They don't call us the Ocean State for nothing. Rhode Island has a whopping 400 miles of coastline – and that's not even counting all the access to water through rivers and lakes. Make a splash this summer by trying some new water sports. Your tan (and your newly defined muscles) will thank you.
Boating and Sailing
Sailing has come far from its humble roots and is now seen as a rich man’s sport. Providence’s volunteer-led Community Boating Center works to change that image one sailor at a time by offering affordable sailing lessons to children and adults. Membership (just $25 for kids ages 8-15, $195 for adults) includes free use of the center’s fleet of 60 boats; group recreational sailing; paddling and kayak outings; as well as basic boating instruction. 109 India Street, Providence. 401-454-7245, communityboating.com
Located at the historic Edgewood Yacht Club in Cranston, the Edgewood Sailing School offers a boatload of educational programs for children and adults who want to learn to sail, or become better sailors. Kids as young as 7 can sign up for beginner instruction conducted in partnership with Save the Bay, while older kids can learn to sail and race the ubiquitous Optimist pram. Adults can learn to sail and tie nautical knots, navigate at night and race Sunfish; special women’s-only classes are also offered. 3 Shaw Avenue, Cranston. 401-785-3317, edgewoodsailing.org
Surfing and Standup Paddleboarding
Local surfing legend Peter Pan will tell you that surfing the East Coast is oceans away from learning the sport in the warm waters of California and Hawaii. Wetsuit weather is more the norm than the exception, and usually the best surfing happens when the weather is at its worst. The Peter Pan Surfing Academy can get you on your way to hanging ten with lessons that start at $45 for groups, $65 for one-on-one instruction. For a more immersive experience, sign up for Surf Camp, offered during the summer for adults and kids. Want to see what’s up with SUP (standup paddleboarding)? The academy’s Standup Paddle Board Crash Course will get you from flat-water cruising to challenging the waves in just two days. 74 Narragansett Avenue, Narragansett. 401-575-0003, peterpansurfing.com
Standup paddleboarding is deceptively challenging: You’ll be standing on your big, wide SUP in minutes, unlike the longer learning curve for surfing, but while minimal skills are required to stay upright on calm, flat water, you’ll need great balance and a pretty good core to master the waves. The East Bay’s Trifitlab offers SUP rentals starting at $75 per day: look for them at Barrington Beach or in their Warren shop. 337 Water Street, Warren. 401-289-2850, ttbikefit.com
Paddling and tacos – who can argue with that? Take a half-day SUP lesson with Jamestown Outdoors and your reward will be lunch at Tallulah’s Tacos, whose seasonal shack is conveniently located at Jamestown’s Dutch Harbor. Once you get the hang of the sport, you can join one of their $40 sunset SUP tours, offered every Thursday in the summer. Private lessons are also available. 34 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown. 401-924-2885, jamestownoutdoors.com
Just like the name says, Paddle Surf RI offers SUP and surfing lessons on some of Rhode Island’s best beaches, including Misquamicut, Weekapaug and Watch Hill. Check out their hour-long SUP tours, which include basic instruction and a guided-flat water paddle. 95 Watch Hill Road, Westerly. 401-741-5661, paddlesurfri.com
Rob Jones, owner of Wakefield’s Drift Surf Shop, personally leads classes on surfing and SUP at Narragansett Town Beach, by the Point Judith Lighthouse, or “wherever the waves are.” 540 Kingstown Road, Wakefield. 401-932-6919, driftsurfshop.com
With its location on the sheltered waters of Wickford Cove and unmatched expertise in paddle sports, the Kayak Centre is the ideal place to learn to kayak or standup paddleboard. Classes range from the basics of paddling and steering to advanced instruction in surf play and whitewater skills.
The Kayak Center’s vast tour offerings include gentle adventures like a sunset paddle around Wickford Harbor or Ninigret Pond and more challenging excursions along the coastline of Newport and Jamestown and an up-close-and-personal encounter with the seals of Narragansett Bay. 9 Phillips Street, Wickford. 401-295-4400, kayakcentre.com
Rhode Island’s rivers get a lot less attention than the bay and ocean, but a kayak trip down one of these quiet waterways can be an introduction to woodlands, waterways and rural landscapes seldom seen by outsiders. Queen’s River Kayaks offers guided tours of three South County rivers: the Queen’s River, Wood River and Pawcatuck River. Putting in at Kenyon’s Grist Mill in Usquepaugh, the Queen’s River trip is an easy, two-hour paddle up and back Rhode Island’s most pristine river. The excursion on the upper Wood River follows an often-narrow course through the Arcadia Management Area and is offered in half- (3- mile) or full- (5.5-mile) trip options. The upper Pawcatuck paddle (which also can be combined with a journey on the Charles River) is a peaceful passage through Richmond that’s also available as a brief excursion or an all-day adventure. 21 Glen Rock Road, West Kingston. 401-783-4054, queensriverkayaks.com
Looking for a taste of skydiving minus the fear of imminent death? Parasailing off Block Island is an exhilarating experience where you’ll soar hundreds of feet in the air –tandem or solo – while enjoying the sensory overload of the sea, sky and the Rhode Island coastline from an eagle-eye view.
For as little as $75 at Block Island Parasailing you’ll be securely strapped into a parasail, while the captain of your speedboat will gun his engine, and up and away you’ll go (be sure to ask to have your toes dipped in the water before they reel you back in). blockislandparasail.com
Shark Cage Diving
With all due respect to your favorite Caribbean resort, the “swim with the sharks” they tout ain’t nothing compared to what Snappa Charters of Wakefield offers: a real-life, Jaws-inspired shark-cage dive off of Block Island. No sand sharks here: your new “chums” may include 20-foot makos (noted for their aggressive nature) and blue sharks weighing up to 350 pounds. Of course, you’ll be safely enclosed in a 5 foot wide, 6 foot long, 7 foot high aluminum cage, so no worries, right? Prices start at $250 per person, with group discounts available. 2 Congdon Drive, Wakefield. 401-782-4040, snappacharters.com
Kiteboarding is one of the most dramatic watersports you’ll see; it’s a combination of surfing and paragliding that will have you making high-speed runs across the water, carving up waves, and flying through the air. But, not all at once: this is a sport that requires some serious training to minimize risk and maximize enjoyment. The Rhode Island Kiteboarding School in Riverside can get you started with lessons and equipment. Narragansett Terrace, Riverside. 401-578-8968, rhodeislandkiteboardingschool.com
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here