Situated just south of the I-90 bridge to Mercer Island, Enatai Beach Park is an easy spot to overlook precisely because of it's slightly mundane location. The beach is literally bypassed by tens of thousands of commuters every day. Yet if you can get beyond the proximity of the overpass, this small, sandy beach has some serious advantages when it comes to water-based activities near the city, and it deserves another look.
Enatai may be best known as a launching spot for paddle trips into nearby Mercer Slough in nearby Mercer Slough Nature Park. This short trip is a great way to immerse yourself in an a natural environment and stay cool in the summer, but if you are looking for a longer trip, consider a paddle around Mercer Island. Regardless, launching from Enatai couldn't be any easier. Cascade Canoe & Kayak maintains a boathouse right on the beach and rents kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards. Alternately, if you are bringing your own watercraft, the walk from the parking area is paved and short, so the carry to and from your car is easy.
If getting on the water isn't in the cards, Enatai still has you covered. This park is a great spot for families who need an easy option for cooling off. The sandy beach is open and unobstructed, and a protected swimming area is formed between a floating pier and a concrete patio off of the boathouse. Keeping an eye on swimmers is easy, and the lifeguards on duty from noon to 7 p.m. from the end of June through Labor Day help keep them safe. Also, no motorized traffic is allowed in this area.
Amenities include centrally located restrooms, an open lawn, and a playground. Enatai is also the western trailhead for Bellevue's Lake to Lake Trail and Greeway that connects Lake Sammamish to Lake Washington, so a ride in the morning before an afternoon swim is completely doable, all within 15 minutes of downtown.