Explore Best Places for Kayaking in Washington State

The 5 Best Places for Kayaking in Washington State (2023 Guide)

Uncover the top kayaking spots in Washington, where you can traverse various bodies of water and take in stunning views. With its vast array of lakes, rivers, and coastal areas, Washington offers countless opportunities for both beginners and experienced paddlers to explore beautiful waters.

For a unique kayaking experience in Washington State, explore five exceptional destinations that are sure to leave a lasting impression. From the enchanting San Juan Islands with their abundant marine life to the thrilling rapids of Deception Pass State Park, each destination offers unique experiences tailored to your preferences.

Whether you’re seeking serene lake settings or challenging river adventures, continue reading as we unveil these hidden gems throughout Western and Eastern Washington that promise unforgettable kayaking excursions.

Kayaking in the San Juan Islands

Exploring the San Juan Islands by kayak offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Kayaking in the San Juan Islands of Washington offers a unique and captivating experience, with gorgeous scenery and plentiful wildlife.

Lake Washington

For starters, Lake Washington is one of the best places for kayaking around Seattle. The lake has plenty of boat traffic but it’s still peaceful enough to enjoy your paddle past all the beautiful places along its shoreline including Alki Beach Park and Horseshoe Lake. Renting a kayak here will give you a unique perspective on some of Seattle’s favorite places while providing hours of fun in calm waters.

Eastern Washington Lakes

Head east and explore Eastern Washington with a kayak trip on Lake Sammamish or head north up to Lake Crescent near Port Angeles where you can stay at Log Cabin Resort and take guided tours through the area’s clear waters.

There are also several spots in between that offer great opportunities for paddling such as Ballard Locks, South Side Marina, Harbor Seals Park, and Friday Harbor on Orcas Island just off the coast from Anacortes. All these locations provide amazing views of both Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains so don’t forget your camera.

For those looking for a more local experience, Lake Union is just steps away from downtown Seattle and provides an array of boat rental options with knowledgeable guides to help you explore the area. You can rent kayaks here or even take guided tours if needed as there are plenty of experienced guides available who know all about navigating these waters safely – plus they usually know some secret spots too.

Kayaking in the San Juan Islands offers a thrilling journey into Washington State’s stunning landscape, with an enjoyable experience for all kayakers regardless of skill level. Heading out to the Puget Sound, we’ll take a peek at what kayaking can provide.

The Key Takeaway: Explore the stunning views and abundant wildlife of Washington State with kayaking trips on lakes such as Lake Sammamish, Lake Crescent near Port Angeles, Ballard Locks or even downtown Seattle’s own Lake Union. Whether you rent a boat or take a guided tour, get ready to paddle through some of nature’s best-kept secrets.

Kayaking in Puget Sound

Puget Sound is a beautiful and tranquil place to explore by kayak. With its calm waters, numerous islands, and abundant wildlife, it’s the perfect destination for any outdoor enthusiast.

Kayaking in Puget Sound can offer a plethora of experiences, varying with the chosen location. Paddle through Haro Strait and take in the sights of Vancouver Island off in the distance or explore one of the many coves that line these remote islands. You may even spot some orcas as they make their way through this passage.

Anderson and McNeil Islands

If you’re looking for something more challenging, head south towards Olympia and paddle around Anderson Island or McNeil Island—two of Washington State’s largest island reserves located within Puget Sound. Here you can navigate narrow passages between rocky outcroppings while taking in breathtaking views from atop your kayak.

If leisurely paddling while observing marine life is more your style, Puget Sound offers an abundance of sheltered bays to explore. Meander around and keep an eye out for seals, otters, sea lions or birds like bald eagles and ospreys perched atop driftwood logs along the shoreline – all while casting a line in search of some excellent catches.


Finally, no trip to Puget Sound would be complete without visiting Deception Pass State Parkthe crown jewel among all Washington parks. It offers incredible panoramic views from either side while paddling under two iconic bridges connecting Whidbey Island with Fidalgo Island below them – a must-see experience when exploring this majestic area by kayak.

Exploring Puget Sound by kayak offers a spectacular view of the environment and potential to uncover secret inlets and coves. For a more inland experience, Lake Chelan is an ideal spot for kayakers looking to paddle through stunning scenery with plenty of wildlife watching opportunities.

The Key Takeaway: Puget Sound offers kayakers a wealth of experiences, from the breathtaking views in Haro Strait to navigating narrow passages around Anderson Island. Deception Pass State Park is an absolute must-see for anyone looking to explore this majestic area by kayak – it’s truly the cream of the crop.

Kayaking in Lake Chelan

Kayaking in Lake Chelan is an experience like no other. The lake’s beauty is unparalleled, its waters sparkling and the Olympic Mountains providing a majestic backdrop. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, kayaking on Lake Chelan offers something for everyone. Renting kayaks from local outfitters makes it easy to explore the lake on your own terms.

The western side of Lake Chelan offers plenty of calm waters perfect for paddling past log cabin resorts and marinas. Be sure to keep an eye out for harbor seals along the way. On the eastern side, you can paddle through boat traffic as you make your way around Friday Harbor and head towards Ballard Locks at Seattle’s South Side. Take a guided tour to experience the wonders of this stunning lake without needing to worry about navigation..

Prepare to be captivated by the beauty of Lake Chelan – kayaking here promises an array of exciting experiences. Whether it’s just taking in some sun while floating around on the glassy surface or getting up close with nature by exploring hidden coves – there are endless possibilities when it comes to kayaking in this stunning location.

Exploring Lake Chelan by kayak is an exciting way to take in the gorgeous scenery and embark on a thrilling journey across the lake. Next, we’ll explore Deception Pass State Park, where you can find some of Washington’s most stunning kayaking routes.

The Key Takeaway: Kayaking in Washington State’s Lake Chelan is an unforgettable experience. From exploring the western side of the lake, to guided tours around Friday Harbor and Seattle’s Ballard Locks, or heading north into San Juan Islands archipelago – there are plenty of opportunities for adventure. Paddle your way through crystal clear waters while taking in breathtaking views – it won’t be long before you’re back again.

Also read: The Absolute 10 Best Kayaking Destinations

Kayaking in Deception Pass State Park

Kayaking in Deception Pass State Park is an unforgettable experience. Its spectacular scenery and winding channels make Deception Pass State Park a top destination for kayakers in Washington. Discover the aquatic beauty of Deception Pass State Park by renting a kayak from various spots, ranging from Lake Washington to Puget Sound. Whether you’re looking for a calm paddle or some boat traffic on the open water, you’ll find something that suits your needs here.

Horseshoe Lake

One of our favorite places to go kayaking is Horseshoe Lake at Alki Beach Park near Seattle. Here you can paddle past the log cabin resort and keep an eye out for harbor seals sunning themselves along the shoreline. For those looking for a more serene experience, try paddling around Orcas Island or head over to Lake Crescent Lodge on South Side Road where clear waters await.


If guided tours are more your style, then look no further than Ballard Locks just outside Seattle which offers guided tours through some beautiful waterways and lakeside parks – perfect for beginner level kayakers. You can also rent boats from several marinas located throughout Western Washington including Lake Union, Sammamish River, Cedar River and many others.

No matter what type of adventure you’re after – whether it be a peaceful morning paddle or an adrenaline-filled day trip – Deception Pass State Park has something special waiting for everyone who visits its shores.

The Key Takeaway: Kayaking in Washington State is an amazing experience, with Deception Pass State Park being a popular spot for those looking to explore the stunning passageways and breathtaking views. Other top spots include Horseshoe Lake at Alki Beach Park near Seattle and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island as well as Ballard Locks just outside of Seattle which offer guided tours through beautiful waterways.

Kayaking on the Columbia River

Kayaking on the Columbia River is an amazing experience for outdoor adventurers of all skill levels. From experienced paddlers to those just starting out, there’s something for everyone along this iconic river. For those seeking a unique experience, the Columbia River provides an abundance of options to explore and traverse its waters.

FAQs About the Best Places for Kayaking in Washington State

Which location is best for kayaking *?

The perfect spot for kayaking depends on what kind of adventure you’re seeking. For experienced kayakers, the ocean offers a wide range of challenges and opportunities with its strong currents, powerful waves, and diverse wildlife.

Whitewater rivers provide an adrenaline-filled ride through rapids while calmer lakes offer a peaceful atmosphere to practice skills or simply enjoy nature’s beauty. The Pacific Northwest is renowned for its abundance of waterways suitable for all levels of paddlers from beginners to experts.

Before hitting the water, it’s important to ensure safety by donning a life jacket and familiarizing yourself with any applicable regulations.

Do you need a permit to kayak in Washington state?

A permit is necessary for kayaking in Washington state. All vessels over 16 feet long must be registered with the Department of Licensing and have an Aquatic Invasive Species sticker before launching into any public waterway.

Non-motorized vessels must be registered for a fee of either $8 annually or $22 triennially. For those planning to camp overnight in a Washington State Park while kayaking, it is necessary to acquire a Discover Pass from the Parks and Recreation Commission.

What is the best kayak for beginners in Puget Sound?

The best kayak for beginners in Puget Sound is the Perception Pescador Pro 10.0 Sit-On-Top Kayak. It’s an all-around great choice, offering stability and comfort on the water with its extra wide hull design and comfortable seating.

The included adjustable foot braces provide a custom fit while the large rear tank well provides plenty of storage space for gear or snacks. Its length makes it easy to maneuver around obstacles while still providing good tracking ability, making it perfect for exploring Puget Sound’s many islands and bays without worry of tipping over or losing control.

Is it safe to kayak in Puget Sound?

Puget Sound is generally a safe place for kayaking, though it is important to take safety measures like wearing a life jacket and monitoring the weather.

Although the waters of Puget Sound are generally placid and the currents not overly powerful, it is still essential to take safety measures such as donning a life vest and checking weather forecasts prior to embarking on your voyage. However, visitors should always take safety precautions such as wearing a life jacket and checking weather conditions before setting out on their adventure.

Furthermore, it is important to stay away from any regions that may have restricted access or be inhabited by potentially dangerous wildlife. With the right preparations and understanding of the area, kayaking in Puget Sound can be a thrilling experience.


Washington state is an incredible place for kayaking, offering stunning views and plenty of wildlife to spot along the way. From the San Juan Islands in the north to Lake Chelan in central Washington, kayakers can experience a wide range of breathtaking landscapes and exciting wildlife.

Deception Pass State Park offers a unique experience with its winding waterways and rugged coastline while paddling on Columbia River provides ample opportunities for exploration as well as fishing. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing paddle or an adrenaline-filled adventure, there’s something here that will satisfy all levels of skill and experience.

Discover the best kayaking spots in Washington State with SunWaterDirt.com! Our expert-curated blog provides detailed information and tips to help you plan your next outdoor adventure.

Similar Posts