circumnavigate Manhattan Island

Hi New York paddlers.

I am a very experienced ocean surf ski paddler from Australia, with over 10 years of competitive ocean surf ski racing. A few weeks ago completed the Molokai race, and this September will be doing the English Channel crossing.

This coming July, I will be in Manhattan, and I wish to circumnavigate Manhattan island around the 4 hour mark.

I have been reading about the currents, and I would like the help of locals or people who have done the paddle, to please give me some advice on:

  • Best place to start and finish
  • Best time of day
  • The right direction
  • The rules and regulations on paddling in those busy areas

    Any help at all would be very much appreciated.

This may help

search the archives
here, i know i have seen detailed discussion of the route and tides at this site

here is a link

Here’s the blog
of two paddlers who live in Manhattan and are quite experienced in the area. Perhaps a contact via their blog might be productive.

Welcome and enjoy your visit!

I bet these guys would help you

They do guided paddles around Manhattan so they could offer some real input. Also, the founder, Eric Stiller, is a longtime resident and also wrote the book, “Keep Australia on your Left”, where he and Tony Brown from Australia attempted to circumnavigate Australia. Here’s his current bio:

Manhattan Circumnavigation
Thank you guys for your advice. I would have defiantly done the Manhattan Island circumnavigate race in August if i was there at the time. However the first week of July is when I’m there, so I am planning to paddle on July 3rd.

I am just seeking some advice, as it will be low tide at battery point at 4am that morning, I am looking to paddle in 4 hours, so I will be finished before the next low tide comes.

I need to take into account if there will be a south or north wind, but what I really need to know is what place to start and finish, and most importantly what direction to go, to ensure I come flying down the Hudson River with the current flow going my direction.

I have reached out to some kayak companies in Manhattan but reply yet, any advice is very much appreciated.


4 hours is moving it

– Last Updated: Jun-17-15 9:30 PM EST –

The "traditional" circumnavigation timing is based on a counter-clockwise trip, with timing to get the currents with you all the way.

It works out to 7 or 8 hours.

There is a clockwise timing that sort of works in 4ish hours. But it's much less common. Here's a place to start.



amazed this is tolerated

4hrs is doable clockwise

– Last Updated: Jun-18-15 11:34 AM EST –

I don't know where to launch down by the Battery for a casual paddle. I did a race around the island from North Cove Marina by the WTC a few years ago.

We started a couple of hours after low tide. There is a lag between the low tide and when the current turns. I don't remember the exact lag, you'd have to ask the locals or see if a chart has both tide elevation and current direction.

The idea is to ride the tide up the Hudson to the Harlem. A little bit of head current in the Harlem but it's not that bad back there. Pretty much in the Harlem at slack water. Then you get a ripping tail current in the East River and finish with a little bit of head current re-entering the Hudson as the tide starts ebbing in the Hudson before the East Reverses.

You do have to hustle though on the clockwise route. You probably need to be within 10% of the fast guys in long distance races to consider it. If you are much longer than 4 hours I think you'll hit head current in the East River and that will be like paddling on a treadmill.

I was bonked and hypothermic on the east river and was still going 17-18kph in places with that tail current.

Granted, we were in a gale force Nor'Easter so the current coming in from Long Island Sound was extra strong that day.