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5 Ways to Get Out On the Water in Seattle

By Viator, April 2018

5 192 Reviews | Add your review

While Seattle has much to offer visitors on land, there are many worthwhile experiences to be had offshore, as well. To help beef up your Emerald City itinerary, here are the best ways to get out on the water in Seattle. 

1. Go whale watching.
Thanks to its proximity to the San Juan Islands in salmon-rich Puget Sound, Seattle is a popular destination for whale watching. You’ll be able to spot gray, humpback, and minke whales, as well as orcas, sea lions, seals, porpoises, and seabirds.

2. Ride the ferry.
Washington State has one of the largest ferry systems in the United States, making it a breeze to get from Seattle to the San Juan Islands, Blake Island (the birthplace of Chief Seattle), gallery-filled Bainbridge Island, or Victoria on Canada’s Vancouver Island.

3. Embark on a whitewater rafting adventure.
Seattle’s surrounding rivers boast whitewater rapids prime for an adrenaline-fueled adventure. First-timers and families can tackle the easy waves of the Wenatchee River or Upper Skagit River, while those looking for a bigger thrill can brave the Class 3 and 4 rapids of the Sauk River. The Skykomish River, meanwhile, offers the most challenging rapids in the state.

4. Set sail.
From Lake Union to the Puget Sound, Seattle offers excellent sailing. Hop aboard a sailboat with a professional captain for a hands-on lesson, where you’ll learn the basics of navigating a small vessel. During the tutorial, soak in views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains.

5. Enjoy a sightseeing harbor cruise.
Take in the Seattle skyline, including Mount Rainier and the Space Needle, during a narrated cruise through Seattle Harbor and Elliott Bay. Alternatively, see the Ballard Locks, another of the city’s top attractions, aboard an entertaining, educational tour of the ship canal.

Tours & Tickets

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Anacortes Whale Watching, Seattle, null
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Anacortes Whale Watching

4 star rating: Recommended 4 Reviews

No ferry required. Small group whale watching tours on the fastest boats in the region with guaranteed whales. See whales or come again for free.

Location: Seattle, Washington
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $117.83
Victoria Day Trip from Seattle with Butchart Gardens, Seattle, Dolphin & Whale Watching
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Victoria Day Trip from Seattle with Butchart Gardens

4.5 star rating: Recommended 51 Reviews

Experience Victoria’s world-class Butchart Gardens and other city highlights on this full-day tour from Seattle. Take a relaxing, scenic ferry ride through ...  Read more

Location: Seattle, Washington
Duration: 1 day (approx.)

From USD $203.00
Tillicum Excursion, Seattle, Day Trips
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Tillicum Excursion

4.5 star rating: Recommended 116 Reviews

Myth and magic come to life on the Tillicum Excursion to Blake Island State Park, located 8 miles from Seattle's waterfront. Here, you have the opportunity to ...  Read more

Location: Seattle, Washington
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $99.74
Seattle Locks Cruise, Seattle, Day Trips
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Seattle Locks Cruise

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 212 Reviews

Take in the spectacular views and experience the transition from salt to fresh water on a Locks Cruise! This fully narrated tour provides you with knowledge, ...  Read more

Location: Seattle, Washington
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $46.79
Seattle Harbor Cruise, Seattle, Day Cruises
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Seattle Harbor Cruise

4.5 star rating: Recommended 71 Reviews

Enjoy a narrated cruise on Elliot Bay and Seattle Harbor, as well as spectacular views of the Seattle skyline and panoramic mountain ranges.

Location: Seattle, Washington
Duration: 60 minutes (approx.)

From USD $33.58
Whale Watching from Friday Harbor, Seattle, Day Cruises
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Whale Watching from Friday Harbor

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 29 Reviews

The best orca whale watching is off San Juan Island, near Seattle. The San Juan Islands are considered the "jewels" of the Pacific Northwest, located ...  Read more

Location: Friday Harbor, Washington
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $103.97
Seattle's Favorite Sightseeing and Cocktail Cruise, Seattle, Dolphin & Whale Watching
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Seattle's Favorite Sightseeing and Cocktail Cruise

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 36 Reviews

Cruise Lake Union and enjoy the sights and sounds on this 2-hour cocktail cruise. Watch seaplane take-offs and landings up close and see the iconic Space ...  Read more

Location: Seattle, Washington
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $75.00
Lake Union Cruise from Seattle, Seattle, Private Sightseeing Tours
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Lake Union Cruise from Seattle

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 37 Reviews

From picturesque houseboat districts to panoramic views, experience the best of Seattle two different ways--Wine Tasting on Saturday or Seattle ...  Read more

Location: Seattle, Washington
Duration: 90 minutes (approx.)

From USD $36.88
Upper Skagit Introductory Whitewater Rafting Trip, Seattle, Day Cruises
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Upper Skagit Introductory Whitewater Rafting Trip

The Skagit brings the wonder of nature and a wild flowing river to the fingertips of our guests. This river is extraordinarily special and has a mystical ...  Read more

Location: Marblemount, Washington
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $85.00
Lake Washington Cruise from Kirkland, Seattle, White Water Rafting
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Lake Washington Cruise from Kirkland

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 7 Reviews

Since 1992, guests have enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Lake Washington and the Eastside. Soak up views of Mt. Rainier, luxurious waterfront homes of ...  Read more

Location: Seattle, Washington
Duration: 90 minutes (approx.)

From USD $36.88

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