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Let’s face it: it’d be nearly impossible to keep the best places for kayaking Puget Sound secret for very long. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try.
While a bit tougher to find, some great paddles still exist on the Sound that are a little less popular and more removed than those frequented by the masses.
Here are five such adventures for kayaking Puget Sound that offer some of the best scenery, solitude and satisfaction.
5 Hidden Spots for Kayaking Puget Sound
This little island northeast of Sequim has a most practical name — and for good reason. It’s home to a 379-acre National Wildlife Refuge that provides much-needed protection to an array of wildlife. A variety of bird species call the island home, like tufted puffins, bald eagles and rhinoceros auklets. No visitors are allowed on the island, so a quiet kayak around its perimeter — after launching from Diamond Point due south — makes for the perfect adventure for experienced paddlers.
No, it’s not that Hope Island (by Deception Pass). This Hope Island is a much quieter and subtler destination in the South Sound about an hour’s paddle away from the launch at Boston Harbor near Olympia. The paddle itself is pleasant enough, but plan on exploring the island too. Home to a 106-acre marine camping park, the island also offers up old-growth forests, saltwater marshes and bounties of shellfish and wild mushrooms for those who know what they’re looking for.
You can’t talk Puget Sound area kayaking without an adventure in the San Juan Islands. This tiny island is part of the San Juan National Wildlife Refuge, and though it may seem highly trafficked in the summer, the shoulder seasons offer a bit more solitude. It’s an easy paddle from Friday Harbor and can make a great stop for the night for those looking to explore more of the San Juans across multi-day trips.
OK, there’s nothing hidden about Seattle’s Elliott Bay. But the scenic views from out on the water here — the skyline, the Olympic Mountains and even Mt. Rainier — are just too jaw-dropping to leave out. Plus it’s close for locals and visitors who just want to get out on the water without a long haul. The bay can even be a great place for a family-friendly kayak, though always check the weather and the tides, and consider a morning adventure, when the sailing’s usually a little smoother.
Washington Park Arboretum
Tons of visitors to this popular park stroll its trails to take it all in. But there are a few paddling options that can provide a different view of the arboretum’s botanical goodness, as well. Launch from Foster Island Road and explore the similarly-named island, or dip in and out of the inlets of Union Bay, which are also frequented by blue herons, bald eagles and a mix of other Northwest fauna.