Is kayaking is having a bit of resurgence on Long Island? Like many outdoor activities enjoying increased popularity over the past several months of coronavirus caution, it’s a pastime that particularly lends itself to social distancing while offering an escape from the cooped-up feeling.

“We’re slammed right now,” says Vincent Porcelli, manager at Treasure Cove Resort Marina in Riverhead, which rents kayaks and stand-up paddleboards while also offering kayak tours on the Peconic River. The sport, Porcelli adds, is “right in that wheelhouse of safe and fun. It’s a great way to get out, enjoy nature, exercise and relax — all at the same time. It’s also easy to keep your distance from others while on the water.”

Joe Parisi, owner of JK Kayak and SUP in Stony Brook says demand for kayak tours is the strongest it’s been since he started the business nine years ago. “People can’t go to a ballgame or the movie theater, so they are trying something different and a little more intimate,” he says — and then there’s the safety element. “We’re outside on the water. Once we get going, there’s nobody but your own group to bump up against.”

Not all kayak outfitters have chosen to reopen yet, and those that have are working under updated and expanded safety protocols. Most are renting equipment but only a handful are still providing personal tours. Mask-wearing is mandatory.

“All of our staff is wearing nose and mouth coverings, and customers must do the same when they come inside the store or mix with our team,” says Michael Fehling, who with his wife, Gabrielle, runs Empire Kayaks in Island Park. “We disinfect each kayak, plus life preservers and paddles, after every use and then put them in the sun to dry.”

Fehling also requests customers to be ready to paddle upon arrival. “We ask them to put on sun block and have their water bottles on hand so we can sign them up, provide necessary instruction and get them out on the water as quickly as possible to reduce the chance of close contact in the store,” he says.

Treasure Cove has shifted to online reservations and now requires customers to pay and fill out paperwork through its website ahead of time.

Once you sign up for a kayak rental or tour, things should float along easily. “If you do take a tour,” says Kevin Stiegelmaier of Paumanok Tours in East Setauket, you’ll have a guide to lead and watch over your group, point out the most interesting sights and, perhaps, provide a little oral history as you paddle along. Stiegelmaier’s business focuses on smaller tours of two or three people; ideal for couples or those who social distance together.

If heading out on your own, you’ll receive instruction on how to handle your vessel, pointers on things of interest along your route, and information on any local tide, current or boating activity for which you should be aware.


TRAVEL LIGHT Wear a bathing suit or shorts and T-shirt, plus a large-brimmed hat as well as water shoes or sandals. A long sleeve shirt will also help thwart the sun’s rays while defending against cool morning and evening sea breezes. Carry enough water to last your entire trip.

PLAN FOR SUN Carry sunblock and consider a buff-style mask to protect your face from the sun. Polarized sunglasses will cut down the sun’s glare and let you see deeper into the water.

LIFE JACKET Personal flotation devices should be provided by the operation but bring along a waterproof holder for your cellphone or anything you don’t want to get wet.


Empire Kayaks, Island Park

RENTALS/TOURS Rent by the hour, no reservations needed. (Tours and classes temporarily suspended.)

FEES From $20

INFO 516-889-8300,

Treasure Cove Resort Marina, Riverhead

RENTALS/TOURS Hourly, half day and full day rentals. (Schedules tours online.)

FEES From $25

INFO 631-727-8386,

JK Kayak and SUP, Cold Spring Harbor

RENTALS/TOURS Tours from Cold Spring Harbor to the Hamptons. (Schedules tours online.)

FEES From $59

INFO 800-489-0398,

Paumanok Tours, East Setauket

RENTALS/TOURS Tours of Flanders Bay, Port Jefferson Harbor, Carmans River, others

FEES From $30

INFO 631-404-6447,

The Waterfront Center, Oyster Bay

RENTALS/TOURS Rentals and tours available. Call or schedule online.

FEE $25

INFO 516-922-7245,

Atlantic Outfitters, Port Washington

RENTALS/TOURS Rentals as well as guided weekday tours.

FEES From $35

INFO 516-767-2215,


• Call or go online for reservations. Many shops require you reserve a vessel or tour spot. Tour schedules in saltwater environments often vary based on tides.

• To avoid crowds, kayak on weekdays when possible.

• Calm days make for easy paddling.

• Don’t overestimate how much time you’ll need on the water. An hour or two is often plenty for beginners and intermediate kayak paddlers.

• Don’t overstate your capabilities when renting a kayak. Being honest about experience and abilities helps staff pick the best route for you to safely enjoy.

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