8 West Coast Boating Destinations That Will Melt Your Cares Away

By Debbie Hanson

Dec 03, 2018

List of West Coast boating destinations that offer scenic views, relaxing experiences boating on the West Coast, where to boat when visiting the West Coast

Photo credit © Can Stock Photo / mblach

With thousands of miles of Pacific shoreline and some of the most scenic lakes in America, there are plenty of West Coast boating destinations that can help melt your worries away. Deciding where to boat just depends on what you want to see and do. No stress allowed here, one of these eight West Coast boating spots just might turn into your new happy place. 

1. Mission Bay, California

Mission Bay offers marina facilities, boat rentals, private charters, boat tours, scheduled excursions, and boating classes. Whether you plan to take your own boat for a leisurely cruise or hop aboard a tour boat, it's easy to unwind with the calm bay waters and coastal breezes.

2. Big Bear Lake, California

Due to its high elevation, boating at this San Bernardino County reservoir is limited to the summer season, but warm weather trips are well-worth the wait. You can take the family for an afternoon picnic by boat at China Island or motor over to the dam where you'll find public buoys that allow you to tie up and soak in the majestic mountain views.

3. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

As the largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is known for its crystal clear blue waters and panoramic views. During summer boating season, which lasts from June through September, decompress as you fish for rainbow trout or take in the scenery on a sunset sailing tour.

4. Lake Billy Chinook, Oregon

Lake Billy Chinook lies within a canyon that was carved by the Deschutes, Crooked and Metolius Rivers millions of years ago. While the lake is a popular west coast boating destination, many visitors also come for the sockeye salmon, brown trout and smallmouth bass fishing (check the local fishing reports before you go). There are two full-service campgrounds at The Cove Palisades State Park and a marina that provide access to the lake.

5. Lake Powell, Arizona

Located in Northern Arizona, Lake Powell is often named as a favorite place to go boating on the West Coast. The stunning red rock formations that surround this destination and temperate Arizona climate make it the perfect spot to unwind on the water.

6. Saguaro Lake, Arizona

Saguaro Lake is located within the borders of the Tonto National Forest. As its name implies, the lake's desert shorelines are dotted with the stately Saguaro cactus. Head to the east end of the lake for a more serene experience and boat access camping.

7. San Juan Islands, Washington

Head 109 miles north of Seattle to respite in the San Juan Islands. This archipelago of 172 named islands is known for being one of the most tranquil places to go boating on the west coast. Rent a boat from one of the nearby marinas or board the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes.

8. Lake Roosevelt, Washington

Created in 1941 by the impoundment of the Columbia River, Lake Roosevelt is a 130-mile reservoir with 22 public launches that cater to every type of vessel from canoes to motorboats. Finding summer serenity here is simple since there are literally hundreds of hidden beaches, inlets and coves. 


Now that you know more about these eight relaxing West Coast boating destinations, which do you plan to put at the top of your boating bucket list? Need to register your boat? No problem, we have you covered. 

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.