For over four hundred years, the Chesapeake Bay has lured explorers seeking adventure, wonder, and fun.
Captain John Smith navigated the Chesapeake’s waters in 1608, when he set off for a voyage into the unknown. He was in search of riches and a route to the Pacific. Instead, he discovered America’s largest estuary: a place teeming with fish, oysters, and birds.
Today, these waters are yours to explore.
Set sail across sparkling waves on the Chesapeake’s open waters. Or take a calmer route, paddling upriver along the same swampy shores Captain Smith saw long ago.
Want a truly Chesapeake experience? Catch yourself a delicious dinner of fresh rockfish and blue crabs.
And at the end of a long summer day, cool off with a dip in the Bay at one of its great swimming spots.
Whether fishing, swimming, or boating, there’s so much for you to explore on the water. Create your own adventure today at one of the places and events below.
Safety on the water is everyone's responsibility. Though many of the waterways within the Chesapeake region are suitable for beginning boaters, there is also plenty of broad open water that demands respect. Sections of the rivers can funnel wind and develop nasty, choppy seas. Remember that accidents can happen on any type of water.
Whether you are paddling a kayak or piloting a trawler, it is important to build your boating skills, keep your vessel(s) in good operating condition, and review safety guidelines before every trip.
Every Chesapeake Explorer needs a good guide to get started. With these maps and guides, you’ll be on your way to a great adventure on the water in no time! Download the Boater’s Guide below to begin your journey on the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail.
Or check out dozens of other guides to water trails around the Eastern Shore and on rivers like the Anacostia, James, Susquehanna, and more.
See five lighthouses as you cruise aboard a private charter boat with the Calvert Marine Museum's lighthouse expert.Solomons, MD
Paddle along part of the park's natural coast line on the Potomac River.Montross, VA
This REI class will introduce students to the basics of paddling a kayak in a mild setting and at a relaxed pace.Gaithersburg, MD
Discover what flowers are still blooming while paddling around the Anita C. Leight Estuary marsh.Abingdon, MD
Learn about your native watershed through an educational journey with local professionals.Havre de Grace, MD
Takes a relaxing and easy paddle around Prince Edward Lake in search of wildlife and to discover the history of the park.Green Bay, VA
You're invited to the 10th Annual Marshy Point fall festival with canoe rides, Marsh Mucker Obstacle Course for kids and more, in Baltimore.Baltimore, MD
Help pull our 20-foot-wide sampling net to catch fish, crabs, and other critters from the Chester River aboard the 1768 schooner Sultana.Chestertown, MD
See this area of the Susquehanna from a new perspective while watching for riverside wildlife, improving your paddling skills, learning about local history and enjoying the companionship of other friendly paddlers!Milton, PA
Come cruise the Susquehanna River with Elvis!Havre de Grace, MD
Step onto the Water Strider and glide along the Bush River on World Rivers Day at the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center.Abingdon, MD
Explore this abandoned island in the Susquehanna Flats and see what remains of the old lighthouse.Havre de Grace, MD
Learn basic kayak skills and then go for a guided paddling exploration of Marshy Creek, Grasonville, MD.Grasonville, MD
For those who want an all-day adventure in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay, Delmarva Paddling is running a guided trip to Smith Island.Crisfield, MD
Join Naturalist Katelynn for an exploration paddle on Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park.Flintstone, DE
Fishing by kayak is a low environmental impact way to immerse yourself in nature while fishing.Cape Charles, VA
Paddle the narrow, winding, Pocomoke River through towering Bald Cypress trees that provide shade and shelter for abundant wildlife.Snow Hill, MD
REI Outdoor School Instructors will be your guide on this incredible paddling tour departing from Gravelly Point and up river to Columbia Island for a catered box dinner.Arlington, VA
Discover the northern-most Baldcypress swamp in the United States.Laurel, DE
See the concrete ships up close, experience the bay beyond the breakwater and watch the sun set, all from the comfort of your kayak.Cape Charles, VA