The Deception Pass tide race offers some challenging paddling in a beautiful setting on Whidbey Island in Washington State, USA. Check out this video of Ana Swetish (with her dad Tom) carving up the waves.
Keep in mind Conditions at Deception Pass are hugely variable and seemingly never exactly the same. Even when all of the weather predictors indicate the same conditions you may have paddled in before, the on-water conditions are highly variable which you will discover only when you paddle out. Challenges will rise or subside while you are on the water depending on tide and weather changes. There are days when a good section of the Pass is manageable for intermediate paddlers, other days when only the edges are, other days when only the edges are okay for experts, and still other days (logs in the water, etc.) when no one should be out there.
Ana Swetish & Wilson Reavley
Video showing glassy and rough (low local wind, medium+ wave day) starting in glassy section west of bridge and going 2km straight west with current instead of surfing waves from west to east (expert level surfskier in video - stayed north of the roughest water that day).
On days when you get to the Pass and it's too big or maybe after you paddle for awhile and are too worn out to overcome the tidal current but would still like to paddle some more….(on really big days there can be too many logs in the water to watch out for and the parks with beach access will sometimes be closed too)
You can paddle anywhere in this beautiful area. Just remember, as the tide strengthens, currents get more turbulent. Eddies form close to shorelines, particularly near where there is the greatest constriction in Canoe Pass and in the main Pass close to the bridge. Eddy lines get stronger and whirlpools form with strong current and eddy lines. Also boats can come through either side (ships on the main side) of Pass Island (the island that separates Canoe Pass from the main pass at the bridge) with a lot of speed and less room to maneuver than in other areas of Deception.
Most OC paddlers usually find catching the waves here more difficult than surfskiers do - at least in part due to the strong counter current. But some days are easier than others and when you do catch waves it can be very satisfying.
Whatever boat you paddle, you will get a heck of a workout. Laps at the Pass can be heavy duty interval work and Lipps can be particularly rare.