ending the kayaking trip at the great swamp in New York - kayaking launches near stamford connecticut

11 Best Places to Kayak Near Stamford, Connecticut

Kayaking, like many other outdoor activities, took off during the Pandemic. There were so many people wanting to get outdoors and especially on the water for some fresh air and nature. Because of this there was a huge rise in people kayaking in Connecticut. But finding places to kayak locally can absolutely be a challenge, so you may be wondering where are the best places to kayak near Stamford, CT? 

Around Stamford, Connecticut there are several great local places to kayak. We will highlight three sea launches, four river launches, and four ponds/marsh launches within an hour and half of Stamford Connecticut to get you kayaking locally

Let’s dive into all of these fantastic kayaking locations near Stamford below.

Summary of the Best Kayaking Launches Around Stamford, CT

TypeLaunch NameLocationDistance from Stamford
SeaSoundwatersStamford, CT0 miles
SeaLong Shore Sailing SchoolWestport, CT13 miles (20 minutes)
SeaCalf Pasure Beach/Norwalk IslandsNorwalk, CT11 miles (18 minutes)
RiverSaugatuck River Boat LaunchWestport, CT11 miles (18 minutes)
RiverCroton-on-HudsonCroton-on-Hudson, NY32 miles (45 minutes)
RiverBantam RiverLitchfield, CT70 miles (1.5 hours)
RiverMianus RiverGreenwich, CT2.5 miles (10 minutes)
PondHuntington PondRedding, CT27 miles (40 minutes)
Large PondSquantz PondNew Fairfield, CT41 miles (1 hour)
SwampGreat SwampBrewster, NY36 miles (50 minutes)
MarshCharles E. WheelerMilford, CT29 miles (35 minutes)

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Sea Kayaking Near Stamford Connecticut

Sea kayaking is a really popular activity for Stamford residents as being on the coast allows us great access to the Long Island Sound. As such, there are several ways to get out on the Sound whether you already have a kayak or need to rent one. 

The three places I’ll highlight here are Soundwaters in Stamford, Long Shore Sailing School in Westport, and Calf Pasture Beach launch in Norwalk headed towards Norwalk Islands. 


Soundwaters is a kayaking and paddle boarding company that provides rentals at Bocuzzi Park off Southview Avenue. If you already have a kayak and don’t need a rental that’s okay, you can still launch your into the sound at this location. 

This launch starts in bay across from Harbor Point and allows you to kayak out into the Sound from there. This is a great spot for new kayakers as you’ll be surrounded by the city sites while also kayaking the Sound. Plus, you aren’t too far away from people should you need assistance on the water. 

Long Shore Sailing School

Longshore Sailing School in Westport, CT is another company offering rentals for kayaking and paddle boarding, but they also offer other water sports as well including sailing. For those without kayaks you can do daily rentals or a season membership depending on the frequency you want to kayak here. 

If you have a kayak already then you’ll launch at this Connecticut Island Outfitters next to the Long Shore Sailing School rental location. 

When you’re kayaking here you can spend an hour to kayak to the Kitts Island, or you can head towards the start of the Saugatuck River. No matter the direction, there are a lot of beautiful houses surrounding the shore here that are always fun kayak past. 

You’ll want to note that Long Shore is only open for paddling if wind speeds are below 12mph. You really should always be checking wind speeds before kayaking anywhere, but you’ll definitely need to do so here to ensure they’re open before heading that way. 

If you’re looking for more information on kayaking at Longshore, check out this guide with everything you need to know before hitting the waters here. 

Calf Pasture Beach Kayak Launch to Norwalk Islands

If you’re anywhere near Norwalk, I highly recommend putting Norwalk Islands on your local bucket list. These islands are only accessible by boat, which makes them an off the beaten path location that only a few know about. 

It’ll take you about 30 minutes to kayak from Calf Pasture Beach to Norwalk Islands, but once you’re there you can easily spend all day kayaking around the several islands. At Sheffield Island you may even see seals, and you are able to dock on land and take walking paths to see some of the historical sites there.

If you want to do more than a day trip you can camp on Shea and Grassy islands with reservations and I highly recommend this. It’s such a cool experience and something every local should do at least once.

Kayak rentals are also offered at Calf Pasture Beach by Sea Kayak Connecticut if needed. 

two kayakers in the bay of Shea Island from Norwalk Islands

River Kayaking Near Stamford, Connecticut

There are many great rivers in and around Stamford to kayak. So many that I can’t even list them all here (maybe I’ll write a part 2 at some point), but I want to highlight 4 great rivers to get you started kayaking around Stamford. 

These include the Saugatuck River in Westport, the Croton River in Croton-on-Hudson, NY, the Bantam River in Litchfield, and the Mianus River in Greenwich. 

Saguatuck River Kayak Launch

The launch for the Saugatuck River is located in Westport just up the street from Long Shore Sailing School. This is a free public launch site, so no rentals are available on site. You can rent kayaks for delivery a little upstream from this boat launch should you need to. 

From the launch you can head right and paddle right into the city of Westport, or you can head left and eventually make it to the Long Island Sound. 

Heading up the river to Westport you’ll need to be careful of tides. There are some small bridges that are hard to pass if the tide is too high. But also, if the tide is too low you won’t be able to go much farther past the downtown area- and trust me, it’s a beautiful site after you kayak through the city. You won’t want to miss it. So be sure to time the tides appropriately.  

Croton-on-Hudson Kayak Launch

This was one of the first places I ever kayaked in this area and it is absolutely beautiful. At the launch site you can head into the Hudson River instead of kayaking up the much smaller Croton River. But I only recommend this if you’re experienced. The Hudson has some serious currents and waves you won’t want to conquer as a beginner. 

 But the croton river is calm and stunningly beautiful. You should expect to see some wildlife, mostly birds, and a gorgeous river ecosystem. Farther up the river there are a few docking places where many people like to get out to swim. 

There are rentals available on site should you need them but you can bring your own kayak if you don’t need to rent. Launching is free, but you do have to pay to park and the parking can be far away if you’re not a resident of the village. 

I will note that this is probably the most crowded of the locations on my list, especially because it is a river and that means there’s only so many places people can go. Pets are also not allowed at this location, although many people do not follow that rule. 

Bantam River Kayaking Launch

If you love winding, calm rivers with turtles and beavers then Bantam River is for you. It is located in Litchfield, so it’s a bit of a trip from Stamford but absolutely worth it in my opinion. 

When you launch you’ll paddle for about half an hour through a pristine, calm, marsh like environment. There are beavers here, so don’t get too close or you and your yak may get an angry tail slap. 

This river eventually flows into Bantam Lake. This is less pristine (motorized boats are allowed) but if you head left after reaching this portion you’ll see a beach accessible by only boats. This is a fantastic place to dock, have lunch, and swim before making your way back. 

Making a day trip out of kayaking Bantam is one of my absolutely favorite summer activities in Connecticut. 

Mianus River Kayaking Launch

Tucked away and buried behind a tiny side road in Greenwich is the launch for Mianus River. And when I say tiny, I mean it. You maybe could fit 2-3 cars at this launch site comfortably. 

Because it’s a lesser known site you’ll hardly ever share this site with others. But, because of that it’s not always pristine. During the summer you can expect some intense algae blooms that may limit your access to the water and coat your kayak green. 

This isn’t the longest of kayaks as heading upstream you’ll encounter some rapids too low to pass, but downstream opens up to a wider section until you reach the dam at the end. 

In my opinion this is a great little local spot to get out and kayak after work or for a short weekend trip. 

kayaking locations near stamford, connecticut - croton River

Kayaking in Ponds, Swamps, and Marshes Near Stamford, Connecticut

This category of kayaking launches will definitely have the most wildlife. Most of them are smaller areas with calmer water and have protected habitat areas. Squantz pond located in New Fairfield, Connecticut is the exception as it is a larger pond that allows motorized boat access. 

But Huntington pond is tiny and only allows non-motorized boats, while both the great swamp in Brewster NY and Charles e Wheeler in Milford CT  are serene nature preserves where you’re sure to experience a lot of wildlife. 

Huntington Pond Kayaking Launch

Huntington Pond is a part of Huntington State Park in Redding, CT. I highly recommend this spot for first time kayakers as the area is small, the launch easily to reach, and the water extremely calm. 

There are two sections of this pond, the first being smaller than the second. Since this is a state park, hikers (and maybe evens those on horseback) will be around the pond. Fishing is allowed with CT permits and this is a favorite place for those who like to fish.

Squantz Pond Kayaking Launch

Squantz Pond in New Fairfield, Connecticut and is probably the largest body of water in this list. It’s fantastic to kayak but because of its size and motorized boat access you should expect to experience waves when kayaking. This likely won’t be a completely calm water experience. 

With that said it’s still a place kayak-able for beginners who have some understanding of paddling in waves and near bigger boats. It’s a beautiful area and definitely worth the visit. 

The Great Swamp Kayaking Launch

The Great Swamp is just over the border of Connecticut in Brewster, NY. This is a seemingly never-ending waterway that meanders through the swamp. So, lots of animals and beauty. 

If the water is low there will be some spots hard to navigate. Beavers love to dam up different parts of this swamp so you may need to get out of your yak to navigate over these areas or areas with lower water. 

When I went there were a lot of spiders. I think that was because it’s a really untrafficked area and those spiders were able to build webs everywhere. But I do believe if you avoid late summer you should be fine to avoid them in large numbers. 

Charles E. Wheeler Kayaking Launch

Charles E Wheeler Wildlife Management Area in Milford, CT is a remote protected marsh. You can only access these waterways in the 2 hours before and after high tide. So, you’ll need to plan and time your trip according to the tides.

With that said, this place is absolultely amazing. Because it mainly is made up of disappearing waterways, you’ll need to treat this like a maze as you go through it. The grasses are typically higher than you can see, so around every corner you’ll chose a direction and hope for the best. 

Plan to reach dead ends and have to turn around to find an open waterway. It’s great fun for kids (and adults too)!

I hope that in this list of 11 best places to kayak near Stamford, Connecticut you’ve found a new place to explore with your kayak. I love kayaking in and around Fairfield County, Connecticut and I hope you will too after exploring these launches.

If you’re looking for more Connecticut kayaking launches, check out our guide to 55 launches in Connecticut!

 Happy kayaking!

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