Where to go kayaking, canoeing and rowboating in NYC

Want to hit the water in NYC? Get kayaking on the Hudson River with the Downtown Boathouse.
Want to hit the water in NYC? Get kayaking on the Hudson River with the Downtown Boathouse. Photo Credit: EPA / Justin Lane

There’s nothing like seeing New York City from the middle of a river, a bay or a lake.

At least, that’s what the city’s kayak and boating enthusiasts say. And their numbers are growing as access to the city’s waterfront has opened over the years.

For decades, factories and docks prevented most New Yorkers from getting close to the East River and Hudson River. Large swaths of that real estate have been transformed into housing with new parks dotting the shoreline.

With a number of boathouses and other organizations now offering free kayaking and boating all over the city, it’s easier than ever to get into the water.

“You name a water body and there’s an opportunity for you to go out and explore,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, an avid kayaker who helped spearhead efforts to create a New York City Water Trail.

The trail connects 160 square miles of city waterways where people can launch and land kayaks, canoes and rowboats. Boaters need a $15 permit from the city Parks Department.

One of Lewandowski’s favorite spots is along Jamaica Bay, which features a breathtaking view of the New York City skyline.

“You really get an opportunity to learn about the city from the water’s edge,” she said. “You will experience locations where you won’t even believe you are still in the city.”

The Long Island City Community Boathouse offers free beginners paddles in the protected Hallets Cove as well as excursions on the East River for experienced boaters. Upcoming public events are Aug. 20 at Anable Basin and Aug. 26 on the beach at Socrates Sculpture Park.

This Saturday, the North Brooklyn Boat Club is hosting free canoe and kayak trips on Newtown Creek out to the East River.

Over on the Hudson River, the Downtown Boathouse at Pier 26 offers free kayaking during its season, through mid-October.

The Manhattan Community Boathouse, located up the river at Pier 96, offers free classes in paddling and kayaking. It is open weekends through Oct. 8 and evenings Monday through Wednesday until Aug. 31.

For calmer waters, join the city’s Urban Park Rangers for canoeing in lakes and ponds. On Aug. 26, they will offer a basic canoeing program at Inwood Hill Park starting at noon.