Warm (if not particularly dry) weather is finally here, blessing New Yorkers with lots of time for beach trips and outdoor sports. Warm weather also offers up the opportunity to combine those two activities, and thanks to the city’s long list of available watersports, you have quite a few aquatic choices in the summer months, from kayaking to sailing, to surfing in the Rockaways. Ahead, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Every summer, from the end of May through August, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse offers kayaking from the Pier 2 floating dock. The kayaks, available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and on Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., are free to rent, and kids are welcome, though a guardian must accompany anyone under the age of 18. Lines can get long, especially on the weekends, but the East River kayaking spot’s spectacular views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty make the wait well worth it.
Skilled and aspiring Jet Skiers will be pleased to learn that there are a number of opportunities to skid across local waters. Jersey City-based company Sea the City offers one hour Jet Ski tours of the East River, Governors Island, and the Statue of Liberty starting at $159, in addition to a two-and-a-half hour tour around the entirety of Manhattan starting at $299 (additional riders incur added costs.) Bensonhurst, Brooklyn-based Empire City Watersports also offers Jet Ski tours of downtown and the Statue of Liberty ($235 for a two-person ski) and the whole city ($400 for a two-person ski), or you can rent a Jet Ski and ride it from Bensonhurst to the Verrazzano Bridge and back.
If you’d prefer to float around the city via kite(board), there are a few options. New York Kiteboarding School offers a full gamut of private and group lessons, from beginner to advanced, at Plumb Beach and Seagate in Brooklyn; Rockaway Beach, and Breezy Point. Courses run from about $150 to $500, depending on level, length of course, and group size, and you can purchase packages as well. NYC Kite Club offers a similar package list at Plumb Beach, Breezy Point, Jamaica Bay, and Long Beach in Nassau County, with everyone from a one-hour supervised lesson ($175) to a 12-hour complete lesson package ($1,500).
Photo by Patti Reilly for the National Park Service
North Brooklyn Boat Club
The non-profit, volunteer-run North Brooklyn Boat Club offers up a slew of boating options for New Yorkers, including free guided group canoe trips up Newtown Creek toward the East River. The canoe trips are split up by level (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced), so everyone gets to work within their skill set, and beverages and snacks are provided. The Boat Club also offers kayak trips, similarly split up by level, for folks who’d rather paddle accordingly.
The National Park Service also offers a free two-mile “Canoe Cruise” to explore the Sandy Hook Bay, which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The free ranger-guided tour takes place three times per week until the end of August.
Via Creative Commons
Wheel Fun Rentals
You can rent pedal bikes and pedal boats from Wheel Fun Rentals locations all over the country; in New York, boats are available in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, with the rental site located on the north side of Meadow Lake. A double pedal boat runs $23-an-hour, or you can splurge for a quad for $33-an-hour, with available hours varying depending on the season. Note that of the boats even have cup holders, should you prefer to pedal with a cool beverage on hand in the summer.
A surfer at Rockaway Beach; via Flickr
Surfs Up NY
Californians might lay claim to the mainland’s “best” surf, but New York’s got some great waves, too. If you’d like to learn how to harness the power of the Atlantic Ocean, Rockaway Beach-based surfing school Surfs Up NY offers private lessons and group classes for kids and adults, with rates running from $145 for a basic hourlong surfing class to $395 for a two-person, two-hour lesson. Instructors will teach you basic technique and safety moves on land, then take you into the water for an hour so you can work your stuff in the waves. Surfs Up has paddleboard and skateboarding lessons as well.
Scuba diving in the city isn’t quite as rewarding as it is, say, by a coral reef, but there’s still some good stuff to check out in local waters, especially in shipwreck-heavy spots like the south of Long Island and east of New Jersey. East Village-based Gotham Divers offers scuba classes that aim to get you certified via a slew of diving certification agencies (it turns out there are a lot of them), with everything from a beginner’s Open Water class for $399 to an Enriched Air Nitrox class for seasoned divers for $220. You can also finetune your diving skills with a Scuba Skills Update course ($129 to $179) and buy gear from their shop.
Manhattan Sailing School
The Jersey City-based Manhattan Sailing School (it’s confusing, I know) is a great place to learn some basic sailing skills. They offer three different course schedules—weekends, Monday and Thursday evenings, and Monday and Tuesday weekdays—and teach everything from sailing terminology to knot-tying to basic navigation. Post-course, you can get certified with the American Sailing Association, and sign up for the next level and overnight sailing courses if you wish.
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