy (West Seattle).
    • Usually costs around 20 dollars for car driver and passenger. Ferry schedule can be found here (make sure if you are coming on the weekend, to look at the weekend times)
    • Weekend mornings are usually fine, but as the day goes on, lines get longer. Especially in the summer.
    • Ferry line etiquette. Getting in line, watch for the line growing on the side of the road. Don’t park behind cars that are just there for Lincoln Park.
    • Getting close to the ticket booth, sometimes you will have an officer directing traffic. Flash him V with your fingers to let him know you are going to Vashon. (image of your hand saying V)
    • Ticket booth takes cc and cash. Make sure to get your receipt. Keep your ticket handy, you will need to give it to the ferry worker to get on the boat. Depending on the time of day and schedule. Sometimes they will ask for the ferry ticket right away, other times, you park then they will come down the line and ask for your ticket. Either way, keep it handy in and in your car.

West Seattle ferry dock to Vashon Island Washington. Explore Vashon.

 

  •  Try to park in Lane 1 (the left lane), so that you can enjoy the view. In lane 2 you might only see cars.
  • Wait until to start your car until the line is moving. No one likes choking on exhaust while waiting in line.
  • Pay attention to the attendants, they will point to where they want you to go. I like to wave to them, makes them feel good.
  • Once parked on the ferry, DON’T get out of your car until other cars have parked around you.. nothing is worse then having to wait for a bunch of people to pile out of their car and move to the side so you can finish parking on the ferry. Space is tight.
  • Going up on the ferry
    • Make a mental note of where you parked your car, which side of the ferry its on, what was at the top of the stairs you came up.
    • I would suggest going up as soon as you can so that you can see the ferry leave the dock. Wait until the cars around you have parked, then jump out and run upstairs, head to the back of the boat and go outside. ENJOY!
    • Most ferries have a galley which serves food. Its pretty pricy, but every once in a while, I get something to eat up there.
    • Clam chowder is good.
    • Draft beer is available in some galleys. Don’t be that guy drinking a beer at 10am. You must consume the beer IN the galley. Can’t walk around with it.
    • The stern and aft (front and back) of the boats have outdoor areas, great for selfies.
    • Bathrooms are available
    • Cell coverage all the way across to the island
    • Most ferries have vending machines for munchies. The Galleys are historically sporadic with their hours of operation.
  • Wildlife
    • Often times you can see whales and seals in the sound. This year I’ve seen many more seals feeding on salmon. Really cool.
    • The seagulls know we have food. If you have some bread or something like that, they will fly down and grab it out of your hand. If you don’t have any food, swing into the galley, they most likely have some bread or something you can feed the birds.
    • One game I play with my son is, count the jelly fish. Sometimes we get to see as many as 200 going across the ferry to Vashon.

 

 

  • Arriving at Vashon
    • Before you get to our island, I’d suggest moving to the stern of the ferry to get a first-hand view of the ferry docking, it’s pretty amazing.
    • You will hear the ferry workers say we are arriving to Vashon Island and people will be going down to their cars.
    • Adventure Awaits: Look, if you are a risk taker, I would suggest watching the ferry dock, THEN run down to your car and get ready to go. It’s cool seeing it dock.
    • When driving off the ferry, pay attention to the attendants. Some of those bastards can get cranky if you don’t do what they say. There is a sign on all of the docks that says to wait until the attendants have told you to turn on your engine before doing so. F that. When the boat docks and they tie up the boat, you can start your engine. Those ferry workers have NOT ONCE told me to start my engine.
  • The Ferry Dock 500
    • Getting off the boat means 1 thing. It’s race time. Islanders call it The Ferry Dock 500. Going up the hill passing cars, trying to get into position is something you will see. The island has just 1 lane going through the entire island, so people try to get to the front so they don’t have to be behind sight seer’s (like you).. so you will notice the drive up the initial hill is kind of crazy. Don’t panic. Just stay in the right lane and go the speed limit.

And there you go! You have just enjoyed your ferry ride from Seattle to Vashon Island! You made it safe and sound and most likely got some great selfies on the way! Now, time to enjoy our little island! Check out the following itineraries for couples and families that help you get the most out of your visit! Adventure awaits! Explore Vashon!

One Comment

  1. Awesome! Thanks for the info! We are heading over this weekend!

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