Best Places To Kayak In Massachusetts

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Could there be a better location for your next kayaking adventure than the aptly named Bay State, Massachusetts? From exquisite coastal routes to scenic rivers and lakes, kayakers in Massachusetts will undoubtedly be spoiled for choice! Along with historical and wildlife sightings, a kayaking adventure in the Bay State is not to be missed.

Kayaking in Massachusetts is a bucket-list-worthy adventure for every passionate paddler. The Bay State boasts some of the most exquisite coastal kayaking spots, as well as stunning lakes and rivers. Some popular kayaking spots include Cape Cod, Plum Island, and Sudbury River, to name a few.

Whether you have been paddling through some exquisite waters for years or you are looking to begin your journey into the delightful world of kayaking, this New England State of Massachusetts is well worth considering. Discover why the Bay State could be the perfect kayaking destination for you.

Kayaking In Massachusetts

The Bay State, Massachusetts, undoubtedly offers some of the most wonderful and unique kayaking opportunities for passionate paddlers to enjoy. 

One of the most unique and interesting opportunities to enjoy while kayaking in Massachusetts is being able to see and explore the 1620 landing spot of the Pilgrims. What a great way to add some exciting historical sightseeing to your kayaking adventure.

The diverse scenery that you will get to paddle through is simply breathtaking, and whether you are kayaking in the ocean, in lakes, or in rivers, you will get to see something captivating for sure. There are a few kayaking spots with great opportunities for bird watching, so make sure to bring some binoculars along with you. 

One of the outstanding parts about kayaking in Massachusetts is that it caters to kayakers of all skill and experience levels and promises to be a great adventure that the whole family can enjoy. From a couple of hours or even a few days, Massachusetts undoubtedly has all the kayaking fun you could ever need.

The Best Kayaking Spots In Massachusetts

Alright, let us paddle straight into the fun part by exploring some of the best kayaking spots in the state of Massachusetts to help you plan for your next kayaking adventure.

Cape Cod

Cape Cod offers some beautiful habitats for wildlife and plant species, making it an excellent spot to go kayaking with plenty of sightseeing opportunities. The Great Island Trail around Cape Cod, in particular, is a beautiful kayaking excursion and is considered one of the top paddling trails in the New England states. 

The Great Island Trail has a beautiful wildlife sanctuary, breathtaking views, and a relatively challenging sea kayaking experience for those who are looking for more of a thrill. However, sharks have been known to visit this location, including great white sharks, so be cautious and avoid kayaking alone or very near places where seals and schools of fish are present.

There are numerous launch spots along the river’s bank, and getting to other parts of the island from there is simple. Nearly every location along the coast with beach access is kayak friendly, so you can paddle out into the water almost everywhere. Always keep in mind that kayaking in the ocean is far more challenging, so be prepared for some waves and be mindful of your skill level.

Plum Island

Plum Island is as delightful as it sounds. It is a terrific kayaking trail for beginners eager to begin their journey into the world of kayaking. Plum Island, located in Newbury, is a favorite tourist location for beach hiking, barbecues, and, best of all, kayaking. Undoubtedly, one of the most outstanding ways to explore Plum Island is on a kayak.

The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge protects a large portion of this barrier beach island. There are numerous little islands, inlets, and sheltered canals to explore, all of which are loaded with opportunities for wildlife sightings. The kayaking route on Plum Island gives you access to both marshes and open water, giving you one of the most diverse kayaking opportunities in all of Massachusetts.

Plum Island is conveniently less than an hour from the famous state capital, Boston, so you can go for a day excursion and still be home in time for a home-cooked meal with the family. There are also several kayaking rentals and kayak tour facilities available to help you make the most of your time on Plum Island.

Sudbury River

The Sudbury River is the next kayaking spot on our “Best in Massachusetts” list. The Sudbury River is a picturesque, slow-moving river that joins the Assabet River to form the Concord River. This is another one of those stunning spots where the surface of the water takes on the appearance of a mirror, perfectly reflecting all of the surrounding scenery.

The Sudbury River is designated as a Wild and Scenic River, specifically the last 17 miles between the Danforth Street Bridge and where it joins the Concord River. The most enjoyable and picturesque kayaking route is roughly only seven miles long, making Sudbury River the perfect spot for a day outing.

This route happens to pass through the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, which offers good bird-watching opportunities, so make sure to bring some binoculars along to get the best experience!

There are kayak rental facilities available nearby, which is always great news if you happen to be traveling from far or if you do not have your own kayaking equipment.

Buffumville Lake Loop

The Buffumville Lake Loop may be just what you’re searching for if you are hungry for more of a challenge to kayak through. The Buffumville Lake, with its 500 acres of land, is a little more difficult to navigate than some of the other kayaking spots in Massachusetts. 

Part of what makes this spot a little more challenging is that there are various shallow sections, which makes judging where your kayak can and cannot go more difficult, especially for those with little to no kayaking experience. However, those looking for a bit of thrill on their paddling excursion will undoubtedly enjoy the Buffumville Lake Loop.

Under Oxford Road, there is a concrete boat launch where you can begin your kayaking journey in either direction around the lake. The ramp and area, in general, are well-developed, and there are friendly park rangers on hand to assist you with a route and navigational suggestions if necessary.

It’s important to note that there are no kayak rental services in close proximity to the Buffumville Lake Loop. This means that not having your own kayaking equipment could complicate things slightly by making it necessary to travel further out to first pick up some gear, provided you have a roof rack on your car.

Connecticut River

It simply wouldn’t be right not to include the longest river in New England on this list. The Connecticut River, extending 400 miles into Long Island Sound, is another must-visit kayaking spot in the Bay State. With relatively slow-moving water, this may be a peaceful spot to paddle, making it great for family vacations and multi-day excursions.

Along the river’s path through Massachusetts, there are numerous launch spots to begin your journey on the water. A great route to consider is a roughly five-mile paddle from the Pauchaug launch to Munn’s Ferry Campsite, which provides camping facilities to enjoy a few days of adventure with a group of friends or family. 

Kayak rentals are also readily accessible around here, so no need to worry about bringing all of your gear along with you.

Fort River

Last on our “Best in Massachusetts” list, but by no means least is the exquisitely exciting Fort River. Fort River might be a little too difficult for beginner kayakers to tackle. Kayakers with a lot of experience enjoy Fort River since it could be considered as a kayaking obstacle course. The landscape and intensity of the stream make it one of the top kayaking experiences in Massachusetts.

Fort River requires paddlers to maneuver through trees that have toppled over, boulders, and various other obstacles that litter the path. Fort River also boasts a relatively swift current, so if you are not cautious, you could be swept a little further downstream than you might have been planning to go.

This is undoubtedly a spot not to be missed if you are up for a kayaking challenge. However, kayaking at Fort River is only possible in the spring when the water levels are high enough to paddle, so make sure to plan your trip here accordingly. As with most kayaking destinations, kayak rentals are available at Fort River to have all of the necessary equipment covered.

Kayaking Clubs In Massachusetts

If you are brand new to the delightful world of kayaking or a seasoned paddler, one of the best ways to enjoy any kayaking adventure is to join a kayakers club. Becoming a member of a kayakers club is one of the most exciting ways to explore and learn about all of the wonderful kayaking spots in and around the state. 

Along with the excitement of exploring your state on a kayak, you will also get to enjoy the benefit of meeting several other passionate kayakers and becoming part of a paddling community. In many cases, you will also have access to training aimed at improving your kayaking skills, and in some cases, receive discounts at various kayaking retailers.

There are many casual kayaking groups that you can find on various social media platforms like Meetup and Facebook, to name a few. However, we’ll show you some well-established kayaking clubs that offer their members several benefits for your consideration. We have a few of the best spots covered now; let’s discover some of Massachusetts kayaking clubs:

AMC Boston Paddlers

Out of all of the Appalachian Mountain Club chapters that exist, their Boston Chapter is by far the largest, boasting well over 20,000 members. The aim of the AMC Boston Chapter is to protect and create awareness around the outdoors by providing a fun and safe way for people to enjoy outdoor activities together.

AMC Boston Paddlers are the overseers of the kayaking activities committee of the AMC Boston Chapter. They are in charge of getting their members out on the water and enjoying all the excellent kayaking spots in the state. They offer classes to improve your kayaking skills, and members will have access to several scheduled kayaking outings.

Memberships start at $50 for individuals ($25 if you are under 30), $75 for Families, and $25 for seniors 70 years and older. Benefits of becoming an AMC member include access to thousands of outdoor events – including kayaking, up to 20% off of all AMC lodging, 10% discounts on various gear and merchandise, plus the benefit of meeting thousands of outdoor enthusiasts.

AMC Southeastern Massachusetts Chapter

Another option to consider joining if you are not based in the Boston area is the Southeastern Massachusetts Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Committee. The club schedules at least two kayaking outings every week through the months of April to October. 

Since the Southeastern Massachusetts Chapter is also a division of AMC, members will have access to all of the same benefits previously mentioned under the Boston Chapter. The Appalachian Mountain Committee is undoubtedly one of the best outdoor clubs to belong to, boasting roughly 12 Chapters throughout the country. 

Kayaking Laws In Massachusetts

Now that we have some exciting kayaking clubs and some of the best kayaking spots covered, it is vital that we take a close look at the kayaking laws and regulations in Massachusetts before you take to the water. The kayaking laws will ultimately ensure your safety and enable you to have the best time while paddling.

Here are a few common questions regarding the kayaking laws in Massachusetts:

Do Kayaks Have To Be Registered In Massachusetts?

No. All non-motorized water vessels like kayaks do not need to be registered in Massachusetts. Registration only becomes a requirement in the case of motorized water vessels.

Do You Need A License To Go Kayaking In Massachusetts?

No licensing is necessary to operate a kayak or any other non-motorized water vessel in Massachusetts. Again, only in the case of motorized boats is a boating safety certificate required. Additionally, all those between 12 to 15 must complete a certified basic boating course before being allowed to operate a motorized boat and require qualified supervision while doing so.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Kayaking In Massachusetts?

This is not advised in any boating context. Massachusetts has one of the strictest BUI (boating under the influence) laws. If you are caught kayaking with a blood alcohol level of 0,08%, you could even have your vehicle driver’s license revoked. Instead, enjoy the waters and save the drinks for later.

Do I Need To Have A Life Jacket To Kayak In Massachusetts?

Between September 15 to May 15, life jackets must be worn at all times by kayakers of all ages in Massachusetts, and those under 12 must wear them at all times regardless of the time of year. 


Kayaking in Massachusetts can be a thrilling experience, as it is rich in history and full of exquisite, notable landmarks. There are also stunning landscapes and miles of kayaking trails to enjoy. Between the months of fall and spring, remember to wear your life jacket, and most of all, remember to have a great time!