Guide for Boating in New Jersey
New Jersey’s nickname may be “The Garden State,” but it’s also a great boating state. New Jersey offers boaters all kinds of on-the-water fun, from the state’s larger lakes to its coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. The state currently ranks 27th among the 50 states for registered recreational boats and has about 146,000 boats (which means less-crowded waterways and recreational areas). Let’s dive into our guide for boating in New Jersey.
- Lakes to explore by boat in New Jersey
- Rivers to explore by boat in New Jersey
- Fish game in New Jersey
Lakes to explore by boat in New Jersey
The largest lake in New Jersey is Lake Hopatcong, which is about 9 miles long with 2,500 acres of fresh water to explore. All kinds of boats can be used on this lake, ranging from canoes and sailboats to powerboats and personal watercraft. You can find the perfect boat for a day on the lake here.
There are also boat ramps for launching and private marinas with slips available. Even during winter, boats can be seen out “ice boating” in the cold. New Jersey also has many smaller lakes where boaters take to the waters on everything from small sailboats to rowboats.
Round Valley Reservoir is popular with kayakers who like to beach their boats and hike around the trails. The Manasquan Reservoir is also a great place to do some boating and hiking. Mercer Lake is well known for crew racing, with regattas that bring out some of the best rowers in the country.
And then, there’s the Jersey Shore, a famous coastline along the Atlantic Ocean—roughly 130 miles of salt water for boaters to explore. It draws in tourists, boaters, and locals in the summertime.
Within that stretch are larger ocean inlets such as Shark River Inlet (near Belmar), Manasquan Inlet, Absecon Inlet (near Atlantic City), and Cape May Inlet, giving coastal-cruising boats options for where they want to pull in.
The Cape May-Wildwood area has the state’s largest offshore fishing fleet, which is actually one of the largest fleets on the Eastern Seaboard. These boats regularly haul in scallops, flounder, black sea bass, surf clams, lobster, herring, monkfish, and more—served fresh every day in the waterfront restaurants up and down the state.
Rivers in New Jersey to explore by boat
New Jersey also has major rivers for boaters to explore—the Delaware River to the west and the Hudson River to the east.
The Delaware Water Gap is a calm section of that river where many take kayaks, canoes, and smaller powerboats for tow sports. There are about two dozen boat-access sites to the Delaware River from the New Jersey side. Some charge fees, while others are open to the public for free.
Across the state on the Hudson River, marinas like Liberty Landing and Hudson Point offer views across the water of the Manhattan skyline—as well as front-row seats to watch all the vessels cruising up and down the city’s waterfront.
Heading north from those spots on the New Jersey side of the river, boaters can enjoy fall foliage cruises along some of New York State’s most scenic areas, including the village of Sleepy Hollow, which was made famous in the Halloween story of Ichabod Crane.
Fish game in New Jersey
Between inshore and offshore, fresh and saltwater, anglers have much to look forward to when fishing in New Jersey. Keeping in mind that the Garden State is located in a colder region of the country, anglers still have virtually all year long to enjoy fishing here. During winter, freshwater anglers can try their hand at ice fishing! A few species you will see during a fishing excursion here are:
- Bass (largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass hybrids)
- Catfish (multiple species)
- Northern Pike
- Trout (multiple species)
- White perch
- Yellow perch
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Kim Kavin has been on boats in more than 50 countries and islands, including in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. She grew up learning to steer a ski boat and Hobie Holder at her grandfather’s lake house in New Jersey, and went on to spend time aboard everything from America’s Cup racing sailboats to submarines.
Kim is a PADI-certified scuba diver and animal lover who always enjoys a good, long look around a coral reef. Her award-winning writing and editing regularly appears in national marine magazines and on leading websites. In her early years, she was a Dow Jones editing intern and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. When she’s not writing, Kim can usually be found hiking northwest New Jersey’s beautiful park trails with her adopted shelter mutt, Ginger.