Kayaking in the Pacific Northwest: just dipping the toe into it
Originally written for TrippinTwins travel blog.
The Seattle area is best seen from the water: sailing, on a ferry, or on a kayak. Just short drives from the city are countless islands and bays to explore. Across the Puget Sound are the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas, which are dotted with lakes and waterways, ready to be paddled.
Olympic Peninsula – One of our favorite places to kayak is the Quileute River in La Push. The mouth has a marina to put it at and then the river itself is shockingly calm. Due to the shallow nature, there are no other boats of any sort, so the river is all yours; your bow is the only thing making ripples. And since the mouth is brackish, watch for flounder, salmon and the occasional otter. Lakes Crescent and Cushman are two other places to paddle: stumps, elk and mountains around every bend. Beautiful.
Kitsap Peninsula – Another favorite paddling haunt is the Agate Passage and Liberty Bay, separating Bainbridge Island from the Kitsap. The gradual shorelines of both sides make for easy pullouts and fantastic wildlife viewing. Without trying, I’ve seen otters swimming, heron and eagles swooping down and I’ve been stalked by a harbor seal. Living right off the Agate Passage, I know the flow of larger boat traffic, so am careful to paddle at the right time. Example: Fridays there is a small cruise ship that takes visitors to the Scandinavian village of Poulsbo, so I know to stay off the water so the wake doesn’t send me swimming. I also know that kayaking on the sea means fighting a tide, so planning trips to flow with the tide is important.
Heading south from Seattle or east from Portla
nd, there are more exciting places to explore along the Columbia Gorge. The Little White Salmon River, Dead Horse Lake and countless smaller lakes coming off the Columbia River provide a wide variety of paddling challenges.
If you’re visiting the Pacific Northwest without your own kayak, they can be rented almost anywhere, and truthfully, you’re not going to have a bad view wherever you paddle. If you’re visiting the Kitsap Peninsula, Olympic Outdoor Center can help!
Tip: don’t be afraid to take kids on kayaks. Double kayaks can be rented anywhere and to be licensed to rent, a vendor must have PFDs/life jackets. Get the kids out on the water. It’s a new view and they’ll love it!
Tip 2: it’s kayaking. You’re going to get wet. Be prepared and dress appropriately. And have fun with it.