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7 Best Spots For Kayaking The Hudson River New York City

Canoes and Kayaks
kayaking in hudson river

There’s no doubt that New York City is one of the world’s most beautiful and vibrant cities. With so much to see and do, it can be hard to squeeze everything into a visit. But if you’re looking for an activity that takes in some of the city’s most iconic sights, kayaking on the Hudson River should be at the top of your list.

There are plenty of places to rent kayaks, and paddle boards in NYC, but not all locations offer equal views. So we’ve put together a list of our favorite spots for kayaking on the Hudson River – complete with photos including some free kayaking in NYC locations – so you can get out on the water and enjoy everything this amazing city has to offer.

The Pier 26 Boathouse offers the world’s largest free kayaking program, with sessions running from May 21 to October 10. Kayakers of all skill levels are welcome, and no experience is necessary. Show up at the Boathouse between 10 am and 4:30 pm on any Saturday or Sunday, or Tuesday or Thursday evening between 5:30 pm and 7 pm.

The Downtown Boathouse is run by volunteers and is located on the southern end of Hudson River Park on the Westside Highway just north of N Moore St. All single, and tandem sit-on-top kayaks, paddles, and life jackets are supplied free of charge.

Each session is brief (20 minutes), but it’s a great way to get out on the water and enjoy some incredible views of New York City.

The Downtown Boathouse also has another free kayaking NYC location at pier 101 on Governors Island, open from mid-June to the end of September.

The Manhattan Kayak Company is a Hudson River kayaking company located on Pier 84 next to the Intrepid Museum in New York City. They offer both kayak and SUP rentals, as well as guided tours of the Hudson River. Some of their most popular tours include the Skyline Kayak Trip and NYC after Dark. They also offer SUP Yoga for those looking for a unique yoga experience. 

Kayak and SUP rentals start from just $13 for adults and $10 for kids 3-17yrs. There are various kayaks to choose from depending on your experience level, from sit-on-top kayaks to touring kayaks. They also offer kayaking classes if you want to learn or brush up on your kayaking skills. 

Manhattan Kayak Co. offers kayak rentals all year round, so no matter when you visit the city, you can enjoy kayaking the Hudson River. Novices are welcome in the warmer months until Mid-October, but experienced kayakers can kayak in New York all year round. 

The Manhattan Community Boathouse, located at Pier 96, 56th Street in Hudson River Park, is another location offering free kayaking in New York City. The program is run by volunteers and funded by donations, so all you need to do is show up and enjoy the scenery. Saturday and Sunday hours are from 12 pm to 6 pm, from the end of May to early October. Weekday hours vary, so check the website before heading down. Participants are limited to 20 minutes of paddling time, but only if others are waiting in line. Unfortunately, no pets are allowed, so you’ll have to leave your furry K9 friends home.

While kayaking, all paddlers must stay within the boundaries of the protected cove. Their kayaks are sit-on-top style so expect to get wet! Paddlers must be over 16 or over to paddle alone, and it’s recommended to bring a change of clothes just in case you get wet. 

Whether an experienced kayaker or a complete novice, head down to Pier 96 and enjoy kayaking the Hudson River!

For over 15 years, the Red Hook Boaters have provided kayaking the Hudson River for free. The group’s kayaking program is open to all, and no experience is necessary. Participants simply need to show up at the Red Hook Boaters’ small-boat launch site, located at the New York City Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park at the end of Coffey Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The free kayaking NYC season runs from May through October, and kayakers can paddle during daylight and evening hours.

In addition to providing free kayaks, paddles, and life jackets, the Red Hook Boaters also offer kayak instruction and safety orientation sessions. Since its inception, the group has helped thousands of people enjoy kayaking on the Hudson River. In doing so, they hope to instill a love and respect for the river and its unique environment.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse, located at Pier 2, is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy to provide free 20-minute kayaking in the park. The kayaking season runs from June 2 through August 31 on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5 pm to 7 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm. The Family Program runs from July 11 through August 31. In addition, families can kayak together on Sundays from 12 pm to 2.30 pm, with children seven and over able to paddle alone.

All participants must wear life jackets and follow the direction of the kayak instructors. If you’re looking for something outside of the box to do in New York, why not head down for a game of Kayak Polo. All equipment, including helmets, is provided, plus you’ll get a game tutorial on how to play.

Urban Paddle offers paddlers the opportunity to explore the Hudson River, one of the most iconic waterways in the world. Established in 2012, it’s a beginner-friendly operation with expert tour guides to teach you basic paddle techniques and marine safety.

Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the river scenery and get some exercise, and their tours offer something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or just getting started.

Urban Paddle offers a variety of kayaking tours, including the Sunset Tour, Night LED Tour, and Liberty Isle Tour. Prices start at around $60 for a single kayak and go up to $150 for a tandem kayak for two adults. Dogs are even welcome on the tours!

Inwood Canoe Club is a kayaking/ canoeing club based in New York City just north of the George Washington Bridge. The club offers a free public paddling program called the Open House every summer. The program is open to all skill levels. It provides an opportunity for people to learn kayaking skills, gain access to the city’s waterways, meet other community members and contribute to cleanup efforts along the Hudson River shore. 

No prior experience is necessary, but you must know how to swim. All paddling equipment is provided free of charge, and avoid wearing or bringing items that can be damaged if they get wet. A parent or guardian must accompany all minors. The minimum age to paddle is eight years old.

The Open House is a great way to spend a summer day in the city and get involved in the kayaking community.

kayak in new york

Conclusion

With so many great places for kayaking the Hudson River, it can be hard to know where to start. So we’ve listed seven of our favorite spots for a paddle, some with pretty cool tours while others allow you to paddle for free. The river is full of surprises and new areas to explore. These spots are perfect for all levels of kayakers, so grab your paddle and get ready for some fun on the water!

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About The Author 

Hi, my name is Andy and I am the creator and owner of Canoe-Kayaks.com. I’ve been into water sports for as long as I can remember and I love nothing more than spending a day on the water with my family. This website is a way for me to share my passion with everyone, through providing some helpful guides and tips for canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding.

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