Best time to visit Seattle

Kayaking in Seattle

Enjoy exploring the city and nature of the Pacific Northwest from the water


Kayaking and paddleboarding are extremely popular in Seattle, with plenty of water in and around the city. The most popular place for all kinds of boats is Lake Union. On a good summer day, the lake is full of people out on the water enjoying the views the city has to offer such as the Space Needle, watching seaplanes, houseboats and sailboats cruising around.

Other options include Westlake and Puget Sound which may be a bit more complicated than the lake due to swells and currents. Ship Canal is also for those who are looking for some challenges on a kayaking trip. Most rentals usually work from April through October.

Some exciting river kayaking is also available on the Wenatchee river during the summer season. This experience will give you plenty of adrenaline, as the river is quite fast.

Finally, if you are interested in moving further from the city and exploring some of the nature preserves, the San Juan Islands offer kayaking tours combined with whale watching, which is without a doubt a unique experience.

Practical info

Where are the best places for kayaking near Seattle?

Seattle has several great spots for kayaking including Lake Union, Westlake, Puget Sound, Ship Canal, and Wenatchee River, but Lake Union is the most popular offering great views of Seattle skyline, sailboats, and houseboats while Westlake and Puget Sound offer more challenges due to currents and swells. Wenatchee River is a good spot for river kayaking during summer. Show more

When is the best time of the year to go kayaking in Seattle?

The ideal time to go kayaking in Seattle is between April and October when the waters are calm and the weather is pleasant. However, visitors should be cautious as conditions may change and need to ensure updated local weather and tidal reports before planning any kayaking trip. Kayaking in Ship Canal and Puget Sound requires more experience due to more challenging conditions compared to Lake Union. Show more

What should I be aware of while kayaking on Lake Union?

While kayaking on Lake Union, kayakers should watch out for larger boats, houseboats, and seaplanes that create waves impacting the kayaks while causing hazards. Remaining at a safe distance from the seaplanes when taking off and landing as well as keeping noise levels low while kayaking is essential to ensure safety and respect the peaceful environment of Lake Union. Show more

Are there any specific requirements to rent a kayak in Seattle?

To rent a kayak in Seattle, rental companies require kayakers to have a valid photo ID and be at least 18 years old. If kayaking in Puget Sound or Ship Canal areas, some companies may also require signing a waiver or showing some kayaking experience due to the more challenging conditions. It is advisable to check with the rental companies beforehand, fulfilling their requirements, and ensuring an enjoyable experience. Show more

What other outdoor activities can I combine with kayaking in the San Juan Islands?

In addition to kayaking, visitors to the San Juan Islands can take advantage of other outdoor activities. Kayak tour companies often combine kayaking and whale watching tours, providing trained guides to ensure an educational experience. Moran State Park, located in Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, offers exciting mountain hiking trails for those looking to explore further. Besides, biking and camping are other popular outdoor activities in the San Juan Islands. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin