Have you ever considered going kayaking in Boston?
Are there many paddlers who watercraft Boston and its surrounding waters every year?
Where are some of the best places to paddle in and around Boston?
Boston may not be the first place you think of when you consider boating destinations in the United States. However, it’s actually a popular choice, especially among those who want to see some fall foliage during their paddling adventures.
There are a handful of excellent bodies of water you can try kayaking when you visit Boston. Some of these are located in the city itself, but some are located on the outskirts and will require a bit of travel in order to reach them. Keep this in mind when planning your trip.
Read on to learn more about boating Boston and everything you need to know about how to plan for this paddling destination.
Option #1. Boston Harbor
Location: Kendall Square, Cambridge
Duration: Three hours
This is an easy and comfortable paddling experience perfect for the whole family. Paddlers of any skill are sure to enjoy moving down the Boston Harbor and getting a view of some unique landmarks along the way. On this trip, paddlers can see the U.S.S. Constitution in the Charlestown Navy Yard and can catch a glimpse of the Museum of Science, too. With an experienced tour guide, paddlers won’t have to worry about missing out on any of this exciting scenery.
- This trip is long enough for kayakers to enjoy themselves and see plenty of sights, but short enough that everyone in the family will be comfortable throughout the trip.
- Children from ages 8 to 15 are welcome on this tour with at least one adult accompanying them.
- Depending on the weather and the group, the tour may not make it to every sightseeing location.
- At certain times of the year, this tour may become very booked and could be difficult to get into without making reservations several weeks in advance.
Option #2. Charles River
Duration: Half-day or shorter
Paddle around the gentle Charles River that runs outside Boston and enjoy the sights of the big city! From this trip, you’ll be able to get a great view of the city’s skyline as well as some of the more noticeable buildings that make up the layout, too.
- This trip is easy for paddlers of any skill level to enjoy.
- Even children can enjoy this trip, as long as they are at least eight years old and accompanied by an adult.
- At certain times of the year, the Charles River may be very crowded due to tourism.
- This trip may be shorter and easier than some paddlers would prefer.
Option #3. Hopkinton Reservoir
Duration: Half-Day or shorter
Anyone who’s looking for a very gentle, calm, and simple place to paddle will enjoy Hopkinton Reservoir. This water is placid and the trip is only about two miles around the whole reservoir. There is also a State Park on-site for more activities when you’re finished paddling, and there are boat rental options at the park as well.
- There are several good put-in points for the reservoir that make it easy to access the water, even for complete beginners.
- There are very small islands in the reservoir that can be explored for a quick additional experience.
- This trip may be a bit boring for any more experienced paddlers who want more than just a short outing.
- At certain times of the year, the water and park both may be very crowded.
Option #4. Mystic River
This is town-based river paddling, so it’s a little less off the beaten path than some locations on our list. Located north of Boston, Mystic River is a good way to see some local wildlife without getting completely lost out in nature to do so.
- This kayaking trip is easy for beginners to enjoy with or without assistance and features rapids no greater than Class II.
- There may not be too many people on the river when you visit, since this is a location that is more frequented by locals than anyone else.
- There are no official tours available for Mystic River, so you’ll need to be able to boat on your own in order to tour it.
- Since it’s near towns, you may have more of an “audience” while boating on this river than you might in other more remote locations.
Option #5. Plum Island
Duration: Half-Day or Full-Day
Spend as little or as much time as you like at Plum Island. This island is peaceful and calm, but features plenty of kayaking opportunities for those who are interested, and is a great way to get your feet wet (literally!) if you’re just learning how to paddle.
- This offer is one of the lesser-known boating trips in the Boston area, so it may not be as packed during the peak season as others.
- Paddlers can easily enjoy exploring Plum Island after their kayaking trip.
- Most touring companies for this area charge the same amount for bringing your own paddlecraft as they charge for renting one of theirs, making it unnecessary and inconvenient to bring your own.
- There are sunset tours available only for a couple of months during the summer.
There’s so much to learn about where and how to go boating in and around the Boston area! It’s a good idea to narrow down your location options based on a few places you’d like to visit the most, and then plan your trip from there. You can always keep the other choices as backups in case anything prevents you from visiting the rivers you want to check out the most.
But when is the best time of year to watercraft in Boston? Are there any reasons why you might want to consider coming during the off-season instead?
Fall is, by far, the best time of year to go kayaking in Boston and the surrounding areas. At this time, the water is still warm enough from the summer that you won’t get too cold while experiencing it, but the cooling weather makes boating more comfortable. Best of all, the scenery is impressive in the fall, showcasing all the autumn colors of New England as you paddle along the body of water you choose.
There are, of course, some reasons why you might not want to visit during peak season. For example, it is going to be colder in the fall in Boston than it would be during the summer, so if you’re looking for a warm-weather kayaking experience, plan to come earlier in the year.
Peak season is also the time of year when tourists visit New England the most often, so you’ll need to expect larger crowds and possibly more expensive prices throughout the city, as well.
There are some compelling reasons to visit Boston during the off-season, but if you’re looking for the quintessential boating experience, fall is still your best choice. Keep this in mind as you move forward and plan your upcoming trip kayaking the waters of Boston.
5 Essential Tips for Boating in Boston
- Bring a life jacket and other safety equipment. It is important to be prepared for any situation while kayaking, so make sure you have the necessary safety gear.
- Check the weather before heading out. The wind and waves can be unpredictable in Boston, so it's best to check the forecast before setting out.
- Be aware of your surroundings. There are many boats and ships that travel through the harbor, so it's important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Know the rules of the water. Make sure you understand all of the regulations for boating in Boston before heading out on your adventure.
- Pack plenty of snacks and drinks. You'll want to stay hydrated and energized during your boat trip, so make sure you bring enough food and drinks with you.
ALSO: Consider taking a guided tour! A guided tour can provide an even more enjoyable experience as well as additional safety tips from experienced guides.