Paddle Boarding Seattle, Washington: 15 Best Places
Primed for an exhilarating dive into adventure? Grab your stand up paddle board and get set to navigate the sparkling jewels of the Emerald City from its shimmering waterways. Paddle boarding Seattle presents an unmatched blend of serene nature and the city's striking skyline, truly offering an extraordinary paddle boarding Seattle experience.
Before you dive into the emerald waters, let's kit up! In Seattle, the weather can be as unpredictable as a sea lion's antics, so come prepared. A trusty wetsuit, a reliable Personal Flotation Device (PFD), and non-slip water shoes are your first mates in this venture. Also, don’t forget your UV protection, hydration pack, and waterproof bag for personal belongings. Now, let's set sail to the top paddle boarding spots in Seattle.
1. Moss Bay
Located on the picturesque south side of the lake, Moss Bay is a serene and breathtaking paddle boarding Seattle spot that offers a perfect opportunity for tourists and locals alike to explore the charming houseboat communities and enjoy stunning city views from the tranquil waters.
Moss Bay is bursting with a vibrant marine ecosystem and you can get up close and personal with frolicking seals and otters. Whether you are a beginner wave-catcher or a seasoned sea rover, Moss Bay's tranquil waters are a paddle boarder's utopia. You can rent a kayak, canoe, or paddle board from Moss Bay Rental which is conveniently located on the waterfront.
- Skill Level: Ideal for beginners or first-time paddle boarders to hit the water and learn the basics.
- Water types: tranquil waters with little to no current
- Amenities: Moss Bay offers guided tours and kid camps, making it a perfect spot for families and groups. The area is also rich in rental facilities, offering a hassle-free start for those without equipment.
- Launch Points: Directly from Moss Bay
2. Lake Washington, North
Up next, we have the magnificent Lake Washington. This freshwater lake offers a nice and relaxing alternative to the other paddle boarding Seattle spots around. Paddlers of any level can enjoy the super calm waters and take in breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier.
Head over to Lake Washington North for a serene oasis that contrasts sharply with the lively hustle and bustle of Seattle. Paddle through calm waters with the majestic Mt. Rainier standing tall in the background.
- Skill levels: These serene waters are perfect for any level of paddler to enjoy while taking in breathtaking views.
- Launch points: For easy access to the water, launch your boat at Matthews Beach Park, St. Edward Park, or Sand Point.
- Be cautious of gusty winds over the lake that typically occur in the afternoon.
- An early morning paddle here offers a refreshing start, setting the perfect tone for your day.
3. Seward Park
Seward Park is a popular paddle boarding Seattle destination. It's situated in the southern part of Lake Washington and is surrounded by the lake's crystal-clear waters. Seward Park is a perfect place to experience the beauty of nature while paddle boarding amidst lush greenery.
This is the ultimate stand-up paddle boarding experience in Seattle that truly captures the city's essence. The location is ideal for paddle boarding as the waters are relatively calm, and the views are breathtaking.
- Skill levels: Park is the place to be for both beginners and intermediate paddlers.
Water Type: Calm lake waters
- Launch points: The best and easiest launch site is located at Andrews Bay, which is opposite Mercer Island.
- If you're up for a challenge, try kayaking from Seward Park around Mercer Island and under Seattle's iconic bridges.
Note: Experienced paddlers should join a more adventurous route; the paddle around Mercer Island presents a delightful challenge to view some of Seattle’s iconic bridges.
4. Alki Beach
If you are a fan of paddle boarding, you must visit Alki Beach in West Seattle. It is a long and wide sandy beach that offers a stunning view of downtown Seattle and the Olympic Mountains. Several rental shops in the area provide paddle board rentals.
The view of the Seattle skyline from the beach is breathtaking. You can paddle out and witness the beauty of the city's towering skyscrapers and the majestic Olympic Mountains in the backdrop. So, head out to Alki Beach for a serene and picturesque paddle boarding Seattle experience.
- Skill levels: The beach is perfect for beginners and those looking for a challenge.
Water types: The waves can be challenging, but it's a great spot to test your ride-the-waves skills.
- Launch points: Start your paddle from Salty's Restaurant, which also offers a great menu after your session.
- Alki Point Lighthouse and Lincoln Park are also easy to access from here.
Note: The summer months can get crowded with beachgoers and other paddle boarders.
5. Lake Union
Lake Union is an absolute paradise for paddle boarding Seattle enthusiasts. This stunning freshwater lake is situated right in the heart of the city, offering breathtaking views of the Seattle skyline. If you're riding solo and looking to make friends, Lake Union is the perfect spot to meet other paddle boarding enthusiasts.
You'll be surrounded by a vibrant community of like-minded individuals who share your passion for adventure and exploration. Be sure to bring your action camera along to capture some unforgettable moments of the picturesque scenery. With its crystal-clear water, serene atmosphere, and stunning views, Lake Union truly is a haven for anyone who loves paddle boarding.
- Skill levels: From beginners to intermediate paddlers.
- Launch points: There are multiple locations around the lake where you can launch your paddle board. Sunnyside boat ramp at the north end of the lake and the docks near Moss Bay Rentals are easy to access.
- Amenities: We recommend that you stop by Ivar's Seafood House to try their world-famous Clam Chowder.
6. Green Lake
Green Lake is a popular spot for kayaking and paddle boarding Seattle enthusiasts. Surrounded by a park with a 2.8-mile path, it's perfect for walking, jogging, skating, or biking. Green Lake is often referred to as Seattle's central park. It's a great place to enjoy some sun and paddle around the calm waters.
Whether you're a beginner or an intermediate, there are easily accessible entry points all around the lake. However, the west side of the lake offers a more peaceful experience with secluded areas. If you're looking for paddle boarding in the Green Lake area, Urban Surf is a great option. Urban Surf also offers unique experiences, from urban skyline views to tranquil lake environments.
- Skill levels: The lake is small and more enclosed, making it ideal for those who are new to paddle boarding or just looking for a more relaxed experience.
- Water type: Calm water with less winds and waves.
- Amenities: There are rental shops near the lake that offer paddle board rentals for those who don't have their own gear.
Note: Visiting this place on cloudy days and chilly days is also a good option since it can get crowded when it's sunny.
7. Meydenbauer Bay
Meydenbauer Bay is a small, serene, and picturesque bay located in the heart of Bellevue, which is a must go paddle boarding Seattle spot. It is a calm and sheltered spot that offers spectacular views of downtown Bellevue. You can launch your paddle board from the public boat launch available on the bay.
Meydenbauer Bay is a hidden gem in Bellevue that offers a peaceful experience with stunning views. It is especially suitable for intermediate-level paddlers, particularly during weekdays when it is less crowded. Meydenbauer Bay Park, situated on Lake Washington in Bellevue, is an excellent location to enhance your paddle skills. You can rent a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddle board from the REI boathouse.
- Skill Level: Beginners who want to learn the basics and intermediate paddlers.
- Water Type: Sheltered bay with calm water and soft winds.
- This small bay offers stunning views of downtown Bellevue’s skyline. You should bring your camera so you do not miss the unforgettable views.
- It's delightful during the week as it is extremely busy on weekends.
8. Mercer Slough Nature Park
Mercer Slough Nature Park is a breathtaking 320-acre wetland located in the serene city of Bellevue. It is a perfect paddle boarding Seattle destination for those who love water activities, wildlife viewing, and exploring nature.
The park has a beautiful public boat launch that makes it convenient for you to launch your small watercraft and enjoy the calm and scenic waters. You can either bring your own small watercraft or rent one at Enatai Beach Park. Paddle boarding through the wetlands of Mercer Slough Nature Park is a unique experience that allows you to witness the beauty of nature up close. Mercer Slough is ideal for nature lovers. The park’s winding waterways are a haven for wildlife, providing a tranquil paddling experience away from the city’s noise. So, come and enjoy a peaceful adventure amidst the tranquility of this beautiful park.
- Skill Level: Intermediate paddlers
- Water Type: Wetland channels with the park’s winding waterways.
- Launch Points: From public Boat Launch.
9. Lake Sammamish State Park
Are you planning to take a break from the busy city life and go for a quick getaway? Lake Sammamish State Park is a spacious park located on the shores of Lake Sammamish, which is ideal for paddle boarding Seattle journey.
The lake also features a deciduous forest, wetland vegetation, and three salmon-bearing streams. The park offers a variety of boats that are available for rent hourly. This could be the perfect location for your paddle boarding. It boasts several miles of shoreline and offers stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. One can commonly spot eagles in this area.
- Skill levels: From beginners to intermediate paddlers who love nature.
- Water types: The water is calm, and you can even paddle over a sunken forest in the southern part, near Greenwood Point.
- Amenities: There are some restrooms along the lake. You can bring a small waterproof backpack, including some water and snacks.
Note: No matter what time of year you visit, this place is never crowded, which makes it perfect for beginners. Enjoy this paddle in nature and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife out on the water.
Nestled in the heart of the University District, west of Lake Washington, lies the Washington Park Arboretum, a sprawling 230-acre public park that's a nature lover's paradise. The park's lush greenery, native plants, and wetlands are home to a diverse range of wildlife, making it an ideal spot for nature paddle boarding Seattle enthusiasts and photography enthusiasts alike.
As you walk through the park, you'll be greeted by narrow waterways that wind through the trees, providing ample shade and a sense of calm. The waterways are home to hundreds of lilypads, docks, and bridges that create a unique and serene environment. Dubbed the "urban Everglades," the Arboretum offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's a must-visit destination for anyone who appreciates the beauty of nature.
- Skill Level: Suitable for intermediate paddlers
- Water Type: Narrow, tree-shaded waterways
- Launch Points: From Washington Park Arboretum
11. The Ship Canal in Fremont
Situated between the picturesque Lake Union and the majestic Puget Sound, the Ship Canal at Fremont is an absolute paradise for paddle boarders seeking a thrilling challenge. As you navigate through the canal, you'll pass through the lush greenery of the Arboretum, where you'll be greeted by breathtaking views of Seattle's dazzling downtown skyline. This hidden gem is a well-kept secret among intermediate paddlers who are looking to push their limits and test their skills.
However, the pristine waters of the Pacific Northwest can be pretty chilly, even in the summertime. Therefore, it's essential to dress appropriately for your aquatic paddle boarding Seattle adventure. The Fremont region of the river offers unparalleled access to the Arboretum and unrivaled views of downtown Seattle. On the other hand, the U-District to the west allows you to witness an array of boats, including deep-sea fishing vessels that transport Seattle's world-renowned fresh seafood to Pike Place Market.
- Skill levels: This location is perfect for intermediate paddle boarders seeking a challenge. Although launching may be difficult, the experience is worth it.
- Launch points: If you want to take in the sights, hit the water at docks near S3 Maritime or Fisherman’s Terminal. However, be cautious of boats that pass through the canal and stick to the sides. You don't want to get caught out by a larger wake from a boat that can send you overboard.
- Water types: The Pacific Northwest is a stunning region, but the water can be pretty cold, especially during summer, so it's essential to dress appropriately for water activities.
12. Discovery Park
Nestled just a short 20-minute drive away from the bustling city of Seattle lies the serene and picturesque Discovery Park. This hidden gem is the ideal destination for those seeking a tranquil retreat for stand-up paddle boarding. Spanning over 500 acres, Discovery Park is the largest city park in Seattle, surrounded by the calm waters of the Puget Sound.
Upon arriving at this natural wonder, you can bask in the stunning beauty of the Pacific Northwest as you paddle out onto the glistening waters of Puget Sound. The iconic waterbody of Seattle offers a unique perspective of the city as you glide through the peaceful waters. However, it's important to keep a watchful eye for boat traffic as you navigate your way through the Sound. Overall, Discovery Park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a serene and awe-inspiring stand-up paddle boarding experience away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
- Skill levels: Beginners to advanced paddlers
- Water types: Peaceful water, but keep your eyes on another boat around.
- Launch points: The West Point Lighthouse serves as the optimal location for launching your SUP, as it is located near the water’s edge.
- Amenities: There are parking places at the Westpoint Lighthouse.
Note: Don't miss the chance to explore some stunning hidden beaches by taking an off-the-beaten-track hike. You could even embark on a real adventure and make your way to "Surfer's Beach" at Point Shilshole.
13. Shilshole Bay and Golden Gardens
This location is a true gem with plenty to offer. It boasts beautiful beaches and stunning mountains as a backdrop, making it one of the top destinations in the Seattle area. Shilshole has everything you could ask for, whether you want to take a break from the world or go on a real getaway.
The beaches are ideal for relaxation and even camping. The mountainous backdrop makes the spot even more incredible. You can get up close and personal with superb sea life right from your SUP. Additionally, you can make the most of your trip by visiting Golden Gardens, which is magnificent in late summer.
- Skill levels: From intermediate to experienced paddlers
- Launch points: To begin your adventure, you can park up and launch from the northern side of the marina. However, please be aware that this dock can be quite busy, especially on sunny days. You can also launch from Golden Gardens and navigate your way around Shilshole Marina.
Note: Make sure to check the tides and weather conditions before you set off.
14. Juanita Beach Park
If you're looking for a fun water activity to enjoy with your family, Juanita Beach Park is the perfect paddle boarding Seattle destination. The protected area boasts calm and safe waters, making it the ideal spot for beginners to get comfortable on a paddle board.
Located in the beautiful Kirkland region on the serene northeast side of Lake Washington, Juanita Beach Park offers stunning views and a peaceful atmosphere, making it a great place to spend the day. Both Juanita Beach Park and Marina Park offer rental facilities, making it easy and convenient for you to rent paddle boards for the day and explore the beautiful waters of Lake Washington with your family.
- Skill Level: Ideal for families and beginner paddlers.
- Water Type: Calm-protected waters ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
- Launch Points: Direct from Juanita Beach Park
- Amenities: It’s a great spot for leisurely paddles and picnics, with well-maintenance amenities close by.
15. Olympic Beach
And last but not least, we have Olympic Beach in Edmonds, a superb location for paddling. This spot allows you to relish the breathtaking view of the Olympics across the water. You can also enjoy the simple pleasure of watching the ferry’s comings and goings from a bench.
For paddle boarding, you have two options: launch your board from the north towards Brackett’s Landing or head south to the Edmonds Marina. While the southern route has more beach obstacles like logs, it offers a beautiful setting away from the ferry traffic. In summary, Olympic Beach in Edmonds provides a fantastic paddle boarding experience with stunning views of the Olympic Mountains.
- Skill Level: A picturesque location for paddlers who have intermediate to advanced skills
- Water Type: Saltwater with winds and waves
- Launch Points: Direct from Olympic Beach or with options to launch along the waterfront for varied experiences.
Unique Aspects of Paddle Boarding in Seattle
Seattle offers a truly distinctive stand up paddle boarding experience that combines natural beauty with the city's quirky charm. Let's navigate the ripples and waves of the Emerald City's paddle boarding scene together.
1. Weather Conditions
Seattle's weather mirrors the eclectic character of its waterways. Sunny days bestow tranquil waters, while overcast skies stir up a more adventurous wave, making paddle boarding in Seattle a riveting journey where each day brings a fresh thrill.
2. Local Paddle Boarding Culture
Seattleites have a deep-seated affection for water sports, with paddle boarding holding a special place. The city's paddle boarding scene is teeming with energy and camaraderie, boasting an array of rental shops, clubs, and annual races. Whether you relish solitary explorations or thrive in group paddles, you're bound to find your kinship here.
How to Stay Safe Paddle Boarding in Seattle
Safety is your true north when embarking on a paddle boarding Seattle expedition. Equip yourself with local rules of the water and always maintain a healthy respect for its power. Strap on your PFD and leash, remain alert to weather changes, and never underestimate the might of the Pacific Northwest's waters. If you're a paddle boarding novice, ponder over a class or guided tour to guarantee a secure yet exhilarating adventure.
Your Seattle Paddle Boarding Adventure Awaits with iROCKER
So why wait? Embrace the thrill of your paddle boarding Seattle adventure with iROCKER. Navigate the waters with style and grace, and let every paddle stroke draw you closer to the heart of the Emerald City.