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Natural splendor and vibrant city life make Seattle a leading destination for vacationers, thanks to the city's proximity to Emerald City's verdant woods and the very first Starbucks. Getting out on the river and seeing Seattle from a different perspective is undoubtedly the most acceptable thing to do, regardless of whether you are just passing through or calling Seattle your permanent home. A day spent kayaking in Seattle is well spent; with views of rocky shorelines, the city skyline, and islands covered in pine trees, the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest is breathtaking.
There are a lot of places to go kayaking in and around Seattle, and many of them are geared toward people who are just starting or families. There is no lack of locations to explore, and the best news is that most of them are free to use. There are options for lake and sea kayaking, so there is no shortage of places to explore. To assist you in organizing your subsequent journey, including canoeing or kayaking on the water, we have written this in-depth information on the most stunning locations in the Seattle area for such activities.
South Lake Union is the location
Rentals Available: Yes- at Agua Verde Paddle Club ($20/hour)
You may make some new friends—like newborn turtles—while you're enjoying the sun and kayaking about in Lake Union. Lake Union is famed for its abundant fauna, including turtles, which are considered excellent paddling companions since they hide among the lily pads. The expansiveness of Lake Union's waters makes it an ideal location for families looking to carve out their area on the lake.
It doesn't matter whether you want to get in a fast paddle after work or spend the entire day on the water; Lake Union is ideal for paddlers of all skill levels and is well-known for the picturesque views it offers of the colorful homes that surround the lake's banks. Paddling across Portage Bay and then making their way to the Washington Park Arboretum through the Montlake Cut is a gratifying experience for experienced kayakers. You might even kayak the other way and get to Gas Works Park for a vista of downtown Seattle that is out of this world.
The Agua Verde Paddle Club is the company that offers rental services at this spot, and the hourly rate is $20. If you prefer to bring your boat or hire one from the club, the launch place they provide is ideal. In any case, Lake Union is a perfect location to see the city of Seattle from the water's perspective.
To get there by car, follow the I-5 north to Lakeview Boulevard East, then turn right onto Fairfield Avenue East, and you will be at the lake. If you don't feel like driving, you may take the Seattle Streetcar from downtown Seattle to Lake Union, and it also links to the rest of the Metro Transit system.
Position: Between the state of Washington and the island of Vancouver
Rentals are available, and they may be found at San Juan Kayak Expeditions and Outer Island Excursions.
Why see whales from a cumbersome boat when you can get much closer to them while paddling a kayak? The San Juan Islands are the best place to go kayaking if you want to observe harbor seal pups and whales at the same time.
Visitors may even kayak to the stunning Point Doughty State Park if they want to, as the port's pristine shorelines provide an excellent paddling route around the harbor. The San Juan Islands are a terrific place to go kayaking for paddlers of all skill levels; however, owing to the waves on the ocean, sea kayaking may be a little more complicated than lake kayaking.
There are TONS of guided excursions available to ensure that your time spent paddling in the San Juan Islands is one that you will never forget. Paddlers had a great time on trips offered by San Juan Kayak Expeditions and Outer Island Excursions that depart from Smuggler's Villa Resort. Because so many excursions pass through this location, it can get congested. Make it a point to get an early start if you want to take in Seattle's breathtaking views.
How to Go There: If you travel by car, get on I-5 North and exit at 230 for Burlington. From there, get on Highway 20 and continue until you reach Anacortes and the ferry. It is strongly suggested that you arrive at the Anacortes Boat Terminal at least one hour before the ferry's scheduled departure (which costs $13). If you are not going to be driving yourself to the ferry terminal, airport shuttles from SeaTac will drop you off there.
West Seattle is the location
Rentals Available: Yes- at Alki Kayak Tours ($20/hour)
Take on the swells at Alki Beach and prove your mettle! The seas off of Alki Beach's coastline are very calm and open, making it an ideal location for paddlers of all experience levels. Because it is accessible for the most part throughout the day, Alki Beach is a perfect location for a sunset paddle.
You can paddle to the Alki Lighthouse or take a leisurely sail in Elliott Bay. This beach, which offers a lot of open space, is a beautiful haven for those who want to escape the city and come in touch with the natural world around them. On a first-come, first-served basis, Alki Kayak Excursions provides both guided tours and kayak rentals at $20 per hour. Because this is a public beach, guests are always urged to bring their boats and launch them directly off the shore.
To get there by car, begin on Highway 99 South and take the exit for the West Seattle Bridge. From there, travel Harbor Avenue until you reach Alki Avenue Southwest. If you don't want to drive, you may use buses 50 and 775, or the C Line, to go to the beach.
Sand Point is the location
Rentals Available: Yes- at Sail Sand Point ($20/hour)
Magnuson Park is the perfect location for novice paddlers hoping to develop their abilities due to the calm waters of Lake Washington. Magnuson Park is an excellent destination for families due to the clear waters found there. Paddling around Lake Washington is likely to be an exciting experience because of the birds that dive down to grab fish. There is a regular presence of sailboats and kayaks on the lake, resulting in forming a community of paddlers on the water.
Sail Sand Point, the community boathouse for the city of Seattle, is located at this park on Lake Washington. Both Sail Sand Point and REI are located here, and both businesses provide paddle instruction and hourly boat rentals for $20. Magnuson Park is the most fantastic location on Lake Washington to launch your boat, so if that's something you're interested in doing, go on there.
How to Go There: If you are traveling by car, get on I-5 North towards Kirkland and exit at Montlake Boulevard East. Follow Sand Point Way NE until you reach your destination. If you do not like to drive, you can take bus 62, 75, or SCH-GOLD straight to the park and the tram from SeaTac (which will cost you $3).
North Bend is the location
There are rentals available, and they are located in North Bend Outside.
Rattlesnake Lake, owned and administered by Seattle Public Utilities and takes great satisfaction in giving fresh water to the city of Seattle throughout the year, serves as a source of spring-fed water for more than 80,000 people on an annual basis.
Extensive tree root systems and fish schools become visible at low water levels. If you are searching for an after-paddle excursion that involves trekking, the nearby Rattlesnake Trail is an excellent choice. Because this lake is relatively shallow, it is perfect for novices. The Cedar River Watershed Educational Center provides classes for anyone interested in the history of the lake and the lake itself.
Rattlesnake River and the surrounding Snoqualmie River are two rivers serviced by North Bend Outside, a fresh new rental business in the area. You may contact us at (425) 652-7325 if you are interested in renting equipment. At the Rattlesnake River, launching your boat is an option available to you.
To get there by car, take Interstate 5 south towards Spokane, then take Interstate 90 east towards Cedar Falls Road Southeast. If you do not have access to a vehicle, bus lines 628 and 554 will drop you off about ten minutes outside the park at the cost of seven dollars.
Beacon Hill is the location
Rentals Available: Yes
The Lakes to Locks Trail is ideal for day trips for those interested in kayaking since it has over one hundred locations where boats may be launched. This river takes you through the natural splendor of hidden coves and the urban scenery that surrounds them, and it does so seamlessly.
Going from Lakes to Locks This trail passes through three lakes: Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Lake Sammamish. To some point, hikers will arrive at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, the end at which the pure water of the lakes and the salt water of the Puget Sound come together. Paddleboarders of all skill levels will find something to their liking in this location since there is so much variety.
Lakes to Locks is a one-of-a-kind kayaking journey that combines lake and ocean paddling in a single adventure, thanks to its extensive waterways spanning hundreds of kilometers. Lakes to Locks is connected with several other businesses in the region that, depending on where you choose to paddle, may provide you with rental equipment and guided tours of the area.
To get there by car, take Madison Street in the direction of 4th Avenue, turn into Emerson Street, and finally make your way to W Commodore Way. If you don't have a car, you may get near the lake by using any of the following bus lines: 24, 44, or D. You may also get here by using the train that runs between Lakewood and Seattle on the Sounder Lakewood-Seattle line.
Kirkland is the location.
Rentals Available: You may rent one from Moss Bay Rentals for $15 an hour.
Regarding kayaking in Seattle, Moss Bay is your best choice. You can paddle across the Bay in only sixty minutes and view the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle, and Gasworks Park. The secure environment of Moss Bay, which may be found at the most southern point of Lake Union, is ideal for novices. Paddling through Moss Bay's wide network of one-of-a-kind houseboats will allow you to experience urban paddling.
Moss Bay Rentals provides some of the most reasonably priced opportunities to go kayaking in the region, with rates as low as $15 per hour. This region sees very little activity from motorized vessels as a direct result of the presence of houseboats. Because of its proximity to Seattle's urban core, Moss Bay is often regarded as the city's most user-friendly and secure location for paddleboarding.
How to Go There: If you are traveling by car, get on Interstate 5 North and exit 167 to the left to get on Mercer Street, heading toward Seattle Center. Take Fairview Avenue North until you reach Yale Avenue. If you do not have access to a vehicle, Moss Bay's metro station at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Marion Street is active throughout the day.
The marina is located in Shilshole Bay
Rentals Available: Yes- at Ballard Kayak ($20/hour)
A really one-of-a-kind kayaking experience may be had in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, located on the Ship Canal's beaches. This is because the shoreline connects to the rough Ballard Locks.
Due to the abundance of leaping salmon in the area, kayaking at Ballard is a high-energy activity best suited for paddlers with more excellent expertise. Paddling close to the shore is a good choice for novice paddlers since paddling along the Ballard Locks may be challenging to maneuver and paddling through the Ballard Locks.
Ballard Kayak excursions include passage through the Ballard Locks and trips to Puget Sound and Discovery Point. These tours provide a secure means of navigating the Ballard Locks. You may bring your boat and launch it for free, or you can hire a kayak for twenty dollars an hour.
To get there by car, take Madison Street in the direction of 4th Avenue, take 15th Avenue Northwest, and finally make your way to Seaview Avenue Northwest. If you don't feel like driving, you may take any of the following buses: 17, 44, or 45. Alternately, you might ride the tram from the SeaTac airport.
Tacoma is the location
Rentals are available, and they cost $25 for two hours at the Foss Harbor Marina.
Those searching for a peaceful location to explore Point Defiance Park, Ruston Way, and the tidal flats in the industrial part of Seattle may find Foss Harbor Marina tucked away on the outskirts of Commencement Bay to be a hidden treasure.
The protected waters from large boats and waves are a significant draw for visitors to this location, which is also famous for a fast paddle around the park. As a result, Foss Harbor is an excellent location for novices and those searching for a low-key environment to hone their abilities. The best place to look for wild animals is often closer to the tidal flats.
It is one of the most affordable options since rentals can be obtained via the Foss Harbor Marina for just $25 for two hours. Foss Harbor Marina is a beautiful place to go kayaking alone or with a companion since they rent out both single and double kayaks.
To get there by car, drive the I-5 south towards SeaTac Airport and exit the City Center/Dock Street exit. From there, follow Dock Street to your destination. If you don't want to drive, you may take a tram from King Street Station to Commerce Street Station, and then it's about a 0.8 kilometers walk to get to the port (closest drop-off stop).
Rentals are available, and they cost $18 per hour at Issaquah Paddle Sports.
Lake Sammamish State Park, located only 15 miles east of Seattle, is undeniably a popular destination for enthusiastic canoeists and kayakers. Spending the day at Lake Sammamish will never be dull since it has a gorgeous boardwalk, playgrounds, hiking trails, and many other activities.
The Sammamish River and the lake are excellent places for visitors to go canoeing or kayaking since they provide enough space and have primarily calm waters. Even though the waves on the lake are often not too difficult for novices or families, the lake has a reputation for accommodating those just starting. This summer in Seattle, Sammamish is the ideal location for kayaking due to the abundance of animals and the picturesque residences that line the beach.
Issaquah Paddle Sports is situated on Sammamish's Tibbetts Beach, a beautiful launch point for personal boats and the ships that are rented from them. During the summer, they give paddlers boat rentals and instruction, and the hourly rate for rentals is $18.
To get there by car, use I-5 South in the direction of Portland, then I-90 East to NW Sammamish Road, and then E Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. If you do not have access to a vehicle, you may get to the lake using bus lines 554 and 888.
Where: in the city of Seattle
Rentals Available: Yes- at Elliot Bay Marina
Elliot Bay has a sheltered harbor and direct access to the open ocean, making it the ideal location. While kayaking around Seattle's Elliot Bay, there is a lot to take in, including distant vistas of Mount Rainier and the city's central business district.
Due to the Bay's connection to Puget Sound, there is a continuous flow of boat traffic that must be avoided. For this reason, kayaking Elliot Bay is best suited for experienced paddlers or those who have a fundamental understanding of boats' regulations.
In light of those, as mentioned above, the Elliot Bay Marina is an excellent launching location for kayaking around Seattle and also provides boat and kayak rental services. In addition, visitors get the opportunity to see dolphins and sea lions; don't miss out!
To get there by car, follow Madison Street in the direction of 4th Avenue, then turn onto Alaskan Way, and you will find yourself at Elliot Bay. If you don't want to drive yourself, you can take any bus lines 11, 2, or 49 to get to the Bay or take the Light Rail LINK.
Ruston is the location
Rentals Available: Yes- at Point Defiance Marina
Owen Beach, which can be found in Point Defiance Park, has fantastic water access, followed by miles and miles of sandy beachfront. Kayaking at Owen Beach is ideal for a stress-free day excursion to the beach since it offers picnic areas and grills.
When paddling, kayakers are strongly advised to stay close to the coastline since ferries tend to cut across the sea farther. You may kayak to Vashon Island, located near Seattle, and take in the sights of the cliffs and hills that emerge right next to the ocean.
Owen Shore is relatively easy to reach and a fantastic location for paddlers of all skill levels because kayak rentals are available right on the beach at Point Defiance Marina.
Directions: If you are traveling by car, use I-5 South toward SeaTac Airport, and then take I-705 North Waterfront Drive to reach the beach. When you do not have access to a vehicle, you can take Buses 10 or 11, or the tram line starts at King Street Station and terminates at Point Defiance Park if you don't have a vehicle.
Gig Harbor is the location
There are rentals available; you can find them at Gig Harbor SUP & Kayak Rentals for $10 per hour.
Gig Harbor is located on the other side of the Narrows Bridge, and it is a wonderfully sheltered place that is ideal for anybody who wishes to explore the calmer waters of Puget Sound. Because kayaking on Seattle's outer borders of Puget Sound may be challenging, Gig Harbor offers a fantastic alternative closer to shore.
Paddling the Gig Harbor Lighthouse at the south end of the harbor, where there is a sandbar that serves as the ideal location for a snack and a brief dip, is a popular tourist activity. Also, keep an eye out for the Venetian gondola that is moored close to the Sound; it is said that seeing it brings good luck.
At the location on Randell Dr., where boats may be launched for free, Gig Harbor SUP & Kayak Rentals offers excursions and rentals at a rate of ten dollars per hour.
To get there by car, travel I-5 south toward SeaTac Airport, exit 132B into Gig Harbor, and continue on Harborview Drive until you reach your destination. If you don't feel like driving, a bus leaves from 2nd Avenue and Cherry Street four times a day and goes directly to Gig Harbor, and the fare is four dollars.
Olympia is the location
Cost: $20 for kayaking
Rentals Available: No
It seems too good to be true that there will be food and kayaking included in the trip. Tug Boat Annie's is a cafe situated on the river, and it provides kayak tours that include either breakfast or lunch and lasts for two hours. Visitors can eat or paddle first, and they get to see beautiful views of Olympia and taste the famous cuisine of the local diner afterward. Paddling first allows visitors to see the city from a different perspective (the clam chowder is highly recommended).
It doesn't matter if you're just passing through Seattle or living there permanently; you must schedule some time to stop by Tug Boat Annie's. This experience, which is perfect for families, is sure to satiate your hunger for a good kayaking session and a good meal.
To get there by car, take I-5 South toward SeaTac Airport, exit 105 for Port of Olympia, and Olympic Way to W Bay Drive Northwest. If you don't have a car, you can take the bus that leaves from 2nd Avenue and Cherry Street and drops you off just one mile away from Tugboat Annie's.
Southworth is the location
Rentals Available: Yes, at Olympic Outdoor Rentals, where rates start at $20 per hour.
Even though it's just a mile from the Southworth and Vashon ferry ports, Blake Island State Park seems like it's located on the other side of the planet due to its location in the middle of Puget Sound. This trip does not require a lot of physical exertion. However, it is highly advised that you go with a companion.
Depending on where you launch your boat, the distance you must paddle to reach Blake Island is around one mile. The Southworth, Voshen, and Manchester Ferry ports are among the most used launch places since they are free (all 1-2 miles from Blake Island). Once you reach your destination, you can paddle back or spend the night at one of the three camping spots on the island.
In the neighborhood of Southworth, Olympic Outdoor Rentals is the place to go to rent a kayak for $20 an hour. Kayakers searching for an experience that is both convenient and close to Seattle can go no farther than Blake Island.
To get there by car, follow I-5 South in the direction of SeaTac Airport, then take the West Seattle Bridge to the SW Barton St/Fauntleroy Boat Terminal, and from there, take the ferry to Port Orchard. If you don't have access to a vehicle, you may take the Downtown Seattle Fremont tram 62 to the Port Orchard Ferry Terminal and get a boat to Blake Island from there.
Tacoma is the location
There are rentals available; you can find them at Gig Harbor SUP & Kayak Rentals for $10 per hour.
Titlow Beach is located just south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and has calm seas and sandy beaches. Titlow Beach is an excellent place for paddlers of all levels since it is terrific for getting in a fast paddle and resting in the sun.
When it comes to sights to see while kayaking around Seattle, Titlow Beach offers some of the best, including vistas of the Narrows Bridge and the Olympic Peninsula. This little beach provides a laid-back atmosphere ideal for paddlers wishing to relax and enjoy the peace of their surroundings.
Visitors can launch their boats at a tiny spot across Steamer's Seafood Cafe or rent equipment from Gig Harbor SUP & Kayak Rentals for only $10 per hour.
To get there by car, take I-5 South in the direction of SeaTac Airport, exit 132B toward Gig Harbor, and finally, make your way to N Jackson Avenue. If you don't want to drive, you may use bus lines 100 and 2 to go to the beach.
Port Townsend is the location
Rentals Available: You can do so at Port Townsend Paddlesports (the hourly rate is $17)
Port Townsend Bay, which can be found at the head of Puget Sound, is a sea kayaker's paradise and is accessible to paddlers of all skill levels. Kayaking around Port Townsend provides a one-of-a-kind perspective of Fort Worden, Old Fort Townsend, and Marrowstone Island, located on the Olympic Peninsula, which boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.
Both Mystery Island and Indian Bay are well-known destinations within the Bay because they highlight the natural splendor that can be found in the Northeast. Port Townsend Paddlesports is the only company that rents out paddleboards, and the company requires renters to be at least 14 years old. In addition, there are free launch sites located all around the Bay.
The easiest way to get there is to drive to the Seattle Ferry Terminal, where you may catch the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Once you get to Bainbridge Island, continue on WA-20 E until you reach Discovery Road. If you don't feel like driving, you can take one of the two trips that the Dungeness Bus Line makes daily from Edmonds, Kingston, or SeaTac.
What to Bring When Canoeing or Kayaking in Seattle and Its Surrounding Waters
Swimsuit: It is very necessary to wear a swimsuit if you are in or near the water. It is advisable to prepare yourself to get wet if you are planning to go canoeing or kayaking since there is a good possibility you will.
Sunglasses: Spending time on the water is relaxing and enjoyable, but the water's surface may reflect a lot of light. You must remember to have a spare pair of sunglasses and croakies to secure them in place.
Wearing a hat can help keep you more relaxed by shielding your head from the sun's rays. Whether you go for a classic baseball cap or a stylish bucket hat, making sure you stay calm is the key to having a fantastic vacation.
Water Bottle: It's important to stay hydrated during the day! Paddling is a terrific way to get some exercise and unwind, but because of its physical demands, it cannot be considered a passive activity. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated during the duration of your journey by using these stylish water bottles.
Put on sunscreen and bug spray; you don't want the elements to prevent you from having an excellent paddle. As you are going to be on a boat, it is highly recommended that you bring sunscreen and bug spray to protect yourself from sunburns and insect bites.
Check out our ultimate kayaking packing list for a more comprehensive packing guide that will assist you in getting ready for any of your upcoming outdoor kayaking experiences. Your time spent canoeing and kayaking will be an adventure you won't soon forget if you bring along these necessities.