Best Family-Friendly Boat Rides on Long Island

Power around Greenport Harbor aboard the solar-powered electric launch Glory.
Power around Greenport Harbor aboard the solar-powered electric launch Glory.
6/11/21 - By Felissa Allard

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 18 voyages we think are especially worthwhile. For more seasonal Long Island adventures, check out our Guide to Summer Fun and this list of 25 things we can't wait to do with Long Island kids.


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Family-Friendly Boat Tours in Nassau County

1. Freeport Water Taxi – Freeport

Stroll down the Nautical Mile in Freeport and end up at the Freeport Water Taxi. Besides a 1-hour day cruise, it offers seasonal seal watching tours, sunset cruises, and more. Most tours cost from $15-$40. 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. 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. It is currently running at 50% capacity.

2. Port Water Taxi – Port Washington

Similar to Freeport, Port Water Taxi offers 30-minute harbor tours around scenic Manhasset Bay seven days a week in the summer. Tours depart Port Washington's town dock on Lower Main Street, and tickets can be purchased on board.

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The Christeen sails the Long Island harbor
The Christeen, a former oyster boat, offers harbor and sunset cruises.

3. The Christeen – Oyster Bay

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. Any passengers who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask when they cannot maintain a 6-foot distance from others.

Family-Friendly Boat Tours in Western Suffolk County

4. Captain Fish – Port Jefferson

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 even de-bones, cleans, and packs 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

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 and the sightseeing boat Moon Chaser.

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

6. Lauren Kristy – Bay Shore

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's Priscilla – West Sayville

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.

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Discovery Wetlands Cruise in Stony Brook
Embark on a journey through Long Island’s wetlands. Photo courtesy of Stony Brook Village

8. Discovery Wetlands Cruise – Stony Brook Harbor

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. Currently, the boat is only available for private charters. Charter regulations vary based on vaccinated or unvaccinated passengers.

9. Moon Chaser – Babylon

The 65-foot Moon Chaser offers a 90-minute narrated tour of Great South Bay, focusing on its history and wildlife. Adults are $17, and one child ages 12 and under rides free per adult; additional children are $13. The tour operates on Thursdays at 1pm. Click here to make online reservations.

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The Atlantic Explorer in the Peconic River
Families can tour the Peconic River aboard the LI Aquarium’s boat, the Atlantis Explorer.

Family-Friendly Boat Tours on the East End

10. Atlantis Explorer Tour Boat – Riverhead

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. Fully-vaccinated guests do not need to wear a mask.

11. American Beauty II – Sag Harbor

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.

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Enjoy whale watching off the shores of Long Island
Watch humpback whales feed from the decks of the Viking Starship in Montauk. Photo by Dr. A. H. Kopelman for CRESLI

12. CRESLI/Viking Fleet Whale Watching – Montauk

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 $80; children 5-12 are $50; children 4 and younger are FREE.

13. Cross Sound Ferry – Orient Point

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.

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

14. Shelter Island Kayak Tours – Shelter Island

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.

15. Peconic Star Fleet – Greenport

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 $115, 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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Girl steers Old Glory
Kids can take the helm on Glory in Greenport.

16. Solar-Powered Electric Launch Glory – Greenport

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. With its jolly striped awning, mahogany, and gold trim, and seating for 14, the Glory 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. They are operating private charters only, starting at $180 for four passengers.  Advanced reservations are required.

17. Fish North Fork – Southold

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.

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

18. Viking Starship – Montauk

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. New for 2021 is an Intro to Fishing tour, which is perfect for young kids and beginners. The boats have a full galley on board for food and drinks.

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.