The crackling call of a kingfisher. Nesting seals and their seal pups. Bald eagles and herons swooping overhead. You can expect to witness incredible natural moments like these when you go kayaking in the sparkling waters of Olympia’s Budd Inlet. Start your journey at West Bay Marina, where Tugboat Annies will be your gateway to an unforgettable sea kayaking experience. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a curious beginner, this picturesque location offers everything you need for an enjoyable day sea kayaking in Olympia.

woman at the table at Tugboat Annie's rental kiosk - a red building with a large open walkway with kayaks piled behind the table
When you arrive at the Tugboat Annies sea kayak rental kiosk, staff are ready to assist with renting gear and discussing the necessary information for heading out on the water. Photo credit: Leo Thom

Rent Sea Kayaks in Olympia at West Bay Marina

Tugboat Annies provides sea kayak rentals out of West Bay Marina seven days a week. Generally, the hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but it can vary slightly depending on the time of year. Whether you’re a solo adventurer, part of a group or seeking a family outing, they have the sea kayaking gear that you will need.

Single kayaks cost $20 and tandem kayaks cost $30. Rentals include paddles and life vests so you only need to bring appropriate clothing and a dry bag – if you have one – for personal items. The base rates cover the first two hours, after which each additional hour costs $7. That’s a great deal for a day spent out on the waves.

line of kayaks on the dock at Tugboat Annies in Olympia
It’s a straightforward process to pick your kayaks and load them before pushing off. Tugboat Annies has a beginner-friendly loading station for getting in and out. Photo credit: Leo Thom

What You Can Do While Sea Kayaking in Budd Inlet

Exiting West Bay Marina, you have two primary courses to choose from. If you’re in the mood for a leisurely ride, head south towards the Olympia downtown and marina area. Paddle along at a relaxed pace, taking in the stunning views of the city skyline and surrounding landscapes.

When the conditions are right, you can also choose to head north. Here you will find logs and rocks where seals like to sun themselves, as well as perches for birds and other wildlife. It’s magical to feel so immersed in the natural environment. Make sure not to approach or feed animals, but if they are passing by there’s no harm in peacefully observing them. The golden rule is to stay 50 yards away from all marine mammals.

seal sunning on a log floating in the Puget Sound, shore and a treeline in the background
Seals like to sun themselves on log booms or large rocks north of West Bay Marina. During early summer, you might catch some seals teaching their pups how to navigate the deeper waters. Photo credit: Leo Thom

Advice From the Sea Kayak Team at West Bay Marina

Lauren Sanchez is the general manager at Tugboat Annies and has been helping people embark on sea kayak adventures for several years. “We see a range of experience levels when renting out kayaks, but people tend to enjoy it across the board,” Sanchez shares. “If you’re new, there are a few things you want to think about. First, always be aware of your surroundings. Being on the water is sort of like being on the road,” she explains.

“It’s also important to be respectful to those that you’re sharing the space with. We have an active marina and active wildlife. This makes for a great outing, but also means it’s important to follow the rules that are put in place to keep everyone safe and protect the environment,” Sanchez continues. “Oh, and check the wind. If it’s any more than 5mph, it can be dicey. If it’s more than 10mph we will stop renting out the kayaks until conditions change.”

Tugboat Annies has a Kayak Manual that you must be familiar with before completing a rental. You can do so beforehand or when you arrive at the kayak rental kiosk. It’s never a bad idea to arm yourself with information before heading out on an adventure. Giving them a preliminary call can help with this as well.

Check out the Tugboat Annies website for more information or give them a call at 360.943.1850 to ask staff directly.

tip of a yellow kayak in the Puget Sound pointed toward the Olympia Capitol, which can be seen from a distance
You can paddle south from West Bay Marina to check out downtown Olympia with a unique perspective. Photo credit: Leo Thom

Places to Eat and Stay in Olympia

After a day on the water, you’ll undoubtedly work up an appetite. Fortunately, Tugboat Annies has you covered there too. You can treat yourself to a delicious meal while enjoying the waterfront ambiance. From fresh seafood to mouthwatering burgers, their menu offers a good variety. Tugboat Annies often features live music, which provides the perfect backdrop for a memorable evening. Olympia – and Thurston County – is home to a multitude of unique, locally sourced, hand-crafted dining experiences. Check them out here!

If you wish to extend your stay and explore more of Olympia’s attractions, there are several accommodations nearby. From cozy bed and breakfasts like The Marie Bed & Breakfast and the Swantown Inn to modern hotels like the DoubleTree, you’ll find a range of options that cater to your preferences. Immerse yourself in the local hospitality, recharge and wake up ready for another day of adventure in this vibrant city.

There’s Fun to Be Had in Olympia Year-Round

Olympia has many opportunities for travel and leisure year-round, as shown on the Experience Olympia & Beyond website. This useful resource can help you organize your trip based on specific needs. Don’t hesitate to plan your sea kayaking adventure in Olympia this summer!


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