Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Paddleboarding + Kayaking

A couple years ago we bought a pair of inflatable paddleboards and started exploring different spots around the peninsula when we didn’t feel like battling traffic to get to Lake Washington. We are still novice paddlers and stick fairly close to shore, until we learn more about winds and currents on the Sound, but it’s made for a fun activity to do with our tween and teen.

Here are some things to know, our list of public spots to launch from—we’ve been to several of them already and are going to try and explore the rest this summer—and a couple of local resources for paddling.


The 4 W’s—Water, Weather, Wind and Waves
  • Water—The Sound is never warmer than 55 degrees, even in summer. We always wear or bring layers but you can also wear or rent a wetsuit.
  • Weather—I use Weather Underground which in addition to temperature also denotes winds. Click here for the Seattle area and then zoom in on West Seattle, making sure to check both temperature and wind. is another resource I recently learned about that is both a website and app. It’s also important to know the tides for not only launching but to make sure anything you leave on the beach doesn’t float away while you’re out paddling. There are a lot of websites and apps out there but I use this one.
  • Wind—If the wind is higher than five mph we usually won’t go out since we’re still learning. We also paddle upwind first so the paddle back is easier. 
  • Waves—If there are white caps along with strong winds we'll skip going out.
It might be surprising but paddle boards are subject to boating laws and you will need to have a floatation device (life jacket) for any one the board and all children, 12 years of age or younger, are always required to wear life jackets. In addition, you need a whistle or some device to make noise in case of an emergency and a light if you are paddling at night. For more info, click here.

Click here to detailed map.

North/East—Alki Beach to WS Bridge

  • Alki Beach Park
    1702 Alki Ave SW
    Notes: Busy area but nice for learning, especially during a lower tide, since it’s much sandier than other beaches. A local business, Mountain To Sound, offers rentals during summer.
    Parking: On the street.
  • Luna Park (aka Anchor Park)
    37 Alki Trail
    Notes: Steps down to the beach are to the left of the pier and better at a lower tide to have an area to launch from. Also heard it's a good skimboarding spot, which is on our bucket list to try.
    Parking: On the street.
  • Seacrest Park
    1660 Harbor Ave SW
    Notes: There is usually a lot going on here. It’s home to Alki Kayak Tours where you can rent SUPs and kayaks as well as sign up for tours, Marination Ma Kai for tasty bite to eat and the water taxi. The north beach is a bit sandier and where rentals are launching from and on the south end there are two rocky coves that you'll usually see divers using.
    Parking: Small lot and on the street.
  • Jack Block Park
    Terminal 5 / 2130 Harbor Ave SW
    Notes: Little beach
    Parking: Main lot with a long walk to the beach or a couple of spots near the beach but as of now they are 30 minute parking only.
West side of West Seattle—Alki Point along Beach Drive to Lincoln Park + 98th Street End
  • 98th Street End
    SW 98th Street End
    Notes: Street end park.
    Parking: Handful of spots at the street’s end.
  • Andover Place
    4000 Beach Drive SW
    Notes: Tiny park with beach access via a narrow gravel path.
    Parking: On the street.
  • Charles Richey Sr Viewpoint (includes Constellation Park and Marine Reserve)
    63rd Ave SW and Beach Drive SW
    Notes: Rocky beach with a hand-carry boat ramp near the southern end of the park and two additional steps/ramps on the northern end of the park.
    Parking: On the street. Signs posted saying Beach Drive is closed but I believe you can still park along the street.
  • Cormorant Cove
    3701 Beach Drive SW
    Notes: This is our favorite spot with its protective cove that makes it good for launching with kids but is quite rocky at low tide. We usually paddle from here upwind to the lighthouse and float back.
    Parking: On the street.
  • Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook
    4503 Beach Drive SW
    Notes: Set of stairs down to a rocky beach.
    Parking: On the street.
  • Lincoln Park
    8011 Fauntleroy Way SW
    Notes: Unlike all the other spots on the list, here you’ll have to hike down the beach from the parking lot.
    Parking: South lot is closest to the beach.
  • Lowman Beach Park
    7017 Beach Drive SW
    Notes: Just north of Lincoln Park with a hand-carry boat launch on the south side of the park.
    Parking: On the street. Can be hard to find a spot.
  • Weather Watch Park
    4035 Beach Drive SW
    Notes: Tiny park with beach access via a set of stone steps and then over driftwood.
    Parking: On the street.
Places to rent and/or take classes and tours.

Alki Kayak Tours
1660 Harbor Ave SW
Tours, classes and rentals.
Notes: While we have not personally used them we know several friends that have rented from here and/or taken lessons. They were also very thoughtful when I contacted them for general information about paddleboarding in our area and learned about a SUP community paddle night on Mondays over the summer which we’re going to try and check out.

Alki Adventure Camp
Paddleboard camps for 8-16 year olds.
Notes: We only did this camp for one summer but know several friends whose kids do it every year.

Mountain To Sound Outfitters
3602 SW Alaska Street
Paddle gear available at their store and rentals during the summer on Alki (55th Street and Alki Ave)