Note These 6 Wonderful, Must-Try Water Activities in New York

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New York City, the city that never sleeps, offers more than just skyscrapers and bustling streets. You’ll find plenty of water activities in New York, too!

Whether you’re a local or a tourist, these aquatic adventures will provide you with an unforgettable experience in NYC and elsewhere in the state.

So, take a refreshing break from the urban chaos and head for the water. The water activities below are sure to make your New York trip memorable, for all the right reasons.

Water activities in new york
Explore these joyful water activities in New York.

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn about the some wonderful, must-try water activities in New York state, including:

6 Best Activities in New York for Those Who Love the Water

Though many people might think first of big cities when New York is mentioned, there is plenty of beautiful nature, too—especially for water lovers!

The state’s activities rival the best of lake towns and will make you feel right at home on the water.

From visiting a waterfall or taking a boat tour to casting a fishing line or renting a kayak, New York has something for you.

1. Visit a Waterfall

New York's waterfalls
Experience the beauty of New York’s waterfalls by visiting one of the many, like Niagara Falls!

You can experience the beauty of New York’s waterfalls by visiting any one of them. All offer breathtaking views and amazing photo opportunities. If you’ll be hiking, be sure to wear proper footwear and bring plenty of water for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Here are some of the top waterfalls you’ll find in New York.

  • Kaaterskill Falls: a two-tier waterfall located in the Catskill Mountains that is one of most popular in New York. Its highest tier is around 260 feet tall, and the cascades are easily accessible via a short hike. 
  • Taughannock Falls: located in the Finger Lakes region, it stands at 215 feet—the highest single-drop waterfall in the state.
  • High Falls: a 96-foot-tall waterfall in Rochester that offers a more urban experience.
  • Niagara Falls: this famous spot is actually three waterfalls: Horseshoe, American, and Bridal Veil. The tallest is Horseshoe Falls, which is 187 feet high. Of course, Niagara Falls is a must see attraction! (You can visit Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, too. Just bring your passport and you can walk across the pedestrian bridge.)

2. Enjoy the Water at a Beach

New York beach
Enjoy the water at a New York beach, such as Coney Island Beach.

Whether you want to splash in the water or relax on the shore, New York’s beaches have something for everyone.

The beaches around New York City, in particular, have many of the same amenities in the city’s parks while providing the bonus of access to the sand and water.

Rockaway Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the state, especially for those who love surfing. In addition to the great waves, the beach offers you opportunities for fishing, beach volleyball, and a boardwalk to walk along.

Everyone’s heard of Coney Island, but its beach may be a little underappreciated thanks to the boardwalk’s popularity. The Coney Island Beach—and the nearby Brighton Beach—will provide you with excellent spots to enjoy the sand and water.

Over on Long Island is Jones Beach State Park. Its six miles of beach offers a boardwalk that takes you past tennis courts, a mini-golf course, and a beach volleyball court. Plus, it’s right on the Atlantic Ocean.

3. Take a Boat Tour

boat tour in New York
Take a boat tour in New York for a new perspective on the skyline, Statue of Liberty, and more.

Ditch the car and experience the beauty of New York with a boat tour. Nature lovers can also take tours to observe wildlife, such as birds, dolphins, and whales. From the Hudson River to the majestic Long Island Sound, a boat tour offers a unique perspective and an unforgettable experience.

Embark from Battery Park and you’ll cruise by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Along the way, you can enjoy the views of the Manhattan skyline as you pass by the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.

A tour up and down the East and Hudson Rivers can take you close to Governors Island, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. 

For a less urban trip, head to Long Island Sound and explore the area’s stunning coastline. You’ll get an up-close look at lighthouses and the majestic landscapes of the South Shore. 

4. Whitewater Rafting

The Hudson River
The Hudson River is the main spot for whitewater rafting in New York.

If you want a little more adventure, consider whitewater rafting.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rafter, this is the perfect way to explore the stunning scenery of the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. With rapids ranging in difficulty, you can find something to suit your skill level. 

The Hudson River is the main spot for whitewater rafting in the state, though the upper Delaware River has some options, too. Other trips go along the Moose and Sacandaga rivers.

Typically, the companies will provide you with all the gear you need. Sometimes, they will even include food and drinks.

Excursions can last for several hours, though you’ll also find options with a camping bundle if you’d like to book a longer trip.

With an experienced guide and the right safety gear, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable adventure whitewater rafting!

5. Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard

Another good way to explore New York’s waterways is to rent a kayak or paddleboard.

Kayaking or paddleboarding is the perfect way to view the natural beauty and sights of New York. You can paddle through the harbor and get a sense of its history. Or, venture out to rivers and lakes to explore the lush greenery and wildlife.

A popular place for kayaking is Green Lakes State Park, located in the Finger Lakes region. You can rent kayaks and rowboats right on the beach and enjoy the park’s glacial lakes. Surrounded by trees, your kayaking trip here is sure to be beautiful.

More urban options can be found in the New York City area, where you can paddleboard at places like Hudson River Park and New York Harbor.

Grab a few friends, rent a kayak or paddleboard, and explore together! It’s a great way to make memories and have a fun time out on the water.

6. Cast a Fishing Line

New York Fishing
Fishing is always great fun in New York, from the Hudson River to the Finger Lakes.

From the majestic Hudson River to the Finger Lakes, you’ll find plenty of spots where you can cast a line to see what bites.

Before you go, be sure you know the state fishing regulations. For one, you’ll need a valid fishing license— and note that there are different licenses for freshwater and saltwater fishing. You’ll also discover different rules are in place for different types of fish.

If you’re along the Hudson River, you can catch:

  • Striped Bass
  • Bluefish
  • Catfish

Or, take a drive to the Finger Lakes, where you can fish for:

  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Black Bass

You can also find excellent fishing spots in one of the Adirondacks’ hundreds of bodies of water, along with Long Island.

On Long Island, you’ll spot:

  • Cod
  • Tuna
  • Sea Bass

Maybe you can make a run for one of the state records!

Enjoy the Water in New York

Enjoy the water in New York
You’ll discover many opportunities to enjoy the water in New York, whether in NYC or elsewhere in the state.

If you love the water, New York is an excellent place to visit. From beautiful waterfalls and beaches to exploring the state by boat, you’ll never run out of ways to have a great time.

Explore all that New York has to offer and you’ll make some amazing memories on the water with your friends and family!

If you’re looking to stay Upstate, check out this Top Waterfront Hotel Near 1000 Islands, New York. It’s conveniently located on the St. Lawrence River and about 2 hours from Niagara Falls.

Final Thoughts on Water Activities in New York

New York offers more than just concrete jungles and bustling streets; it’s also a haven for water enthusiasts. Whether you’re into kayaking, boating, rafting, paddle boarding, fishing, or just relaxing by the beach—there’s an aquatic adventure waiting for you!

Each of these must-try water activities in New York promises a fantastic and refreshing escape from the urban hustle.

So, what are you waiting for?

Dive into the adventure, make a splash, and create lasting memories in the Big Apple and beyond.


Jackie Gately at the beach


About Jackie Gately, editor-IN-CHIEF

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

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