Des Moines is located on the east shore of Puget Sound, approximately halfway between the major cities of Seattle and Tacoma. The city is bordered by the suburbs of Federal Way to the south, Kent to the east, SeaTac to the northeast, Burien to the north, and Normandy Park to the northwest. It is one of the few points along this shoreline where the topography facilitates access to the water, and a recreational marina operated by the city, with moorage, boat launching and pier fishing facilities, is located there. Forested Saltwater State Park on a steep ravine between the Zenith and Woodmont neighborhoods is the most-used State Park on the Sound. Near the border of Federal Way, Redondo has a board-walk complete with a Salty’s restaurant and a pay parking lot.
Property within the city has been the subject of land buyouts because of noise from aircraft landing or taking off from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Des Moines.