Water Ways

The Best Places to Rent a Kayak or Standup Paddleboard in Seattle

No boat? No problem. Check out a seafaring vessel for the day. Plus: What's up with hydrofoils?

By Allison Williams May 11, 2023 Published in the Summer 2023 issue of Seattle Met

Northwest Outdoor Center sits on the west side of Lake Union and is well stocked with beginner-friendly boats.

Northwest Outdoor Center


With new and used gear for sale, annual rental passes, and classes, this organization serves as a destination for locals who don’t want to play bumper boats with tourists as they embrace a new sport.

Agua Verde Paddle Club

University District

Boating with a side of Baja. While the Mexican restaurant at street level serves quesabirria and rockfish tacos, the on-water Lake Union rental operation dishes single and double kayaks, plus stand-up paddleboards and paddle tours. The third of three hours is free on weekdays.

Moss Bay Rentals

South Lake Union

Tucked between waterfront restaurants, this outfit specializes in groups—like birthday parties—and tours using their kayaks and SUPs, and is pedestrian-
friendly from downtown.

Salmon Bay Paddle specializes in scenic SUP rides.

Salmon Bay Paddle


Not a rental shop but a lessons-only school; classes include youth paddleboard experience and guided entry into using a SUP on surf waves. Kayak classes take place in dramatic spots like Deception Pass or the Tacoma Narrows.

Issaquah Paddle Sports


Summer-only rentals in Lake Sammamish State Park are booked using advance online reservations, ideal for a park that gets crowded on sunny Saturdays. Beyond the usual kayaks and SUPs, they rent a five-person party paddleboard.

Alki Kayak Tours offers the classic skyline view.

Alki Kayak Tours


The water taxi from downtown Seattle arrives right next to this operator in a spot few would call Alki. But on-site sea and sit-on-top kayaks can be launched into a stretch of Elliott Bay that’s a little more protected than what’s off Alki Beach proper.

Perfect Wave


Houghton Beach Park’s summer-only rental location offers stand-up paddleboards and kayaks, plus eFoil demos and doggie SUP lessons, and a year-round shop a little inland.



Specializing in all things SUP, the north Lake Washington rental service also sends floaters into the Sammamish River at its Bothell location; reserve in advance to connect the two locations in a float and get a bike rental for the return trip.

Free Foiling

What are those things?

Like a paddleboard, minus the paddle. Similar to a surfboard, only with something going on under water. The act of describing a hydrofoil often devolves into grasping for familiar comparisons, but the complicated toy has grown in popularity largely because it is unlike everything else on the water. The board has a flat piece under the surface that works like an airplane wing to push the rider into the air, giving them the look of an airborne surfer on a waveless lake.

“Foiling is basically just flying under water,” says Bobby Arzadon, who operates hydrofoil demos and lessons out of Perfect Wave in Kirkland. The electric versions he offers, eFoils, include a small motor to propel the user. Operating the contraption takes only a little practice, but at more than $10,000 a pop for a quality board, the sport will likely remain niche—and befuddling to spectators who spot hydrofoilers riding waves. 

Filed under
Show Comments