It’s never been easier to sea kayak in the Washington, D.C. area. Inside and outside the Beltway, a prospective sea kayaker can just show up, drop a few bucks and be on the water in minutes. Many kayak rentals are near major bike trails and transit, so you don’t even have to drive.
October 28, 2019 update
Some NOVAParks locations remain open through November 6.
All Boating in DC locations are closed for 2019. Locations are expected to resume operations starting in April 2020.
September 7, 2019 update
Several boathouses have scaled back hours for the rest of the season.
The following are closed until September 14:
- Ballpark Boathouse
- National Harbor
Washington Sailing Marina at Dangerfield Island in Alexandria is closed.
Some Northern Virginia Regional Parks will remain open into November.
The map has been updated with this information, but checking with the location is recommended.
Operating hours are subject to change due to weather or other events, check ahead with before heading out.
Sea kayaking vendors
Atlantic Kayak Co. – Indian Head, Md.
Boating in DC (7 locations)
CapitalSUP – Annapolis, Md.
Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority – several locations
Penguin Paddling – Occoquan, Va.
Prince George’s County Parks & Recreation, Bladensburg, Md.
REI Kayaking Classes & Events near Washington DC
DC Kayaking slideshow
Other kayaking services, including whitewater, are available from several vendors upriver:
About this kayaker
I kayaked several times earlier in the decade in the Bahamas, the Jersey Shore and on the Chesapeake Bay and enjoyed it. My first time on the Potomac was in 2016, from the Key Bridge Boathouse. In 2017, after jamming my elbow in a bike crash (coindentally near Fletchers Cove Boathouse, I had to postpone kayaking for most of the summer. However, when I had healed up enough, I got in the water in September and found the kayaking was just what I needed — my arm felt normal again! The next day, I was out again and the love affair was in bloom. Since then, I have kayaked weekly between April and October.
While I endorse sea kayaking generally, I do not specifically endorse specific vendors. However, I have been a Penguin Paddling customer and am a currently Boating in DC season passholder.