Kayaking the LI Sound from Longshore in Westport, CT
In Connecticut, the Long Island Sound is a kayaking-must. No matter where you are in the state, there’s a launch site off a beach or from a rental company to allow you access to the ocean and have some fun kayaking in the sea. So, there’s really no excuse as to why you wouldn’t kayak it at least once.
Kayaking into the Long Island Sound from Longshore in Westport, Connecticut is one of the best LI Sound launches in the state. This is because the water here is protected by land, making it not as choppy. And if you kayak during high tide you can head into a nearby bay with calm water. The connection to Saugatuck River even adds a little more variety to this ocean kayaking spot that’s great to explore.
I love kayaking the Long Island Sound from this launch. In fact, it’s one of my top kayaking locations in/near Fairfield County. Even as a beginner kayaker, launching from Longshore is a safe, fun way to explore ocean kayaking!
Overview of Bantam River
- Difficulty: 3.5/10
- Time: as long as you want, but I think 1-2 hours is average
- Cost: Free; can rent kayaks for a fee
- Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
- Parking: Limited
- Bathrooms: Restrooms inside building
- Location: Launch is near Longshore Sailing School
- Rentals: Longshore Sailing School
- Dog Friendly: Yes (if you have your own kayak)
Location, Parking, and Bathrooms at Longshore Sailing School
Let’s talk about location. When you’re trying to find where to go, the best option is to put Longshore Sailing School into the GPS. This will come up immediately and take you to the entrance of the Westport Longshore Club Park. Once you get into the park though, it’s a maze to find the correct parking lot.
First, you’ll be driving through a golf course on a one-way road. After a little bit you’ll reach a multi-way intersection with a sign containing several things in the park, none of which say kayaking. You’ll take the road directing you to the left towards the sailing school.
After this sign you’ll start to run into various labeled parking lots. Unless you have a membership or are a Westport resident, you should park in Lot F. This is the last lot in the line of parking areas, and is free and open to the public. If you park in any of the other lots you are subjected to ticketing and towing.
Once you park, the direction you head next depends on whether you brought your own kayak or are renting from Longshore Sailing School. For renters, you’ll walk out of the lot and back up the road you came in on until you see the opening, bathroom building, and Longshore Sailing School on the left. It’s about a 5 minute walk from the lot.
If you’ve brought your own kayak, then you don’t need to walk far. The boat launch for you is directly off the parking lot! But, if you need bathrooms you’ll need to take the trek up to the Sailing School. The indoor bathroom buildings are near the school, and there are not any bathroom options near Lot F.
Boat Launch for the Long Island Sound at Longshore
There are two boat launches into the Long Island Sound from Longshore, and the one you use depends on whether you are renting your kayaks or if you’ve brought your own.
If you’re renting your kayak, then you’ll need to walk up the road about 5 minutes to reach Longshore Sailing School. After you secure your rental, you’ll be directed out to a beach, from where you’ll launch your kayak. This beach is about a 5 minute paddle from the other launch. So, if you’re paddling with a mixed group of people who own their own kayak and others who are renting, it’s very easy to reach the other launch from the water.
For those who brought their own kayaks, the launch for you is in the parking area you parked in. You’ll see it immediately and you can launch from this site for free.
Again, this launch is only a few minute paddle away from the Longshore Sailing School launch site, so you can paddle to the right once you make it to the Sound and you’ll reach the school’s kayak launch in only a few minutes.
Overview of Kayaking the Long Island Sound from Longshore
The Long Island Sound is what you’d expect. It is an ocean, so expect salt water, waves, bigger boats, and jet skis. But, the great thing about the Longshore launch site is that there are a few ways to escape the busier sea area if you know where to go and hit the water at the right time.
The first spot I recommend is the bay. This is immediately to the left next to the public boat launch. You can only kayak this at or around high tide, but the calm waters are a great break from the waves of the Sound.
The second spot, is heading to the far right towards the Saugatuck River. You can only do this if you have your own kayak, as the Longshore Sailing School prevents renters from heading up that far the water.
Kayaking the Bay from Longshore
If you hit the Long Island Sound at high tide (or 1.5 hours on either side of high tide), then the water is high enough to paddle in the bay. You can reach the bay by paddling to the left once you get into the Sound. The entrance to the bay is immediately left of the public boat launch.
Once you get into the bay you won’t experience any waves, but you do need to watch out for a couple of things. First, the water here can be shallow – so don’t get too close to land or to things sticking out of the water as you might get stuck. Second, sometimes the currents can be strong here. This isn’t dangerous as there aren’t strong waves and you aren’t in any danger of being swept out to sea, but it can make paddling more difficult in some areas when you hit a current.
If you do hit one, just let it take you wherever it’s going and paddle once it releases you a bit. That way you don’t waste your energy.
The area inside this bay is beautiful. There are some houses along the shore, but this area is often a great place to see wildlife. Just watch out for the swans. They can be fairly territorial and I’ve seen one attack a kayaker who got too close.
Kayaking up to Saugatuck River from Longshore
If instead of going left you decide to paddle right, then you’ll be heading towards the Saugatuck River, which lets into the Sound right at this launch site.
Now, it does take a bit of paddling to reach the river, and it’s not always easy paddling (definitely tide dependent). But usually only one of the ways is harder – either going out or going in, depending on what the tide is doing.
If you’re renting kayaks then you can only paddle to the bridge before needing to turn around. So, kayak renters can’t actually make it to the Saugatuck River. But, if you own your own then you can kayak up past the bridge and into the river.
But, if you want to kayak the Saugatuck on a different day, there is a separate launch further up the river where you can launch directly into the river and head into downtown Westport, all from the water!
Kayaking around the Long Island Sound from the Longshore Launch
Most of the time kayaking from the Longshore launch into the Long Island Sound will be spent in the actual sound, not in the Bay or nearby rivers. So, what should you expect here? Well, it is an ocean and so waves are common. Be prepared for them, and if you’re a new kayaker don’t go too far from shore. Waves can we are you out quickly if you aren’t used to them.
But generally, this area of the sound is small, and you can easily paddle from one side to the other. Houses line the shore, and these are nice, large houses that are super fun to look at and dream about living there.
Off to the left, on the other side of the water is a large beach. A lot of people like to kayak out here, but you should know that this is a private beach only accessible for those who have membership to the yacht club there. So, you won’t be able to post up and enjoy some beach time, but it’s still near to paddle out to and a good landmark if you like those while kayaking.
There is also a much larger beach farther out. Do not attempt to head out here unless you’re an experienced kayaker. This is much farther into the sound, and you’ll experience some stronger waves and currents. But, if you are experienced, this is a great beach to explore should you decide to head out that way!
When you’re all kayaked out, just return to your launch site and head home!
Other Tips to Remember
Kayaking safety is essential when kayaking in the ocean, and PFDs are an absolute must. Don’t go out on the Sound without one.
Also, checking the wind speed is a requirement before heading out here. Longshore Sailing School will not rent kayaks if the wind speed is above certain speeds. It’s always a good idea to check their social media to see if they’re open or not due to the wind/weather. My recommendation is if you’re a new kayaker to not kayak if winds are above 12 mph. If you’re more experienced, you may be able to manage higher than that, but only do so if you’re confident in your abilities.
Overall, kayaking at Longshore can be a super fun day trip allowing those without their own kayak a chance to kayak, while letting those with their own explore on their own terms.
With that said, I hope you’ll add kayaking the Long Island Sound from Longshore onto your summer activity and make it out there soon!
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