Third time’s a charm: Anderson Island

It was my third attempt trying to figure out how to board the Pierce County ferry at Steilacoom to get to Anderson Island, and I was nervous: I still wasn’t sure how to get a ticket and get into the proper line, as it’s not as clear as the state ferry system. I battled traffic and was able to get a ticket, with two minutes to spare. So, I guess the idiom is true: third time’s a charm!

I was hoping to spot some whales on the ferry journey, as I know they like that end of the Sound. However, my West Coast whale-speaking skills aren’t as good as Dory’s, so I got to see a few porpoises instead! Fresh off my Alcatraz trip, I may have taken too many pictures of McNeil Island (still functioning prison island), and was impressed at how big it is in person! The views of the South Sound from the ferry were spectacular, but then again, I’m a big fan of boat rides, however brief.

The journey was short, and I drove straight off the ferry and drove around the island aimlessly. I had heard about a good swimming hole on the island, but couldn’t remember where it was on the island. On the other side of the island, I spotted an old ferry at someone’s dock. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to get to the house to see if they would give me a tour. Unlike other PNW islands I’ve visited, Anderson Island roads have the most ‘dead ends,’ leading to a bit more confusion than I’m used to.


Many three-point turns later, I stumbled upon the Anderson Island Marine Park, and took a walk. Warning: the map at the park is not to scale. The first part of the walk to the beach was the shortest on the map, but took the longest. The longest portion…yup, that’s right, it was the shortest to walk. But, the view was pretty good.

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I continued to drive around in search of this swimming hole I read about in the Times, even though I wasn’t prepared: I thought it was going to be cold and rainy, but on the island, it was sunny and in the high 60s, with the water seemingly warmer. I would’ve thought by now I’d have a spare suit in my go-bag, but no such luck. I finally found the ‘Old Swimming Hole’ at Florence Lake, and the only thing I was disappointed by was that I couldn’t enjoy the awesome water-slides and diving platforms!

Ate at Big Al’s Cafe, and was a tad disappointed by the food (lack of veggies in the salad), but the iced tea was superb! Can’t complain too much about an Island cafe, very much cut off from civilization.

I did a little more exploring after my late lunch, and again stumbled on another park, this path headed towards Jacobs Point, where a cabin once stood. I’m still not clear on who the Jacobs’ are, but they had a house in the woods that was built from the finest materials: now, only a chimney remains.

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Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with “Andy’s Island,” but I think it would be a great get-away for families during the summertime who just want to spend a weekend at a lake cabin. The two big lakes are perfect for boating, swimming, or just relaxing.

And if you know who owns that old ferry…I’m more than willing to take another trip to get a look inside!

Side note: I’ve been to Point Robertson (colloquially referred to as ‘Point Bob,’ and now Anderson Island, with it’s moniker ‘Andy.’ What’s up with the nicknames, Washington?




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