If you are looking to spend some quality time doing watersports in and around New York City, you cannot do better than kayaking along the calm streams that surround and cross the metropolis. The water trail welcomes thousands of kayakers every day who get to paddle on no less than 160 square miles of navigating area uniting river, basins and ocean bays.
Paddling has been a popular sport and leisure activity for New Yorkers for more than a century. The local community ensures that there are suitable launching points in all of the five boroughs along with plenty of rental spots. If you want a fun water ride that will show you the Big Apple from a different perspective, you should try these eight awesome places to go kayaking in New York:
The New York State Canal System
One of the easiest ways of practicing paddle sports in NYC is drifting along the canal system of the city. People often take their kayaks or canoes on the streams that offer more than 524 miles of water. It is a great opportunity to see historical landmarks from a waterside point of view, and also discover the communities on the outskirts of the city.
By Joshua Karn [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
The canal system of NYC stretches from Albany to Buffalo, and it provides 125 launching points. It is quite the distance, so it will take some time to cover it all in one expedition. Also, if you are renting, you might just want to stop and turn around before you reach upstate.
If you are short on time and not able to spend too much time in the water, you can still enjoy a great experience of kayaking along the Hudson River. Launching your small boat from Pier 26 or Pier 96 you can drift along a wide stretch of water and get amazing views of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.
One thing that you should consider is that kayaking on the Hudson River requires a permit. Also, the rental businesses on the shore only lend out kayaks for 20-minute increments. However, that should not bother you too much, as it is just enough time to get flex your muscles on the paddle and take some memorable selfies.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
New York City offers the ideal spots to go kayaking with your family. One of these spots is the Brooklyn Bridge Park where you can navigate on calm water with very few risks of paddling accidents. You can start your cruise from Pier 2 where you can rent two-person kayaks and share one with your partner or your kid.
This kayaking site facing the East River in New York City offers a beautiful panorama of the city including the Brooklyn Bridge. Also, you get to see Manhattan’s impressive skyline by day without venturing on land and into Queens. The nearby park is perfect for a nice, little picnic after a few hours of paddling and splashing into the river.
Salt Marsh Nature Center
If you are staying in the Brooklyn area, and you want to go kayaking in New York but you don’t want to stray too far from home, the Salt Marsh Nature Center is ideal for you. This is the biggest natural spot in Brooklyn and offers a scenic paddling route that you can start from the Gerritsen Inlet and navigate along the creeks and marshy scenery that come your way.
GK tramrunner at en.wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
This type of natural kayaking trip in New York is great for family outings. Also, it gives you a nice and relaxing getaway from the frenzied life in the city. In fact, so many people enjoy this paddling trail that you might want to avoid navigating it on weekends when most New Yorkers like to get out into nature.
Upper New York Bay
One of New York’s most popular tourist attractions is the Statue of Liberty. Located in the Upper New York Bay area, this world-renown landmark attracts millions of tourists every year. You can easily visit it by taking a ferry to the Liberty Island. However, you can also reach it by kayaking there, which will surely be a more exciting and rewarding experience.
If you don’t want to paddle alone to the Statue of Liberty, approach one of the several rental companies that offer kayaking group tours in the area. New-entry kayakers should especially use these services like the water in the area can get wavy.
Movie buffs will love this awesome place for kayaking in New York. The Flushing Bay is a notorious area in the Big Apple where numerous scenes from famous movies have been filmed.
You can start your journey from The World’s Fair Marina, right where the 1964 World’s Fair took place. The flying saucers that were used for the exhibit are still there, and you might remember them from almost any alien invasion flick that was released in the past 50 years.
By Transpoman [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons
Next, you can paddle your way out of the bay and all the way to the Rikers Island to see the large prison facility and notice planes landing or departing from the LaGuardia International Airport.
For nature lovers that enjoy full-day expeditions, Esopus Creek is the ideal place to go kayaking in and around New York. This stream is a tributary of the Hudson River and makes its way from the Winnisook Lake down the east side of the Catskill Mountains and all the way to Saugerties. It offers wavy rapids surrounded by breathtaking scenery and natural reservoirs.
By ScubaBear68 from Brooklyn, United States. Edited slightly by Daniel Case prior to upload (Tubing the Esopus – Again!) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Esopus Creek is suitable for skilled and experienced kayakers. Some of its portions are narrow and quite difficult to navigate, especially in bad weather conditions. If you are a beginner, and you do not trust your paddling skills too much, you might want to try this circuit as part of a large, organized group. There are several companies in the area that offer this type of service.
Letchworth State Park
Last, but not least, Letchworth State Park is the ultimate kayaking adventure in New York for well-trained kayakers. You can reach this area after a rough trek that might last as much as six hours. Next, you get to navigate along wavy rapids and abrupt waterfalls that stretch down the Genesee River.
By Suandsoe [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
The location is perfect for a weekend trip, so make sure to bring supplies and camping equipment as well. Other than that, you will spend most of your time in the undulating waters of the Genesee River and admire some of the most beautiful landscapes that the New York State has to offer.