Get Out on Lake Washington: Where to Rent Boats, Boards, and More

July 29, 2023 | by Megan Burbank

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Whether bobbing in the surf with a view of Mount Rainier or giving Fido a paddleboard-based tour of our little corner of the world, getting into the water surrounding Mercer Island is a quintessential Northwest pleasure. But while the island affords plenty of convenient boat launches for setting off on watercraft you already own, we have a shortage of spots to outfit those who aren’t already equipped. While you will have to go off-island to do it, this guide shows you where to start your next adventure if you’re not packing your own gear.


If you’re new to the sport of stand-up paddleboarding (aka SUP), Northwest Paddle Surfers can help. Located just across the lake, on Seattle’s Adams Street Boat Launch off Lake Washington Boulevard, the shop rents out both SUP and kayaking gear at hourly rates starting from $29. They even have an eight-person Jumbo SUP if you’re traveling with a crowd — just not your dog: The SUPs’ delicate coverings are ill-suited to the paws and claws of our fluffy best friends. But don’t despair if you want to make an adorable outing worthy of the ’Gram: Canines can ride in the kayaks.

If you’d rather not make the trek into Seattle, REI operates watercraft rentals out of Bellevue’s Enatai Beach Park and Meydenbauer Beach Park. Here, you can take a kayak, SUP, or good old-fashioned canoe out for a spin. The first hour will run you anywhere from $29-49 depending on your choice of boat, then drops to $10 for each additional hour. REI encourages making reservations at both locations, and parking facilities can fill up, so come prepared to find a spot on the street, especially on gorgeous days.

Further afield, the University of Washington’s Waterfront Activities Center is a slept-on gem on the Montlake Cut that rents out SUPs, kayaks, and canoes — no student ID required. This is the only boat rental spot where you can experience the odd joy of paddling amid the drone of 520 traffic and bucolic views of the Washington Park Arboretum, making it a strong candidate for a summertime date with Victorian romance vibes. With rentals starting at $16 an hour, it’s also the cheapest option on this list. If you’re up for the drive, but more margarita-motivated than price-conscious, check out Agua Verde, where you can get a side of tacos with your kayak and truly make a day of it. Procrastinators rejoice: Both UW’s and Agua Verde’s boats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Fueled Fun

For those who would rather let a motor do the moving, find faster (and quirkier) choices a little farther afield, from the fully motorized — jet ski rentals at Ohana Kai Watersports in Renton’s Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park — to the truly weird: eFoils. These electric surfboards hover above the water, and Renton’s Glide Watersport will teach you to ride them. And if your boating party requires a truly capacious watercraft, Kirkland’s Woodmark Waterfront Adventures rents out entire motorboats. All of the options are significantly pricier than their analog counterparts and come with the added risks of motorized travel. But if this is your summertime dream, make it happen: our sweet Northwest summer is fleeting. When the gloom, doom, and dark return in November, you’ll be glad you did.