watersports in washington state
A Comprehensive Guide To Water Sports In Washington State

With more than 8,000 miles of diverse shorelines, rivers and lakes, Washington State is a paradise for water sports lovers. The vast range of aquatic adventures the region offers is remarkable. Our climate is conducive to water activities all year round, allowing you to bask in the gentle warmth and serene waters of spring and summer, delight in the colorful foliage and cool breeze of fall or even experience the snowy peaks and frosty waters of winter.

If you are looking for fun and rewarding ways to experience nature, exercise your body and stimulate your mind, here are some activities you can explore:

Whitewater Rafting

Seasoned rafters can take on the mighty currents of the Skykomish River in the Cascade Range. Conquer the famous Boulder Drop by maneuvering through rapids and skillfully avoiding big rocks, all while soaking in the breathtaking scenery of the mountains and forests.

If you prefer a more family-friendly rafting trip, the Wenatchee River features a variety of sections with varying degrees of difficulty, allowing for customized rafting trips to accommodate different comfort levels.

Whitewater Rafting in Wenatchee River


One of the most popular water sports in Washington State is kayaking. You can explore the scenic coastline, rivers, lakes and islands of the state by paddling your own kayak or joining a guided tour. Some of the best places to kayak in Washington State are:

  • San Juan Islands: This archipelago of over 170 islands offers stunning views of wildlife, mountains and forests. You can kayak around the islands or camp on them for a longer adventure.
  • Lake Chelan: Stretching for 50 miles, this lake stands as the largest and deepest in Washington state. Paddle through crystal-clear blue waters as you coast along the shore or venture into the remote wilderness of the upper lake.
  • Skagit River: This river flows from the Cascade Mountains to the Puget Sound and is home to diverse wildlife and plants. You can kayak through the Skagit Valley and see bald eagles, salmon and tulip fields along the way.
  • Sequim Bay: Located on the North end of the Olympic Peninsula outside of Sequim and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Sequim Bay offers kayakers several day trips with spectacular 360 degree views of the Olympic Range to the south, Vancouver Island across the Straits, Mt Baker and North Cascades, and of course the Dungeness Wildlife refuge. Be mindful of wind conditions especially outside of the bay in the straight.

While exploring the natural beauty of Sequim Bay, be sure to book your stay at Sea Cliff Gardens B&B. Perched atop a stunning sea cliff and surrounded by meticulously maintained gardens, this Bed & Breakfast offers an enchanting retreat with panoramic views of the water.


If you are looking for a calmer aquatic adventure, you can try paddleboarding. This activity provides an excellent opportunity for exercise while you admire stunning views. Some of the best places to paddleboard in Washington State are:

  • Lake Union: This lake is located in the heart of Seattle and offers a unique view of the city skyline. You can paddleboard around the lake and see houseboats, seaplanes and bridges.
  • Hood Canal: This fjord-like waterway is part of the Puget Sound and is surrounded by mountains and forests. Hood Canal is the perfect place to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of nature.
  • Lake Wenatchee: This alpine lake is nestled in the Wenatchee National Forest and has crystal clear water and stunning views of the Cascade Mountains.
  • Lake Crescent - Just a short 30 minutes from Port Angeles are the deep blue glacier fed waters of Lake Crescent,  offering paddleboarders grandiose scenery of Olympic National Park. Paddleboarding in Lake Union


If you're looking for some adrenaline, you can try surfing! Washington State has over 150 miles of coastline that offer some of the best surfing spots in the Pacific Northwest. All you need is a wetsuit, a surfboard and courage. Some of the best places to surf in Washington State are:

surfing in second beach

  • Westport: This town is known as the surfing capital of Washington State and has several beaches that cater to different levels of surfers. If you’re looking to get out on the waves, check out Westhaven State Park, Half Moon Bay or The Groins.
  • La Push: This remote town is located on the Olympic Peninsula and has some of the most scenic and challenging surfing spots in the state. La Push offers a few options for surfers: First Beach, Second Beach or Third Beach.
  • Long Beach: This town is located on the southwest coast of Washington State and has a long stretch of sandy beach that offers consistent waves for surfers. You can surf at Cape Disappointment State Park, Seaview Beach or Benson Beach.

Jet Skiing

jet skiing in samamishJet skiing involves riding a personal watercraft that can reach incredible speeds up to 60 mph on the water. Strap on your life jacket, obtain the necessary license and get ready to try this adrenaline-pumping water sport. Some of the best places to jet ski in Washington State are:

  • Lake Washington: This lake is located east of Seattle and is one of the largest and busiest lakes in the state. From the back of your jet ski you will be able to see landmarks like Mount Rainier, Mercer Island and Husky Stadium.
  • Lake Roosevelt: This lake is formed by the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River and is one of the largest lakes in North America. Explore 600 miles of shoreline and numerous islands as you jet ski on this iconic lake.
  • Lake Sammamish: This lake is located east of Lake Washington and is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts. You can glide on the lake and enjoy its clear water and wooded surroundings.


Discover Underwater Wonders with Scuba Diving

Take a plunge into the waters of Keystone Jetty located in Whidbey Island to witness the lively marine fauna or test your limits by diving into the Juan de Fuca Strait for an unforgettable rendezvous with colossal Pacific octopuses and impressive wolf eels.

Clearly, there’s a variety of water sports that will satisfy everyone, regardless of age, preference or skill. Whether you want to take on some crazy rapids, chill on a calm shoreline or check out what's going on under the sea, Washington’s got you covered. Just remember, you're going to need more than a day to experience all the fun.

If you're planning a water sports getaway in Washington State and looking for places to stay, we recommend checking in to one of our Washington Inns. With our welcoming accommodations and convenient locations, you can wrap up your exciting day in comfort and warmth. No journey back – just pure relaxation in true Washington style. Book your stay today!

Tag us at @wainnsiders on Instagram! Let Washington INNSiders guide you to the perfect retreat. While we have highlighted a few great inns close to beautiful destinations, the Washington INNSiders boasts an exhaustive list of independent inns all over the state. Filter by desired characteristics to select the ideal B&B, inn, or hotel for your dream outdoor getaway. The experts behind Washington INNSiders inspect and approve all member properties, so you can confidently plan the perfect escape today.

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