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.
Investigate the nooks and crannies of Bear Creek Lake by canoe, while improving your outdoor skills.Cumberland, VA
Enjoy a peaceful paddle along the shores of Lake Anna into Ware Creek.Spotsylvania, VA
These free, guided boat tours launch from a variety of locations up and down the Anacostia River, and are funded by the District’s disposable bag fee., DC
Look for sunken treasure, check out fish species, run the best whitewater on the Shenandoah--all in one trip.Bentonville, VA
Brush up on your paddling skills and explore the islands in the Dutch Gap lagoon.Chester, VA
Join Naturalist Katelynn for an exploration paddle on Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park.Flintstone, DE
Enjoy a naturalist-led canoe trip along Saltpeter Creek from Dundee Creek Marina.Middle River, MD
Enjoy a sunset paddle on the lower Potomac River.King George, VA
This 3-day paddle trip in the Paw Paw Bends area of the Potomac River includes 2 nights camping out.Paw Paw, WV
Paddle along part of the park's natural coast line on the Potomac River.Montross, VA
Paddle among the islands that are stretched out on this beautiful section of the Potomac River.Sterling, VA
Have fun on the water and help clean up the Patuxent River.Lothian, MD
Ranger guided activities include fossil hunting, hiking, paddling, and seining plus a 5K race and EVMB-led mountain biking.Williamsburg, VA
FREE active outdoor family fun day with archery, firearm safety, kayaking, mountain biking, wildlife watching and more at the Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center.Eden, MD
Work up an appetite kayaking the Otter Creek marsh, then stop on Snake Island for an al fresco lunch, food and ambiance provided!Abingdon, MD
Enjoy a 2-hour sail on a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack on the beautiful Choptank River, from Long Wharf in Cambridge MD.Cambridge, MD
Enjoy a guided tour of Paradise Creek Nature Park’s 11-acre wetland and Paradise Creek during a guided tour led by local outfitter Adventure Kayak Tours.Portsmouth, VA
Join Heroes on the Water and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as we celebrate our 3rd annual Veterans on the Susquehanna paddling event.Wrightsville, PA
Search for fossils as you beachcomb parts of the Caledon State Park shore that are not accessible by land.King George, VA
Join a Marshy Point Naturalist and travel the trap-line to unveil their secret livesBaltimore, MD