Water Adventures

Bellingham and Whatcom County are home to more than 100 miles of shoreline on the Salish Sea, including Chuckanut Bay, Bellingham Bay,  Lummi Island, Lummi Bay, Cherry Point, Birch Bay, Drayton Harbor and Point Roberts. This, combined with the waters of Lake Whatcom, Lake Samish, Lake Padden and the Nooksack River provide a diverse marine habitat and playground. Here are a number of ideas for getting out on the water:


  • Bring your own equipment to enjoy kayaking, canoeing and SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) on Bellingham Bay, Lake Whatcom,  Lake Samish and Lake Padden and off Lummi Island.
  • Half day and full day Sea kayaking tours for groups and individuals are offered May through September by Moondance Sea Kayaking Adventures.
  • Rental equipment, classes and lessons for paddling and sailing are offered at the Community Boating Center near the Fairhaven Historic District during the summer months. Rental kayaks and paddle boards are also available at Paddle and Pedal Adventures with locations at Birch Bay and Semiahmoo during the summer.
  • SUP board rentals and lessons, as well as kiteboarding lessons, are offered by KitePaddleSurf at Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham.

For fun paddling ideas:

Whale Watching and Day Trips: Three companies offer whale watching trips through the Salish Sea from Whatcom County each May through September.  San Juan Cruises departs from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven, offering full-day whale watching cruises to Friday Harbor with a complimentary Northwest salmon lunch, as well as sunset wine & beer tasting cruises. Island Mariner Cruises departs from Squalicum Harbor daily during the season for full-day whale watching. Outer Island Expeditions departs for whale watching trips from a variety of locations including Hotel Bellwether, The Willows Inn on Lummi Island and Sandcastle Resort at Birch Bay.

SailingGato Verde and Schooner Zodiac both offer group sailing day-trip excursions around Bellingham Bay and the San Juans.

Schooner Zodiac / Credit: Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism

Overnight Excursions: Northwest Navigation, Schooner Zodiac and Sail the San Juans offer incredible mulit-day cruises on the Salish Sea and through the San Juan Islands that include wine, beer, fabulous meals, educational speakers and group experiences.

Charters and Fishing: Bellingham Yacht Charter and Outer Island Expeditions offer charter and fishing trips.

Alaska Ferry: Bellingham is the only the location in the lower 48-states from which to start your journey on the Alaska Marine Highway System. The ferry departs Bellingham for Ketchikan and points north every Friday evening, year-round, and every other Saturday in the summer months. Advance reservations are advised.

News Stories featuring Water Adventures

Bellingham is named Best Paddling Town by Outside Magazine

Water Related Annual Events

Bellingham Traverse

The Traverse is a multi-sport event for solo, tandem and relay teams. The event has a strong salmon theme running through it. Participants, aka Spawners, are encouraged to “Think Like Fish” as they go through the course. This is a community event that displays a wide range of athletic abilities from the hard-core to those out in costumes just for fun. The public is encouraged to come out and cheer on the Spawners. The event starts at noon at the Bellingham Farmers Market and makes it’s way through Boulevard Park, Fairhaven, Lake Padden, around Lake Samish, to Fairhaven and Marine Park. Finishers complete the last leg together up Wharf Street to finish at Boundary Bay. The Bellingham Traverse Course includes a 5.5 mi. Greenways Run, 6 mi. Mountain Bike, 18 mi. Road Bike, 3.4 mi. Trail Run, 3.6 mi. Paddle, 0.65 mi. Team TREK to the finish.

Water Adventures Download

Water Adventures Links & Resources

Gato Verde Adventure Sailing | 360-220-3215
1842 Governor Road, Bellingham
Gato Verde offers clients of all ages and abilities a fun outdoor customized boat tours, overnight whale watching, sailing instruction or carefree skippered sailing charters that run from 1.5 hours to seven days aboard our comfortable and efficient 42-foot-long catamaran. | gato_verde@earthlink.net
Moondance Sea Kayaking Adventures | 360-738-7664
3120 Peabody St, Bellingham
We are proud to share our knowledge and expertise with you today! Beginners will learn the basics of kayak navigation and paddling techniques, while the more experienced will find this an excellent opportunity to advance their skills. We offer evening, half day, full day and multi-day trips as well as custom adventures. Note: Moondance is listed twice so please delete one listing. | moondancekayak@gmail.com
Nexus Charters | 360-393-2688
833 Chuckanut Drive, Bellingham
Evening Sailboat Cruises on Bellingham Bay. Just come for the ride or join in with the crew... small groups of 3-6 ... Late May - early September Friday - Sunday. | jgriedy@comcast.net
Outer Island Expeditions | 360-376-3711
PO Box 653, Eastsound
We offer high-quality and unforgettable experiences of the San Juan Islands. We offer custom charters, whale watching tours, fishing around the islands and water taxi services. Outer Island Excursions prides itself in the ability to find whales when others can’t. | outerisland@live.com
San Juan Cruises | 360-738-8099 or 800-443-4552
355 Harris Avenue, Bellingham
San Juan Cruises offers a scenic whale watch cruise which includes lunch and a stop in Friday Harbor, sunset crab dinner cruises on the bay with spectacular views of the Chuckanut coastline, wine and beer tasting cruises, and customized adventures. | tours@whales.com
The Community Boating Center | 360-714-8891
555 Harris Avenue, Bellingham
The Community Boating Center, a local nonprofit, offers fun sailing and paddling lessons, guided trips, youth camps, and rentals on Bellingham Bay. Open seven days a week during the summer, in Fairhaven. The CBC is your place for boating adventures. | info@boatingcenter.org
The Schooner Zodiac | 206-719-7622
355 Harris Avenue, Bellingham
Come aboard for a unique sailing experience in the beautiful San Juan Islands. The 160 ft. classic tall ship Zodiac sets sail for overnight adventures throughout the summer and Friday night salmon dinner sails on Bellingham Bay.

Marine Life Center
1801 Roeder Avenue, Bellingham
Paddle and Pedal Adventures
4865 Goldstar Drive, Birch Bay
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