Eight Best Spots for Kayaking in Rhode Island

Explore the state's rivers, ponds and shores.

Photo by Samantha Labrecque.

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.


 Editor’s note: This blog has been updated from a previous version in 2019.

Upper Wood River

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.


Departure: Arcadia Management Area (half trip, 3 miles) or Barberville Dam (full trip, 5.5 miles).

Rental: Queens River Kayaks, 21 Glen Rock Rd., West Kingston, 401-284-3945, queensriverkayaks.com


Napatree Point

If you are hoping to explore ocean kayaking, try exploring the Rhode Island’s southernmost point of the mainland at Napatree Point. The spot is located near Watch Hill, but here you can explore some of the state’s less frequented beaches. The semi-protected waters are calm enough for kayakers to feel comfortable trying to paddle on the open ocean for the first time. When you go ashore, make sure to check out the nearby fort that was built over a hundred years ago.


Departure: Right behind the shop.

Rental: Watch Hill Outfitters, 157 Main St., Westerly, 401-596-7217, watchhilloutfitters.com


Olney Pond in Lincoln Woods State Park

This little pond is a great spot for a relaxing kayak in one of the state’s beautiful state parks. Float by water lilies little islands in the middle of the pond and explore the park’s woodland shores. The water is calm, so this is a great kayaking spot for families and beginners. Don’t have a kayak? Don’t worry, Lincoln Woods is one of Providence Kayak’s rental locations.


Departure: Lincoln Woods Boat Ramp, Olney Pond.

Rental: Providence Kayak, Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln, 401-829-1769, providencekayak.com



Blackstone River

The Blackstone River plays a huge part in the history of Rhode Island and the United States with Slater Mill and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore this historic landmark by allowing you to see the river’s hidden gems and natural wildlife. There is so much natural beauty to explore in addition to local history.


Departure: Central Falls Landing.

Rental: Expedition Kayak Rentals (Available for forty-five to ninety-minute sessions with single, tandem and canoe rental options), 15 Madeira Ave., Central Falls, 401-724-2200, rivertourblackstone.com/site/kayak


Woonasquatucket River

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 while enjoying a unique view of downtown and the city’s shoreline.


Departure: 101 Dyer St., Providence.

Rental: Providence Kayak, 101 Dyer St., Providence, 401-829-1769, providencekayak.com

Photo by Samantha Labrecque.

Ninigret Pond

For those who want to explore saltwater kayaking, Ninigret Pond in Charlestown is a great spot for all levels of experience. The Pond is large and calm, so there are a lot of possible routes and options kayakers could take. For those who are interested in the local marine wildlife, the pond is home to thriving populations of oysters, quahogs, striped bass, flounder and more.


Departure: Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Charlestown.

Rental: The Kayak Centre, 562 Charlestown Beach Rd., Charlestown, 401-295-4400, kayakcentre.com


Narrow River

Narragansett’s Narrow River is a calm spot for a relaxing kayak on the water. Explore the bay coast’s diverse ecosystem with its salt marsh, estuary, bond and tidal inlet which are home to various species of local wildlife. Narrow River Kayaks provides rentals and lessons to beginners and those who do not own kayaks.


Departure: See website for additional information and route suggestions based on the tides. 

Rental: Narrow River Kayaks, 94 Middlebridge Rd., Narragansett, 401-789-0334, narrowriverkayaks.com


Block Island

If a trip to Block Island is in the cards, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the island’s Great Salt Pond. Whether it’s your first time out and you’re just taking it easy, or you’re advanced and adventurous enough to take an ocean kayak out past the pond, it’s a fun water activity that the whole family can enjoy.


Departure: See website for additional information.

Rental: Block Island Fishworks, 40 Ocean Ave., Block Island, 401-466-5392, sandypointco.com