SUP in the City: Your Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding in NYC

Enjoying a sunset paddle with Lady Liberty.
Enjoying a sunset paddle with Lady Liberty. Marc Cappelletti
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Paddling in NYC seems just as crazy as surfing in the city, but like surfing, it's not only possible, it's wicked fun. Most of the paddling is right in Manhattan along the Hudson, but if you head north to Croton Point Park or into Queens at Rockaway Beach, there are more intensive options.

Here, we look at a few of the best—and easiest to get to—whether you're a newbie hoping for a lesson or a seasoned pro who wants to go on a day-long adventure tour via SUP.

SUP with the Manhattan Kayak Company

Water sports may seem out of reach in Manhattan but they're right in your backyard! (Alex Perkins via Flickr)
Water sports may seem out of reach in Manhattan but they're right in your backyard! (Alex Perkins via Flickr) (Alex Perkins via Flickr

Paddling around The Intrepid feels… small. The giant ship-turned-museum casts a shadow on the Hudson and makes you feel increasingly diminutive as you move around it, trying to stay to the edge of the shadow. Looking into the Hudson feels murky, and I’m praying my balance stays with me. When I signed up for the Advanced Beginner lesson with the Manhattan Kayak Company , they asked if I could swim. My answer? “Yes, but hopefully not in this.” A triathlon I did some years back had a Hudson River swim, and while wetsuits weren’t mandatory, they were highly recommended, largely to keep the general yuckiness factor to a minimum.

Thankfully, my swimming skills aren’t put to the test as I navigate around. It’s a smooth day on the river, and there are almost no waves, just hints of ripples. 
In the city, owning your own stand-up paddleboard is a rarity: in addition to needing space to store it (considering the cost of even having enough space to store yourself and your clothes!) there’s also a need for a vehicle to transport it, and most Manhattanites eschew cars. At the least, it’s inarguable to say it’s largely more trouble than it’s worth.

Luckily, there are plenty of companies that rent out paddleboards—though not right in downtown—and some in downtown that offer lessons and guided tours. Want to do a double duty workout? SUP Yoga is available now as well. 
The Manhattan Kayak Company is just one of the companies along the Hudson River Greenway that offers tours, rentals and lessons. The prices are often between $50 and $200 (for a full-day tour) so it's a commitment, but it beats dragging a board of your own across town.

Paddle at Croton

Paddling at Croton Point Park. (Molly Hurford)
Paddling at Croton Point Park. (Molly Hurford)

Another one of the nicest options for renting a SUP is just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge in Croton Point Park .

While technically, the SUPing is done on the Hudson River, the small inlet is perfect for beginners or those looking for an extremely relaxing time on the board.
 If you have your own board, this is a great spot to enjoy a calm paddle on quiet water—the park has an inlet that’s practically made for the lazy SUP-er, but it’s an easy switch to venture a bit further into open water and be in some more intensive paddling in the Hudson.

It's also a fun way to spend a day outside the city without traveling far, and the park itself is a great spot for a family day, picnic date, or hard run after a morning of SUPing.

Free kayaking Hudson Greenway

So little in life is free, and even less is free in Manhattan. So it’s incredibly satisfying on several levels to find out how many free parks and secret spots are hiding in the city, and even more so to find out about a service provided by the city to bring people outside in the best months of the year. The Manhattan Community Boathouse regularly offers free kayaking, though in a small, contained area.

This is a tiny spot, and obviously, you're not out on a SUP, but it's a good way to enjoy the Manhattan skyline and the (slight0 breeze on the Hudson without spending a dime. It's also a good way to test the water—ahem, pun intended—to decide if you want to pay for a lesson or a SUP or kayak rental. And if you're proud of yourself for saving a few bucks, head over to Wichcraft for an awesome sandwich when you're done: it's right along the Hudson Greenway just downstream from the free kayaking.

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