Kayaking at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

12 Ways to Get Out on the Water

By Chris Landers

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

Kayaking at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

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 a dozen great ways to see the Chesapeake Bay and other Maryland waterways.

Cruise in Style with a Chesapeake Bay Storyteller
family riding on schooner woodwind

If manning the wheel (or the tiller) isn't your thing, our Chesapeake Bay Storytellers offer great ways to get out on the water with pros in the know. Board a classic sightseeing boat with Watermark Cruises heading out of Annapolis and Baltimore for a short cruise or a day long adventure. Or set sail on a charter with our storyteller partners aboard the yacht Shardana out of Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore or the beautiful Schooner Woodwind plying the waters out of Annapolis. No matter the experience you're looking for, our Chesapeake Bay Storytellers will set a course for your perfect day on the Chesapeake Bay. 

Whitewater Rafting at Adventure Sports Center International
Whitewater Rafting
Adventure Sport Center International - ASCI

Adventure Sports Center International is THE place to test your timing, reflexes and teamwork on the world’s only adjustable whitewater sports venue that offers class I - IV whitewater in a “controlled” environment. The 1/3 mile artificial river features authentic whitewater rapids, and is the most natural looking and feeling course of its kind in the world.
Check out these other exciting whitewater rafting locations

Jet Ski Ocean City
Jet Ski Ocean City
OC Baysports

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!

BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat)
Deep Creek Beach
Garrett County Chamber of Commerce

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), or in Western Maryland at Deep Creek Lake, 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.

Charter a Fishing Boat
man fishing on 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 Maryland Charter Boat Association.

Tour the Town on a Water Taxi
Baltimore Water Taxi in Front of Aquarium
Baltimore 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 the Baltimore Water Taxi gets you unlimited travel among 17 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.

When you’re visiting Annapolis, be sure to take advantage of Watermark’s Annapolis Water Taxi to transport you between the different neighborhoods.

Sail on a Real Skipjack
Skipjack Races

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.

Classic Cruise on Chester River
Chester River Packet Company
Chester River Packet Company

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.

Rent a Ride
Sunset on the water
Crisfield Kayak & Canoe

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.

Paddle Around the Potomac at National Harbor
stand-up paddleboard and kayak
National Harbor’s Boating in DC

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 (SUP) classes offered by Boating in DC Or, just rent a kayak, canoe or SUP and explore on your own.
View many more SUP  opportunities around Maryland .

Dive into Deep Creek
People Jumping in to Deep Creek Lake

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. 

Mallows Bay & the Ghost Fleet
Nanjemoy, Charles County
decayed ship
Don Shomette

Paddle through the WWI Ghost Fleet, the Western Hemisphere's largest ship graveyard.

In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), designated Mallows Bay as a national marine sanctuary protecting the remains of more than 100 abandoned steamships and vessels.  These ships were built for America’s World War I fleet but did not see duty. 

Located along an 18-square mile stretch of Potomac River coast in Charles County, the sanctuary entrance is in Nanjemoy. The collection of historic shipwrecks dates back to the Civil War and even earlier.