Paddling the Water Trails, Kitsap Peninsula, Washington

2GJFGND USA, Washington State, Puget Sound. Kayaker in Port Orchard Narrows. (MR)


Ride the tide for an evening on the water to view the bioluminescence sparkles. “Ride the Tide” is a guided and supported organized paddling trip from Olympic Outdoor Center. This takes you on part of the Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails (KPNWT). The entire KPNWT has over 370 miles of Kitsap Peninsula shoreline. We opted for the nighttime adventure to observe the special light show. Bioluminescence is the emission of light by living organisms, such as plankton, to serve as a warning when disturbed. No experience is required for these paddling adventures. 

Half the fun is getting there and it only took two hours from Seattle. We took the car ferry across Puget Sound and enjoyed views of the Olympic Mountains. After a short drive we arrived at the scenic Point No Point Lighthouse. On a clear day, views of Mt Rainier, Mt Baker and the Seattle skyline abound. 

After another 20-minute drive we arrived in the quaint small town of Port Gamble and were ready to enjoy the bioluminescence kayak tour. While we paddled, we could see the sparkles of lights around our paddles and hands, which was indeed wondrous. After this magical kayak tour, we checked into the Fairfield Inn, located in the port town of Poulsbo along Liberty Bay.

The next morning we were ready to kayak on our own, so we headed to the Port of Poulsbo Marina, home to many pleasure craft and fishing boats. We used our inflatable kayak, but noticed Olympic Outdoor Center, right on the wharf offers rentals of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Once on the water we were quickly entertained with a family of 10 seals soaking up the sun on the breakwater. 

When it was time to refuel, we headed to JJ’s Fish House along Liberty Bay. We both enjoyed the fresh Alaskan True Cod. For me: fish tacos paired with Asian slaw. For Elizabeth: “The Best Seller and Kitsap’s favorite,” according to the menu, fish and chips. 

Poulsbo is no stranger to seafood. The Suquamish people enjoyed the bounty of fish from Liberty Bay for thousands of years before the settlers arrived. The Norwegians came in the 1880s for the fishing, and many of their countrymen followed. In fact Poulsbo was called Little Norway. 

After lunch we wanted another kayak trip on the protected waters of Dyes Inlet in nearby Silverdale. We paddled south several miles with views of glacier-clad Mt. Rainier in the distance, a beautiful sight against the blue of the sky. 

When it was time for dinner in Poulsbo, we agreed on seafood with an Italian twist at the waterfront restaurant Dalla Baia. (The Italian translation of Dalla Baia is “by the bay.”) The owners have deep roots in Poulsbo restaurant scene and are longtime residents. I enjoyed the Clam Linguine cooked in a light white wine sauce mixed with garlic and butter. Elizabeth had the steamers, tasty Manila Clams from nearby Hood Canal that are delivered fresh daily. Of course, we needed extra-extra bread to soak up the broth. 

With 370 miles of scenic shoreline to explore, we’ll be back to the Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails. Learn about the KPNWT at Book a paddling tour with Olympic Outdoor Center at Plan your visit to Kitsap Peninsula at