One of the best things about stand-up paddle boarding (SUP-ing) is all the traveling and exploring you get to do! While it’s certainly fun to go international, one need not leave the US in their quest for countless SUP destinations. Take, for example, the lovely landscape of Seattle. A gem in the crown of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is undoubtedly one of the best places for paddle boarding in the US, let alone the entire world. Our team at Atoll Boards has an extensive list of the best places to go paddle boarding in the Seattle area, so keep on reading to learn more!
Easily one of the most quintessential spots in Seattle, Lake Union is perfect for paddle boarding. With calm waters, good weather, and plenty of places to rest as needed, Lake Union is an excellent choice for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. What’s more, there are several locations for launching your own board, renting one, getting lessons, taking a private tour, etc. Plus, when you factor in all the restaurants nearby, it’s extremely easy to spend a whole day here. Suffice it to say, Lake Union is an outstanding choice for your paddle boarding needs.
In the southern section of Lake Union, one will find an awesome spot in the form of Moss Bay. A prime location for beginners and first timers, Moss Bay offers especially calm waters as well as rentals, tours, and even kid camps!
Seattle’s central park, Green Lake, is another lovely location for calm waters. Enchanting for both beginners and experienced paddlers, Green Lake is a serene spot for paddling laps, honing skills, and just enjoying the great outdoors. For especially peaceful paddling, we recommend the more secluded sections on the west side of the lake.
One of the most scenic landscapes in the Pacific Northwest, Puget Sound has some of the best paddle boarding spots in all of Seattle. Just a little bit west of the downtown area, Puget Sound is a big body of water with lots of room for exploring, adventuring, etc. One of the many things that makes this place so special is the variety of scenery within its land. In other words, you can paddle your way through forests, near the city skyline, or even around its many islands. Simply put, whatever you want to get out of your quest—an intense workout, a leisurely tour, or anything in between—Puget Sound is one of the best places for it.
Located in between Lake Union and Puget Sound, The Ship Canal at Fremont is a secret spot for honing your SUP skills and techniques. A good challenge for intermediate paddlers, this area offers a few different opportunities for testing your comfort levels. First, you’ll need to be wary of the boats moving in and out of the canal, as one big wave from them can easily knock you off your board and into the water, which brings us to the next challenge: surprisingly cold water temperatures. The Ship Canal at Fremont typically features colder waters than the other locations on this list, so you’ll definitely want to dress accordingly.
On the bright side, the Fremont region of the river provides its visitors with gorgeous views of downtown as well as convenient access to the Washington Park Arboretum. The U-District, on the other hand, allows you to see more boats. Most notably, you’ll have a chance to see deep-sea fishing vessels bring in Seattle’s legendary hauls of incredibly fresh seafood as they make their way towards Pike Place Market. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
In a very nearby part of town, Discovery Park is always down for a fresh crop of paddlers and a whole lot of adventures. If you own an inflatable SUP, then don’t be afraid to take a path less traveled and create your own one-of-a-kind experience. You might just stumble your way into some secret hidden-away beaches!
As the name suggests, this is a tricky trail with some very intense currents. That said, Deception Pass is reserved only for advanced paddlers with lots of experience. If you’re up to the challenge, however, we recommend heading to the strait in between Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island. There you’ll find an especially fast-paced and adrenaline-pumping paddle!
Just a little bit outside of Seattle, Lake Sammamish is a perfect place for a peaceful paddle. Never crowded, nice and removed, and excellent for beginners, we can’t recommend the serenity of Lake Sammamish enough. Make sure you paddle south towards Greenwood Point, where you can paddle over a sunken forest!
Another excellent candidate, Shilshole Bay offers beautiful beaches that are truly ideal for a getaway. While you can certainly accomplish a lot in a day trip, we wouldn’t blame you if you decided to set up camp and stay for a while. Plus, if you go towards the end of summer, you can also experience Golden Gardens Park at its absolute best, which gives you even more opportunities for swimming, paddling, exploring, etc.
A freshwater lake that’s a bit more removed from the hustle and bustle of other SUP destinations, this is a splendid place for some peaceful and pleasant paddling. With incredibly calm waters, spectacular views of Mt. Rainer, and so much more, Lake Washington is an idyllic choice for beginners, intermediate paddlers, and experts alike.
On the east side of Lake Washington, beginners and families often gather in Juanita Beach Park and Marina Park. In addition to being two terrific spots for tranquil paddling, they both feature rental facilities for anyone who doesn’t own an SUP.
Just a little bit west of Lake Washington, one will find the famous Washington Park Arboretum. With narrow waterways, lovely patches of shade, and simply superb scenery, the locals refer to the Arboretum as the “urban everglades” of Seattle.
In the southern part of Lake Washington, beginners can find refuge in the form of Seward Park, a perfect place to learn the basics and get a bit more comfortable on your board. For those who crave a bigger challenge, we recommend paddling from Seward Park up and around Mercer Island, where you can adventure directly under some of Seattle’s most iconic bridges.
Yet another extension of Lake Washington, Salmon Bay is a portion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, which is an action-packed hub for all things outdoors. Of course, one of the best ways to experience everything Salmon Bay has to offer is by paddling in the middle of it. Despite the many ships that move in and out of the canal, the waters are relatively peaceful, making it another prime location for paddlers of any skill level. Add in some gorgeous views of the Seattle skyline as well as the Cascade Mountains and you’re sure to get lost in the beauty of Salmon Bay.
Nice and simple, Warren G. Magnuson Park is a lovely spot for both land and water activities. Whether you want to launch off its sandy beach and do some paddling, make use of the barbecue areas and do some grilling, or maybe even both, Magnuson Park is a magnificent place to have some fun. While you and your crew enjoy burgers and hot dogs, remember to bring your dogs along, as Magnuson Park is dog-friendly! Suffice it to say, this one has something for everyone.
Trying to get the best view of Seattle? Set sail to Alki Beach! While the summer months can certainly get crowded, the view of the Seattle skyline is definitely worth it. We recommend launching at Salty’s Restaurant, which doubles as a delicious destination for after your session. While you’re in the area, be sure to check out the Alki Point Lighthouse as well as Lincoln Park, both of which are just a little bit south.
Last but not least, the San Juan Islands offer a very special getaway that’s well worth the three-hour drive from Seattle. Intended only for advanced paddlers, this gorgeous area is home to some exceptional open water paddling. Plus, for the animal lovers, the San Juan Islands provide high chances of spotting a whale on the horizon, or even up close and personal! While you could certainly squeeze it all in within a full day of paddling, we recommend an extended stay of at least a couple nights. This is a really special spot where you’re sure to make tons of incredible memories! Be sure to take the time to soak it all up and treasure every moment.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best places to go paddle boarding in the Seattle area. Need a new board before you hit the water? Check out our SUP inventory! We also have plenty of apparel and gear that’s sure to serve you well. Finally, if there’s anything our team of dedicated professionals can do to help you, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. We hope to serve you soon!