Kayaking in Whatcom County Washington
Bellingham and Whatcom County have tons of great places to kayak. From Lake Whatcom to Birch Bay, the Northern Puget Sound is a beautiful summer kayaking destination.
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Whatcom County in northwestern Washington State is a nature lover’s paradise, and kayaking is one of the best ways to explore its many charms. The sheltered waters of Bellingham Bay and Chuckanut Bay are perfect for beginners, while the rugged coastline and towering peaks of the North Cascades offer more challenging routes for experienced paddlers. No matter what your level of experience, you’re sure to find a route that suits you in Whatcom County.

Some of the best kayaking spots in Whatcom County include Blanchard Island Marine Park, Samish Bay, and Larrabee State Park. Birch Bay State Park is known for its saltwater and abundance of wildlife, while Samish Bay is perfect for watching sunsets over the San Juan Islands. Larrabee State Park offers miles of rugged coastline and pristine beaches, as well as plenty of opportunities for paddling, fishing, hiking, and camping.

So if you’re looking for a beautiful place to paddle your kayak, look no further than Whatcom County!

Bellingham and Whatcom County have tons of great places to kayak. From Lake Whatcom to Birch Bay, the Northern Puget Sound is a beautiful summer kayaking destination.

Where is Whatcom County?

Whatcom County, Washington is located in the Northwest quadrant of Washington State. Across the Puget Sound from the Olympic Peninsula, it is where the USA meets Canada. Actually, Point Roberts is a part of Whatcom County that juts off of British Columbia and doesn’t touch the rest of the State of Washington.

It’s about 2 hours driving from Seattle to get to Whatcom County, or about 45 minutes from Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s gorgeous!

Easy Kayaking Spots in Whatcom County

Those looking at picking up paddling as a new hobby won’t have a hard time finding a place to try it in Whatcom County. Basing yourself out of Bellingham there are plenty of choices just miles from downtown. There are plenty of lakes with calm waters including Lake Samish, Lake Whatcom, and Lake Padden.

Lake Padden

Lake Padden is one of Bellingham’s local favorites- paddlers, cyclists, runners, and those going on leisure walks come out given its 3.5-mile distance from downtown. Great for all seasons this is perfect for beginner kayakers with its gentle waters. 

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Marina Park

Every year Marine Park hosts the Ski to Sea race in May. The park is great for paddleboarders and first-time kayaks or those wanting a leisure paddle. The beach is wide, with a gentle slope, and easy for portaging your kayak. 

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Lake Samish

Lake Samish is a popular kayaking destination in Whatcom County, Washington. The tranquil waters of the lake are perfect for beginners, and the park offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, hiking, and camping. Some of the best kayaking spots in the park include the south end of the lake, where you can paddle past towering cliffs and abandoned homesteads, and the north end of the lake, where you can explore the marshlands and wildlife of Samish Bay.

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Lake Whatcom

Lake Whatcom is a beautiful, serene spot for kayaking and canoeing. The lake is large and well-stocked with fish, making it a popular destination for anglers. There are also several islands in the lake that offer great camping spots, and the surrounding woods are perfect for hiking and exploring.

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Difficult and Technical Kayaking in Whatcom County

Bellingham is a hub for seasoned paddlers. The waters of Whatcom County offer tons of opportunities for more challenging sea kayaking. Below we list a few of our go-to spots in the area.  Always check tides and weather conditions before heading out. 

Portage Island

Portage Island is part of the Lummi Native American Tribal lands and offers culture and a great place for exploring. While most folks opt for the San Juans, those that choose to kayak Bellingham Bay and Lummi Bay are pleasantly surprised by the areas’ natural beauty. 

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Chuckanut Island

Kayaking on Chuckanut Island is a wonderful way to experience the natural beauty of Washington State. The sheltered waters of Bellingham Bay are perfect for beginners, while the rugged coastline and towering peaks of the North Cascades offer more challenging routes for experienced paddlers. No matter what your level of experience, you’re sure to find a route that suits you on Chuckanut Island.

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Gooseberry Point

If you’re looking for a breathtaking kayaking experience, look no further than Gooseberry Point in Whatcom County, Washington. This secluded spot offers stunning views of the Pacific Coast and the snow-capped peaks of the North Cascades, and it’s the perfect place to soak up some sun and enjoy a day on the water. A popular route is from Gooseberry Point to Lummi Island. Always check the tides before heading out.

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Nooksack River Delta 

The Nooksack River Delta is a hidden gem for kayakers in Washington State. This undeveloped area is home to miles of unspoiled shoreline and pristine wetlands, providing the perfect setting for a peaceful paddle. The Nooksack River Delta is a great place for beginners, as the calm waters are relatively easy to navigate. However, there are also some more challenging routes for experienced paddlers.

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National / State Park Kayaking Spots near Whatcom County

The Evergreen State is truly blessed with state parks, Whatcom County is no exception. Deception Pass State Park is the most visited park in the state with the iconic Deception Pass Bridge. Whale watching in the sea is common weather you’re launching from Larrabee State Park or Birch Bay. Here are our recommendations for parks in the area. 

Wildcat Cove, Larrabee State Park

Wildcat Cove is located in Larrabee State Park. It is characterized by forested surroundings and sandstone formations with minimal human development in the area. While currents are mild,  they may prove challenging for beginners. Be mindful of the tides as well as not to get stuck in the shallow Samish Bay.

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Bowman Bay, Deception Pass State Park

Bowman Bay is located in Anacortes, on the northern side of Washington State’s most visited park, Deception Pass State Park. The area is home to beautiful tide pools, short hikes surrounded by forests, and scenic views. For those going out past the bay be wary of the currents. 

DO NOT go kayaking through Deception Pass. The waters here are SO INTENSE. I’ve watched power boats struggle and have spent many hours hiking at Deception Pass observing the currents. Don’t do it.

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Birch Bay State Park

Birch Bay State Park is a state park located in Blaine near the US/Canadian border. It is popular for camping as well as clamming and fishing.  The area is filled with wildlife, especially the popular bald eagle. Paddlers will enjoy tranquil waters and gorgeous sunsets. 

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Point Roberts’ Lighthouse Marine Park

Located at the tip of Tsawwassen Peninsula the small Point Roberts’ Lighthouse Marine Park is a beautiful area to spend a day. The shoreline is characterized by its rocky beach and offers great wildlife viewing. It is popular for whale watching with Orca pods present. 

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Recommended Kayaking Tours in Whatcom County

Kayaking in Deception Pass State Park 2022 – If you are going through Deception Pass State Park, check out this kayaking tour. Start at beautiful Bowman Bay and make your way towards the famous Deception Pass bridge as professional guides will take help you tackle the tricky currents of the area. Be sure to ask your guide to point out any wildlife as there are opportunities to see bald eagles or whales. 

3-Hour Sea Kayak Tour in the San Juan Islands – Launching from Anacortes this tour takes you from Whatcom County into the gorgeous San Juan Islands which are teeming with wildlife. Look out for seals, porpoises, and even orcas. On the trip, you will visit several uninhabited islands such as Burrows Island. 

Need to Know for Visiting Whatcom County

Whatcom County is the perfect destination for kayakers of all levels of experience. With its sheltered bays and rugged coastline, there’s something for everyone in this picturesque corner of Washington State. Whether you’re a beginner looking for an easy paddle or an experienced kayaker looking for a challenge, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in Whatcom County.

When to Visit Whatcom County

There’s no wrong time to visit Whatcom County, Washington, but some times are definitely better than others (winter is wet!). The county is home to a wide variety of events and activities, many of which take place in the summer months. If you’re looking for a fun and festive way to spend your vacation, be sure to check out the calendar of events below.

Some of the most popular events in Whatcom County include the Lummi Island Wild Salmon Celebration, the Chuckanut Bay 5k Run/Walk, and the Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest. The Lummi Island Wild Salmon Celebration is held every August and features a wide variety of salmon-themed activities, including cooking demos, educational workshops, and a seafood feast. The Chuckanut Bay 5k Run/Walk is held every June and benefits the Whatcom County Humane Society. And the Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest is held every July and attracts sand sculptors from all over the world.

So whether you’re looking for a festive celebration or a quiet escape, be sure to plan your visit to Whatcom County accordingly!

Weather in Whatcom County

Whatcom County is located in the northwestern corner of Washington State, and its climate is characterized by mild temperatures and abundant rainfall. The average temperature in Bellingham, the county seat, is 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the area sees significant rainfall throughout the year. The summer months are generally mild and pleasant, while the winter months can be wet and cold.

The climate of Whatcom County is perfect for outdoor activities, and the area is known for its hiking trails, biking trails, and beautiful parks. In the summer months, visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding in the county’s many lakes and rivers. And in the winter months, skiers and snowboarders can hit the slopes at the Mt. Baker Ski Area. No matter what time of year you visit, you’re sure to find plenty of things to do in Whatcom County!

Bellingham and Whatcom County have tons of great places to kayak. From Lake Whatcom to Birch Bay, the Northern Puget Sound is a beautiful summer kayaking destination.

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