Fun Ways To Get Out on the Water in the Northwest If You Don’t Have a Boat

With so many lakes, rivers and even ocean waters to explore, lots of people in the Northwest have their own boat, but of course, there are many more who don’t have that luxury. The good news is that if you’re one of them, there are many ways you can get out and enjoy the water without having to spend a ton of money buying a boat, including these.

USA River Cruises
photo credit: USA River Cruises

USA River Cruises

Taking a river cruise is a great way to explore the beauty of the breathtaking Northwest. USA River Cruises offers a variety of options that will allow you to sail along the Columbia River, including romantic paddlewheelers like the Queen of the West, American Empress and American Pride, as well as luxurious yachts. Either way you can glide across the water, following the original routes of Lewis and Clark while soaking up scenery that includes magnificent waterfalls, lush vineyards, impressive canyons and even desert landscapes, along with a host of wildlife.

If you’ve always dreamed of sailing the San Juan Islands, located just off the Washington State coast, island hopping with USA River Cruises is another option. Sailing the Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, keeping an eye out for orca whales, seals, porpoise, bald eagles and all sorts of other wildlife can be enjoyed too.

Center For Wooden Boats
photo credit: Center For Wooden Boats


Center For Wooden Boats, Seattle

If you don’t have a lot of experience but want to get out on the water, the Center For Wooden Boats in Seattle may be ideal. Pedal boats, classic canoes and rowboats are all available and allow you to float around Lake Union at a relatively inexpensive price.

If you’re an experienced sailor,  you can upgrade to a sailboat by passing a sailing test. Yet another very affordable option is the weekly public sails that are led by volunteer skippers – they’re so affordable, they’re free.

Northwest Outdoor Center, Seattle

The Northwest Outdoor Center offers kayaks for rent, including singles, doubles and triples, as well as stand-up paddleboards for paddling around Lake Union to Lake Washington.

Port Townsend Paddlesports
photo credit: Port Townsend Paddlesports

Port Townsend Paddlesports, Port Townsend

Head to beautiful Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, and if you’re an experienced sea kayaker you can rent a sea kayak to explore the waters of Port Townsend Bay and Admiralty Inlet, with miles and miles of shoreline to explore and wildlife to see. If you’re a beginner, kayak tours are available daily in the summer.



Columbia River Watersports, Columbia River

Water sports adventures on the Columbia River, which divides Washington and Oregon states, are many. You can water ski, cruise, sail, kayak, wake board, wind surf and just about everything else you can think of. Columbia River Rentals offers a variety of boat rentals, while Hood River Waterplay offers windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, jet skis, wave runner rentals, kayak rentals and catamarans. If you’re a beginner, lessons are available too.

Whitewater rafting Idaho
photo credit: The River Company


The River Company, Sun Valley and Stanley, Idaho

If you want to experience the thrill of whitewater rafting, The River Company offers a variety of adventures that are sure to get your heart pounding. Professional guides will take you out across the lively class II and III rapids while you take in jaw-dropping scenery.

Snake River Adventures, Idaho

Snake River Adventures will bring your through the rugged Hells Canyon, North America’s Deepest River Gorge, offering half-day to full-day jet boat tours. Guided fishing trips are available too.