The 10 Best Places To Kayak In Washington State | SeaKayakExplorer (2022)

Washington state is a coastal state with its largest, most visited city of Seattle located on the Puget sound, the gateway to the Pacific Ocean, not to mention a collection of protected islands filled with wildlife like whales, sea otters, and numerous bird species.

The Rockies also traverse Washington state, with majestic mountains, thick forests, glacier-fed lakes, and rushing rivers.With such a bounty of natural beauty, Washington state is an outdoor wonderland for visitors and locals alike.

There are various avenues for exploring wildlife and taking in incredible views, and most of them involve water sports like paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking.

In this post we’re going to look at 10 of the best places to kayak in Washington State. Let’s get started.

1. Obstruction Pass State Park on Orcas Island, WA

Orcas Island is the largest island in the group of Pacific Islands off Washington State’s coast known as the San Juan Islands. There are numerous state parks on these islands with hiking trails, lookout points, campgrounds, wildlife reserves, and water sports.

True to its name, the waters around Orcas Island and the surrounding San Juan Islands are home to schools of Orca whales that bring thousands of locals and tourists to witness these majestic animals swimming and jumping in their natural habitat.

Along with Orca whales, there are also sea lions and a large variety of fish and marine life that you will witness as you kayak through the deep blue Pacific.

You can rent a kayak on Orcas Island or San Juan Island as there are various kayaking rentals and tour companies. Orcas Island alone has a 125-mile perimeter of coastline to kayak around, and it is great for beginner kayakers because the ocean is calm. Orcas Island has so much to explore that you should incorporate some hiking and camping in with your kayaking.

There are campsites directly on the beach in Obstruction Pass as well as three buoys to anchor large boats for sleeping out on the water.

The best bet for kayakers is to beach their kayaks at the Cascadia Marine Trail campsite, or if they are taken, you can hike upwards into the bluffs towards the southern end of the park where there are additional campgrounds.

Orcas Island, neighboring San Juan Island, is even larger and has ample, calm coastlines to explore by kayak. You will find numerous kayak rentals and tour companies in Friday Harbor, the Island’s largest town.

2. Lake Wenatchee State Park, WA

Lakes are generally the easiest bodies of water for kayakers and thus the best for beginners as they won’t have to battle fierce currents that you might find in rivers and oceans.

Lake Wenatchee provides kayakers with a panorama of forest-covered mountains as well as a perfectly placid glacier-fed water that mirrors the sky and mountains so beautifully that you’ll feel like you’re rowing through the sky.

(Video) Top 10 Kayaking Spots in Washington State, in 4K UHD with Spectacular Aerials

Lake Wenatchee is in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and is thus surrounded by hiking trails, campsites, picnic grounds, bathrooms, and a launching dock for kayaks and canoes. There’s also a beach on the shoreline by the dock for post-kayak sunbathing if the weather allows.

3. Point Doughty, Orcas Island, WA

Point Doughty is one of the beaches on Orcas Island and lies at the southern end of the Marine Cascadia trail. It is a remote location that many day hikers don’t reach, so getting there via kayak usually means having the whole beach to yourself.

(Video) 12 Amazing Kayak trips in Washington State

Again, the waters around Orcas Island at low tide are quite shallow and thus less turbulent than the Pacific waters you might imagine. Nevertheless, we recommend beginner kayakers take a guided sea kayaking tour with one of the many tour companies on Orcas Island.

Kayaking tours to Point Doughty beach last a minimum of three hours, but don’t let that intimidate you. You will get amazing views of the mountains as well as up-close and personal encounters with marine life at low tide.

4. Alki Beach Park, WA

Visitors to Seattle should embark on a kayak tour of the famed and historic Alki Beach, a stretch of beach that spans the 2.5 miles between Alki Point and the mouth of the Duwamish River.

This beach was the historic landing site of the first European settlers who were received by Chief Seattle close to two hundred years ago.

Along with sunbathing, volleyball games, trails, and swimming, kayaking is a popular activity that provides amazing views of the Olympic Mountains as well as the bustling boat traffic in Puget Sound.

5. Lake Crescent, WA

Lake Crescent is a glacier-fed lake lying in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains with both panoramic and mirror-image lake-surface views of the surrounding mountains and forest.

You can rent kayaks and launch from a dock provided by Lake Crescent Lodge. You do not have to be staying there to rent a kayak.

Many hiking trails branch off from Lake Crescent, so we recommend reserving a few days in your itinerary for kayaking and exploring this beautiful region.

6. Lake Washington, WA

Located between Seattle and Bellevue, Lake Washington is a popular spot for city dwellers and visitors alike as it makes for a quick nature day trip and a respite from a fast-paced urban lifestyle.

Depending on which city you launch from, there are plenty of starting and finishing points. If you start from Seattle, you can launch from Matthews Beach Park which is a giant expanse of beach where you can sunbathe and picnic.

If you are launching from Bellevue, you can start at Enatai Beach Park where you can explore the vast array of marine and avian wildlife that abound in the adjoining Mercer Slough Nature Park. Regardless of where you launch from, both city parks have kayak rentals on the premises.

You are also allowed to fish on this lake. It is full of Cutthroat Trout, Bass, Black Crappie, and Yellow Perch for the taking, although you should check the government website for fishing rules and regulations.

7. Blake Island Marine State Park, WA

Blake Island Marine State Park is on an island in the Puget Sound southwest of Alki Beach. You can only reach this island by boat, so you’ll have to get the ferry there and rent kayaks through Vashon Adventures at the harbor.

Once on the Island, there are campgrounds, hiking trails, beaches, and lookout points with great views.There are five miles of coastline to explore in your kayak and eight miles of hiking trails within the park.

8. Olympic National Park, WA

For visitors who love kayaking and fishing, Olympic National Park is the spot for you. There are numerous lakes and rivers to kayak down with your fishing gear, offering a wealth of native fish species like Cutthroat Steelhead and Bull trout, and salmon.

(Video) Kachess Lake, Washington Kayaking in 4K UHD

You do not need a fishing license to fish in the rivers and lakes within the national park, but you will need one if you want to fish in the ocean.

Along with the above-mentioned kayaking and fishing at Lake Crescent, the Ozette River and Lake Ozette are two other popular kayaking destinations with plenty of fish year-round.

There are also kayaking tours of Dungeness Spit bay, Port Angeles Freshwater Bay, and Neah Bay. Check out all the different tour packages here.

9. Lake Union, WA

Lake Union is in the heart of Seattle and is always filled with local Seattleites kayaking, dining, walking, picnicking, playing, and quite literally living on the water.

The Lake is enormous, and since it is surrounded by different neighborhoods, there are plenty of places to dock and have a picnic or dine at a lakeside restaurant.

Washington Park Arboretum is situated along a part of Lake Union’s shores, with turtles and wild birds galore. Seattle also has a quaint and picturesque large houseboat community to float through.

Lake Union is a great place for a sunset kayak adventure and there are even night tours so you can row through the lake admiring the bright beautiful Seattle skyline.

There are various paddleboard and kayak rentals on Lake Union that you can find here.

10. Lake Sammamish and Sammamish Slough, WA

Located in Issaquah, Washington, Lake Sammamish has two beaches for picnicking and relaxing. You can rent kayaks at Tibbets beach and paddle around the lake in search of soaring bald eagles and blue herons that are native to Lake Sammamish State Park.

Lake Sammamish flows into Sammamish Slough, the river that connects Lake Sammamish to Lake Washington. You can also kayak safely through this river.

Summing up the Best Places to Kayak in Washington State

Washington state is full of magnificent bodies of fresh and saltwater along with nature reserves, national parks, and urban centers that lie at their shores.

You can rent kayaks to explore the wildlife, cityscapes, and vast mountainous landscapes of this magnificent state from numerous water sports companies, many of which offer guided tours for less experienced kayakers.

Whether you live in Washington or are visiting for the first time, a kayak trip should be on your list of recreational activities.

(Video) Kayaking Diablo Lake. The most beautiful lake in Washington!


What color kayak is most visible? ›

According to nautical safety experts, the most visible color is yellow, followed by orange and reddish tones, white, light green.

Do sea kayaks tip over easily? ›

Generally, kayaks are safe and don't just tip over for no reason. Most of the time when someone experiences this, it's due to a lack of balance or conditions on the water outside of their control. For example, it's rather difficult, even for a beginner, to tip over in a recreation kayak on a calm river.

What is difference between C1 and C2 kayak? ›

C1 Single person canoe. Paddler is in a kneeling position using a single paddle. C2 Two-person canoe. Paddlers are in a kneeling position using single paddles.

What is the difference between a sea kayak and a regular kayak? ›

Sea kayaks tend to be longer and narrower than recreational or white water kayaks. A longer boat is faster on the water, tracks better and can also carry more gear. This is especially important in sea kayaking where the distances you travel are often much greater than recreational kayaking.

How long does a kayak last? ›

Kayaks are designed for durability and will last many years with proper care and maintenance. However, the average lifespan of a kayak can range anywhere from 8-14 years. With proper care, your kayak will last much longer and provide you with years of enjoyment on the water.

What do the colors mean on kayak? ›

Share. KAYAK. Hi, KAYAK is using the stoplight metaphor. Green represents cheaper travel, and red more expensive. If you have further questions please reach out to our Consumer Support Team at

How do you not tip a kayak? ›

A kayaker must either push off of the bottom of the body of water they find themselves in or make a large circular gesture under the water with their oar in order to right their boat. Repeated proactive sessions of both of these tactics are a kayaker's best chance of staying safe.

Can you flip over in a kayak? ›

✔️ Position yourself on the side of your kayak directly in the middle. ✔️ Boost your body over the top of your overturned kayak and grab the opposite side/edge with your hands. ✔️ Slowly pull the kayak towards your body and roll (or flip) the kayak right-side up as you slide back into the water.

Can you get stuck in a kayak if it flips over? ›

When a kayak tips over upside down, you can get stuck. It can lead to your body becoming stressed, which can lead to panic, making it more difficult for you to get out of the situation. Check out these steps on how to flip a kayak over to prevent this from happening.

Do you kneel in a kayak? ›

You should kneel inside your kayak when paddling in windy conditions and are looking for more stability. Kneeling also will ensure a safer and more comfortable experience if you are paddling with pets, children or inexperienced paddlers.

Is kayaking good for seniors? ›

Kayaking is a perfect non-snow season sport for seniors. Outdoors, exercise, skill, and cool equipment combine to make an attractive sport. Kayak touring is one of the best recreational activities for seniors. It is low impact.

What is K1 kayak? ›

A K1 is a racing level kayak used on flat water such as deep rivers and lakes. They are long and narrow to reduce drag which makes them extremely unstable. A K1 kayak has an enclosed cockpit and is designed to be a “sit-in”, as opposed to a “sit-on” like a surfski.

How stable is a sea kayak? ›

Most modern kayaks are very stable for their intended use. Fishing kayaks are very stable platforms for fishing. Recreational kayaks are also stable for the casual enjoyment of paddling. And ocean and touring kayaks, on the ocean and cutting through the water, are remarkably stable kayaks.

How hard is sea kayaking? ›

Whether you're a beginner at kayaking or an expert, kayaking in the ocean can be a little intimidating at first. It's also an extremely exhilarating experience that is worth an attempt, as long as you remain aware and follow all the necessary safety protocols.

Does length of kayak matter? ›

A few inches in length won't matter much, but two feet or more will be noticeable. Depth: Deeper hulls offer more room for long-legged kayakers, plus a little more storage. Shallower hulls are less affected by wind. Width: Wider hulls offer more initial stability, while narrower hulls can go faster.

Should you wax your kayak? ›

Wax On, Wax Off - Why Waxing Your Kayak Is Important

Applying a kayak wax to your vessel can give it that extra layer of protection against damage. This means it could boost the durability of the hull, helping to protect it from the sun's harmful rays, as well as scratches or dents.

Is it OK to drag a kayak? ›

If you have a plastic boat, you can drag your kayak to the water. Just grab the handle at the bow and drag the boat. You should only do this on grass or sand to avoid damaging the keel. A skid plate or keel guard can help protect the keel of the kayak when dragging it to and from the water.

What is the best material for a kayak? ›

Aramid Composites (Kevlar)

Kevlar is slightly stronger than Carbon Fiber (depending on the grade of Aramid and binding agent used). Kevlar is used for top end kayak construction. It is the strongest construction material of the three listed here.

How do you get visible in a kayak? ›

Wear white or bright colored clothing to help improve kayak visibility. Use white or light bladed paddles. While black is the most popular, they cannot be seen well at distances. Install an orange whip safety flag on your kayak.

Do bright colored kayaks scare fish? ›

Fish do not pay attention to the color of your kayak so it will not affect how many you catch. Kayaks come in vibrant colors and patterns to increase visibility and safety. Since kayaks have a very low profile, larger vessels would have a much more difficult time spotting a kayak if they weren't highly visible colors.

How do I save a search on kayak? ›

what do I do? Go to your Trips page and select the saved option you'd like to book. Even if it's been a while, KAYAK has been working in the background refreshing your saved searches to make sure you're seeing the most recent pricing.

What is the safest type of kayak? ›

Sit-on-tops are the most user-friendly. They're very stable, easy to get in and out of and there is no feeling of confinement on them. They're also self-bailing, which means they have small holes (called "scupper holes") that allow the water to drain right through them.

Is a sit-on-top kayak safer? ›

If all other dimensions are equal, a sit-inside (open-cockpit) kayak is more stable than a sit-on-top kayak. In an open-cockpit kayak you're sitting lower in the boat. Your center of gravity (aka rear-end) is at or near the level of the water.

Will a sit in kayak sink? ›

Sit in kayaks are tough to sink, but not unsinkable.

However most beginning kayakers don't use cockpit skirts with their recreational sit-inside kayaks. So, if they roll sideways or capsize, they're going to fill with water. Depending how much water gets inside before you can turn your kayak back upright, it may sink.

What shoes do you wear kayaking? ›

A water bootie or water shoe is the ideal choice for kayaking. They will stay on your feet, keep out the rocks, and your feet will stay warm while kayaking. Water sandals with proper straps are also a good option, though you might have chilly feet if the weather is cool.

Can you kayak if you are overweight? ›

Again, despite the trepidation of some, kayaking can be enjoyed by people of all shapes and sizes. Even if you're overweight or taller than average, kayaking can be enjoyable.

Can you get trapped in a kayak? ›

The truth is, a person in a capsized kayak will rarely get stuck in the cockpit. While the cockpit may seem rather enclosed on many kayak models, the fact is that most individuals will fall out of the kayak before they even hit the water. Humans are biologically hardwired to keep their head above water.

What do you do if your kayak is filled with water? ›

How To Empty A Flooded Kayak | Instructional - YouTube

What is a Boof in kayaking? ›

Boofing is the act, or art, of keeping the bow of your kayak from diving underwater, and it is without a doubt the most important skill to learn for paddling creeks. Most notably, you can boof waterfalls and steep drops, but you can also boof holes, pourovers, reactionaries, and even eddy lines.

How do you get back in a kayak after tipping? ›

Re-entering a Sit-Inside Kayak - YouTube

How should you sit in a kayak? ›

How to Sit in a Kayak - YouTube

Is a kayak faster than a canoe? ›

Paddler for paddler, a kayak will go twice as fast as a canoe all things being equal. That's because a kayak paddle has two blades as opposed to the canoe paddle with only one. Put two people in a canoe, then the speed of a canoe is comparable to the speed of a single kayak.

What is safer canoe or kayak? ›

In general, a canoe will be more stable than a kayak, but a kayak will be faster and easier to maneuver. This is because a kayak generally is narrower and built with the bow and stern slightly curved upwards — known as “rocker” — meaning less of the hull is actually in the water.

What is the easiest kayak to get in and out of? ›

How to Get Into and Out Of a Kayak Smoothly - YouTube

Do kayaks need a rudder? ›

And on long kayaks, especially in quartering seas, a rudder will help the boat stay on course without applying extra, energy robbing, corrective strokes. On most big tandem kayaks, a rudder is almost a necessity.

What is the fastest kayak? ›

Fast Expedition

The Pace18 is a stable and seaworthy kayak designed for adventurers with an “alpinist” approach to expedition kayaking, endurance racing and down-winding. It's regarded as being the fastest of the rough water capable racing sea kayaks on the market.

What's the difference between a K1 and K2 kayak? ›

In competition the number of paddlers within a boat is indicated by a figure beside the type of boat; K1 signifies an individual kayak race, K2 pairs, and K4 four-person crews. A K-3 kayak has been developed in South Africa for use in the Fish River Canoe Marathon.

How deep is a kayak? ›

A depth of 13″ to 15″ is common for quality recreational & touring kayaks.

What color kayak is safest? ›

In most daylight conditions on calm water, orange and white colors show up the best, followed by yellow and red. Mountaineers on major climbs wear bright colors in order to be visible in rescue situations, when the difference of life or death is “being seen”.

What color is most visible in water? ›

On water, testing found that the green and orange colors were the most conspicuous at larger distances under any illumination intensity.

How do you get visible in a kayak? ›

Wear white or bright colored clothing to help improve kayak visibility. Use white or light bladed paddles. While black is the most popular, they cannot be seen well at distances. Install an orange whip safety flag on your kayak.

Does kayak color affect fishing? ›

Fish do not pay attention to the color of your kayak so it will not affect how many you catch. Kayaks come in vibrant colors and patterns to increase visibility and safety. Since kayaks have a very low profile, larger vessels would have a much more difficult time spotting a kayak if they weren't highly visible colors.

Do sharks mess with kayaks? ›

No, sharks are not at all attracted to kayaks. Sharks are opportunistic feeders who feed mostly on fish and small invertebrates with the larger species feeding on seals, sea lions, and other large marine mammals.

Do alligators mess with kayaks? ›

Yes, it does happen! Alligators attacking kayaks is certainly not something we can say for sure has never occurred, no matter how much we wish it were so. While the odds of a gator attacking a kayaker are extremely low, paddling in places where alligators are native does come with an increased risk.

What to do when you see an alligator while kayaking? ›

So, if you see an alligator on a sandbar, try not to point directly at it and pass them with the broadside of your kayak facing them. Sometimes there is so little room in a creek or waterway that we will inevitably push the gator into the water. Not a big deal if it happens. Just keep kayaking and stay alert.

What color disappears first underwater? ›

Red is the first to be absorbed, followed by orange & yellow. The colors disappear underwater in the same order as they appear in the color spectrum. Even water at 5ft depth will have a noticeable loss of red. For this reason, strobes are usually used to add color back to subjects.

What is the hardest color to see underwater? ›

Red light is quickly filtered from water as depth increases and red light effectively never reaches the deep ocean. Color is due to the reflection of different wavelengths of visible light.

What is the best color to wear in the ocean? ›

Neon green, yellow and orange were the top choices, followed by white, but “all other colors disappeared so quickly,” Alive Solutions found.

What color all around light should a non powered? ›

A white stern light that is visible at 135 degrees and from two miles. And one pair of red and green sidelights that are visible at 112.5 degrees and from one mile away.

What should a kayaker display in reduced visibility? ›

As stated, the minimum kayak navigation light required under Rule 25 by U.S.C.G. is "an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision." From U.S.C.G.

What color all around light should a non powered canoe or kayak display? ›

Manually propelled canoes and kayaks that do not have a motor usually are not required to exhibit the navigation lights that are required on power-driven vessels. However, these paddlecraft are required to carry at least one lantern or flashlight with a white light. The white light must be visible in all directions.

Do red kayaks scare fish? ›

The answer is no. The color of the kayak does not appear to matter to the fish. Bear in mind that your kayak will look like a dark shadow from under the water even if it is a bright color – so you don't need to worry about scaring away fish with a bright kayak.

How do you change the color of a kayak? ›


Why are kayaks bright colors? ›

Bright colors make your kayak more visible and safer on the water. It is especially important for anglers who fish in areas where marine mammals could be present, such as near large bodies of water or where there are lots of boats around.


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