Taking in fall foliage along Stump Pond at Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown. Credit: Barry Sloan
"Peepers" — that's what New Englanders call people from Long Island, New York City and points south who flock by the tens of thousands each October to greet fall’s changing colors. While the views do seem to grow increasingly intense as one heads north, there are some places to catch this show right here at home — and it can be spectacular.
"[There’s] 360-degree views out here, salty air, all kinds of wildlife," says Lars Svanberg, of Main Beach Surf and Sport, who rents out kayaks and provides guided tours by appointment in Wainscott. “It’s uncrowded … one of the best-kept secrets of the Hamptons are its paddling perspectives from shore.”
Indeed, as October begins, the trees and bushes along Long Island’s back-bay coves, tidal creeks, lakes and ponds blossom in colors so rich you can practically taste them. Like the snowflakes we’ll be seeing in a few months, every tree, branch and leaf is distinct. Some seem to burst forth with color like juice from a fresh-bitten fruit. Others turn more slowly, gracefully morphing from green to yellow, orange or crimson. It makes for a delightful mix that can have a calming effect, melting away the stress and pressures of daily life.
"Less than 100 miles from New York City, it’s easy to lose yourself in the timeless beauty of autumn‘s glory as you glide through the calm waters of Coecles Harbor," notes Adam Mills, the owner of Kayak Shelter Island. "From the water, you can access gorgeous views and pristine areas not accessible from land."
“Fall paddling on Long Island is a beautiful experience,” says Sheila Malone, owner of the Moku Loa Paddle Tribe paddleboard rental company in Oakdale. She further points out that “boat traffic is quieter and everything around you is more peaceful. You really get the chance to take in the incredible wildlife on the river, everything from turtles and osprey to the occasional fox or deer. Of course, the colors during that time of year are even more beautiful and fall sunsets shouldn’t be missed.”
Get ready for the weekend with our picks on where to shop, dine and have fun on Long Island.
For those who already have a watercraft, heading out to experience fall’s colors in all their glory is as easy as finding a launch site and pushing off the shore. Those who don’t own a kayak or paddleboard can easily rent one or book a tour.
As the season grows late each year, most kayak and paddleboard outfitters continue to offer rentals daily, but tours are usually scheduled by demand.
Stony Brook Harbor Kayak and Paddleboard Rentals
51 Shore Rd., Stony Brook
Tour types: Self-guided tour of Stony Brook Harbor; paddleboard yoga classes.
FEES Single kayaks and paddleboards $45, double kayaks $65, paddleboard yoga classes $40
INFO 631-834-3130; sbharborrentals.com
Tour types: Offering foliage, nature and bird-watching kayak tours along the Setauket Harbor or Mount Sinai Harbor through October. Kayak rentals available.
FEES Rentals: 1 hour for $30, $10 each additional hour. Tours: $50 1-hour trip, $65 2-hour trip, $80 3-hour trip. Prices include on-land lesson.
INFO 631-404-6447, paumanoktours.com
89 Peconic Ave., Riverhead
Tour types: Self-guided Peconic River tours on weekends only. No reservations needed.
FEES Single kayaks: 1 hour $25, 2 hours $40, half-day $70, full day $80; double kayaks: 1 hour $35, 2 hours $50, half day $70, full day $80. Canoes and stand-up paddleboards (SUP) also available
INFO 631-727-9895; thepeconicpaddler.com
Kayak Shelter Island
80 Burns Rd., Shelter Island
Tour types: Guided and self-guided tours off Shelter Island, with a focus on the Coecles Harbor marine water trail, which moves through wetlands and along the Mashomack Nature Preserve.
FEES Single kayaks: 2 hours $30, 4 hours $45, full day $60; Double kayaks: 2 hours $50, 4 hours $70, full day $90. SUPs also available. Guided tour: $60 per person, $30 for ages younger than 12.
INFO 631-749-1990; kayaksi.com
Main Beach Surf and Sport
Tour Types: Self-guided tour around Georgica Pond and Sagg Pond.
FEES $85 single, $95 double; $75 with own kayak
INFO 631-537-2716; mainbeach.com
Belmont Lake State Park
Southern State Parkway, Exit 38, North Babylon
Tour Types: Self-guided on Belmont Lake. Kayak rentals available at the boathouse weekends and holiday through Columbus Day.
FEES $20 for 2-hours, plus $8 parking fee. (Personal kayaks can be launched from shore year-round, must be off the water 30 minutes before dark); pedal and rowboats also available
INFO: 631-667-5055; parks.ny.gov
Moku Loa Paddle Tribe
Oakdale Yacht Club: 520 Shore Dr., Oakdale
Tour types: Paddleboard fall tours on select Sundays (by reservation) along the Connetquot River through Oct., weather permitting.
FEES Seasonal rentals: 2 hours $45; private lessons $65; Sunday fall guided tours are $50 for 90 minutes
INFO 631-403-7502; mokuloa.com
Adventure Paddleboards and Kayaks
94 Dune Rd., East Quogue
Tour types: Self-guided tour. Reservations required. Daily delivery available to your waterfront location. Floating fitness class through Sept., reservations required, weather permitting.
FEES Single rentals $40 per hour, doubles $60 for 1 hour, $75 for 2-hours; floating paddleboard yoga $40 per hour
INFO 631- 377-0162; adventurepaddleboards.com
Long Island SUP
90 Colonial Dr., East Patchogue
Tour types: Foliage and bird-watching paddleboard and kayak tours in Sept. and Oct. on weekends and one weekday during sunset. Stand-up paddleboard yoga sessions held through Columbus Day.
FEES Single: 75 minutes $45, 2 hours $65; double kayaks: 75 minutes $60, 2 hours $80
INFO 631-326-7926; longisland-sup.com
Nissequogue River Canoe and Kayak Rentals
Paul T. Given County Park, Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown. Also: Nissequogue River State Park, Kings Park.
Tours types: Self-guided daily along 5 ½-mile Nissequogue River (tidal). Canoe and kayak rentals available through Oct. 31.
FEES $70 canoe; $50 single kayak, $70 double kayak.
INFO 631-979-8244, Text 631-219-4887, canoerentals.com
Bob’s Canoe Rentals
Nissequogue River State Park, Kings Park.
Tours types: Self-guided daily along 5 ½-mile Nissequogue River (tidal). Canoe and kayak rentals available through Nov. 20. Tours available by appointment.
FEES $50 single kayak, $70 double kayak; $70 canoe.
INFO 631-269-9761, canoerentalslongisland.com
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