Best Places To Go Canoeing in Boston

Best known for its famous baked beans, the Boston Marathon, and the Red Sox, Boston is a city of wonders. You’ll find so many creative ways to spend your time in Boston. If you’re looking for the best places to have fun, canoeing in Boston promises a unique experience. Continue reading to discover these excellent canoeing spots in Boston!

Here are some exciting places to go canoeing in Boston:

  1. Boston Harbor Islands
  2. The Charles River
  3. Tenean Beach
  4. Neponset River 
  5. Mystic River
  6. Jamaica Pond
  7. Essex River Basin

7 Best Places to Go Canoeing in Boston

Of the many things to do in Boston, canoeing and kayaking are impressively popular. The following are the top 7 picks for canoeists looking to explore the waterways of Boston.

1. Boston Harbor Islands

Address: Boston Harbor Islands, Boston, MA 02110

The 34 Boston Harbor Islands are one of Boston’s best-kept gems. With ample opportunity for visitors to swim, canoe, kayak, and enjoy other activities, it has quickly become a favorite among many locals and visitors. 

Both new and experienced paddlers can enjoy one of the Boston Harbor Islands’ long canoeing tours. These tours typically have about ten spots each that fill up fast, so you’ll need to book quickly. There are also multiple launching points to choose from – Fort Point Pier is one of the more popular ones in the Inner Harbor. 

Fort Point Pier is especially great for beginner canoeists, so you’ll find that many canoeing tours start at this point. For better-experienced paddlers, there are better-suited starting points across the Boston metro area, including Quincy, Hull, and Hingham. These are much closer to Harbor Island and are managed mainly by the city, the National Park Service, or the Metropolitan District Commission.

It’s essential to keep in mind that the water conditions and wind speeds will vary as you tour the islands. It’s not uncommon to have choppy water, so it’s best to stick with a tour group or have a seasoned paddler with you.

2. The Charles River

Address: 1175A Soldiers Field Road, Boston, MA 02116

The Charles River has a lot to offer canoeists of all skill levels. If you want a fun day out on the water, these waters give you a breathtaking and unmatched view of Boston. Although the river runs alongside a few neighborhoods, many launching docks and free parking spots exist. 

Flowing 80 miles from Hopkinton to empty into Boston Harbor, the Charles River is one of New England’s most prominent urban rivers. The many surrounding neighborhoods offer several locations to pick up canoes at rental providers. Some public launching docks include Herter Park, the MDC boat ramp, and Magazine Beach Dock, where you’ll also find free parking.

The water is usually friendly, making it a brilliant spot for beginners. More experienced paddlers will also find some spots to have more eventful tours. Navigating the two dams (artificial) and the few obstacles like fallen trees will require some skill. 

The river is typically busy except in colder months – you’ll find other canoeists, kayakers, and paddle boarders with many major boathouses. 

3. Tenean Beach

Address: Conley St., Dorchester, MA 02122

Friendly water, scenic views, and amenities make Tenean Beach more than just a swimming destination. Tenean Beach is one of Boston’s many beaches and makes a magnificent place to go canoeing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. 

The kayak/canoeing launch point at Tenean beach makes it easy for beginner paddlers to practice a little and test the waters. The Beach also features a kids’ playground, boardwalk, shade shelters, and a tennis court. One of Tenean Beach’s charms is how hidden it is – many Boston locals think of it as a hidden gem. 

Every visit presents you with something unique to take your breath away as you float across the calm water. 

4. Neponset River 

Address: Hallet Street, Boston, MA 02124

Neponset River is a great go-to spot for anyone looking to escape the city’s fast-paced atmosphere. Its headwaters at Neponset Reservoir in Foxborough lead northeast for several miles, passing along several neighborhoods. Thanks to the breathtaking view, the Neponset river and its watershed have become a popular recreational destination in Boston. 

The Neponset River provides a variety of canoeing opportunities. Some popularly preferred locations are:

  1. The Launch from Canton’s Signal Hill, where you can either go upstream or downstream. There’s also an alternate start at Neponset street off the map for a little over two extra miles.
  2. Milton’s Paul’s Bridge going upstream where 
  3. Neponset Estuary, including launches from Milton Landing or DCR Neponset Park in Dorchester (best to canoe at mid to high tide).
  4. Sharon’s Lake Massapoag – also perfect for sailing

Canoe rentals are available at the primary put at Signal Hill Reservation if you need to rent a canoe. 

5. Mystic River

Address: Mystic Valley Pkwy, Medford, MA 02155, United States

While Mystic River has made its fair share of rounds in pop culture and fiction, it’s just as famous in real life! This 7-mile river lies north of Boston and runs parallel to the lower parts of the Charles River. It empties into the harbor and offers scenic views upstream.

The surrounding communities of Medford, Everett, Somerville, Chelsea, and Charleston all have kayak launching docks. Visiting canoeists looking for a proper adventure will also appreciate the ample free parking space. For better security, visitors may opt for the paid parking lots.

Experts recommend launching your canoe in Somerville or Medford for the best views of the communities and the beauty of the river. Many kayak/canoe rentals around the river offer lessons for beginner canoeists.

6. Jamaica Pond


  • Jamaica Pond, Perkins Street, Jamaica Plain (when driving)
  • Stony Brook or Green Street (By The T)

Located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Jamaica Pond stretches over 68 acres and is a beautiful spot for canoeing, sailing, and kayaking. There are rental services close by at the Jamaica Pond Boathouse, where you can rent by the hour. Beginners are welcome to enroll in lessons, while seasoned canoeists can dive right in and enjoy the calm waters.

The pond is teeming with wildlife, allowing visitors to fish as well. It’s especially stocked with Trout from the hatcheries, with a diverse selection of birds – ducks, geese, and swans. This spot is impressively tranquil and boasts of several amenities – you’ll find restrooms, a picnic area, and a free boat ramp. Along with free parking, you will enjoy the relaxing natural atmosphere. 

7. Essex River Basin

Address: Main Street, Essex, MA 01929

About 30 miles from Boston, the Essex River Basin offers an incredible canoeing experience for canoeists of all skill levels. The calm and friendly waters ensure that you have a relaxing trip with ample opportunity to admire the abundant wildlife. The serenity of this spot, only about an hour away from the hustle and bustle of the city, is a treasured charm. You’ll find estuaries, inland islands, and magnificent dunes as you tour.

There are a couple of nearby rentals to check out o rent a canoe. The best launching ramp is ‌ on Main Street, where you may also get free parking. If you don’t get there early enough, you will probably find space in a paid parking lot offering better vehicle security. 

Wildlife enthusiasts find that spring is the best time to tour the Essex River Basin as the abundant wildlife troop in during this period. The surrounding wetland and marshes make the perfect habitat for a diverse selection of wildlife.

You’ll get equally spectacular scenery once it’s fall and the leaves start changing. If you’re more experienced and looking for a true adventure or challenge, you may make the trip to Choate Island, a part of the Crane Wildlife Refuge. 

Tips for Canoeing Beginners in Boston

1. Join Group Trips: It’s best to go touring the Boston waterways in groups if you’re a beginner. This way, you’ll always have help around and better safety.

2. Start Small: It can be tempting to dive in impatiently, but beginner canoeists will benefit from starting small. Ensure that you are fully prepared and have practiced enough before fully taking on the water. Avoid full-day excursions and stronger Waters, as they will probably distress you and lead to exhaustion. Build up your stamina until you’re ready to go further.

3. Talk to an Expert Before Purchasing a Canoe: If you’re in the market for a canoe, speak to an expert or a retailer who specializes in canoeing. Have them decide what would best suit your needs and skill level.

4. Don’t Forget Your Paddling Gloves: An essential tip for canoeing is having paddling gloves to combat the cold. Wearing gloves for canoeing will also prevent you from getting scrapes, blisters, or calluses on your palms. 


Boston is perfect for both beginners and seasoned canoeists. There are so many canoeing locations that you could have the best experiences exploring several of them. All the locations mentioned above are excellent places that are guaranteed to give you lots of fun and exercise while staying safe. 


Can You Canoe In Boston Harbor?

Yes! Boston Harbor Tours allows you to explore the length of the Charles River into Boston Harbor! It is perfectly suited for canoeists of any skill level.

Do You Need A Permit to Canoe In MA?

Canoes without an attached motor don’t require an operating license or permit in Massachusetts. 

Is Canoeing Good Exercise?

Canoeing is an excellent full-body workout that benefits your aerobic and cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility.