10 Ways to Get Out on the Water

So many ways to traverse Maryland’s waterways, so little time.

By Chris Landers


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stand-up paddleboard and kayak
National Harbor’s Boating in DC
Photo By: National Harbor’s Boating in DC
Deal Island Harbor hosts this race each Labor Day Weekend. The event also features a fishing contest and delicious local food.
Deal Island Skipjack Boat Race
ASCI's man-made rapids offer thrilling rafting adventures.
Whitewater rafting at Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI)

Maryland's waterways are a defining feature of the Old Line State, and no visit is complete without leaving the land behind, even for just a little while. Here are ten great ways to see the Chesapeake Bay and other Maryland waterways.

Deal Island Skipjack Boat Race

1 Sail on a Real Skipjack

The Skipjacks—queens of the Chesapeake oyster fleet and official Maryland state boat—are the last commercial sail fleet in the country, and there aren't many of them left. The H.M. Krentz, built in 1955, is based at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, which is worth the trip in itself. Sailing charters on the H.M. Krentz depart daily from April to October—great months for enjoying Maryland’s waters.

Baltimore Water Taxi Photo By: Visit Baltimore

2 Tour the Town on a Water Taxi

If you're visiting Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, take in the city’s skyline from a watery vantage point. A one-day pass for a water taxi gets you unlimited travel among 13 stops from the Inner Harbor to Fells Point to Ft. McHenry, so you have plenty of chances to hit all the harbor highlights right from the water.

More about Baltimore Water Taxi

General Attractions

1735 Thames St
Baltimore, MD 21231

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man fishing on boat

3 Charter a Fishing Boat

The Atlantic coast has ample opportunities for ocean game fishing, and the Chesapeake Bay is the perfect place for sport fishing, as well. Rockfish is the Maryland State Fish and a local favorite (known elsewhere as striped bass), but you'll also be able to catch Bluefish, Croaker, Trout, and a host of other species. Whatever you're after, Charter companies like the Upper Bay Charter Captains Association and the services at the Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa can “hook” you up!

Take your family or group and see the Chesapeake in style when you sail on a yacht charter.

4 Cruise In Comfort

If manning the wheel (or the tiller) isn't your thing, charter cruise companies like Watermark Cruises offers comfortable rides out of Annapolis and Baltimore ranging from 40-minute sightseeing tours to all-day excursions. While you float along, the narrated cruises impart interesting information about the city you’re visiting and its waterfront history. Settle back and enjoy the ride.

Antique Boat in St. Michaels Photo By: Clark Vandergrift

5 BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat)

If you're lucky enough to have your own trailerable boat, there are dozens of public boat ramps waiting to serve you. Whether you’re in Ocean City (87th Street) or the Baltimore Harbor (Canton Waterfront), you can find a place to splash down, often for free. The Department of Natural Resources maintains a map of access points across the state, so begin your search there since hours and fees can vary.

Chester River Packet Company Photo By: Chester River Packet Company

6 Classic Cruise on Chester River

Make a statement when you cruise down the beautiful Chester River aboard a classic 1920’s-style yacht. The Chester River Packet Co. offers both charter cruises and public sails, leaving from High Street in downtown Chestertown.

Sunset on the water Photo By: Crisfield Kayak & Canoe

7 Rent a Ride

There are all shapes and sizes of boats available for rent around the Bay. Crisfield is a good place to check out (bonus: it is the "Seafood Capital of the World"), and  Crisfield Kayak & Canoe offers a variety of kayaks and canoes that can be delivered to any destination in the Somerset, Worcester and Wicomico area. But wherever you are on the Bay, someone will be happy to rent you a boat for an hour, a day, or longer—see all the boat rental options to choose from.

Deep Creek in Western Maryland provides a serene backdrop for bass fishing.

8 Dive into Deep Creek

If lake boating is your thing, check out Deep Creek Lake, Maryland's largest inland body of water, covering 3,900 acres. Fishing, canoeing, swimming and waterskiing are popular at the lake, which is surrounded by a state park. Public boat ramps are available, or if you don't have your own boat, you can rent one nearby. For novice boaters, a pontoon boat makes for low-key boating fun.

More about Deep Creek Lake State Park


898 State Park Rd.
Swanton, MD 21561

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Jet Ski Ocean City Photo By: OC Baysports

9 Jet Ski Ocean City

Jet skis are the motorcycles of the boating world, so what better place to show off your skills (or learn some new ones) than the beaches of Ocean City? Coastal Highway is lined up and down with Jet Ski rental shops (as well as rentals for surfboards, kayaks, and paddle boards). Do a couple of quick beach runs and be back in time for steamed crabs!

stand-up paddleboard and kayak Photo By: National Harbor’s Boating in DC

10 Paddle Around the Potomac at National Harbor

National Harbor offers a number of options for getting out on the water from the shores of the Potomac River, including sunset kayak tours and introductory stand-up paddleboard classes offered by Boating in DC Or, just rent a kayak, canoe or SUP and explore on your own. View more SUP  opportunities.

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1735 Thames St
Baltimore, MD 21231
898 State Park Rd.
Swanton, MD 21561
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