Kayaking in New York: The best way to explore Manhattan?

Jul 23, 2013 BY Paul McWilliams

New York is one of the world’s biggest and most iconic cities. On every corner there’s a landmark or building you’ll recognise from countless movies, books or songs. But what is the best way to see eveything? Is it on the city’s rough and ready subway or maybe in one of the famous yellow cabs? For anyone looking for a unique way to explore this incredible metropolis, kayaking in New York might just be the best way to get around.

Kayaking in New York flickr image by ceonyc

New York is a city that’s rich in water. Its geographical position on the banks and islands around the river and next to ocean mean it’s pretty easy to get around in a kayak. With miles of rivers, bays, creeks and inlets to explore – giving you access to all of the five boroughs – this is a great way to get the best view.

Free kayaking in New York

Found at Piers 40, 96 and West 72nd Street, the NYC Downtown Boathouse walk-up kayaking spot lets you out on the water for twenty minutes completely free. Simply sign the waiver, slip on a life jacket and off you go. If there’s no queue you can stay out there for longer.

They also organise longer guided trips on the weekends. Head to Pier 96 on Saturday or Sunday morning and enjoy a five-mile paddle around the city’s waterways.

Kayaking in New York flickr image by ceonyc

You can also find free boathouses at Brooklyn Bridge Park and at the Long Island City Community Boathouse, allowing you different views of the city and the chance to explore different areas of the water. It’s also worth checking out the kayak centres on South Beach at Staten Island, the canoe club on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn and the Inwood Canoe Club, the oldest in Manhattan.

The New York City Water Trail

If you’re going to be using any of the city’s Park and Recreation boat launches on the New York City Water Trail, you’ll need a permit to do so. You can obtain these from any of the Parks and Recreation permit offices in the five boroughs.

The Trail gives you access to over 160 square miles of waterways and harbours, with well positioned launches for access to the water. It’s a great way of seeing the city.

Where do you need to stay for kayaking in New York?

Wherever you’re staying in the city, there is almost certainly a kayaking centre not too far away. Whether you’re based in Manhattan, Brooklyn or any other part of town, just head down to the water and ask about kayaking.

Kayaking in New York flickr image by Wwarby

The river and harbour areas are suitable for kayakers of all experience levels. Even if you’re a complete beginner kayaking in New York provides you with spectacular sea-level views of the city, from the water.

Brookly Bridge Park, Gowanus Canal, Manhattan, New York City, New York State, North America, United States
National Park, New York City Water Trail
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