Matia Island Marine Park Washington

Also Visit All 6 Sucia Island Anchorages

Sucia Island FOSSIL BAY 

Sucia Island EWING COVE

Sucia Island SNORING BAY

Sucia Island ECHO BAY

Sucia Island SHALLOW BAY

Sucia Island FOX COVE

Park Registration Instructions     Patos Island Tweet

 Floating Dock - Camping 
2 Mooring Buoys
Hiking Trails

 Matia Island Marine Park Washington

Due east 1.5 miles from
Sucia Island is the beautiful Matia Island marine park. There are several small coves around its parameter but the very best one, and the only one with buoys and facilities onshore is Rolfe cove on the northwest corner of the island.  

Matia Island's Rolfe Cove offers reasonable protection from rough water and wakes from passing boats but there is a large opening on one side that sometimes lets a sizable wave through on the north side of the Cove.
 

10.0 Dock Quakes

When the Matia Island dock gets blindsided by the wake from a passing 70 foot motor yacht you are in for one hell of a wild ride as you try to keep your boat from smashing against the pier and pilings. You may want to double up your lines and use a criss-cross line strategy to handle the extreme stresses.

Tip : If you're tying up at the dock you should try to be on the south side of the dock (Left side in photo). You'll  better be able to handle the occasional larger wakes and waves that come into the cove from the north inlet-- the waves will push you away from the dock rather than into it.  

Matia Slug-Fest

Just a short time ashore on Matia Island you are encounter some friendly residents. Not Deer---Banana Slugs. If you take the 1.5 mile trail loop you are no doubt going to walk around, step over and possibly squoosh a number of these little guys slimming their way around the island. If you are tent camping be sure to keep your tent door zipped closed or you may wake up with unwanted Banana Slug guests in your sleeping bag, your hair, and before you slip your shoes you will want to check in there too. 

Matia Island Washington Rolfe Cove Matia Island Wa Rolfe Cove Beach On Matia Island Dock At Rolfe Cove Matia Island
Ashore At Rolfe Cove Matia Island's Main Ancorage Pond Scum Collects In Marsh - Matia Island Washington Dock Space Is Limited So It Takes Some Luck To Get Into Rolfe Cove Quiet Rolfe Cove Matia Island Anchorage
Matia Island Pay Station Secluded Bay On East Side Of Matia Island Tiny Rolfe Cove Matia Island Kayakers Navigating Through North Opening To Rolfe Cove
Beautiful Matia Island Scene Trail Loop On Matia Island Is 1.5 Miles Long Matia Island Docks At Low Tide Burrito Cove On Matia's South Side Is Popular With Kayakers Over From Orcas Island In The Distance

The Matia Island Hermit 

Elvin Smith will forever be known as, "The Hermit of Matia Island",  but not a whole lot is known about this elusive character other than the fact that he was a captain during the American Civil War in the Union Army. After Elvin Smith left the army in the late 1800's,  he moved to Matia Island as a squatter because homesteading has never been allowed on Matia Island. The remains of Elvin's simple house on Matia's east side are off limits to visitors because they are in the wildlife refuge portion of the island. There really isn't much there to anyway so you're really not missing out on much.       

Sucia Island To The West

Looking West From Patos Island You Get A Clear View Of The Shipping Lanes And Vancouver Island Canada. Patos also offers great sunset views.

 
Patos Island Seen From Fox Cove - Sucia Island WashingtonBeautiful Patos Lighthouse Stands Watch With Mount Baker In The Distance  

Buoys & Docks

Matia is one of the most special island destinations in all of Puget Sound. The Island was once home to smugglers, criminals, & hermits, Matia is now part wildlife sanctuary and part island marine park and well worth the effort to tie up if you can find an opening. Finding an available Buoy or vacant Dock Space is akin to finding a good parking space at the Mall on Christmas Eve.

To get a buoy you need to approach them like a game of musical chairs, making several passes at the entrance of Rolfe cove along with other boats doing the same thing and then when you see an opening you need to strike like lightening and grab it. The best chance of getting a buoy each day after the breakfast hour which of course can be anytime between dawn and noon, depending on how much the person you're waiting to leave drank the night before.

 The fishing is often excellent near the entrance to Rolfe Cove and you'll likely see bald eagles and a several seals swimming in the area.   

Boats On Parade

Once you settle in to Rolfe Cove, If you're lucky enough to get in, on a busy weekend you'll witness a parade of yachts and sailboats trolling through the cove hoping for buoy or dock space. As each boat full of eager visitors slowly passes by you'll see lots of sad faces and as they turn to leave and you'll know where they're going.... where every boater ends up sooner or later--- Echo Bay. If you don't want to deal with the disappointment of not getting a buoy on Matia you could just head straight for Echo Bay in the first place and be content that you're still in one of the most beautiful places in the San Juan's. After you have dropped anchor you could always motor your dinghy across to visit Matia only 1.5 miles away.

Don't Feed The Deer

If you're thinking of bringing along some apples to feed the deer on Matia, don't bother because there aren't any--  That's Jones Island and the deer feeding experience is over-rated anyway.        

Anchoring In Rolfe Cove

 It really isn't a good idea to attempt to anchor in Rolfe Cove due to the strong currents, rocky bottom, and eel grass, although some people seem to manage it close to shore by dropping one or more anchors at one end and running a second line ashore to a tree or log to keep from swinging around into other boats--- Tides can be up to 14 feet so don't anchor too close to shore while the tide is in or you may find yourself grounded.      

Missing Docks?

The floating dock in Matia's Rolfe Cove is taken away during the winter months along with other docks from local marine parks.    They are towed to a shallow area between Fossil and  Mud Bays on Sucia island.   

This helps protect not just the docks but also the boats that might have tied up to them during a wild winter storm.   Winter storms on the sound can produce 60mph winds or more, and 30ft swells. 

Santa Matia Tides

The water in Rolfe Cove is very clear and when you look down at the bottom from the dock it seems extremely shallow however the depth sounder showed it was 7 feet and several hours later it registered 15 feet. You are likely to see starfish, crabs, and an occasional fish going about their business below, and while you can fish from the dock I didn't notice anyone catching anything worthwhile but the kids were having a great time. 

 

Once Ashore

All of the 6 campsites were well manicured and most offered great views of Rolfe Cove.There is one campsite deeper in the woods but it also had a nice setting.  

If you're going to camp out you're going to have to deal with  raccoons, so make sure your food is well protected by either locking it up in  a cooler or suspend it in a tree.  Raccoons will probably still wreck your camp but they'll be wasting their time.  Photo Tour Of Matia Island's Loop Trail 

Matia Island Pit Toilets

Using a pit toilet in a state park can be a challenging and memorable experience. First, lock the door then scrape the banana slugs off the toilet seat and get on with your business.

The solar composting toilets on Matia and other Washington marine parks are actually a pleasant surprise if that's possible. They tend to be clean, well stocked, roomy, and devoid of horrifying odors. It is also nice that they have an anti-bacterial hand sanitizer dispenser mounted outside the door.

The Matia Name:
Matia island was originally named by Captain Eliza during his Expedition in  1792. In Spanish Mata can mean either "no protection" or possibly "lush with plants", both of which aptly describe Matia Island are are better than we would have named it, "Banana Slug Island".

Beware Of Northwest Winds :   
Fellow boaters  have shared stories about their experiences on Matia with Northwest winds that range from uncomfortable to downright scary.    Remember,  they remove those docks for a reason during the stormy winter season.   Terms of Use
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