By Lisa A. Beach
What better way to cure cabin fever than to explore the beautiful, unique waterways in and around the country? Whether you're paddling a kayak, boarding a yacht, spotting whales, or white-water rafting, consider these fun-on-the-water destinations.
San Juan Islands, Washington
With 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County, you can have fun on the water for weeks. Looking for the world’s top spot to glimpse orcas in the wild? Take a naturalist-led tour to see these magnificent creatures living year-round in these waters.
As you travel by boat, kayak, or even seaplane, you might also spot humpback whales, gray whales, and sea lions. Anglers will love the ample fishing opportunities with both the saltwater ocean and freshwater lakes to cast a line. Or make a reservation with Washington State Ferries to get a taste of different islands. You'll have oceans of fun in the San Juan Islands.
Newport, Rhode Island
Make a splash in the Atlantic waters lapping at the shore of this coastal community. Head to Easton Beach (also known as First Beach), for surfing or boogie boarding. Spend the afternoon swimming and building sandcastles at King Park Beach or Fort Adams State Park Beach — both overlooking the picturesque Newport Harbor.
Stay on land for stunning ocean views along Newport’s famed Cliff Walk, the 3.5-mile walking trail past Gilded Age mansions. Take a tranquil drive along the iconic 10-mile Ocean Drive with equally beautiful Atlantic views. Get your sea legs by booking a tour aboard an authentic lobster boat, a sporty America’s Cup yacht, a schooner, or a sailboat.
With rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and streams, this southeastern Tennessee town appeals to outdoor enthusiasts who love water fun. Thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline fix white-water rafting or tubing down the Ocoee River. Soft adventures — like kayaking and paddle boarding — lure nature lovers looking for slower-paced fun on the water.
Cool off like a local at one of the popular swimming holes, like North Chick Blue Hole, Deep Creek, or Foster Falls. Or try an after-dark adventure with a moonlit paddle on Lookout Creek at the 300-acre Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center.
San Francisco, California
Where can you kayak among seals, birds, and other marine life? At Pillar Point Harbor nestled in the San Francisco Peninsula coast. If you want water fun reeling in salmon and striped bass, head to Pacifica Municipal Pier for prime summertime fishing.
Locals seek out the small beaches that line the two-mile curve of Half Moon Bay, thanks to its fine, white sand and relaxing coves. Explore the tide pools at Montara State Beach, then climb the Point Montara Lighthouse to watch the spectacular sunset.
For a no-passport-required tropical adventure, head to Southeast Florida. Try a unique yacht excursion, such as Island Queen Cruises that depart from downtown Miami. Soak in the Magic City’s spectacular coastal sites, including the gorgeous skyline, Miami Beach, Fisher Island, PortMiami, and the lavish homes lining “Millionaire's Row.”
Have oceans of fun snorkeling for an up-close view of colorful living reefs, historic shipwrecks, and coastal mangrove habitat at Biscayne National Park. Take an iconic airboat ride over the “River of Grass” at Everglades National Park. Have fun on the water stand-up paddle boarding along the calm estuary waters at Oleta River State Park or kiteboarding at Crandon Park.