Comprised of 66 campsites and 160 day-use sites scattered between Olympia and the Canadian border, the Cascade Marine Trail makes it possible to kayak throughout the Washington waterways for days or weeks at a time. Some stops along the way are nearly impossible to reach by car, making the juice all the more worth the squeeze.
First, we’ll look at the best kayaking spots in Seattle, then dive into the best kayak rentals in town.
Seattle’s Most Scenic Kayaking Locations
Isolated in the middle of Puget Sound between Seattle and Bremerton, this island is only reachable by small boats and local wildlife. If you’re lucky, you may see deer swimming across the sound, using the island as a rest stop. Visitors come to watch wildlife, go clamming and crabbing, play horseshoe and volleyball, and explore 8 miles of trails.
East of Portage Bay is the green and vibrant Union Bay with a cluster of trails along and over the water. A gorgeous sight is guaranteed to anyone who kayaks along this natural space. Carry a picnic in your kayak for a memorable afternoon on the arboretum.
Following the Lake Washington Ship Canal west from Lake Union leads to the open waters of Puget Sound. Discovery Park, filled with lush greenery, wraps around to the western shore to the south. The park has a naturally occurring pointed tip, embellished with an elegant lighthouse built in 1881. Watch vessels large and small pass through the canal as you make your way to this historical landmark.
The many islands of Washington make Seattle the perfect kayaking locale. On a clear day, Mount Rainier can be seen from nearly any point on the Cascade Marine Trail, peeking between the evergreen trees. Kayak for an hour or two around one of the popular rental locations, or journey around the most enchanting spots in the Seattle area.
Kayak Rentals in Seattle
Unless you’ve already invested in your own kayak, your journey begins at the rental shop. Choose a shop location then hit the water straight from the rental dock.
Just north of China Harbor in Seattle’s Westlake neighborhood is a popular rental shop providing single, double, and triple kayaks as well as stand-up paddleboards. The rental shop is open year-round, offering rentals by the hour as well as annual passes. The outdoor center hosts classes and day trips as dictated on their calendar.
Southwest of University of Washington along Portage Bay is a rental shop open March through October. The club offers rentals by the hour for single and double kayaks in addition to stand-up paddleboards. Also on the menu are guided kayak tours May through September.
At the southern edge of Lake Union, west of Volunteer Park, single and double kayaks as well as stand-up paddleboards are available for rent April through October. The shop closes on most holidays and rainy days, so it’s best to call ahead at (206) 682-2031.
For Frequent Kayakers:
Rent your kayak by the year rather than the hour, and explore every sector of the Washington waters one at a time. Eden Apartments residents enjoy year-round kayak rentals within walking distance of home at Northwest Outdoor Center.