Where To Go Kayaking in Western Washington

Western Washington is home to the hustle and bustle of the city, but that doesn’t mean there are no beautiful pieces of paradise sprinkled throughout the area. The west side is scattered with serene lakes and surrounded by coastal views. With an incredible national park on the peninsula and the stunning shorelines of the Puget Sound, you are sure to have an incredible float.

Places to Kayak in Western Washington

Don’t let the cities fool you, the west side is full of places to paddle and relax for a day of fun and adventure. 

san juan islands

San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands are home to some of the best kayaking spots Washington has to offer. Known for its whale watching, you may find yourself paddling among a pod of whales. 

There are lots of guided tours and rentals to choose from so be sure to look into some of those tours if you are interested. But if you’re looking to venture out on your own, a great place to start is Point Doughty and Obstruction State Park

It is always best to get out on the water early if you’re looking to avoid the other tours and have a little bit more peace and quiet while exploring these glorious waters.

alki beach

Alki Beach Park

Although you may have to deal with the busy boat traffic of Puget Sound, the sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains will make this trip to Alki Beach Park well worth it. Visiting Alki makes a great day for family and friends both on and off the lake with amenities like hiking trails, picnic tables, volleyball courts, swimming, and rentals. 

lodge dock

Lake Crescent

The clear waters of Lake Crescent reflect the Olympic Mountains that surround it. The calm waters deserve a weekend stay as there is so much to explore. There is Fairholme campground nearby where you can wake up to views of the water, equipped with 87 campsites. 

However, camping is not your only option. There are several other lodging options including the Lake Crescent Lodge and The Log Cabin Resort. You’ll want to be in the area for two to three days to really take in all the aspects Lake Crescent has to offer. 

Aside from soaking in the sun, exploring the lake via kayak, and relaxing, you should consider making a trip out to see some of the surrounding natural attractions. Marymere Falls is an incredible waterfall right near the lake that is worth the short trail walk. There are also nearby destinations within 30-45 minutes including Sol Duc and Hoh Rain Forest.

gene coulon park

Lake Washington

Lake Washington is a huge freshwater lake nestled between the big cities of Seattle and Bellevue. Depending on where you launch your kayak, you can control the view you experience. Maybe you want to marvel at some of the amazing homes and communities built ashore, or possibly get a beautiful view of Mount Rainier. There are endless possibilities for this lake including rentals for friends and family, swimming areas, and more.

Having a family day out? Visit Seward Park where you’ll find trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, all the amenities you’ll need and the perfect beach to put in your kayaks. Or you could visit Newcastle Beach Park. It is equipped with playgrounds, designated swimming areas, docks, bathrooms, picnic areas, and a nature loop for walking your four-legged friends or just getting your steps in.

However, there are so many other parks to explore along this massive body of water. 

Lake Sammamish

Lake Sammamish is a beautiful place to spend your day off. With playgrounds, boardwalks, trails and lots of amenities, this lake is great for families and friends. Right outside Seattle, you have access to the calm water and wildlife of Lake Sammamish.

Tibbett’s Beach is a great place to put your kayaks in, although there are several other spots available to you. If you are looking to get away from the city for a little while without driving too far from it, this lake is your haven.

kayak at ruston

Point Ruston

Point Ruston is a great place to spend the day with family or a small group of friends. Ruston itself is a small community of stores and shops along the Tacoma Waterfront bringing you incredible seafood, ice cream, shopping, and of course the beautiful waters of the Puget Sound.

Paddle while enjoying the view of Mount Rainier among the company of seals and porpoises. Then, cool off by enjoying something cold and sweet at Ice Cream Social or fuel back up for dinner at Farelli’s Pizza or WildFin American Grill

You could even end the day by stopping by Wheel Fun Rentals to rent a tandem bike, specialty bike, or cruiser to coast the waterfront. 

tacoma kayaking
tacoma by kayak
blake island

Blake Island Marine State Park

Blake Island is a beautiful island only accessible by boat and is a great change of pace away from the city. With nature trails, beaches, and a bunch of activities to partake in, you are sure to have an incredible time. 

Enjoy the blue waters as you paddle the Cascadia Marine Water Trail. Marvel at the views of the city, Mount Rainier, and the Cascade Mountains. After kayaking, there is so much more to explore. 

Go fishing or scuba diving, clamming or crabbing. There are so many trails to hike or bike, wildlife viewing and bird watching. If you are looking for a more relaxed day on the beach and around the campsite, there are also amenities and activities like volleyball nets, horseshoe pits, soaking in the sun and taking advantage of the fire pits available to you. 

Paddling these amazing waters and exploring an island away from the hectic city can be exactly what you need to hit your reset button. 

Horseshoe Lake

Horseshoe Lake is great for kayakers that want to relax on a smooth glass surface. There is a 5 mph limit on this lake, ruling out all jet ski or boat traffic. Most popular for its fishing, sailing and kayaking, Horseshoe Lake has so much to explore. On the northeast end of the lake, you’ll see Exley Falls, a beautiful waterfall with several pools. These are perfect to sit in on a hot summer day to cool off in between paddling. 

Directly south of Exley Falls and on the east side of the lake you’ll find Devil’s Well. It is a hole in a rock that was created by circulating water over many years, similar to flushing a toilet. Water glides into the well and begins to swirl, then seeps through the walls on the wells.

The lake does have a gravel boat launch, a large gravel parking lot and bathrooms available. However, I suggest going to the bathroom before you leave since they are not in great shape. 

Horseshoe Lake Campground is small with a self-serve pay station. It is equipped with picnic tables and a fire pit for each spot.

Lake Union

Lake Union is different from the other choices on this list because it is known for its wildlife. Paddle among turtles, and enjoy the many views. Along Lake Union, you’ll find a view of the Space Needle, sweeping views of the city, beautiful homes, and glimpses of mountains in the distance. 

Lake Union is a great place for beginners. As your skill and comfort get stronger, Lake Union becomes a jumping-off point to visit other bodies of water. If you’re willing to go through the Ballard Locks, you’ll have access to the Puget Sound and Lake Washington (a much larger lake).

Gig Harbor

Many people love to paddle the Puget Sound, but finding calm waters can be a challenge. Gig Harbor is a great place to explore the Puget Sound and the sweeping views of sailboats and the local Venetian gondola without the large waves and crazy boat traffic. 

Paddle to the Gig Harbor Lighthouse on the south side of the harbor for a great photo opportunity and a place to beach, eat lunch and maybe even take a swim. 

man kayaking

Washington is home to so many beautiful places to paddle. There is still so much to explore right in our own backyards. If you are thinking about taking a short road trip to see what the east side of Washington State has to offer, read our article about all things kayaking in Eastern Washington. It will give you the best places to see and explore. 

Don’t want to have to buy or bring along gear? Check out our list of rentals and tours Washington has to offer. Or if you are looking to purchase some new gear, find our recommendations here

Kayaking photos: Lexi Wicks. Additional photos by Brandon Fralic.

Lexi Wicks

Lexi Wicks was born and raised in Western Washington amid the hustle and bustle of Tacoma, Washington. Now a college student at CWU, she is experiencing the central part of the state and often visiting family in Eastern Washington. She enjoys spending her weekends hiking new trails, kayaking, and finding new places to explore in state she calls home.

1 Comment

  1. […] trip to see what the west side of Washington State has to offer, read our article about all things kayaking in Western Washington. It will give you the best places to see and […]

Leave a Comment





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.