Today we’ve gathered 5 hidden Tacoma, Washington neighborhoods. Each one offers a unique waterfront living experience away from the mainstream. The neighborhoods are Titlow Beach, Salmon Beach, Day Island, Commencement Bay/ Marine View Drive, and Thea Foss.

These hidden Tacoma neighborhoods are ideal for people who are attracted to the natural beauty and waterfront access that the Pacific Northwest offers. Many people know about neighborhoods like Point Ruston or Tacoma’s Old Town neighborhood. We have outlined dozens of Tacoma Waterfront Neighborhoods in our Tacoma Neighborhood Guide. We are going to go deep into a few of Tacoma’s lesser known waterfront neighborhoods.

Why Choose a Hidden Waterfront Neighborhood in Tacoma?

People choose to live in these hidden Tacoma neighborhoods because they are special! It can be challenging to find a home to buy in many of these waterfront neighborhoods. They’re small and in many of these Tacoma neighborhoods homes don’t come up very often. Some people wait for years for the opportunity to own a home in these unique Tacoma neighborhoods. Why is that?

  • Living in these smaller waterfront spots offers a kind of privacy, close-knit community, and water views not found in many places elsewhere in the area.
  • These neighborhoods are ideal for people who are looking to live off the beaten path and yet be in close commuting distance to the City of Tacoma, SeaTac Airport, or JBLM. If you’re looking for tranquility and access to nature in Tacoma these spots cannot be beat.

Overview of Tacoma’s Waterfront Neighborhoods

Tacoma is surrounded by The Puget Sound. Commencement Bay is full of seals, sea lions, orca whales, and occasionally gray whales. There is no shortage of salt water and sunset water views in the City of Tacoma. Check out our blog post, “Water view neighborhoods in Tacoma” for more information about the many large waterfront neighborhoods in Tacoma and the surrounding cities. This highlights neighborhoods such as Stadium District, Old Town, University Place, Pt. Ruston, Ruston, West Slope, Downtown Tacoma, and Hillside. These are neighborhoods that are pretty large and pretty well known in Tacoma. While these well-known areas offer their own allure, Tacoma’s lesser-known waterfront neighborhoods hold unique charms waiting to be discovered.

The Hidden Neighborhoods

The hidden waterfront neighborhoods we’re looking at today are Titlow Beach, Salmon Beach, Day Island, Browns Point Waterfront, and the Thea Foss Waterway. These are Tacoma neighborhoods on the water that are a little harder to find information on. If you’re moving to Tacoma and looking for Tacoma neighborhoods that are a less well known you should definitely check these out.

1. Titlow Beach

A photo of the Titlow Beach waterfront neighborhood of Tacoma Washington taken from the water. A row of houses on piers perch above the waters of the puget sound.

Tacoma’s Titlow Beach is located at the bottom of the West Slope of Tacoma, Washington on the Puget Sound. Homes in Titlow Beach look out towards The Narrows Bridge, Day Island, Gig Harbor, and the Olympic Mountains.  Titlow Beach is characterized by homes built on piers along the water. It’s a unique area with limited home sales.

  • Location and Overview: There are a row of homes, apartments, and condominiums along Puget Sound with views of Day Island and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The community has a beach, community center, park, and water play area. These public areas are run by Metro Parks Tacoma.
  • What Makes It Unique: There is a small boardwalk with a view of the Narrows Bridge, Day Island, Fox Island, and Gig Harbor. Titlow beach itself is a popular area for scuba diving and cold plunging.
  • Living Experience: The homes along Titlow are built on piers right on the water. The Narrows Marina is located right there so people can dock their boats or lease boathouse space right outside their front doors.
  • Restaurants: Narrows Brewing, Boathouse 19, and The Beach Tavern are all located steps from the houses along Titlow Beach. Boathouse 19 has deck seating with views of the Narrows Marina and Narrows Bridge.
  • Median Home Price: When I ran the numbers for Titlow Beach homes along the waterfront there were only two sales in the last five years. One for 600k and one for 365k. They come up rarely and the price is really dependent on the size and condition of the home.

2. Salmon Beach

The waterfront neighborhood of Salmon Beach in Tacoma Washington photographed from the water. A row of cedar shake homes built on piers right on the Puget Sound in the North Tacoma area.

The Salmon Beach neighborhood is located just south of Point Defiance Park. The Salmon Beach neighborhood features cedar shake houses built on piers. It’s known for its close community. The homes unique and slightly isolated location requires residents to navigate stairs and use a garbage boat. The neighborhood has stunning views and direct nature access.

  • Location and Overview: Salmon Beach is made up of 82 homes running along a mile of the shore below Point Defiance Park.
  • What Makes It Unique: Salmon Beach is fully privately owned, so you know have to know someone to visit. The neighborhood owns the parking lot at the top of the hill where residents park their cars. They follow a staircase down to the row of homes built on the water along the shore of the sound.
  • Living Experience: Living in Salmon Beach is a totally unique experience for waterfront living in Tacoma. Homes on Salmon Beach have unmatched access to the water, wildlife, and sunset views. There is no other neighborhood in Tacoma like it.
  • Restaurants: Salmon Beach does not have any businesses in the neighborhood. The town of Ruston and its coffee shops and restaurants are the closest option for Salmon Beach residents.
  • Median Home Price: Like Titlow Beach there have been very few sales in this neighborhood over the last decade. Homes have recently sold for around $600K. That said, due to the unique nature of the homes and the community sales must be financed by a lender who understands these homes. Contact us if you’d like help finding a home for sale in Salmon Beach or if you need to figure out how to finance one!

3. Day Island

Day Island Neighborhood of Tacoma Washington photographed from above. The island is narrow, only a few homes wide.

  • Location and Overview: Technically Day Island is in University Place, NOT Tacoma. That said it is so interesting and special we couldn’t leave it off the list. Homes on the west side of Day Island have commanding views of Olympic Mountains, Narrows, Islands, sunsets. The east side of the island has water views of the Marina and Titlow Beach and of course twinkling waterfront lights at night. The neighborhoods within this neighborhood are South Spit, West and East boulevards.
  • What Makes It Unique: The island has the Day Island Yacht Club for use by members.This includes moorage for storing and repairing boats as well as facilities and events all year long. There is also a community center on the island for Day Island Residents to join.
  • Living Experience: The Day Island Club  is an Island social club where folks in the neighborhood meet and work together for the betterment of the island. They work to keep up the club building, the island entrance park, and neighborhood events such as the Christmas Pancake Breakfast with Santa and The Easter Egg Hunt with the Easter Bunny. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, there is Holiday lighting in the park.
  • Restaurants: Day Island is convenient to all of the restaurants and grocery stores like Harbor Greens, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s available in University Place.
  • Median Home Price: 1.8 Million – Only 3 homes have sold in the last year. Two were waterfront and one was water view. They were all on the west side of the island which tends to have higher sales prices due to the views of the water, Gig Harbor, and the Olympics.

What’s it like living on Day Island?

What we loved about living on Day Island is that it felt peaceful and set away from everything but was still super close to restaurants, shops, and schools in University Place. There are very few places in the Tacoma area where you can live right on the waterfront. We could paddleboard from our backyard. The wildlife was spectacular, from bald eagles and blue herons to seals and otters.

The close-knit community has a shared clubhouse that you can rent out cheaply and they often host various holiday get-togethers. Best kept secret: public beach access at 19th St W and Day Island Blvd W via a small trail. You’ll often see scuba divers emerging from the depths there. A word of caution if you’re looking to buy: make sure the house you’re eyeing sits above the high tide line, as recent king tides have left some homes soggy. – Jennifer B. Day Island Homeowner

4. Browns Point Waterfront

A photo of a row of homes in the Browns Point waterfront neighborhood of Tacoma Washington at sunset with the port of tacoma and commencement bay in the background.

  • Location and Overview: While the Browns Point neighborhood has many areas the part we are focussing on here is the waterfront homes along Marine View Drive.
  • What Makes It Unique: Homes along the waterfront in Browns Point have views of the city of Tacoma from the west, as well as views of Mt. Rainier and the Port of Tacoma.
  • Living Experience: There are a variety of types of homes along Commencement Bay.  Many of these homes have no bank waterfront and private docks. The location is convenient to both Downtown Seattle (40 minutes) AND Downtown Tacoma (20 minutes). SeaTac airport is a half an hour away.
  • Median Home Price: Homes in this waterfront neighborhood of Browns Point can be notoriously hard to price. While only a few homes have sold in recent years the sold prices range from 900k-950k.

5. Thea Foss Waterway

The thea foss waterway of tacoma washington with the tacoma skyline reflected in the waters of commencement bay

  • Location and Overview: Located along the Downtown Tacoma waterfront, the Thea Foss Waterway only has a few buildings where people can buy condos or rent apartments. Those buildings are Thea’s Landing (apartments with penthouse loft condos), The Esplanade (Luxury Condominiums), The Henry (apartments), and Albers Mill Lofts (loft apartments for rent). You can learn more about the Esplanade and Thea’s Landing here.
  • What Makes It Unique: Thea Foss is a waterfront neighborhood located in the City of Tacoma’s downtown, that’s unique! In addition the neighborhood includes a museum, the Museum of Glass. And the Washington State History Museum and Tacoma Art Museum are located just across the glass bridge from the Thea Foss neighborhood, as is the rest of Downtown Tacoma. Dock Street Marina welcomes yachts up to 120 feet and offers both guest moorage and permanent moorage. So you can live in the condos or apartments and keep your boat at the dock, or have friends from Seattle visit you by boat.
  • Living Experience: The waterway separates Downtown Tacoma from the Port of Tacoma. So sounds from the port are inevitable. There is a public esplanade along the waterfront that is amazing on sunny days or for taking walks. There
  • Median Home Price: $535K for Condos in The Esplanade and Thea’s Landing.

Benefits of Waterfront Living in Tacoma

Of course living on the water (in Tacoma or anywhere) is great for quality of life. But it’s more than just a general feeling of well-being. Scientists have studied people living on water. Research has shown that being near water makes people more creative and increases feelings of well-being. Nature sounds (like ocean waves) tamp down the body’s fight-or-flight response. The sounds of water also stimulate the relaxation-inducing parasympathetic response. So living on the water ANYWHERE is beneficial.

How to Buy a Waterfront Home in Tacoma

If there’s one thing almost all of these neighborhoods all have in common is that on market sales are rare. People often sell to their friends or put the word out with other neighbors in the community. With very unique Tacoma neighborhoods like these it is imperative to find a real estate agent with experience closing transactions in the community you’re looking at. These homes are complex and include issues of waterfront, shoreline rights, hillsides, flood insurance, and special financing. Working with someone with experience will ensure you have a positive outcome and are able to purchase your waterfront home with your eyes wide open!

Here at we’ve helped hundreds of people moving to Tacoma find a Tacoma real estate agent who specializes in the type of property they are looking for. Finding this kind of specialized agent is what we do, at no cost to you. If you’d like to setup a call with creator Marguerite click here. Just let Marguerite know what type of home and agent you’re looking for and she will find you someone with expertise at no cost to you!

The Dark Side of Waterfront Homes in Tacoma

Looking at Tacoma’s hidden waterfront neighborhoods? They’re beautiful, but there’s something important to think about: insurance, especially for floods. Living near water means there’s a bigger chance of flooding, which can make insurance cost more. Before you choose a home, it’s smart to talk to insurance agents. They can tell you about flood risks and how much flood insurance might cost. Checking flood zone maps is also a good idea. This way, you know all about the costs and risks before you decide. Finding a dream home by the water in Tacoma is great, just make sure you’re ready for everything that comes with it.

For many of the homes and neighborhoods we’ve featured in this post there are only certain lenders and insurers that will work with these properties. Working with a real estate agent who already know the inspectors, lenders, and insurers that can properly inspect help you close on these properties is essential.


One of the big perks of living in the Tacoma area is the incredible number of waterfront and water view neighborhoods that we have. Some of them are small and hidden like Titlow Beach Day Island, Browns Point Waterfront, Thea Foss, and Salmon Beach. These hidden neighborhoods can be complex to purchase in and homes might not come up very often. Other waterfront neighborhoods in Tacoma and across Pierce County have a lot more homes for sale at a variety of prices. I hope this blog post has helped you better understand the unique allure of Tacoma’s hidden waterfront neighborhoods and inspired you to find your perfect place in Tacoma.

Helping people find their place in Tacoma is what we do here! If you’d like help finding your perfect neighborhood and a real estate agent who specializes in what you’re looking for, click here to speak with Marguerite.

Picture of Tacoma Realtor Marguerite Martin with text that reads "Ready to move to tacoma?" Contact Marguerite Marguerite has been a real estate agent in Tacoma for more than 18 years. She can introduce you to the best agents in town, at no cost to you!