Power around Greenport Harbor aboard the solar-powered electric launch Glory.
Power around Greenport Harbor aboard the solar-powered electric launch Glory.

Best Boat Rides on Long Island for Summer 2020

Set sail this summer for boating, sightseeing, whale watching, marine critter catching, or just a good time out on the water. These Long Island boat tours are ideal for families eager to create nautical adventures and lasting memories.

Here are 16 voyages we think are especially worthwhile. For more Long Island adventures, check out our guide to summer fun, the best beaches for families, and even our picked for seasonal day trips nearby.

Staying close to home? See our ultimate summer staycation planner.

While we've tried to highlight these boat rides at their best, the coronavirus has affected schedules and service status for summer 2020. Please click through to each boat for current operating hours and restrictions before staking out.

Family-Friendly Boat Tours in Nassau County

1. Freeport Water Taxi — Freeport

2020 update: Currently running at 50% capacity (14 guests) and only sailing Friday-Sunday. The company will arrange private cruises seven days a week. Masks must be worn when entering and exiting and when social distancing cannot be practiced.
Stroll down the Nautical Mile in Freeport and end up at Freeport Water Taxi. Besides a 1-hour day cruise, it offers seasonal seal watching tours, sunset cruises, fishing excursions, and more. Most tours cost from $15 to $40, except for the fishing tour, which comes in at $450 or more. On most rides, prices for children younger than 10 are discounted. The 1-hour day cruise is family-, pet-, and budget-friendly. Reservations can be made online here. Arrive 30 minutes before your cruise to check-in. You can also pop on the Freeport Water Taxi for a shuttle cruise to Point Lookout.

2. Port Water Taxi — Port Washington

2020 update: Currently running at 50% capacity (10 passengers maximum per boat). Ferries run every 2 hours, starting at 10am. Reservations are required.
Similar to Freeport, Port Water Taxi offers extended harbor tours cruising scenic Manhasset Bay seven days a week in the summer for half an hour. Tours depart Port Washington's town dock on Lower Main Street and tickets can be purchased on board.

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The Christeen, a former oyster boat, offers harbor and sunset cruises.

3. The Christeen — Oyster Bay

2020 update: The WaterFront Center is complying with the COVID-19 safety guidelines set by New York State and The Centers for Disease Control. For a full list of its recent policy changes, please visit its website.
Leaving from the Waterfront Center, the Christeen is the oldest oyster sloop in North America and a national landmark. Would-be-sailors can choose from harbor tours, sunset sails, brunch on the bay, and a marine discovery sail. Pricing information can be found here. Children must be 3 or older to sail. All tours are fully narrated. The harbor tour explores West Harbor, Oyster Bay, and Cold Spring Harbor.

Family-Friendly Boat Tours in Western Suffolk County

4. Captain Fish — Port Jefferson

2020 update: Passengers should wear masks when boarding boat and docking, and maintain social distancing.
You and your little anglers will love catching porgies, sea bass, and dogfish as you cruise along Port Jefferson's bustling coast. Captain Eric Huner will even de-bone, clean, and pack the fish for you to take home. Enjoy a comfortable boat ride with lots of knowledge and perhaps dinner to show for it.

5. Captree Fishing Fleet — Babylon

2020 update: All boats are operating at reduced capacities due to the pandemic and most require reservations.
The Captree Fishing Fleet is Long Island's largest, with 10 fishing boats that sail regularly. Most fish the ocean and bays, and provide poles and bait. Many have facilities such as snack bars and sun decks. The sailing and fishing schedule is found here. All boats are located at the marina dock in Captree State Park along with the sightseeing boat Moon Chaser.

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The Lauren Kristy offers a Huck Finn experience in the bay waters near Fire Island.

6. Lauren Kristy — Bay Shore

2020 update: This boat is offering private charters only.
All aboard the Lauren Kristy at Bay Shore Marina. This 65-foot, turn-of-the-century style riverboat offers lunch and dinner cruises gliding on Great South Bay along the shores of Fire Island. All sails require reservations. Prices vary by day, time, and type of cruise, but start at $29.95 for adults.

7. Long Island Maritime Museum' Priscella — West Sayville

2020 update: Capacity is limited to six individual passengers or a family of up to 12 passengers.
Take a cruise aboard the oyster sloop Priscilla while you visit a museum dedicated to Long Island's maritime history. Learn about boat building, shipwrecks, and shellfish harvesting while viewing some spectacular creatures in the crystal South Shore waters.

8. Moon Chaser — Babylon

2020 update: Operating on Thursdays at 1pm only. Advanced reservations are necessary.
The 65-foot Moon Chaser offers a 90-minute narrated tour of Great South Bay, focused on its history and wildlife. Adults are $17, children ages 12 and younger are $13. Click here to make online reservations.

Family-Friendly Boat Tours on the East End

9. American Beauty II— Sag Harbor

2020 update: All crew and passengers must wear masks. The boat is sanitized before each trip. Contactless temperature checks using a forehead thermometer are required before boarding and capacity has been reduced to allow for social distancing.
Visitors can choose from a 90-minute nature cruise (adults, $30; children ages 5-12, $20; FREE for children younger than 4) or 2-hour sunset cruises (adults, $45; children ages 5-12, $30) from Long Wharf dock. Catch a glimpse of Cedar Point Lighthouse and ospreys relaxing in their nests at Mashomack Preserve. Check the website for the schedule; cruise times vary.

Families can tour the Peconic River aboard the LI Aquarium’s boat.

10. Atlantis Explorer Tour Boat— Riverhead

2020 update: Reduced capacity and operating schedule. Advanced reservations are recommended.
Launching from the Long Island Aquarium, the Atlantis boat tour promises an educational 90-minute interactive ride. From July through Labor Day, the boat leaves at noon, 2pm, and 4pm. Check the website to confirm times; all boat rides are weather permitting. Passengers enjoy seeing and often, touching, slimy sea creatures and the marine life in the Peconic River. Purchase a ticket online here.

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Watch humpback whales feed from the decks of the Viking Starship in Montauk. Photo by Dr. A. H. Kopelman for CRESLI

11. CRESLI/Viking Fleet Whale Watching — Montauk

2020 update: Currently sailing Saturdays only. Reservations are required for all trips.
For more than 30 years, the crew of the Viking Fleet and CRESLI (Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island) have been taking passengers whale watching on the very eastern tip of Long Island. The boat departs from the dock in Montauk Harbor at 2pm and returns at 7pm. The fleet claims a 92 percent whale sighting success rate. Adults are $75; children 5-12 are $50; children 4 and younger are FREE. The fleet recommends reservations, which can be made online here.

12. Cross Sound Ferry — Orient Point

2020 update: Reduced capacities on all vessels to promote social distancing. Masks are required. Hands-free ticketing is offered.
OK, this is not exactly a harbor tour, but it is a fantastic ride. Ferries depart from Orient Point and sail past several lighthouses and the sinister Plum Island to New London, Connecticut, where the historic sailing ships of Mystic Seaport, and the USS Nautilus at the Submarine Force Museum lie just across the harbor—a boating adventure if ever there was one. There are several ferries, the most comfortable and most interesting being the Cape Henlopen, which was a WWII landing craft before becoming a ferry. The John H is also comfortable, and these two ships have ample outdoor seating and full-service snack bars that serve yummy grilled cheese sandwiches among other things. The trip across the Sound lasts about 90 minutes. Reservations can be made online here.

13. Fish North Fork — Southold

2020 update: Six people maximum are allowed on the boat and reservations are required. Masks must be worn.
Captain Mark Melnick takes you and your family for a three-hour private tour around Shelter Island aboard the Emily Rose. You can plan your own customized kid-friendly family excursion.

14. Peconic Star Fleet — Greenport

2020 update: Passenger capacity is limited to 50. Masks and social distancing are encouraged.
Docked at the railroad dock in Greenport, the Peconic Star II and the Peconic Star Express are fast, state-of-the-art fishing boats with pleasant cabins, spacious sun decks, and galleys offering snacks and beverages. The fleet offers only full-day fishing trips, which might be a little long for smaller children. Adults are $110 and children 14 and younger are $65. The Peconic Star Express will be porgy fishing through October, and the Peconic Star II is charter-only during the summer. During the rest of the year, it's fluke fishing.

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Kids can take the helm on Old Glory in Greenport.

15. Solar-Powered Electric Launch Glory — Greenport

2020 update: Operating private group charters only. For groups up to eight, a 45-minute cruise is a fixed price of $150, Friday-Sunday. For larger groups, call 631-477-2515 for availability.
Glory is celebrating 20 years since going green. Leaving from Preston's Dock in Greenport Harbor, passengers can tour the harbor and Peconic Bay aboard the first completely clean, nonpolluting, solar-powered tour boat in New York. The Glory, with its jolly striped awning, mahogany, and gold trim, and seating for 14 is a delightful craft with an amazingly quiet engine. Cruises last 45 minutes, and destinations depend on the weather, tides, and boat traffic. Check the website for departure times. Tickets are available at the dock or online.

The Viking Starship, based in Montauk, offers half-day fishing trips ideal for kids.

16. Viking Starship — Montauk

2020 update: Reservations are required for all trips.
This summer, sail out of Montauk Harbor aboard the Viking Starship or the Viking Star for a half-day of fishing. Bait and tackle are provided on fluke trips; bait is provided on the porgy and sea bass trips. Perfect for beginners and experts, these trips last four hours. Adults 13 and older are $50; children 5-12 are $30; kids younger than 5 are FREE. The boats have a full galley on board for food and drinks.

Long Island Boat Operators Closed in 2020

Enjoy a tranquil kayaking ride in the waters of Shelter Island.

Shelter Island Kayak Tours — Shelter Island

2020 update: Shelter Island Kayak Tours are closed due to the coronavirus.
Kayaking is fun and a great way to explore the waterways of Long Island. Take the North or South Ferry boats across to Shelter Island and rent a single or double kayak. There are also guided tours available. Kayakers may see foxes, swans, rabbits, deer, and more. Two-hour tours are $60 for adults and $30 for children younger than 12.

Discovery Wetlands Cruise — Stony Brook Harbor

2020 update: Currently closed due to the pandemic.
Leaving from Stony Brook Marines Services, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization's pontoon Discovery explores an 88-acre wetlands preserve. The cruise lasts 90 minutes and an on-board naturalist highlights and describes the wildlife and marine life seen during the tour. Cruises run from May to October and are scheduled according to tide tables. Reservations are recommended; tickets are $28 for adults, $25 for seniors and students, and $18 for children younger than 6. Call to register.

Unless noted, photos are courtesy of the boats/tours.

A version of this article was posted in 2018. Writers Rebekah Yahoves and James Smith contributed additional reporting.

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