Best Places To Kayak In New Jersey

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 In New Jersey, there are numerous large and tiny canals; there is no shortage of places for novices and specialists to paddle.

Kayaking in New Jersey will require that your kayak is registered, and for some areas, you will first need to obtain a Boat Ramp Maintenance Permit. Life jackets are required by law for all kayakers, and alcohol levels should not exceed 0.08%. New Jersey offers numerous kayaking rivers and lakes.  

Kayaks are small and light, allowing you to paddle across creeks and streams like the Delaware River and the Atlantic Ocean. However, there are some essential things to consider you start kayaking!

Kayaking In New Jersey

New Jersey is beautifully adorned with lakes and rivers that provide the most spectacular kayaking experiences! Each river or lake offers different scenery and level of challenge that can suit the beginner or expert kayaker.

However, it is crucial to remember that there may be some requirements for kayaking, depending on where you would like to kayak. These include either a permit or boat license. With great fun often comes great responsibility, and with that, endless fun and excitement!

Some kayaking areas will require that you have a boat ramp maintenance permit. Whether you need it or not will depend on the dimensions of your kayak. Some places requiring a boat ramp maintenance permit include Assunpink WMA, Rising Sun Lake, Mad Horse Creek WMA, and Mad Horse Creek, Round Valley Reservoir.

Before you can kayak in New Jersey, you need to ensure that your kayak is registered. Otherwise, there is a genuine possibility of being charged a penalty fee.

Registering means filling out a Universal Title Application and a Boat Registration Application.

Life jackets are a requirement by New Jersey law by each person on board a kayak. It must be a US Coast Guard-approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device) of Type I, II, III, or V.

Alcoholic beverages are prohibited for the most part, and anyone caught with an alcohol level of more than 0.08% will be eligible for a hefty fine.

Some of the best places to kayaking in New Jersey include Cranberry Lake, Cooper River, Lake Hopatcong, Lake Surprise, Cape May Harbor, and Cooper River.They have miles of beautiful lakes to explore, littered with coves and inlets. Some routes offer views of ancient mansions and lush, green, and unspoiled landscapes.

A forested beach and rich animals surround this calm, serene lake. These trails are exceptionally breathtaking underneath the full moon, making them ideal for couples or photography.

Do You Need Permits To Kayak In New Jersey?

Some kayaking areas do require a boat ramp maintenance permit.

They state that any vehicle used to transport or launch a vessel or water conveyance on the following WMAs (wildlife management area) must have affixed to the lower corner of the driver’s side rear window:

  • Boat Ramp Maintenance Permit or a photocopy of current hunting, fishing, or trapping license showing the Conservation ID Number (CID#).

Boat Ramp Maintenance Permits cost $15.00 and are available through any licensing agent or the Division’s license website.

Residents of New Jersey who are 70 years or older are not obliged to get a boat ramp maintenance permit or a license but must show evidence of their age in their window, such as a previous license with their date of birth.

New Jersey areas that require you to have a Boat Ramp Maintenance Permit include:

  • Round Valley Reservoir, Angler Access
  • Assunpink WMA, Assunpink Lake
  • Assunpink WMA, Stone Tavern Lake
  • Assunpink WMA, Rising Sun Lake
  • Dennis Creek WMA, Dennis Creek
  • Tuckahoe WMA, Tuckahoe River
  • Mad Horse Creek WMA, Mad Horse Creek
  • Union Lake WMA, Union Lake
  • Menantico Ponds WMA, Menantico Ponds
  • Prospertown Lake WMA, Prospertown Lake

How Do You Register Your Kayak In New Jersey?

To register your kayak in New Jersey, you’ll need to fill out a Universal Title Application and a Boat Registration Application.

If you don’t register your boat within ten working days after purchasing it, you’ll receive a fine of $25.

If your boat isn’t titled, you’ll also need to present the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin or evidence of ownership from the vendor, along with a notarized receipt. You can apply, together with the required costs, to your local Motor Vehicle Commission Agency.

Furthermore, validation decals must be on both sides of your vessel 3 inches after the final letter of your registration number.

Do You Need Life Jackets  To Kayak In New Jersey?

You and any children who will also be kayaking with you will require a life jacket before being legally permitted to kayak in New Jersey.  

Each person onboard a vessel in New Jersey must wear a US Coast Guard-approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device) of Type I, II, III, or V. This is true for all boats, regardless of their size. The PFD must be a decent fit for the wearer, conveniently accessible, and excellent working order.

You must also have a US Coast Guard approved Type IV throwable PFD on board for 16 feet or longer boats. Unless the kid is in a fully enclosed cabin, all children 12 years and under must wear a US Coast Guard authorized PFD while aboard any vessel.

Operating a watercraft with a kid under thirteen years of age on board who is not wearing an adequate life jacket is illegal. The boat’s operator will be eligible for a $250  penalty.

Do You Need Lights On Your Kayak In New Jersey?

You’ll need lights on your kayak if you’re going kayaking at night, between the hours of sunset and sunrise. A white lantern or lamp can be used in kayaks. It should also be utilized when sight is limited.

Red and green sidelights, as well as white stern light or masthead lights, are a necessity for motorized vessels up to 39.5 feet.

New Jersey Kayaking: Registration Requirements

In New Jersey, a kayak or canoe without a motor does not have to be registered, regardless of length. Non-motorized watercraft and non-motorized inflatables under 12 feet do not require registration. Unless it is primarily on private lakes or ponds, non-motorized vessels and sailboats exceeding 12 feet must be registered.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission requires all motorized watercraft, regardless of length, to be registered. If your boat is longer than 12 feet, it will need to be titled, and all titled boats will need to be registered.

The length of the vessel determines the price of registering your boat in New Jersey. The registration charge for boats up to 16 feet is $12. The cost is $28 for boats that are between 16 and 26 feet long. The cost of titling is $60.

Is Alcohol Permitted When Kayaking in New Jersey?

According to New Jersey law, anyone who has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more is intoxicated—in New Jersey, kayaking while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is prohibited.

If you’re caught boating under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent to 0.10 percent, you might face a fine of up to $400, a year without boating privileges, and a three-month suspension of your driver’s license.

You might be fined up to $500 and lose your boating rights for a year if you are discovered to have a blood-alcohol level that exceeds 0.10 percent.  Furthermore, your driver’s license might be suspended for up to a year.

You might lose your driver’s license for up to ten years and be imprisoned if you get a second conviction.

What Are Good Kayaking Spots For Beginners?

Cranberry Lake, Byram Township. It has a public boat launch that boaters, canoers, and kayakers may use all year. Kayaking here provides fifty-five miles of shoreline with several coves and inlets to explore. It’s a fantastic area for novices to learn to kayak because it’s shallow.

Lake Hopatcong, Hopatcong State Park. Of course, kayaking is fantastic on New Jersey’s largest freshwater lake! There are 2,500 acres of water to explore on this nine-mile lake.

While there are no kayak rentals inside the park, there are several neighboring private marinas that do. The ancient mansions along the beach or Liffy Island, the lake’s most significant unspoiled part, are both excellent views.

Lake Surprise, Watchung Reservation, Mountainside. It is a hidden treasure in the center of Watchung Reservation, with 24 acres of flat water. Of course, this makes it an ideal location for kayaking. A forested beach and rich animals surround this calm, serene lake.

Cape May Harbor, 1600 Delaware Ave, Cape May.  Before heading out in Cape May Harbor, rent a single, double, or surf kayak from Aqua Trails. Similarly, you may sign up for one of the many guided excursions, including sunset tours to full moon tours.

Cooper River, Camden County: Cooper River Park. It is ideal for individuals who don’t want to venture too far into the woods to launch their kayak because it has a view of the Philadelphia skyline and tranquil waters.

You can launch your boat in Pennsauken Park and paddle the entire length in under an hour, but you’ll want to stay longer to watch the rowers practice or the sunset over the city.

Winter Attire For Kayaking In New Jersey

When dressing for your kayaking venture, dress for the water temperature as opposed to the weather’s temperature. When temperatures are freezing outside, staying warm and dry is your priority. The majority of kayakers that venture out into colder waters wear wetsuits. Remember that a wetsuit is best for water temperatures over 50 degrees.

Because it keeps you entirely dry, a dry suit is the most satisfactory protection against cold water. With your drysuit, you’ll also want to wear a base layer. Fleece or similar warm material is a good idea for a foundation layer.

Can You Go Kyakaing Year-Round In New Jersey?

Kayaking year-round is possible in certain regions, with only the addition of a few extra clothes in case you get wet. At some periods of the year, it may be impossible to go kayaking in other regions. In some areas, seasonal rainfall can have an impact on water levels.

It means that if you travel at the wrong time of year, you can end up in a river with just enough water to float your kayak. There’s also the risk of rivers and lakes freezing over, and as a newbie kayaker, you might not want to take on the whitewater rapids of snowmelt.

If you intend to kayak during the off-season, do some homework to determine what you should expect. Then you may compare it to your objectives. For example, if you aim to view marine life that inhabits freezing waters, you might choose to brave the chilly weather and go kayaking during the whales’ migratory season.

 If you prefer to avoid the crowds, try kayaking in the winter in places with a high level of tourists.

What Is The Minimum Age For New Jersey Kayaking?

In New Jersey, there is no minimum age restriction for operating a kayak, canoe, or other non-motorized watercraft.

To drive a motorized vessel, you must be at least 13 years old. For kids who are aged 13 – 16, you can only operate an electric motor or a vessel that’s 12 feet or longer if the engine is less than ten horsepower.

You must also have completed an authorized boater safety course and have your New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate.

Where Can You Rent A Kayak In New Jersey?

Kayak East provides professional kayak lessons and guided trips in various locations around northern and central New Jersey. The instructional programs offer a series of features, similar to building bricks, that assist in developing a framework for more accessible learning, more enjoyable, and safer kayaking.

Tours are available that suit beginners and experts. Kayak around scenic areas such as the Meadowlands, Delaware River, Statue of Liberty, Graveyard of Ships, Sandy Hook Bay, etc. Half-day, full-day, weekday, and sunset trips are all available. Rentals are for 3-day, 5-day, and 7-day periods.

Lakeview Docks has been a part of Cape May County, NJ, for over a half-century and offers various fun activities to keep you busy during the summer months. Lakeview Docks is an excellent destination for the whole family to spend a day on the lake, soak up some sun, and most importantly, have a good time!

Kayaks can carry up to four people, or one of their boats, such as the Carolina and Sundance Skiffs, to go fishing or crabbing from their pier. Wave runners, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and swan paddle boats for two and four persons are also available. The kayaks are for rent by the hour and can accommodate 1 to 3 individuals.

Princeton Canoe and Kayak Rental are about a half-mile off Route 1 and 10 minutes from the Princeton University train station. Their pier is on the D&R Canal, connecting various waterways, including Stony Brook and Carnegie Lake.

They have River Maps available so that you may plan your trip ahead of time, or you can jump in and see where the water leads you! They have single-passenger 9.5 foot and 12-foot kayaks and a twin kayak for two people. Their low rates of around $13 an hour include tax, paddles, seat cushions, and life vests.


With several rivers, lakes, and access to the Atlantic’s coastal waters, New Jersey may be an excellent site for kayaking and boating. However, plan well and be aware of the rules and safety standards before leaving the house to prevent legal issues.