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Paddleboard Seattle: Top 5 Places to SUP

Although cold in temperature for the majority of the year, there’s a surprisingly good amount of spots to paddleboard Seattle when the weather permits.

beautiful river with green plants all around

Seattle offers some outstanding paddleboarding locations due its abundance of nearby rivers, sounds, and lakes. Here’s just a few of our favorites.

#1 Sammamish River

Stretching from Bothell to Redmond, the Sammamish River is 14 miles in length and a beautiful, calm way to paddleboard Seattle. Start anywhere along the river, and you’ll be welcome to an assortment of windmills, farms, and houses along your paddle. The river even has its own flow to it, leaving you more time to enjoy the scenery and less time spent paddling.

The Sammamish River has very strong cultural significance and prestige within Native American communities and folklore. Native Americans used to paddle their canoes through these waters many years ago, and venturing through their same route on a stand up paddle board is a special and humbling experience.

aerial view of a bridge going over a large river

#2 Whidbey Island

Just across the Puget Sound and located a little north is Whidbey Island, a relatively uninhabited island rich with forests and untouched coasts. This island is accessible primarily by ferry from Seattle, and is a great paddleboard Seattle day trip destination.

The best spot to paddleboard on this island is anywhere nearby the Deception Pass State Park, but you definitely want to stay away from the bridge that connects Whidbey Island to its mainland as that has notoriously strong currents that even threatens boats. Don't go there with a paddle board, but definitely take in the view from the bridge. The water here around Deception Pass State Park can be extremely cold, well below 40 degrees, so make sure you don’t fall in while paddle boarding, and are wearing appropriate stand up paddle board apparel and always have a floatation device. 

orca whale jumping out of the water with a mountain in the background

#3 Puget Sound

Puget Sound is the body of water just west of downtown Seattle. Known for its trafficked commuter ferry boats, this sound also provides great paddling opportunities. When paddleboarding in Seattle’s Puget sound, make sure to stay astray from the many ferries and boats navigating these waters. It’s best to stay as close to the shore as possible in the Puget Sound in order to enjoy the many sights in this area, and distance oneself out of respect to the large marine life that calls this area home. Do not paddle deep into the sound as the sounds waters can be treacherous and are known to have strong currents.

While you paddleboard Seattle it is common to see Orcas in this area. They are quite a sight to see, and are very curious animals, especially if there is a young calf in the pod. Orcas are best viewed from afar, and will not pose any direct threat to you while you paddle board so long as you maintain your distance and remain calm. Remember it's a unique experience, do not freak out in their presence, cherish it!

tree with birds in it overlooking a lake

#4 Lake Sammamish

One of the larger bodies of water in the Seattle surrounding area, Lake Sammamish is only a quick 20 min drive from downtown Seattle. The south region of the lake, named Lake Sammamish State Park, makes our list as a top place to paddleboard Seattle due to its calm water levels and sensational views. On a bright and clear day Mount Rainier is visible to the south-east when paddleboarding on the lake. This makes for the perfect paddleboard photoshoot spot.

The beach strand along Tibbetts Beach, to the south of Lake Sammamish, has a few paddle board rental companies where you can grab your board for the day. We recommend using a blow up paddle board for lake cruising, due to their superior width, buoyancy, and beginner friendly balance. This is the perfect spot for beginners!

stadium with a lake in the forefront

#5 Union Bay

Union Bay is located just north of downtown Seattle and right next to the University of Washington campus. Union Bay’s water source comes from the larger Lake Washington from the east, which provides this area with very freezing cold waters. Just make sure you don’t fall in!

What makes Union Bay a great spot to paddleboard Seattle is its close proximity to UW’s football stadium. Due to the stadiums open design, fans can actually catch glimpses of the action and the crowds reactions from out on the water. On gamedays, the bay is filled with paddleboarders, kayakers, and anchored boats where fans come together, cook meals, and watch the game. This paddleboarding spot is more of a social and community oriented paddleboarding spot rather than an exercising location. Take your stand up paddleboard out on the bay and become a part of the Seattle paddleboard community.