New York is a state filled with many beautiful bodies of water. Its borders share some of the most impressive aquatic destinations in the world! Parts of the famous Niagara Falls and Lake Ontario reside in the state. If you want to spend a fun summer family vacation in New York, you will always find somewhere everyone will love. From the Long Island Sound to the Hudson River, there is a perfect place for any water activity you might want to do! Here are some water sports you can do in New York.

1. Open Water Swimmingbeach at Coney Island

Brighton Beach by Coney Island is a great spot if you want to practice some open water swimming. The Coney Island & Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS) is a non-profit organization that conducts weekly group swims from Brighton Beach to Coney Island. 

Staten Island and Queens also have popular open water swimming locations. Lake George hosts open water swim events as well. If you want to learn more about the open water swimming events, New York Open Water, Inc. organizes many marathons and short swims.

2. Scuba Diving

east river scuba 

If you want to scuba dive, New York will not disappoint you! Montauk is a popular tourist destination on the eastern end of Long Island. It is most well-known for shark cage diving. Soft corals and endless fish also await your dives here. If you prefer exploring shipwrecks, Wreck Valley is the place to go. A 60-mile stretch from the north to the south of the Long Island, Wreck Valley is littered with hundreds of shipwrecks!


3. Surfingsurfing at Rockaways Beach

If you have the itch to surf, the Rockaways is the spot to satisfy that craving in New York! It is also the only beach where you can surf legally. Since the coast is heavily protected, there are strict rules that you need to know before you can surf. Some of them are: (1) you can only paddle between certain beach streets and (2) blasting loud music is not allowed. 

Even with all of these, the Rockaways remains an iconic surfing spot with a long-time surfing culture! The most famous surfing spot in the Rockaways is Beach 90th street. If you want to learn to ride the waves, go to Locals Surf School on Beach 69th street.

4. Fly Fishing

New York is the birthplace of fly fishing in America, so you can be sure to experience the best fly fishing in the United States! You will be able to fish for trout, salmon, pike, and bass in various rivers across New York. Delaware River and Salmon River are great fishing spots to look out for. The best time for trout fishing in New York is usually from June until the end of September. Going later in the year, such as in late September, can help you avoid the worst of the pesky summer bugs. 

5. ParasailingLake George

If you want to go parasailing in New York, give Lake George a go! Lake George is a town in the Adirondack Mountains, sitting on the lake of the same name. Lush forests and mountains surround its tranquil waters, which are perfect for any outdoor water activities. It also has many beautiful hiking trails for the whole family!

If you are going to parasail, pick a company that will give you professional services and a safe ride! Finding a company that is part of the Professional Association of Parasail Operators is a way to instill confidence in your parasailing adventure. Parasail Nation is one such operator.

6. Rowing

You will be pleased to know that rowing is alive and thriving in the state of New York. Until now, there are numerous rowing associations and clubs that take advantage of the many bodies of water in the state. One of them is the Harlem River Community Rowing, a 15-year-old organization that offers free rowing in the Harlem River!

7. Kayaking

If you want to kayak, you don’t need to go far from the Big Apple itself. Numerous clubs and communities are open for both tourists and regulars! The North Brooklyn Boat Club is an outfitter you can rely on when you are in New York City. They operate in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, usually offering public paddles on weekends! Check out their calendar for a definite date. 

Leaving New York City, the Hudson River Gorge is perfect for both rafters and kayakers. Kayak Hudson is an outfitter that provides guided tours, gear rentals, and paddling lessons across Westchester County. New York is filled with over 7,600 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, so you’ll always find a place to go when searching for kayaking destinations near me.

8. Water Skiing

Waterskiing is a great way to get a full-body workout. Lake George is the place to go if you’re looking for a great water skiing experience in New York! The Adirondack Water Ski and Wakeboard School on Lake George is one of the best places for beginners and experienced water skiers. Certified instructors and top-of-the-line equipment provide a safe and exciting environment on the lake! FYI, the water is extremely cold. For us Texans it was brutally cold. 

9. Whitewater RaftingAdirondack mountains

Whitewater rafting is an exciting team-building exercise or a bonding moment with your family! The Hudson River in the Adirondack mountains has rapids of varying difficulty, making it perfect for rafting enthusiasts of any skill level. The level of difficulty of the rapids can change with the seasons. The river can sport challenging Class IV and Class V rapids in spring and calmer Class II and Class III rapids in mid-summer. 

The Hudson River is perhaps one of the best whitewater rafting trips in the United States! If you are feeling more adventurous, Beaver Brook Outfitters provides overnight rafting trips along the Hudson River! You might want to bring your best kayak lights in case you get caught on the water after sunset or during the night at camp. 

10. Sailing

Sailing is a great way to experience the tranquility of nature. Reading the wind to control your sails as you travel across the water is a gratifying experience! Lake Ontario is a beautiful body of water to the north, shared by New York and Ontario. Though it is the smallest of the Great Lakes, the breathtaking landscapes and communities of Lake Ontario are a thrill to explore. 

A little south is a smaller lake called the Cayuga Lake where beginners can get sailing lessons from the Merrill Family Sailing Center. The Merrill Family Sailing Center has 14’ sailing dinghies to 26’ keelboats. Cornell Community Sailing at the center is open to the public and offers sailing lessons for sailors of any skill level!

New York allows you to do a variety of water sports, each with its active community and outfitters. If you travel to New York looking for some fun in the water, you won’t be disappointed. Visiting the state will surely be a trip that will stay in your mind forever.

Guest Author: Michael fell in love with the great outdoors when he was still a child. His early adventures and misadventures drove him to try a wide variety of water sports, not only in his hometown, France but also around the world.

Read Next:

New York City Travel Guide

Finger Lakes Travel Guide


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