Kayaking in Bellingham, WA is a popular sport here for the locals. And since the weather in Bellingham is fairly mild so you can kayak mostly all year around, (3 seasons for sure), granted the water isn't too "choppy."
When I first moved to Bellingham, kayaking was far from my mind. I didn't even know the difference between a kayak and a canoe, but makes sense to me now. It is much different from a canoe by the fact that a it has a "closed cockpit" and a canoe has an "open cockpit".
Another major difference is in the way the paddler sits in the kayak. They sit on a seat on the bottom of the boat with their legs extended out in front of them. And Canoeists will sit on a bench or kneel on the bottom of the boat according to Wikipedia. (Yes, I had to look it up. But today...I own a canoe!)
In August of 2006, Outside Magazine rated Bellingham, WA "the best paddling town in the US!"
Brandon Nelson paddled his way to a world record last spring by paddling 146 miles in 24 hours around Lake Whatcom!
It is also the ending sport in the most popular athletic event in Whatcom County. The annual Ski to Sea Celebration is a week long event that takes place every year in May.
Bellingham is also home to WAKE, Whatcom Association of Kayak Enthusiasts. They are a non-profit social club and they welcome any adult who wants to paddle with friendly company in the great Pacific Northwest to come with.
So, while you may be looking for things to do in Bellingham, you may want to give kayaking in Bellingham a try!
Check out my sea kayaking video below and the top 5 destination's to go kayaking in Bellingham!
I found this pearl about kayaking in Bellingham, WA, by an author named Blake Young I thought was interesting and compelling about the paddling sport. He quotes:
Bellingham, WA has the honor of being in one of the Pacific Northwest's best kayaking areas. Surrounded by waters teeming with marine mammals from otter families to whale pods and islands filled with geological, archeological and natural beauties, Bellingham is a kayak enthusiast's dream. Let's look at 5 places no kayaker visiting the Bellingham area could afford to miss.
Bellingham Bay - Our own bay offers some of the best short-trip kayaking in the area. When the weather is favorable, the Bay offers sunsets of sublime qualities, bathing the sky in a palate of hues almost unimaginable. From bright reds and oranges, to subtler shades of pinks and purples, leading into the dark indigo of night, sunset on Bellingham Bay is only more beautiful when experienced from the water itself.
Before the sun goes down, though, you'll most likely have the opportunity to take in some of the earthlier beauties - bald eagles overhead, loons paddling by, herons fishing for their dinners, and seals splashing and playing. Bellingham Bay is known for its calmer winds and tides, too, making it an ideal kayaking in Bellingham experience for the novice and lesser-experienced paddler. The Bay makes a great "putting in" spot for short excursions to Chuckanut Bay, Samish Bay, and Lummi Island.
Chuckanut Bay - Located just south of Bellingham, about an hours paddle from Fairhaven on a fairly good day. Chuckanut Bay offers the kayaker a trip back in time, through a Neolithic landscape. The winds and waves have carved and sculpted the sandstone into fantastic formations. It's never the same trip twice, as the tide levels, angel and quality of the sunlight all serve to change the looks of the sandstone shoreline.
The sandstone swirls and curls, dips into honeycombs and caves. Great cylindrical "trunks" that are properly called "concretions" show through the stone. Once widely believed to be fossilized tree trunks, they are naturally occurring, formed by water flowing through the sandstone, depositing calcium carbonate in its wake.
Birds flourish among the rock formations, changing too, with the seasons. The colder, wetter winter months see flocks of migratory birds nesting there, while summer paddlers can be treated to flocks of locals, swooping and swirling overhead. Chuckanut Bay is home to Chuckanut Island. The island is uninhabited, owned by the Nature Conservancy, and home to a roughly kept trail, 240 year old fir trees, an eagle's nest or two and a group of black oyster catchers that live on an inlet off the shore. It makes a good spot for a picnic lunch and stretching the legs.
Orcas Island - Another great place to go kayaking in Bellingham is around Orcas Island. It is the largest and most spectacular of the San Juan Islands. Accessible by the San Juan Island Commuter ferry from Bellingham, WA, daily during the summer months, Orcas Island has a lot to offer, on the water and off.
The scattered small villages that dot the island offer unique dining and overnight accommodations, as well as opportunities for shopping and other entertainment. The scattered nature of Orcas Island means that there is a peaceful, less-hurried, natural aspect to the island's atmosphere.
From the water, one can experience the thrill of paddling with the whales that give the island its name, as pods of orcas call the area home. Porpoise, otters and seals can be found here, too, as well as many, many species of birds and other wildlife. You can watch closely along the shore and spot a deer family watching you from the woods.
Yellow Island - Yellow Island is another great place to go kayaking in Bellingham. Located off the southern coast of Orcas Island, between Orcas, Shaw and San Juan Islands, tiny, uninhabited Yellow Island is a nature lover's paradise.
Owned and maintained by the Washington State Nature Conservancy, Yellow Island is home to over 50 species of wildflowers. The island is also home to the only cactus native to western Washington, the brittle prickly pear cactus. With no native grazing animals, YellowIsland's vegetation is allowed to flourish naturally, carpeting it in a glorious riot of color every Spring and Summer.
Offshore, pods of orcas and Minke whales are often seen. California and Stellar sea lions call the islands windswept, wave beaten shorelines home. Bald eagles can often be spotted perching in the trees overhead. Harbor seals give birth on the island's east spit, while using the west spit for sunbathing.
Hummingbirds, songbirds, harlequin ducks and oyster catchers all abound on Yellow Island. The only land mammals commonly seen on the island are mink and otter. Yellow Island's 11 acres offer the paddler a unique place to picnic or rest, while serving up a nature-lover's feast.
Barkley Sound, Vancouver, Canada - Not exactly kayaking in Bellingham, but it's not far from Bellingham. You've got to head north to get to Barkley Bay and its unique Broken Group Islands. The Broken Group's are over 100 small islands, islets and rocky outcrops. The islands offer the best of the west coast well within protected, calm waters. The sheltered nature of Barkley Sound makes it ideal for novice or inexperienced kayakers, as well as a relaxing paddle for those with more experience. As part of the Pacific Rim National Park, the Sound hosts 7 designated camping areas, as well as ferry service to an old whaling station, Sechart.
Sechart makes a great putting in spot for the novice paddler. Accommodations are non-existent, though, so unless you are fully prepared to really rough it, some pre-trip training may be in order.
One of the appeals of the Broken Group Islands to kayakers is the chance to paddle to remote and desolate areas without leaving the confines of the Park. The islands teem with lagoons, blow holes, sandbars, arches and secluded anchorages. The Islands have been home to the native Nuu-chah-nulth people for thousands of years.
There are about 100 historically significant spots within the Broken Group, from middens to stone fish traps, giving the amateur archeologist or history buff an added bonus to the trip. Snorkeling, fishing, tide pooling, and beachcombing can ensure that the time you spend out of your kayak is time well spent, too. When you want to paddle away from it all, but stay close to home, Barkley Sound is the perfect place to go!
The Bellingham, WA area of the Pacific Northwest offers many unique, not-to-be-missed opportunities, whether novice or long-time paddler. With suitable conditions in some areas 3 seasons out of the year, Bellingham may just be the Paradise every kayaker hopes to find.
About the author: The NuCanoe is ideal for fishing, hunting, paddling, rowing, diving, and more. No other fishing kayak gives you this much versatility, stability, comfort, safety and on-the-waterfun! You can visit them online today at Nucanoe.com.
Just makes you want to go kayaking in Bellingham, WA, doesn't it? Other great places to go kayaking in Bellingham is our very own Lake Padden (shown in the above photo), a beautiful and serene lake located just off of Samish Way going south.
There is only one place in town that I know of, recently (summer 2011), that offers sea kayaking rentals in Bellingham...
Community Boating Center
555 Harris Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98225
You can call them at 360-714-8891, or, visit their website at Boating Centers.org It will open into a new window.
The boating center is open from 10 am-6 pm, Wednesday through Sunday.
Thank you CBC for "being there for us!" If ANYONE knows of any other places to rent kayaks or canoes around Bellingham, please! Contact me and I'll get them on here. Thanks!
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