Best Kayaking in CT & Top Places to Paddle in Connecticut

Kayaker in water at sunset

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If you are someone who thoroughly enjoys adventuring and exploring the great outdoors, then kayaking in Connecticut is definitely something you are going to want to add to your bucket list! With over 3,000 bodies of water to explore, you will be paddling for years.

But there are a few things to consider when planning to venture out and kayak in Connecticut. Where should you go? What should you bring? 

With so many considerations, it can be rather overwhelming. But we don’t want that to hold you back from experiencing the beauty of Connecticut’s vast and scenic waters. 

Whether you are looking at enjoying a leisurely, scenic kayak tour or hoping to rent some great kayaks for fishing, this Connecticut Kayaking guide has all the answers for you!

Best Places to Kayak in CT

First things first, you are probably wondering where to kayak in CT? The coastal city not only has a gorgeous waterfront but also has over 3000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs which offer a variety of recreational and watersport opportunities, including kayaking. 

As you can tell, there is an abundance of spots to choose from. Whether you are going on a fishing trip, or want to take some lessons, or just wanting to explore the beautiful city of Connecticut a bit more…

We have compiled a list of some of the best places to kayak in CT.

Kayaker in water at sunset

Sea Kayak Connecticut

For beginners, who have zero equipment and zero ideas where to begin, then Sea Kayak Connecticut in Westport is a great place to start.

As you might have guessed, this is located on the coast, and, therefore, is a saltwater experience. 

Your experience will be a convenient and informative one.

Sea Kayak Connecticut will include American Canoe Association (ACA) certified instructors, many different guided tours as well as paddlesport equipment for rental or purchase. 

You will have the choice of adventuring through island tours such as the Cockenoue Island Tour and the Sprite Island Tour, as well as harbour tours including the Westport Harbour Tour.

Another harbour tour for Independence Day is the July Fireworks Tour – this is not one to be missed. 

If you are unable to make a day tour, Sea Kayak Connecticut also offers evening tours, including the Sunset Tour and the Full Moon Tour. 

There is also the option of booking group outings or private tours on a specific day and time of your choosing.

Mount Tom Pond

Located at the Mount Tom State Park in Litchfield, the Mount Tom Pond provides many different activities, including kayaking. If you are wanting a relaxing day of chilling on the beach or kayaking on the vast open pond, this is the place for you.

You may also like to our guid to beach towns on the East Coast.

Hop River

This one is for our more experienced kayakers.

Hop River in Bolton is a beautiful and scenic adventure, but it does not come without a few obstacles.

With shallow rocky areas and some log jams, we encourage our beginners to give this one a skip.

For our professionals, we’d recommend taking some time to do in-depth planning for this adventure.

Lord Cove

Lord Cove is a small bay area located in Lyme, just off of the Connecticut River.

The bay runs into a five-mile maze of marshlands and is only accessible by small boats such as kayaks and canoes.

Kayaking through Lord Cove will present you with an exquisite variety of birdlife and plant life, including 10 endangered and/or threatened species. 

Mianus River

The Mianus River in Greenwich starts out as a small stream and flows into the Cos Cobb Harbour.

The land surrounding the river is mostly private, excluding just the boat launch.

There are no rental places nearby, so be sure to bring your own gear for this one.

Bantam River

Located in Litchfield, the Bantam River is a flatwater paddle through some marshlands.

You will be presented with the opportunity to paddle upstream towards Little Pond, or downstream where you will find one of the largest lakes in Connecticut, Bantam Lake. 

Morris Creek

Morris Creek located in Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven offers guided tours, as well as kayaking lessons, with all equipment provided for you.

A change from the freshwater scene, Morris Creek is a saltwater paddle experience within a bird sanctuary.

If you feel like venturing out, even more, you can make your way down the creek until you reach the Long Island Sound. 

Poquonnock River

Another adventure that takes you to the Long Island Sound, is the Poquonnock River in Bluff Point State Park, Groton.

Here you will find several tiny coves, forests and interesting wildlife to take in along your journey.

You will be paddling on open water, and you might even get the chance to see and enjoy the beautiful ocean if you make it to Bushy Point Beach.

Black Pond

Black Pond in Middlefield is another calm and flat-watered experience. With the mountains as a backdrop, beautiful wildlife and excellent fishing opportunities, we could not leave this one off the list.

For more lake ideas, see our guide to the best East Coast lakes.

Gulf Pond & Indian River

The Gulf Pond and Indian River are located in Prudden Point near Milford Harbour.

The water is rather flat but can be tidal, therefore timing the tides is essential.

For the Gulf Pond, it is best to paddle around here when it is mid to high tide, but high tide is much better if you want to explore the Indian River.

Gardner Lake

Gardner Lake State Park in Salem is known to be a paddlers paradise, offering over 500 acres of freshwater to paddle around.

The surrounds also include a residential area of Garden Lake homes – one of which is even rumoured to have its own ghost story.

That aside, the lake boasts scenic views and attracts many fishermen. 

Salem, CT is not to be confused with Salem, MA.

Housatonic River

Visit the Indian Well State Park in New England for a stunning day of picnicking, swimming and paddling down the Housatonic River.

Whether you are wanting to experience a little white-water, or feel more comfortable with flat water, this river offers both – just be sure to check it out first.

Connecticut River

And finally, we have come to one of the most-kayaked waters in Connecticut.

The Connecticut River is the longest river in New England, USA, running 407 miles (655 kilometres).

Being so extensively long, there are many points of access onto the river, including Eagle Landing State Park in Haddam. 

This spot is perfect for a relaxing kayak experience while spotting eagles flying high.

There is also another launching spot in Longmeadow, offering beautiful views of Springfield.

Planning a longer lake-filled vacation? Check out this New England itinerary.

Beautiful Connecticut River lined by autumn foliage forest with jetty and oak tree in foreground near Brattlebro, Vermont USA

What to Bring Kayaking in CT

As mentioned above, there are thousands of places to go kayaking in CT. While some offer rentals, others are strictly BYOK (Bring Your Own Kayak – and any other gear necessary).

If you are trying to gather your own collection of kayaking gear, here is what you’ll need: 

Kayaking Checklist

Must-Have Items

  • Kayak – of course
  • Paddles – normally it is one per paddler, plus a spare

Safety Items

  • Life jackets – make sure it is the proper size and in good condition
  • Bilge pump
  • Sponge
  • Paddle leash
  • Signaling whistle
  • Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen

Water-Friendly Items

  • Swimsuit 
  • Water shoes or sandals
  • Dry bag for personal items such as car keys, cell phones etc. 

Extra Items

  • Towels
  • Dry clothes to change into after your paddle.
Kayaks on beach

Staying Safe when Kayaking in Connecticut

Kayaking seems like a pretty relaxed, enjoyable and tranquil watersport, however, it can get a little bumpy sometimes.

Therefore it is incredibly important that you be aware of, and follow the safety rules to ensure your safety. 

We have listed just 5 of the most important basics when it comes to staying safe while kayaking:

  1. Make sure you are wearing a life jacket that is the correct size and is in good condition.
  2. DO NOT STAND UP! This one is pretty straight forward.
  3. Do not drink and paddle – as is with driving, alcohol affects your judgement. 
  4. If you capsize, stay with the boat.
  5. Do not paddle alone – especially if you are a beginner.

Time to Go Kayaking in CT

If you are planning to take off on a memorable kayaking adventure, the city of Connecticut is not to be looked over. 

It is a great spot that is suitable for beginners and professionals, where you can spend your time fishing or simply exploring the majestic scenery. Whether you have got your own gear or need to rent it all, you now know everything you need to know for kayaking in CT. 

We have told you where and how, now the only question you have to ask yourself now is, ‘Where do I begin?’

About the Author

Jo is a MyCU Graduate who used to be a buyer and reviewer at a big sporting goods store. He now works as a camp instructor and ski coach between South Africa and Colorado. He loves anything to do with the outdoors but is happiest on the slopes or water. Follow me on Twitter or Quora

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