We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Best place to kayak

Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
15 posts
7 reviews
Save Topic
Best place to kayak


We will be staying in bothell for a few days with family to see Seattle. We are two adults with a 6 year old.

We are thinking of spending one day in the city, mostly at Seattle city center.

We would also like to do some kayaking and see wildlife (ideally whales!) Where would be the best place to do this. It seems like a day trip to san Juan islands would be too difficult. Lake union doesn't seem to have much wildlife. What are the best alternatives? we can do this on a separate day from the city center day, but would rather not spend a full day just on this given our daughter's stamina/patience.


western WA
Level Contributor
8,997 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Best place to kayak

You can rent sea kayaks, maybe even a three seater, at Moss Bay boats or at AguaVerde. You don't really want to see whales as a novice kayaker. Those are some pretty big creatures. I suggest you kayak for kayaking's sake, and go to Northwest Trek (or the Washington Park Zoo) to see animals. You might happen upon a seal baby if you go to a remote beach, but that is rare and you need to keep your distance. We saw one bobbing alone at Kayak Point county park once.

Seattle, Wa
Level Contributor
5,713 posts
46 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Best place to kayak

You can kayak on Lakes Union and Washington, or in Puget Sound. There are a few outfitters on the lakes, and then Alki Kayaks on Elliott Bay. On the Sound, you'll be with a guided tour, whereas you can go on your own in the lakes. The lakes, of course, won't ever have whales--you'll see birds (possibly eagles). But, they are fun because you can poke around houseboats, see great views of the city, etc.

Whales come down our way in Puget Sound once in a while but you can't ever predict when--it's not like up in the San Juans where there are resident pods. You might see a seal if you kayak with Alki, and you get beautiful views, but it's not primo wildlife watching. You do have to go to the San Juans for that. Its great fun even without the wildlife and I'd highly recommend it as a city activity.

Port Townsend...
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park, Port Townsend
Level Contributor
11,331 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Best place to kayak

You might take a day trip to Port Townsend (which is worthwhile anyway) and rent kayaks from PT Outdoors. You will very likely see otters, seals and bald eagles. I see dolphin a little further out from shore just about every time I'm out sailing. If you spend the night you could include a whale watching tour with PS Express. Kids love the marine science center, especially the touch pools.

Level Contributor
6,144 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Best place to kayak

Hi kamilji,

You mentioned that you are staying with relatives - where? That might make a difference for kayak rentals. My absolutely favorite place to rent kayaks with young children/families is at Enatai Beach Boathouse in Bellevue. From there, you travel on Lake Washington to the Mercer Slough nature preserve. It's quiet, peaceful, easy kayaking, plenty of nature, though mainly birds - you should most likely see the "big" ones, eagles, osprey, herons along with many smaller ones. I often see otters, muskrats. You can also do a guided canoe trip instead, if you like. Cascade Kayak also has a rental location in Renton - at Gene Coulon Park. Another good option, though busier location than Enatai, and without the wonderful quiet aquatic trails of the Mercer Slough.



Kayaking on Lake Union is one of my favorite things to do, but there, it is an urban environment, more about the boats, houseboats, busy Lake activity, and less about "nature". If you kayak on Lake Union, I like Moss Bay or Agua Verde Paddle Club for Rentals.

Another option is to rent from the University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center. From there, you cross the Lake Washington "cut" to the Washington Arboretum with wonderful aquatic trails. They have multiple spots where you can get out and have a picnic. Again, wonderful birds and small creatures. However they only rent canoes and rowboats. Crossing the Lake Washington "cut" can also be a bit intimidating if you are not super comfortable in a small boat. http://depts.washington.edu/ima/IMA_wac.php/

Kayak rentals at Alki Beach, with Alki Kayak, is another good option. That is salt water kayaking in Elliott Bay. Water can be little more variable than Lake Washington, so they generally rent to experienced paddlers. They do have a triple kayak perfect when young children come along, but you would want a calm day. If that type of kayaking interests you, I would call and see what they recommend for your family and experience. On Alki, you will have a good likelihood to see otters and seals. The tide pools at the end of Alki Beach are terrific for young kids. http://kayakalki.com/


Lastly, based on your description, I would not schlep to the San Juans. It is a long full+ day. Instead, if you really want a "day trip" with salt water kayaking perhaps consider Whidbey Island. You could customize a short kayak with Whidbey Kayaking. They are located on the south end of the island, so you would take the Mukilteo ferry there (fun in itself!), then maybe have lunch in Langley or a picnic at one of the fabulous State Parks or Beaches on Whidbey - plenty of places for your daughter to play and enjoy.


Let me know if I can answer further questions.

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,589 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Best place to kayak

Your chances of seeing a whale anywhere near Seattle are better on one of the ferries, and even that is very very slim. I have only seen whales twice, once at the end of Hood Canal and once when everyone in the world new they were spending the week feeding on a salmon run near Silverdale. You have gotten some great tips. I actually love paddleing in marshy areas like IslandGirl suggested. Much better opportunity to at least see some wildlife. If you have the time Palas idea is about as good as it gets around here. My favorite areas to paddle are a bit further, Quilcene area and near Port Gamble. Not sure you want to deal with ferries and go that far, but the Outdoor Center which used to be in Poulsbo is now in Port Gamble. Great paddling there.

Santa Clara...
Level Contributor
15 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Best place to kayak

Thanks for all the great info!

We are staying in Bothell.

7. Re: Best place to kayak

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 12:46 am, July 15, 2013