The Top Kayaking Destinations in the Pacific Northwest
The Top Kayaking Destinations in the Pacific Northwest

Discover the top kayaking destinations in the Pacific Northwest and embark on an unforgettable adventure with your family, surrounded by stunning natural beauty and diverse waterways.

The Top Kayaking Destinations in the Pacific Northwest

Welcome to our latest addition to the Entertainment and Hobbies section of our adventurous website! As you know, we’re all about embracing the open sea and spending quality time with family. In this article, we’ll be exploring the top kayaking destinations in the Pacific Northwest, a region known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse waterways. So, whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or just starting out, these destinations are sure to provide unforgettable experiences for you and your family.

The San Juan Islands, Washington

The San Juan Islands are an archipelago of over 170 islands located in the Salish Sea between the mainland of Washington State and Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This kayaking paradise offers a unique combination of protected waters, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking scenery.

Wildlife Encounters

One of the main attractions of kayaking in the San Juan Islands is the opportunity to encounter a wide variety of marine life. Keep your eyes peeled for harbor seals, sea lions, and porpoises as you paddle through the calm waters. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a pod of orcas, as the waters surrounding the islands are home to three resident pods of these magnificent creatures.

Scenic Paddling Routes

There are countless paddling routes to explore in the San Juan Islands, catering to all skill levels. Beginners can enjoy short, sheltered paddles around the smaller islands, while more experienced kayakers can embark on multi-day expeditions, island hopping and camping along the way. Some popular routes include Sucia Island Marine State Park, Jones Island Marine State Park, and the circumnavigation of San Juan Island.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon and Washington

The Columbia River Gorge is a spectacular canyon that stretches for over 80 miles along the border between Oregon and Washington. This awe-inspiring natural wonder offers a diverse range of kayaking experiences, from serene flatwater paddles to adrenaline-pumping whitewater adventures.

Flatwater Paddling

For those seeking a more leisurely kayaking experience, the Columbia River Gorge offers numerous flatwater paddling opportunities. The Lower Columbia River Water Trail is a 146-mile route that takes paddlers through a variety of landscapes, from the densely forested banks of the western gorge to the arid, windswept plains of the eastern gorge.

Whitewater Adventures

If you’re looking for a more thrilling kayaking experience, the Columbia River Gorge has plenty to offer. The White Salmon River, located on the Washington side of the gorge, is a popular destination for whitewater kayaking. With Class III-IV rapids and stunning scenery, this river provides an exhilarating adventure for experienced kayakers.

Puget Sound, Washington

Puget Sound is a vast and intricate network of waterways that stretches from the northern tip of Washington State down to Olympia, the state capital. This diverse and expansive paddling destination offers something for everyone, from sheltered bays and inlets to open water crossings and challenging tidal currents.

Paddling in the Shadow of Mount Rainier

One of the most iconic sights in the Pacific Northwest is Mount Rainier, a towering stratovolcano that dominates the skyline. Kayaking in the southern reaches of Puget Sound offers the unique opportunity to paddle in the shadow of this majestic peak, with stunning views of the mountain as a backdrop to your adventure.

Exploring the Tacoma Narrows

The Tacoma Narrows is a narrow passage of water that separates the city of Tacoma from Gig Harbor and the Kitsap Peninsula. This challenging stretch of water is known for its strong tidal currents and swirling eddies, making it a thrilling destination for experienced kayakers. Paddlers can explore the shoreline, passing under the iconic Tacoma Narrows Bridge and discovering hidden coves and beaches along the way.

The Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is a rugged and wild stretch of coastline that offers a unique kayaking experience. With dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and picturesque lighthouses, this stunning destination is perfect for those seeking adventure and solitude.

Sea Kayaking in the Oregon Coast

Sea kayaking along the Oregon Coast can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Paddlers can explore the numerous sea caves, arches, and rock formations that dot the coastline, as well as the many secluded beaches that are only accessible by water. Be prepared for rough seas and strong winds, as the Oregon Coast is known for its unpredictable weather.

Coastal River Paddling

In addition to sea kayaking, the Oregon Coast also offers a variety of river paddling opportunities. The Nestucca, Siletz, and Alsea Rivers are just a few of the many coastal rivers that provide scenic and tranquil kayaking experiences.


The Pacific Northwest is a kayaker’s dream, offering a diverse range of paddling experiences and breathtaking scenery. From the serene waters of the San Juan Islands to the thrilling rapids of the Columbia River Gorge, there’s something for everyone in this incredible region. So grab your paddle, load up your kayak, and set sail for adventure in the Pacific Northwest!