Water Ways

Where to Launch a Kayak or Standup Paddleboard in Seattle

Time to captain your own armada. Plus: Where to go for a post-paddle snack.

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

Alki Beach, where the specialty is sunsets.

Image: Brandon Hill

Alki Beach


Finding parking will probably be your biggest challenge when it comes to paddling in West Seattle. The Don Armeni Boat Ramp provides access for the Elliott Bay side of Alki.

Post Paddle: A sibling to a Capitol Hill classic eatery, Harry’s Beach House brings a funky farmhouse vibe to the otherwise marine-themed shoreline.

Most folks keep their clothes on at Denny Blaine Park.

Denny Blaine Park


At only two acres, this tiny stretch of waterfront is best known as a nudist gathering spot. Keep your eyes on the easy-to-use water access.

Post Paddle: Belle Epicurean bakery specializes in croissants and cozy hot beverages.

Goose Beach

South Lake Union

We regret to inform that the geese do indeed leave their mark on this stretch of Lake Union near MOHAI, but public parking is available near the Kenmore Air terminal—and the floatplanes make for good paddle views.

Post Paddle: Food spots are sparse on this western end of the lake, but it isn’t far to White Swan Public House on the east side and its oyster and champagne duos.

The scenic put-in spot at Golden Gardens.

Golden Gardens


The boat ramp on the south end of the busy park is best suited to trailers and the like, while the beach on the north side, where the parking lot ends in a marsh, provides easy access for people with kayaks and SUPs.

Post Paddle: The roast pork sandwiches of Un Bien boast a Paseo pedigree in a shop opened by the kids of the original Ballard classic’s owners.

Pritchard Island Beach

Rainier Valley

A bathhouse sits near the shore of a relatively quiet swim beach, on a plot of land that was an island before Lake Washington’s levels dropped and it joined the mainland.

Post Paddle: The Creole flavors of Jude’s include a po’boy and rich cups of gumbo, plus the option to top any salad with catfish.

Union Bay

University District

Near the University of Washington’s boathouse, nonstudents can slip into the waters of the Union Bay Natural Area. Birds are thick on the water and in the air, including soaring great blue herons.

 Post Paddle: Among all the chains in the university-adjacent shopping mall, Mr. West in University Village stands out with decadent breakfast dishes and a plant shop.

Colman Park

Mount Baker

North of the I-90 bridge, popular swim spots like Madrona Park block boaters from using the beaches to launch; this quiet stretch with limited parking has a gentle slope to the water.

Post Paddle: A hefty burger selection includes housemade veggie patties, a lamb burger, and jerk chicken at neighborhood favorite Heyday.

Lowman Beach

West Seattle

An honest-to-goodness beach (well, a rocky one) littered with driftwood gives this spot just north of Lincoln Park a less urban feel than Alki Beach, and the grass makes for easy boat-carrying.

Post Paddle: Fauntleroy’s Wildwood Market makes sandwiches with ingredients that feel just healthy enough, like hummus, seeded bread, and roast veggies.

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