Top 8 Wildlife Paddleboard Tours in the Seattle Area

In General, SUP Activity Recommendations, SUP Location Recommendations by Perfect Paddles

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Try these paddleboard tours for a chance to encounter Pacific Northwest wildlife up close!

Two paddleboarders share a close encounter with an orca

There are many ways to see local wildlife while visiting the Seattle area. But we think taking a paddleboard tour might be the best!

The Pacific Northwest holds a sense of awe for most travelers who make their way to its shores.

The tremendous amounts of green often envelop vacationers in a wonderful sense of peace.

Such experiences can leave a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to have them. But what activity can improve outdoor adventures even more during a PNW vacation?

Well, given that this is the Perfect Paddles team speaking, the obvious answer is SUP!

And one of the most popular ways of including paddleboarding in your vacation is by taking a wildlife tour of the area.

The immense biodiversity of the PNW brings excitement to the hearts and minds of anyone lucky enough to spot a bald eagle. Or see a bear rummaging through the rivers and lakes. Or even an elk or moose wandering through the forest.

And what better way to witness the natural world than by standing right on the water's surface?

Let's dive into our top eight choices for wildlife paddleboard tours in the Seattle area.

1. Harry Oesterreicher (Seattle)

First up on our list is SUP guru, teacher, and adventure guide Harry Oesterreicher.

A paddleboard instructor certified by the Professional Stand Up Paddle Board Association, Harry lands on our list due to his immense experience in the paddleboard world. As well as the personal touch he provides to active lifestyle junkies during his tours.

Based in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood, Harry offers beginner lessons for those looking to make their way into the sport. He also gives advanced lessons on technique and maneuvering through rapids. And his guided adventure tours are not to be missed.

It is on these waterways where Harry will be able to point out to his attendees plenty of opportunities to spot osprey and bald eagles.

For those looking for a guided tour, look no further than Harry Oesterreicher!

You will get first-class instruction along with a tour of local waterways, "from the Ballard Locks in Salmon Bay, through the Fremont Ship Canal to Lake Union and Gasworks Park."

A man on a SUP with mountains and forested hills in the background

2. What’s SUP (Kenmore)

This highly accessible company offers beginner lessons and easy rentals. Especially for beginners.

What’s SUP offers paddlers a real chance to experience the native wildlife local to the Pacific Northwest. They guide groups to the shores of the Sammamish River. It is there you are likely to spot bald eagles, blue heron, beavers, and even salmon and trout!

The reason why this outfitter makes onto our list is their highly accessible tours through beginner lessons.

What’s SUP is the perfect company to contact if you are looking to take to the water solo and on your own terms.

A paddleboarder takes in views of snowy mountains and evergreen trees

3. Salmon Bay Paddle (Seattle)

The best part about this outfitter is the amount of options they supply paddlers of all skill levels with. They offer four paddleboard tours in total: Blake Island, Shilshole Bay, a Freshwater Bay coastal tour, and even a Cypress Island trip that includes camping overnight in the San Juan Islands.

Among these, our top choice is the Blake Island SUP Tour. On this two-day tour, adventurers will have the opportunity to see the birthplace of Chief Seattle or Chief Si’ahl. As a boy, he witnessed Captain Vancouver’s arrival to the shores of the Northwest in 1792.

Blake Island is also home to a tremendous amount of wildlife. By paddling around its shores, participants will be able to see deer, bald eagles, raccoons, and marine life. These include harbor seals, marine birds, otters, and more!

The reason why this tour makes it onto our list is due to the level required by paddlers before attending.

Participants must have experience on a paddleboard and be at an intermediate level before signing up.

But with these minimal requirements in place, this is a trip not be passed up by those looking for a wildlife tour in the Seattle area!

Also be sure to check out their page on Perfect Paddles to receive additional savings on services through our Buddy Deal!

A man paddleboards with boats in the background

4. Northwest SUP & Fitness (Amboy)

Northwest Sup & Fitness provides beginners to the sport a comprehensive lesson on paddleboarding technique. This lesson is required before heading out on their signature paddleboard tour of Lake Merwin.

Once you're ready, guides will take participants through the calm waters of Merwin. Eventually you will end up at the gorgeous Canyon Creek waterfalls. These shallow waters allow paddlers to see a tremendous variety of wildlife. Species include trout, Chinook salmon, coho salmon and more!

In addition, it is common to spot bald eagles gliding seamlessly through the air. Keep an eye out and spot osprey collecting brush to outfit their nests.

In addition, paddlers will be able to see and experience the soothing sounds of the waterfalls found in Canyon Creek. There you will a chance to take a break. And chat with their fellow paddlers underneath the warm, clear sky.

Northwest SUP and Fitness’ tour through their unique location is highly recommended by the team at Perfect Paddles. Don’t miss out if you find yourself in their area!

A person stands among paddleboards on the beach, near trees and a bridge

5. Vancouver Water Adventures (Vancouver, B.C.)

This may be a little too much travel if you are setting your sights on a Seattle vacation, but since we are covering the surrounding areas as well, Vancouver Water Adventures makes it onto our list.

Their guided excursion takes paddle boarders on a two-hour tour of Vancouver and its diverse shoreline. In addition to the impressive city skyline, paddlers will also be able to see its surrounding rocky cliffs and its honking sea lions and seal inhabitants.

The tours begin at Granville Island, a unique spot in the middle of the city with direct access to the bay and open waters.

Once paddlers are in the open waters, they can expect to see plenty of sea-dwelling birds such as gulls, pelicans, and herons in addition to the waterborne species of fish which are abundant in the Burrard Inlet.

This tour makes it onto our list due to the unique opportunity to experience paddling through the city as well as seeing wildlife native to the rocky cliffs surrounding the bay.

And be sure to check out their page on Perfect Paddles to receive additional savings through our Buddy Deal!

Women on a paddleboard tour paddle in a line on calm waters

6. Northwest Outdoor Center (Seattle)

Next on our list is Northwest Outdoor Center in Seattle.

Offering a Lake Union paddleboard tour as well as a Golden Gardens and Full Moon tour, NWOC’s offerings are both exciting and accessible for newcomers and experienced paddlers alike!

While every tour offers something unique and interesting to the area, the Golden Gardens sunset paddleboard tour is the reason for our ranking of NWOC.

Taking place in the evening, the tour entails paddleboarding west, straight into the setting sun. Soak in some golden rays as you make your way through the colorful ship canal into the Ballard Locks.

There, guides will lead groups through the gravity-fed elevator down to the Puget Sound level. The tour ends at Golden Gardens, where participants will be able to see the park's pristine beaches, wetlands, and picnic areas.

Tour groups have the chance to see mallard ducks, red-winged blackbirds, Canada geese, and eagles, as well as numerous species of fish native to the area.

NWOC’s tour is a great option due to its location in the heart of Seattle as well as the opportunity to paddle through the unique waterways of the city while still experiencing the wildlife found at and around Golden Gardens.

This tour has it all and is highly recommended by the team at Perfect Paddles!

A woman on a SUP appreciates the view of trees and mountains in the distance

7. Norm Hann Expeditions (Squamish, B.C.)

Again, setting our sights a little farther north, we land on this outfitter due to their exciting and easily accessible tours of beautiful British Columbia.

Norm Hann Expeditions offers paddlers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by providing paddleboard tours which include options to paddle through the pristine waterways of the Great Bear Rainforest or around the outer islands.

While this option is ideal for experienced paddlers as well as campers, this tour makes its way onto our list due to the amazing opportunity to see and explore the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest.

A choice between Norm Hann's tour options is based solely on where and how long you would like to remain in the forests, but either choice will provide participants with the chance to see bears, wolves, and eagles, as well as the famous burgeoning wild salmon population native to these crystal clear waterways.

Perfect Paddles highly recommends Norm Hann for your next paddling adventure in the Pacific Northwest. What they offer are truly unique and inspiring tours for those in love with the outdoors. This is a can’t-miss company to check out!

Two paddleboarders on flat water with mountains in the background

8. Wildwater River Guides (Peshastin)

With two paddleboard tour options, Wildwater River Guides gives participants a choice between paddling Icicle Creek and the Lower Wenatchee River. Both trips are around two to three hours in length and are accompanied by a quick beginner lesson on land. After the lesson, groups are ushered into the water, where they can get comfortable paddling and take in the breathtaking scenery.

The Icicle Creek tour starts just below the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. From there, groups will make their way onto Icicle Creek and experience views of what locals call The Enchantments — a basin area of beautiful mountains and glaciers.

Paddlers should keep their eyes open for bald eagles, egrets, freshwater fish, deer, and otters. This downwind paddling run on inflatable boards is not to be missed!

The Lower Wenatchee tour is a step up in challenge as paddlers make their way through level 1 and level 2 rapids. This offers an added challenge and a little fun as the swift waters propel paddlers quickly downstream.

Expert guides will of course provide lessons on how to best maneuver through the water while at the same time pointing out bald eagles, egrets, fish, and deer. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the forests, this tour is a perfect way to get to know the area while experiencing something wholly unique!

A paddleboard tour group floats down a river lined with trees


If you happen to find yourself roaming through the Pacific Northwest and want to experience the natural world in a totally unique way, consider contacting any of these shops and outfitters to book a wildlife paddleboard tour.

The perspective offered by paddling a SUP cannot be compared to any other. The ability to stand and see the horizon as well as the depths below gives paddlers a complete 360-degree experience on the water.

And one of the best places to experience a guided tour is in the majestic waterways and forests of the Seattle area.

Go there with no expectations and leave with a truly amazing experience under your belt. Life is about living, so go out there and do it!

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