Paddlesports in the Area

Kayaking and other types of paddlesports are on an uptick this year. In fact, paddlesports are now considered to be one of the fastest- growing sports in the country. If you  are looking for new ways to get fit, are seeking ways to commune with nature, or spend time with family and friends, then paddlesports might be for you.

These types of activities are gaining in popularity for many reasons including accessibility, affordability, and approachability. Most people live within 15 miles of a body of water, making it an accessible hobby.

“Wonderful opportunities exist to immerse yourself in nature just minutes from home,” says Senior Naturalist, Essex County Environmental Center, County of Essex, Department of Parks, David Alexander.

There are several locations allowing paddlers to put their kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboat in the water or to rent them. And for those just looking to get a feel for being on the water, paddleboats can be rented at Sunrise Lake Beach Club in Madison, Essex County Parks Boat Pavilion in West Orange and at Verona Park in Verona. 

Executive Director, Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, Jackie Kondel, says. “Our trips with Kayak East enable us  to explore natural areas beyond Reeves- Reed Arboretum in an exciting new way.”  Kayaks and boards are more affordable these days because today’s technology creates high-end products at good pricing, providing a low cost to entry to the sport. Paddlers can even purchase blow-up versions. Kayaks and canoes can also be rented by the hour for less than $20 at some places. In addition, paddlesports let you get on the water without having to buy or rent a boat, which is considerably more costly.


Paddling techniques are easy to learn, especially for people who are already athletic, and even for people as young as 6. However, anyone can pick up a paddlesport regardless of fitness ability following a lesson or more. During the past year, where spending time outdoors became the new normal, more people have begun enjoying paddlesports  such as: rowing, kayaking, and stand- up paddleboarding to keep busy and to  become fit, providing good low- middle- and high-intensity impact cardiovascular  benefits. You can modify paddlesports  for recreational and social fun, and for those wishing to increase intensity, start a competition or pick harder courses to paddle.

Getting started is easy. You do not have to go out and buy expensive gear, need a license or register your own kayak or canoe. You can find a place nearby offering lessons with certified instructors to teach you how to do it correctly. A great option is to also sign up for a guided tour. If you decide to try it on your own, research the depth of the water, the winds, tides, and what is below. You should also tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.  

West Essex Park Passaic River Public Access Points

12 South Orange Avenue in Livingston Boat Launch located up-river from the Environmental Center.

Okner Park, Okner Parkway, Livingston

Essex County Environmental Center Launch, Eagle Rock Avenue, Roseland.

Guided tours are available     

Delaware River– Full Day Kayak Tour

August 14, 9am to 3:30pm, participants can paddle their way through 7 sets of easy rapids on this tour. The river is big and wide and while the waves are a lot of fun, they are also easy to navigate for the novice paddler. Meander past beautiful mountains, over clean, clear water and relax in swimming hole along the way. Call 1-866-529-2532 for details.

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