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Washington State: Paddle Boarding the Pacific Northwest
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Washington State: Paddle Boarding the Pacific Northwest

Paddle boarding in the vast and varied waters of Washington State offers an experience unlike any other. Whether you're gliding through serene lakes surrounded by dense forests or braving the coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean, the state provides a plethora of stunning backdrops for enthusiasts of all levels. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the best spots for paddle boarding in the Pacific Northwest, offer tips for beginners, and dive into the local paddle boarding community.


Paddle boarding, or stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), has surged in popularity as a way to explore and enjoy the natural world from a unique vantage point. In Washington State, the activity becomes even more enchanting thanks to its diverse aquatic environments.

Why Paddle Board in Washington?

Washington State is a haven for paddle boarders. With its extensive coastline, numerous lakes, and scenic rivers, it provides a variety of settings that cater to every taste and skill level. From the calm waters of Lake Chelan to the challenging waves off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula, paddle boarding here offers a perfect blend of adventure and tranquility.

Top Spots for Paddle Boarding

The Puget Sound

Explore the inlets and islands of the Puget Sound. This area provides sheltered waters ideal for beginners and spectacular views that even seasoned paddle boarders will appreciate.

Lake Washington

Located right by Seattle, Lake Washington is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. The lake's large size allows for long, uninterrupted journeys.

Columbia River

For those looking for a bit more current, the Columbia River offers exciting opportunities to experience river paddle boarding while enjoying panoramic views.

Gear and Preparation

Before you head out, ensuring you have the right gear is crucial. A suitable paddle board, a personal flotation device, and a waterproof bag for your essentials are must-haves. For a comprehensive selection of paddle boards and accessories, check out Starboard's collection of paddle boards.

Tips for Beginners

Begin in calm, shallow water to get a feel for the board. It's also beneficial to start on a day with minimal wind. For more detailed guidance, you can learn how to get up on a stand-up paddle board.

Paddle Boarding Safety

Always wear a life jacket and be aware of the weather conditions and water temperature. Make sure to inform someone of your plans before heading out. For more safety tips, read about paddle boarding precautions and safety first approaches.

Seasonal Considerations

While paddle boarding is predominantly a summer activity, Washington’s mild springs and autumns also offer excellent conditions. However, always check the weather forecast before you plan your outing.

Family and Group Outings

Many locations in Washington are perfect for group activities, offering rental facilities and guided tours that make paddle boarding accessible for all ages.

Wildlife and Scenery

Washington’s waters are home to diverse wildlife, including seals, otters, and a wide variety of birds. The surrounding landscapes are just as rich, featuring everything from rugged coastlines to tranquil forests.

Local Paddle Boarding Events

Participating in local events can enhance your paddle boarding experience. These gatherings are great for learning new skills and meeting fellow enthusiasts.

Joining a Paddle Boarding Club

For regular paddle boarders, joining a local club can provide a sense of community and access to planned outings and resources.

Environmental Considerations

As paddle boarders, it’s important to respect the natural settings we enjoy. Always follow Leave No Trace principles and be mindful of your impact on the ecosystems.

Making the Most of Your Trip

Combine your paddle boarding adventure with other local attractions for a full day of fun. Washington’s rich cultural and natural heritage provides countless opportunities for exploration.


Paddle boarding in Washington State offers a rewarding way to connect with nature and experience the unique landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, the region’s diverse waters invite adventurers of all types.


What is the best time of year to go paddle boarding in Washington? The best months are typically May through September, when the weather is warmer and the waters are calmer.

Do I need a license to paddle board in Washington? No, you do not need a license, but being familiar with boating laws and safety practices is recommended.

Are there paddle boarding rentals available? Yes, many popular paddle boarding spots have rental shops where you can rent equipment.

Can children participate in paddle boarding? Absolutely! Paddle boarding can be a great family activity. Just ensure children are accompanied by adults and wearing appropriate safety gear.

How do I get involved in local paddle boarding events? Check local recreation websites, paddle boarding clubs, and community boards for information on upcoming events and gatherings.



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