Seattle Travel
Seattle Water Taxis: Everything You Need to Know & Things to Do At Their Destinations

Seattle Water Taxis: Everything You Need to Know & Things to Do At Their Destinations

Post created July 19, 2023

Out of all the transportation methods available in Seattle, water transportation is perhaps the most fun option. Not only does water transportation let you skip the traffic on roads through the city and the crowded freeways but it also gives you a chance to sit back and soak up the gorgeous views of the waterways.

Although the ferry is the most well-known form of water transportation, Seattle also has water taxis that offer convenient routes that take passengers directly into Downtown Seattle. Below is an extensive guide of the water taxi routes and stations, how to get to the water taxis, their schedules and fares, and much more.

Water Taxi Routes in Seattle

Seattle Water Taxi
A Seattle Water Taxi arrives in West Seattle (Maxvis/iStockPhoto)

Seattle has two water taxi routes: one from West Seattle to Downtown Seattle and one from Vashon Island to Downtown Seattle. Each route has its own individual schedule. The West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route has different schedules on weekends whereas the Vashon Island-Seattle route has the same schedule for every weekday but has no weekend schedule.

The West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route takes 10 to 15 minutes to cross the water. The Vashon Island-Downtown Seattle route takes approximately 22 minutes to cross the water. The short crossing time makes both routes extremely convenient as both a means of travel and a way to enjoy the views of the water.

Water Taxi Stations

Seattle Water Taxi at Pier 50
A look at the Seattle Water Taxi boarding area at Pier 50 (Randall Williams/iStockPhoto)

Both routes connect to the Downtown Seattle water taxi station located on Pier 50. Known as Colman Dock, the water taxi station is located just next to the Bainbridge Island Ferry terminal right off of Alaskan Way. The Colman Dock terminal is a massive station capable of holding up to 500 passengers, all indoors to keep people out of the weather and complete with restrooms and elevated walkways.

The West Seattle station is known as the Seacrest Dock. It is located conveniently near public transit like buses and also has walkways for passengers and cyclists. Passengers can easily access places like Alki Beach from the dock as well as local restaurants, shops, and trails. Parking can be found at Seacrest Park or along Harbor Ave SW.

The Vashon Island station is simply called the Vashon Ferry Terminal. Owned and operated by the Washington State Ferries, the station has an indoor waiting area with restrooms, drink and snack vending machines, and a restaurant just outside by the base of the dock. Free parking is available a block away from the terminal.

Other Transportation Near The Water Taxi Stations

The West Seattle terminal is located near the 773 metro bus routes. Passengers can find a free DART shuttle at the West Seattle Junction and another free shuttle at the Admiral District Alki Ave SW. The Vashon Island terminal has access to the 118 and 119 metro bus routes. The Downtown Seattle terminal is near the Columbia St. and Alaskan Way bus stop, which is located just across the street from Pier 50.

How Much Does It Cost To Ride The Water Taxis

ORCA Card used in Seattle Transit
ORCA cards can be used to pay Seattle Water Taxi fares (Image Credit: Seattle Travel)

The cost of riding water taxis is paid in advance before boarding. Passengers are charged a one-way fare every time they use the water taxis. These fares can vary based on age and payment type. Generally speaking, paying with an ORCA card will be cheaper than other types of payment methods.

On all water taxi routes, youth passengers get to ride for free. Youth passengers are categorized as any person ages 18 or younger. There is no extra charge on either route for bringing bicycles on board the water taxis. Both water taxi routes do not accept reservations for seating. 

Fares And Accepted Types Of Payment

Fares on each route are fairly inexpensive for a one-way ticket with the Vashon Island-Downtown Seattle route being the slightly more expensive of the two routes. The fares for a one-way ticket for the Vashon Island-Downtown Seattle route are as follows:

  • Adult (19 to 64 years old): $6.75 cash or ticket, $5.75 with ORCA
  • ORCA LIFT: $4.50 with ORCA
  • Senior (65+ years old) or Disabled: $3 cash, ticket, with ORCA
  • Youth (0 to 18 years old): Free
  • Bicycles: Free

The fares for a one-way ticket for the West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route are as follows:

  • Adult (19 to 64 years old): $5.75 cash or ticket, $5 with ORCA
  • ORCA LIFT: $3.75 with ORCA
  • Senior (65+ years old) or Disabled: $2.50 cash, ticket, with ORCA
  • Youth (0 to 18 years old): Free
  • Bicycles: Free

There are multiple forms of payment that passengers can use to buy a ticket. The only type of payment that is absolutely not accepted is checks. The acceptable types of payment and how to use them are as follows:

  • Cash: Passengers can buy a ticket when entering the vessel; you must pay with the exact amount
  • ORCA Card: Cards must be loaded with a PugetPass or E-purse value. Simply tap the card on the card reader.
  • Ticket: Passengers can buy tickets from ticket vending machines at water taxi terminals. Simply place the ticket in the fare box when boarding. Tickets can be bought by using a credit or debit card.
  • Mobile App: You can download the Transit GO app to buy tickets. This is a contact-free payment option.
  • ORCA Passport: Similar to the ORCA Card, just tap your ORCA Passport on the reader. This passport will cover the full fare on a King County Water Taxi. U-PASS also functions the same way.

Water Taxi Schedules

Although both water taxi routes operate 7 days a week, their hours of operation are different and can even vary depending on the day of the week. There are also certain holidays during which neither route will be operating. It is important to understand the different schedules for each route before boarding the water taxis.

The West Seattle-Downtown Seattle Route

On Mondays through Thursdays, the schedule for this route is the same. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays have different schedules. On certain days, the West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route will not operate at all.

The West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route departs from Pier 50 on Mondays through Thursdays at the following times:

  • 5:55 AM
  • 6:30 AM
  • 7:05 AM
  • 7:40 AM
  • 8:15 AM
  • 8:50 AM
  • 10:30 AM
  • 11:30 AM
  • 12:30 PM
  • 1:30 PM
  • 2:30 PM
  • 3:25 PM
  • 4:05 PM
  • 4:45 PM
  • 5:25 PM
  • 6:05 PM
  • 6:45 PM

The West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route departs from West Seattle on Mondays through Thursdays at the following times:

  • 6:15 AM
  • 6:50 AM
  • 7:25 AM
  • 8 AM
  • 8:35 AM
  • 9:10 AM
  • 11 AM
  • 12 PM
  • 1 PM
  • 2 PM
  • 3 PM
  • 3:45 PM
  • 4:25 PM
  • 5:05 PM
  • 5:45 PM
  • 6:25 PM
  • 7:05 PM

On Fridays specifically, there are late evening and night departures on top of the regular schedule. This route departs from Pier 50 on Fridays at the following times:

  • 5:55 AM
  • 6:30 AM
  • 7:05 AM
  • 7:40 AM
  • 8:15 AM
  • 8:50 AM
  • 10:30 AM
  • 11:30 AM
  • 12:30 PM
  • 1:30 PM
  • 2:30 PM
  • 3:25 PM
  • 4:05 PM
  • 4:45 PM
  • 5:25 PM
  • 6:05 PM
  • 6:45 PM
  • 7:30 PM
  • 8:30 PM
  • 9:30 PM
  • 10:45 PM

On Fridays, this route will depart from the West Seattle terminal at the following times:

  • 6:15 AM
  • 6:50 AM
  • 7:25 AM
  • 8 AM
  • 8:35 AM
  • 9:10 AM
  • 11 AM
  • 12 PM
  • 1 PM
  • 2 PM
  • 3 PM
  • 3:45 PM
  • 4:25 PM
  • 5:05 PM
  • 5:45 PM
  • 6:25 PM
  • 7:05 PM
  • 8 PM
  • 9 PM
  • 10 PM
  • 11 PM

The Saturday schedule for this route also has late evening and night runs added on. This route departs on Saturdays from Pier 50 at the half-hour mark of every hour from 8:30 AM to 9:30 PM, except for the last departure which happens at 10:45 PM. This route departs the West Seattle terminal on Saturdays on the hour from 9 AM to 11 PM.

The Sunday schedule for this route is the shortest of all the schedules and has no late evening or night departures. This route departs from Pier 50 at the half-hour mark of every hour from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM. It departs from West Seattle every hour from 9 AM to 7 PM.

On specific holidays, the West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route does not operate at all, including the following:

  • New Years Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day

On some holidays, this route still operates but specifically on the Sunday schedule. This includes the following holidays:

  • Memorial Day
  • Juneteenth
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Indigenous Peoples Day

The Vashon Island-Downtown Seattle Route

Vashon Island shoreline
Vashon Island is rural and a joy to explore (gmc3101/iStock Photo)

Unlike the West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route, the Vashon Island-Downtown Seattle route has no weekend schedule. Instead, it has a schedule that is applied to weekdays only. This schedule is the same every day, operating from 5:30 AM to 7 PM. 

The Vashon Island-Downtown Seattle route departs from Pier 50 at the following times:

  • 5:30 AM
  • 6:38 AM
  • 7:40 AM
  • 4:30 PM
  • 5:30 PM
  • 6:30 PM

The Vashon Island-Downtown Seattle route departs from Vashon Island at the following times:

  • 6:10 AM
  • 7:10 AM
  • 8:15 AM
  • 4:58 PM
  • 5:58 PM
  • 6:58 PM

Like the West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route, the Vashon Island-Downtown Seattle route has certain days during which it will not be running, including the following:

  • New Years Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Juneteenth
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Indigenous Peoples Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day

Things to Do in Vashon Island

Point Robinson Lighthouse
Point Robinson Lighthouse is located near Maury Island Marine Park (Wirestock/iStock Photo)

Vashon Island is big – about half the size of the city of Seattle. Yet, it’s also rural and lightly populated. Across its 36 square miles, it has a little more than 10,000 residents and many vacation homes. It’s important to note that the Vashon Island Ferry Terminal is on the northern end of the island. That’s about a 5-mile drive to Vashon’s commercial district which has restaurants, bakeries, and shops. If you’re looking for things to do after a water taxi trip to Vashon, here are some ideas:

  • Go for a bike ride: With Vashon’s commercial district being about 5 miles from the ferry terminal, that’s a great distance to bike to. There are more than a dozen restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries downtown. A couple of our favorites are Gravy, which has seasonal menus you can access on their website, Camp Colvos Brewing, and the Hardware Store Restaurant.
  • Plan a wine tour: Vashon Island is home to five wineries, two cideries, and a couple of breweries. If you want a short trip from the ferry, the Palouse Winery is located just 1.4 miles away on Vashon Highway.
  • Maury Island Marine Park: Maury Island is a longer commute, taking 30 minutes by car (or about 12 miles) from the ferry terminal, but it’s well worth the visit. The park has scenic beaches that are perfect for a warm summer day and trails across more than 320 acres of space.

Water Taxi Vessels

Each route has its own designated water taxi vessel. The MV Sally Fox and the MV Doc Maynard have been in operation since 2015 and have a capacity of 278 passengers. The MV Sally Fox operates the Vashon Island-Downtown Seattle route and the MV Doc Maynard runs on the West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route. The West Seattle-Downtown Seattle route has an additional smaller vessel, the Spirit of Kingston, that can hold up to 149 passengers.

Ashleigh on ferry Island hopping.

Hi, I'm Ashleigh! Welcome to Seattle Travel, my little piece of beautiful PNW. This is home and I'm here to share all my experiences so visitors and locals alike can find the best experiences this part of the country has to offer. I started Seattle Travel in 2012 as a way to journal my experiences and over the years have been encouraged by family and friends to open up my adventures to everyone. I actively seek out the best food, activities, and day trips and give you a local perspective.  The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful areas in the world and my goal is to let you explore it to the fullest. 


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