McNeil Island Circumnavigation

Paddle around an island in South Puget Sound that was a federal prison, then a state prison, and now a state commitment facility for sex offenders. No landing on the island is permitted, making this a potentially more challenging sea kayak trip.

launch points

on the water

McNeil Island is wholly government owned.  First a Federal and then State Prison, it is noa a State Commitment Facility for sex offenders.  Learn more at on the Department of Corrections's McNeil Island History web page. Because of its restricted use, the shoreline is quite wild with a frequent seal haul-out on the island's northeast corner. Break points include Eagle Island State Park and the public shoreline along the Key Peninsula. Gertrude Island, while not part of the restricted McNeil Island facility, serves as a wildlife sanctuary. Kayakers tend to make only the briefest of visits and only when it is an island and not a Tombola.


  • No landing is allowed on the island. Boaters must stay 100 yards from the shore and obey all posted signs. There are no bail outs on McNeil Island. You must be able to cross the channel regardless of conditions.
  • The ferry is not available to unauthorized personnel, even in a medical emergency.
  • Difficulty: Sea Kayak III+
  • Length: 15.0 nm
  • Land Manager: Land Manager Varies
  • Parking Permit Required: see Land Manager
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • NOAA Puget Sound: Southern Part No. 18448
  • MapTech Puget Sound Chart No. 100
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