Hat Island: The Pacific Northwest’s best kept secret

Just a 15-minute boat ride from Everett is what many call “island paradise.” #k5evening

It’s hard to get to. It’s dusty. Harbor Master Barb can chase you away. But once you’re on Hat Island, you might never want to be outside again.

Four miles of beach, a marina leads to the yacht club, which is just down the hill from the country’s cheapest country club.

The 50 year-round residents love the place for its privacy and closeness. You can see it from Everett, where the Hat Island Ferry departs on weekends.

Its official name is Gedney Island. But locals call it a “hat” because it looks like a baseball cap from the water.

They called it “The Riviera of the Northwest” in the 1960s. Plans for a restaurant, airfield, swimming pool, theater, golf course and even a boatel were in the works.

The golf course was built. Nine holes meander through massive trees with spectacular all-round views. But the economy and a failed power generator have put the other big ideas to sea. And decades later, locals like it the way it is, an invitation-only island.

“So we built a moat around the island for our gated community,” said longtime Hat Island resident Bud Lofgren. “A giant moat… with whales.”

An unwritten law forbids washing your car. There are no paved roads.

“We have two seasons here, mud and dust,” said the aforementioned harbor master, Barb Conwell.

The island threshold is a large rope over the dirt road.

“Things are moving slowly here on Hat… Probably pulled back by one of the tugboats,” said Karsten McIntosh, a 20-year-old whose parents have a place on the beach.

There are no restaurants or shops or hotels. It’s intentionally underdeveloped, although there’s a back-and-forth with progress.

“Most people accept the fact that progress is coming,” Bud said. “We will get new owners as we always have and that will help the island.”

Aerial footage for our story provided by drone pilot Joel Pittenger.

View a map of Hat Island here.

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https://www.king5.com/article/entertainment/television/programs/evening/hat-island-the-pacific-northwests-best-kept-secret/281-471234892 Hat Island: The Pacific Northwest’s best kept secret

Emma James

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