stand up paddle seattles puget sound lake washington
stand up paddle seattles puget sound lake washington

Experience the breathtaking beauty of Seattle’s Puget Sound and Lake Washington with Stand Up Paddle Seattle. Offering an unparalleled adventure, we invite you to embark on a thrilling journey as you paddle through the crystal-clear waters and take in the stunning vistas that surround you. Whether you’re a seasoned paddleboarder or a first-time explorer, our expert guides will ensure that you feel comfortable and confident as you navigate these iconic waterways. So grab your board and let the tranquility of the Sound and the allure of Lake Washington be your backdrop for an unforgettable paddleboarding experience. Get ready to immerse yourself in nature and discover the wonders that await you on Seattle’s waters.


Introduction to Stand Up Paddle (SUP)

Stand Up Paddle, commonly known as SUP, is a fast-growing watersport that offers a unique way to explore Seattle’s stunning Puget Sound and Lake Washington. It involves standing on a large, stable board and using a paddle to navigate the water. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely paddle, a fitness workout, or an adventure, SUP offers something for everyone. In this article, we will guide you through everything you need to know to get started with stand up paddleboarding in Seattle.

Why Seattle?

Seattle is the perfect place to experience stand up paddleboarding. With its stunning natural beauty and a myriad of waterways, including Puget Sound and Lake Washington, the city offers endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. The calm waters, breathtaking scenery, and vibrant marine life make Seattle a stand out destination for paddleboarding enthusiasts of all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, Seattle’s SUP scene has something to offer for everyone.

Exploring Puget Sound and Lake Washington

Puget Sound and Lake Washington are two of Seattle’s most prominent bodies of water, and they serve as ideal playgrounds for stand up paddleboarding. Puget Sound, a saltwater estuary, provides a diverse ecosystem that is home to an array of marine life and stunning coastal landscapes. Lake Washington, on the other hand, offers calm and peaceful waters, surrounded by beautiful parks and neighborhoods. Whether you choose to explore the open waters of Puget Sound or enjoy the tranquility of Lake Washington, both locations promise unforgettable paddleboarding adventures.



The most essential piece of equipment for stand up paddleboarding is, of course, the paddleboard itself. There are various types of paddleboards available, ranging from inflatable boards to rigid ones. Beginners often opt for inflatable boards as they offer a higher level of stability and are easier to transport. More experienced paddleboarders may prefer rigid boards for their improved performance in the water. When selecting a paddleboard, consider factors such as size, weight, and maneuverability to ensure it suits your needs and skill level.


A high-quality paddle is crucial for an enjoyable and efficient paddleboarding experience. Paddles are typically made of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or fiberglass, making them easy to handle and maneuver. When choosing a paddle, make sure it is the appropriate length and weight for your height and strength. It’s also worth considering the blade shape, as different shapes offer varying levels of power and control. Investing in a good paddle will greatly enhance your paddling performance and reduce fatigue.

Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

To ensure your safety on the water, wearing a personal floatation device (PFD) is essential. Even if you are a strong swimmer, unexpected situations can arise, and a PFD can be a lifesaver. There are different types of PFDs available, including inflatable ones, which offer comfort and ease of movement. Ensure that your PFD is approved by the appropriate safety regulations and fits snugly. Safety should always be a priority when paddleboarding, and wearing a PFD is a simple yet effective way to stay protected.

Appropriate Clothing

When paddleboarding, it’s important to wear appropriate clothing that will keep you comfortable and protected. In Seattle’s climate, dressing in layers is recommended, as weather conditions can change quickly. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep you dry and comfortable, and consider wearing a wetsuit or drysuit in colder conditions. It’s also advisable to wear water shoes or sandals to protect your feet while moving on and off the board. Don’t forget to wear a hat and sunglasses to shield yourself from the sun and glare.

Optional Accessories

While not essential, there are several optional accessories that can enhance your paddleboarding experience. One popular accessory is a leash, which attaches the board to your ankle or calf, preventing it from drifting away if you fall off. Another useful accessory is a waterproof bag or case to keep your belongings dry and secure. Additionally, a waterproof phone or GPS holder can come in handy for navigation or capturing memorable moments on the water. Explore the wide range of accessories available and choose the ones that suit your needs and preferences.

Safety Tips

Know the Conditions

Before heading out for a paddleboarding adventure, it’s crucial to check the weather and water conditions. Wind speed, wave height, and currents can greatly impact your safety on the water. Pay attention to weather forecasts and consult local resources for information on tidal currents and any potential hazards. If conditions are unfavorable or beyond your skill level, it’s best to postpone your paddle or choose a more sheltered location.

Wear a Leash

A leash is a simple yet important safety accessory that every paddleboarder should use. A leash attaches from your ankle or calf to the board, preventing it from floating away if you fall off. This not only allows you to easily retrieve your board but also ensures that it won’t become a hazard to other water users. In case of strong currents or unexpected accidents, a leash can be a lifesaver and should always be worn.

Be Aware of Boat Traffic

When paddleboarding on open water, it’s essential to be aware of boat traffic. Puget Sound and Lake Washington can be busy with boats, ferries, and other vessels. Stay alert and adhere to maritime rules and regulations to ensure your safety and the safety of other water users. Be visible by wearing bright colors or using a safety flag, and maintain a safe distance from larger vessels to avoid potential accidents.

Watch for Wildlife

Seattle’s waters are teeming with diverse wildlife, including seals, porpoises, and even whales. While encountering wildlife can be an incredible experience, it’s important to maintain a respectful distance and observe from afar. Do not approach or disturb marine animals, as they are protected by law and may become distressed by human presence. It is both our responsibility and privilege to share these waters with wildlife, so let’s do so with care and respect.

Stay Hydrated

Paddleboarding is a physical activity that can be quite demanding, especially on warmer days. It’s crucial to stay hydrated throughout your paddle to avoid fatigue or heat-related illnesses. Bring a water bottle or hydration pack with you and sip regularly to replenish your fluids. On longer paddles, consider bringing snacks to maintain your energy levels. By staying hydrated and nourished, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your paddleboarding experience.

Use Sun Protection

Seattle’s iconic waterways are often bathed in glorious sunshine, making sun protection a must. Apply sunscreen generously to exposed skin, even on cloudy days, as harmful UV rays can still penetrate through the clouds. Consider wearing a hat and sunglasses to further protect yourself from the sun’s rays and reduce glare on the water. By taking these precautions, you’ll safeguard your skin and eyes against potential sunburn and long-term damage.

Getting Started

Finding Paddleboard Rentals

If you’re new to stand up paddleboarding or don’t own your own equipment, renting a paddleboard is a convenient and cost-effective option. There are several rental shops and outdoor recreation centers in Seattle that offer paddleboard rentals by the hour or day. Research local rental providers, read reviews, and compare prices to find the one that suits your needs. Rental shops can also provide valuable advice on suitable locations and safety guidelines, ensuring you have a successful paddleboarding experience.

Taking a Lesson

For beginners, taking a paddleboarding lesson is highly recommended to learn the proper techniques and safety protocols. Many paddleboard rental shops and water sports centers in Seattle offer lessons for all skill levels. A certified instructor will guide you through the basics, including paddling strokes, balance, and turning. They will also provide valuable tips on improving your skills and staying safe on the water. Investing in a lesson will accelerate your learning curve and give you the confidence to paddle with ease.

Choosing the Right Location

Seattle offers a variety of locations for stand up paddleboarding, each with its own unique features and characteristics. When choosing a location, consider factors such as water conditions, proximity, and your skill level. Beginners may prefer calmer waters such as Lake Washington or sheltered bays, while more experienced paddleboarders may seek the challenge of open water in Puget Sound. Research different locations, speak to locals or instructors, and take into account your preferences to find the perfect spot for your paddleboarding adventure.

Understanding Tides and Currents

Seattle’s waters are subject to tidal changes and currents, which can significantly impact your paddleboarding experience. It’s important to familiarize yourself with tide charts and current forecasts before heading out on the water. Understanding the timing and strength of tides will help you plan your paddle and avoid challenging conditions. Consider consulting local resources or experienced paddlers for advice on best practices when navigating tides and currents. By gaining knowledge about tidal patterns, you’ll ensure a safer and more enjoyable paddleboarding experience.

Exploring Puget Sound

Discovery Park

Located on the shores of Puget Sound, Discovery Park offers a picturesque setting for paddleboarding. With its sandy beaches, towering cliffs, and panoramic views, this park is a paddler’s paradise. Launch your board from the beach and explore the Sound’s calm waters, keeping an eye out for harbor seals and other marine life. You can paddle along the shoreline, venture out to sea stacks, or even paddle to the mouth of the Ballard Locks. Discovery Park is a must-visit destination for both nature lovers and paddleboarding enthusiasts.

Alki Beach

Alki Beach, located in West Seattle, is a popular hub for outdoor activities, including paddleboarding. The beach offers a wide stretch of sandy shoreline where you can launch your board and embark on a paddling adventure. Take in stunning views of the Seattle skyline, paddle along the coast, or venture out to nearby Alki Point. Alki Beach also offers amenities such as restrooms, picnic areas, and restaurants, making it an ideal spot for a day of paddleboarding and relaxation.

Shilshole Bay

Shilshole Bay, located next to the Ballard neighborhood, is another fantastic location to explore on your paddleboard. Launch from Golden Gardens Park, a popular recreational area with a sandy beach and grassy picnic spots. Paddle along the bay, taking in the sights of boats and marinas, or head towards the nearby marina at Shilshole Bay. The bay’s calm waters and scenic surroundings make it a great place for both leisurely paddles and more adventurous journeys.

Blake Island

For a truly unique stand up paddleboarding experience, head to Blake Island State Park. Located a short distance from Seattle’s downtown, this island offers an escape into nature and a chance to immerse yourself in the rich indigenous culture of the Coast Salish people. Launch your board from the park’s designated area and paddle around the island’s coastline, taking in the stunning views and possibly spotting wildlife such as eagles or seals. Blake Island is a perfect destination for a day trip or overnight camping, allowing you to fully embrace the marine beauty of Puget Sound.

Bainbridge Island

Just a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle, Bainbridge Island is an idyllic destination for paddleboarding. Launch your board from one of the island’s many beaches, such as Fay Bainbridge Park or Waterfront Park, and explore the calm waters surrounding the island. Paddle along the coastline, pass by charming waterfront homes, or venture towards Blakely Rock, known for its abundant marine life. Bainbridge Island offers a peaceful and scenic paddleboarding experience, with the opportunity to enjoy local shops, restaurants, and galleries after your paddle.

Exploring Lake Washington


The city of Kirkland, located on the eastern shores of Lake Washington, provides an excellent starting point for paddleboarding adventures. Marina Park, situated in downtown Kirkland, features a sandy beach and a dedicated area for launching paddleboards. From there, you can paddle along the beautiful waterfront and take in the views of the city skyline. Kirkland offers a range of dining and shopping options, making it an ideal location for a day of paddleboarding followed by a stroll through the charming downtown area.

Juanita Bay

Juanita Bay, nestled on the northeastern corner of Lake Washington, is a tranquil and picturesque spot for paddleboarding. Launch your board from Juanita Beach Park and navigate the calm waters of the bay. Paddle around the bay’s marshes, home to a variety of bird species, and soak in the natural beauty that surrounds you. Juanita Bay also offers a network of walking trails, perfect for stretching your legs and exploring the area after your paddle.

Seward Park

Seward Park, located on a peninsula that extends into Lake Washington, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, including paddleboarders. Launch your board from the park’s beach area and paddle along the shoreline, taking in the scenic views of the lake and surrounding forests. The park’s calm waters and relatively sheltered location make it suitable for paddlers of all skill levels. After your paddle, explore the park’s trails, visit the Audubon Center, or enjoy a picnic in one of the designated areas.

Madison Park

Madison Park, situated on the shores of Lake Washington, offers a vibrant atmosphere and a range of recreational activities, including paddleboarding. Launch your board from the park’s sandy beach and paddle along the lakefront, admiring the charming homes and gardens that line the shore. Madison Park is also home to a variety of restaurants, cafes, and shops, providing the perfect opportunity to grab a bite to eat or relax with a cup of coffee after your paddle.

Mercer Island

Mercer Island, located in the middle of Lake Washington, is a unique location for stand up paddleboarding. Launch your board from Luther Burbank Park, which offers a dedicated paddleboard launch area, and explore the calm waters that surround the island. Paddle along the shoreline or venture to the eastern side of the island to enjoy serene views of the surrounding nature. Mercer Island provides a peaceful retreat from the busyness of city life, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility of Lake Washington.

SUP Events and Competitions

Seattle SUP Fest

Seattle SUP Fest is an annual event that brings together paddleboarding enthusiasts from all over the city. It features a variety of activities, including races, demos, and workshops, catering to all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner looking to try paddleboarding for the first time or an experienced paddler seeking a fun and competitive event, Seattle SUP Fest offers something for everyone. The festival also provides a great opportunity to connect with the local paddleboarding community and learn from experienced instructors and athletes.

PNW Paddleboard Race Series

For those seeking a competitive edge, the PNW Paddleboard Race Series offers a series of races throughout the Seattle area. The race series features different distances and divisions, allowing paddlers of all levels to participate. Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself in a sprint race or take on a longer endurance paddle, the PNW Paddleboard Race Series provides an exciting and supportive environment. Engaging in these races not only allows you to test your skills and fitness but also fosters a sense of community and camaraderie among fellow paddleboarders.

SUP Yoga Classes

Combine the benefits of paddleboarding with the calming practice of yoga by joining an SUP yoga class. Various yoga studios and outdoor recreation centers in Seattle offer SUP yoga classes, allowing you to experience the tranquility of the water while practicing yoga poses on a paddleboard. SUP yoga classes cater to all levels, and instructors provide guidance on maintaining balance and adapting poses to the paddleboard. Engaging in SUP yoga not only enhances your physical strength and flexibility but also allows for a unique and peaceful connection with nature.

Adventure Races

For those seeking a thrilling and adventurous experience, paddleboard adventure races are a great option. These races combine paddleboarding with other disciplines, such as trail running or mountain biking, to create a multi-sport challenge. Adventure races can take you through various landscapes, both on land and water, and test your endurance, navigation skills, and mental resilience. Participating in an adventure race not only offers an adrenaline rush but also brings a sense of accomplishment and pushes the boundaries of your paddleboarding abilities.

SUP Fitness and Training

SUP Yoga

SUP yoga combines the physical and mental benefits of yoga with the added challenge of maintaining balance on a paddleboard. Practicing yoga on a SUP board engages and strengthens core muscles as you work to stabilize your body on the water. SUP yoga also allows for a unique connection with nature, immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of the water while finding balance and harmony within. Joining SUP yoga classes or practicing on your own can enhance your overall fitness, flexibility, and mindfulness.

SUP Pilates

Similar to SUP yoga, SUP Pilates integrates the principles of Pilates into a paddleboarding experience. Pilates focuses on core strength, stability, and alignment, making it an ideal complement to stand up paddleboarding. Engaging in SUP Pilates workouts helps improve posture, enhance muscular strength, and develop a strong core, all of which are essential for balance and control on the water. Participating in SUP Pilates classes or following online workouts can elevate your paddleboarding skills and contribute to overall fitness and well-being.

Interval Training

Interval training is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness and build paddling endurance. On your paddleboard, alternate between periods of high-intensity paddling and recovery periods of lower intensity. This interval training technique elevates your heart rate, improving cardiovascular health, and allows your muscles to adapt to sustained effort. Incorporate interval training into your regular paddleboarding routine by increasing the intensity or duration of your paddling bursts. Interval training not only boosts your stamina but also keeps your paddleboard workouts fresh and challenging.

Endurance Paddling

For those looking for a long-distance challenge, endurance paddling offers a rewarding test of physical and mental strength. Set a goal for yourself, whether it’s paddling a certain distance or reaching a specific destination, and gradually build up your endurance over time. Regularly embark on longer paddleboarding journeys, increasing your distance or time on the water each outing. Endurance paddling not only improves your cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance but also allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of Seattle’s waters for extended periods.

Environmental Conservation

Leave No Trace Principles

When enjoying Seattle’s waters, it’s essential to follow the principles of Leave No Trace to minimize the impact on the environment. Pack out any trash or waste, including food wrappers and plastic bottles, and dispose of them properly. Avoid disturbing wildlife or marine life and refrain from feeding them, as this disrupts their natural behavior and can harm their health. Respect any regulations regarding wildlife protection and sensitive ecosystems. By practicing Leave No Trace principles, we can preserve the beauty of the natural environment for future generations of paddleboarders to enjoy.

Respecting Wildlife and Marine Life

Seattle’s waters are home to diverse wildlife, and it’s important to respect and preserve their habitats. When paddleboarding, keep a safe distance from animals to avoid disturbing their natural behaviors. This includes avoiding approaching nesting areas or areas where marine mammals are present. Do not feed wildlife or attempt to touch or interact with them, as this can be harmful to both the animals and yourself. By observing wildlife from a distance and minimizing our impact, we can coexist harmoniously with the rich marine life of the Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

Participating in Community Clean-up Efforts

Taking part in community clean-up efforts is a great way to contribute to the preservation of Seattle’s waters. Find local organizations or volunteer programs that organize clean-up events and join their efforts. These clean-ups often involve collecting trash and debris from beaches, parks, and waterways, preventing pollution and protecting wildlife. By actively participating in these clean-up initiatives, we can make a positive impact on the environment and help ensure that Seattle’s waters remain pristine and beautiful for future generations of paddleboarders to enjoy.


Seattle’s Puget Sound and Lake Washington offer endless opportunities for stand up paddleboarding adventures. Whether you’re looking to explore the calm waters of Lake Washington or experience the beauty and diversity of Puget Sound, Seattle has something for everyone. By following safety guidelines, respecting the environment, and embracing the vibrant paddleboarding scene, you can fully enjoy the beauty of Seattle’s waters while embracing a healthy and active lifestyle. So grab your paddleboard, get out on the water, and embark on an unforgettable paddleboarding journey in the Emerald City.

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Jake Walker
Hi, I'm Jake Walker, a passionate outdoor sports enthusiast and SUP Board expert. With years of experience in the field, I have gained extensive knowledge and expertise in all things related to SUP Boards. I am dedicated to providing valuable tips and advice to help fellow enthusiasts make informed decisions when it comes to choosing the right SUP Board gear. Throughout my journey in the SUP Board community, I have been recognized for my contributions and have received several prizes and rewards for my expertise. These accolades have further motivated me to continue sharing my knowledge and helping others navigate the exciting world of SUP Boarding. I believe in the transformative power of outdoor sports and how they can enhance our connection with nature. My writing philosophy revolves around inspiring individuals to embark on their own SUP Board adventures and embrace the thrill of exploring new waters. When it comes to my writing style, I strive to inject a personal touch into every piece I create. I want my readers to feel like they're having a conversation with a friend, providing them with relatable and practical advice that they can apply to their own SUP Boarding experiences. I am excited to be a part of, where I can engage with a community of like-minded individuals who share the same passion for SUP Boarding. Connect with me on this platform, and together, let's explore the world of SUP Boarding and make unforgettable memories on the water. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance in choosing the perfect SUP Board gear for your next adventure. Let's embark on this incredible journey together!