Western Washington is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, with an abundance of natural beauty and recreational activities aplenty. While there are countless ways to enjoy the Northwest’s treasures, one of the best by far is boating. Patrick Swindale, a boating enthusiast from Lakewood, WA, shares his four favorite spots.
4 Best Boating Destinations Near Seattle
- San Juan Islands
The San Juans are arguably Puget Sound’s most famous. The archipelago is best known for its spectacular vistas, untainted nature, and whale-watching. A hot spot for orca sightings, it’s also possible to see half a dozen other whales, dolphin, or porpoise species depending on the time of year. Each summer, boat manufacturer Bayliner hosts a boating event on San Juan Island, the largest of the islands, the perfect opportunity to meet other boating enthusiasts. To rent a boat and head to the San Juans from the mainland, drive to Anacortes or Bellingham to pick up a vessel. Ferries also reach the islands from these ports.
- Vashon Island
Vashon Island, also known as the “Heart of the Sound” is known for its artsy and eclectic vibe. Reachable only by boat, it’s the ideal retreat for creatives of all types. Ashore is shopping and tasty fare aplenty, as well as a theater and print shops. The waters surrounding Vashon are equally appealing, offering lovely views of the Sound.
Known as “Little Norway on the Fjord,” Poulsbo is a picturesque small town with big character. Its port was named Boater’s Choice by Marinas.com in 2018 and the bustling Front Street is lined with shops and eateries. There’s also a Sea Discovery Center, a major attraction for families. Located just 20 minutes from Seattle, Liberty Bay’s calm waters are great for casual cruising, or you can hop on to nearby destinations such as Port Townsend and Coupeville, each of which has historic charm and beautiful views of its own.
- Bell Harbor Marina
Bell Harbor Marina is the only recreational marina in the city. From Bell Harbor, you can avoid Seattle’s notorious traffic jams and make your way to major attractions like Pike Place Market, the Seattle Aquarium, and all the rest downtown Seattle has to offer, including shopping and restaurants galore. The best time to visit Bell Harbor, Patrick Swindale said, is the 4th of July. You won’t get a better view of the fireworks anywhere in the city.
More on Patrick Swindale
Patrick Swindale works full-time as an engineer at HMS Global Maritime, Inc. and maintains a 4.0 grade-point average at the Loeb School for International Business at Maine Maritime Academy where he is studying for his Masters of Science in International Logistics Management. When he is not at work or in class, he spends time with his family and takes his autistic brother, of whom he is a legal guardian, to the gym or hiking five days a week.
An Eagle Scout and former assistant scoutmaster, Patrick Swindale is community-minded and spends his remaining hours giving back. He assists with his old Scout group and local charity efforts and has participated in St. John Bosco Youth Group and Knights of Columbus. He is also a regular speaker at his church.