Six Best Spots for Kayaking
Explore the state's rivers, ponds and shores.
As the Ocean State, Rhode Island might be renowned for its beaches, but it has a lot more to offer than just swimming and sunbathing. With hundreds of miles of waterways, ponds galore and placid bays, it’s a kayaker’s dream come true. Whether you’re completely new to paddling or an old pro, there’s something for all levels of experience.
With more than fifteen miles of winding waterways, the Wood River threads through some of the most biologically diverse landscape in the state. The wildlife includes everything from painted turtles and blue herons to beavers and muskrats. Besides the flora and fauna, paddlers can admire the ruins of two mills along the lower section of the river. This trip isn’t for novices — the length of the river and handful of dams can be challenging to newcomers.
Details: Departure: DEM Fishing Access Site on Rt. 165, Exeter. Rental: Queens River Kayak, 21 Glen Rock Rd., West Kingston, 401-783-4054, queensriverkayaks.com.
Not far from Watch Hill, this sandy spit of land is the southernmost point of mainland Rhode Island. Kayak along the shore of Napatree and enjoy views of one of the state’s most unspoiled beaches. If you go ashore, investigate the abandoned fort that sits at its tip, which was built more than a hundred years ago. Sea kayaking is not for everyone, but the semi-protected waters off of Napatree are perfect for paddlers trying to get a taste of the open Atlantic.
Details: Departure and rental: Watch Hill Outfitters, 157 Main St., Westerly, 401-596-7217, watchhilloutfitters.com.
Half a century ago, paddling the Blackstone River would have been an unappealing prospect — overflowing with pollution and devoid of wildlife, it was a victim of unrestrained industrial dumping. But now, after decades of cleanup, it’s full of wildlife and history. Kayak along old canals, mills and returning forest.
Details: Departure: 2 School St., Lincoln. Rental delivery: East Coast Paddle Sports, 38 Water St., East Greenwich; 2 William Schmid Dr., Wakefield, 401-360-2282, ecpaddlesports.com.
Providence’s rivers and canals, with their gondolas and bonfires, have lent the city a certain Old World charm. Now you can explore these iconic waterways on your own private kayak. Paddle through Waterplace Park, which is the epicenter of festivities during WaterFire. Enjoy a unique view of downtown or skim past the city’s industrial shore.
Details: Departure and rental: 10 Memorial Blvd., Providence, 401-829-1769, providencekayak.com.
Ninigret Pond, a large coastal lagoon, is another great option for paddlers who are giving saltwater kayaking a try. Large and relatively calm, it lets you explore a coastal environment while still staying safe. Foodies will appreciate the thriving oyster and quahog population, and enterprising fishermen are free to ply the waters for everything from striped bass to flounder .
Details: Departure: Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Charlestown. Rental: The Kayak Centre, 562 Charlestown Beach Rd., Charlestown, 401-364-8000, kayakcentre.com.
Upper Pawtuxet River
The Scituate Reservoir provides the drinking water for most of the state, and if you’d like to see its outflow up close and personal, take a trip along the upper Pawtuxet. Paddle upstream through swamp, woods and quaint riverside neighborhoods to the reservoir dam. If fighting the current has left you hot and sweaty, take a dip — the water is consistently cool.
Details: Depart: 15 Hope Furnace Rd., Hope. Rental delivery: East Coast Paddle Sports, 38 Water St., East Greenwich; 2 William Schmid Dr., Wakefield 401-360-2282, ecpaddlesports.com.