There is no better way to experience a warm summer day in the Pacific Northwest than by leisurely paddling along one of the many stunning waterways in the region. Whether you are in and around Budd Inlet, out on Hood Canal or along the stunning shores of Lake Cushman, our corner of the greater Puget Sound region is full of beauty and wonder on the water.

oly ortho logoAs the temperature continues to increase and the days stay long and warm, why not treat yourself and your family to a day of fun and adventure on the waters around Olympia? The best part is that you don’t even need your own kayak!

Rent a Kayak

On the Puget Sound around Olympia, kayak rentals are reliable and easily accessible at two iconic local destinations. Tugboat Annie’s is a great spot to rent a kayak to explore the waters of Budd Inlet. Single kayaks cost $20 for the first two hours, while double kayaks are just $30 for the same amount of time. When the weather is good, the kayak rentals at Tugboat Annie’s open at 9am and close at dusk, giving you hours to paddle around the region.

Out at Boston Harbor Marina, rentals of single kayaks start at $20 for the first two hours, then $10 for each additional hour; tandem kayaks are $30 for the first two hours. Those looking for a full day on the water, $55 will get you a single kayak and $65 will allow you a full day on the water in a tandem kayak. Boston Harbor Marina also offers both sit-on and sit-in kayaks, depending on your level of comfort.

Suggested Routes in and Around the Puget Sound

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Experience the beauty and solitude of Hope Island in the Puget Sound from a kayak. Photo credit: Washington State Parks Foundation.

Once you have a kayak loaded up and are ready to go, picking a destination is both one of the most fun things to do and also one of the most difficult. While you could literally paddle anywhere you wanted, there are a few destinations from Olympia that are your best choices. The highlight for kayaking for most is the trip from Boston Harbor over to Hope Island State Park. Hope Island is accessible only by boat, making it a destination for those looking for solitude in natural beauty on a protected island. Offering miles of hiking trails and nearly private beaches for walking, lounging or tide pool watching, Hope Island is a local favorite and not often visited. If you haven’t been here, make this summer the year you reach this gorgeous and amazing island.

An easier paddle from Boston Harbor is the always impressive Gull Harbor Inlet. Located between Priest Point and Burfoot Parks, and accessed by paddling through two sand bars, Gull Harbor is a calm and soothing area where eagles, blue heron, deer and seals are commonly seen. Those looking for a longer paddle with a bit more solitude from the motorboat and sail boats should head west from Boston Harbor and explore Eld Inlet. Access to Frye Cove Park is a few miles away, and makes for a great resting place before either heading back or continuing on your modern day expedition.

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There is nothing as fun on a summer day than paddling the waters around Olympia. Photo credit: Theodore Scott.

From Tugboat Annies, trips around the marinas of Olympia make for a much easier paddling day for kayakers of all levels. While you can still access the aforementioned destinations from West Bay Marina, most who rent kayaks in the area tend to explore the reaches of Budd Inlet, taking in the spectacular views of both the Olympic Mountains and the city of Olympia. As the capitol stands tall above the city, the view from Budd Inlet is memorable and inspiring, as well as the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

If you have your own kayak, one of the classic and underrated regions to paddle is starting from the Nisqually Reach Nature Center and paddling down toward the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. Nearly every trip in this region will leave paddlers in awe with the scenic beauty and the abundance of wildlife seen on, in and above the water. Eagles, seals, blue herons and even otters are commonly seen along this route, making it a wildlife watchers dream destination.

Take a Tour

If renting your own kayak and finding your own destination seems a bit intimidating, don’t fret. Out on the Hood Canal, one of the few fjords in America, the good people out at Blue Horizon Paddlesports have you covered. Less than 90 minutes from Olympia, Blue Horizon offers numerous trips on Hood Canal and on Lake Cushman, getting paddlers up close and personal with the majestic beauty of the region.

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Experience the beauty and solitude of Hope Island in the Puget Sound from a kayak. Photo credit: Washington State Parks Foundation.

On Lake Cushman, paddle around the iconic lake while taking in the sights and sounds in the shadow of of the southeast Olympic Mountains. With dog and kid-friendly trips led by outdoor experts, this is an ideal way to see one of the many sections of wilderness just outside our front doors.

Slightly closer to town, the tours led by Blue Horizon will also get you out on the waters of Hood Canal. Full of wildlife, from eagles and blue herons to occasional sightings of orcas whales and dolphins, the waters of Hood Canal will surely inspire and fulfill your sense of wanderlust.

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