If you’re a boating enthusiast seeking picturesque waterways, New Hampshire has plenty to offer. From serene lakes surrounded by lush forests to charming coastal towns with breathtaking ocean views, this article invites you to embark on a journey of discovery through the majestic boating destinations of the Granite State. Whether you’re looking for a tranquil escape or an exciting adventure, the boating options in New Hampshire are sure to leave you awe-inspired and eager to set sail.
1. The Great Bay
1.1. Overview of The Great Bay
Located in the southeastern part of New Hampshire, The Great Bay is a large tidal estuary that stretches approximately 20 miles from its mouth at Portsmouth Harbor to just south of Dover. It is an integral part of the larger Great Bay-Piscataqua River Estuary system. The Great Bay offers a unique boating experience with its calm waters, diverse wildlife, and stunning natural beauty.
1.2. Activities and Attractions
When boating on The Great Bay, there are plenty of activities and attractions to keep you entertained. Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy the abundant fish population, including striped bass, bluefish, and flounder. You can also try your hand at clamming or crabbing, which are popular pastimes in the area.
For those who prefer a more leisurely experience, The Great Bay is an excellent spot for kayaking or paddleboarding. The calm waters and scenic surroundings make it a perfect place to explore at a relaxed pace. You can paddle along the shoreline, admiring the marshes, tidal flats, and numerous bird species that inhabit the area.
1.3. Wildlife Spotting
One of the highlights of The Great Bay is its rich ecosystem and abundant wildlife. The bay is home to over 150 species of birds, including herons, egrets, ospreys, and bald eagles. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a seal or a porpoise swimming through the bay.
The Great Bay is also a critical habitat for several endangered species, such as the Atlantic sturgeon and the dwarf wedge mussel. As you navigate the waters, keep an eye out for these rare creatures and appreciate the conservation efforts that help protect their natural habitats.
2. Lake Winnipesaukee
2.1. Overview of Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire, spanning over 72 square miles. It is nestled in the heart of the Lakes Region and offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for boaters of all kinds. With its crystal-clear waters, picturesque islands, and charming lakeside towns, Lake Winnipesaukee is truly a boater’s paradise.
2.2. Recreational Opportunities
Boating on Lake Winnipesaukee opens up a myriad of recreational opportunities. Watersports enthusiasts will delight in activities such as water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing. The expansive lake provides plenty of space for cruising around, exploring hidden coves, and finding your own private beach to relax on.
Anglers will also find ample fishing opportunities on Lake Winnipesaukee. The lake is home to various fish species, including lake trout, salmon, bass, and yellow perch. Drop a line and try your luck while enjoying the serene beauty of the surrounding mountains reflected on the calm waters.
2.3. Islands and Shoreline Exploration
Lake Winnipesaukee boasts 274 islands, each with its unique charm. Exploring these islands by boat is a popular activity among visitors and locals alike. You can cruise around the islands, visiting landmarks such as Long Island’s stunning sandy beaches or exploring Bear Island’s historic lighthouse.
The shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee is dotted with charming towns and villages, each offering its own attractions and amenities. Meredith, Alton Bay, and Wolfeboro are among the most popular destinations. Take a break from your boating adventure to explore these quaint communities, grab a bite to eat at a lakeside restaurant, or browse the local shops.
3. Squam Lake
3.1. Overview of Squam Lake
Squam Lake, located in central New Hampshire, is a picturesque and tranquil lake often referred to as the “Gem of the Lakes Region.” With its crystal-clear waters, surrounded by untouched forests and mountains, the natural beauty of Squam Lake is truly awe-inspiring.
3.2. Natural Beauty and Serenity
As one of the most pristine lakes in New Hampshire, Squam Lake offers a serene and peaceful environment for boaters. The absence of motorized watercraft over 50 horsepower helps maintain the tranquility and preserves the natural beauty of the lake. You can leisurely paddle your kayak or canoe, enjoying the soothing sounds of nature and the breathtaking views.
The surrounding forests and mountains provide a stunning backdrop, especially during the fall season when the foliage transforms into vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold. Boating on Squam Lake allows you to fully immerse yourself in this idyllic setting and experience the beauty of nature up close.
3.3. Filming Location of On Golden Pond
Squam Lake gained worldwide recognition as the filming location for the iconic movie “On Golden Pond.” Starring Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, the film showcased the lake’s beauty and helped put Squam Lake on the map as a top boating destination. Fans of the movie can relive the magic by cruising along the same waters depicted in this beloved classic.
4. Piscataqua River
4.1. Overview of Piscataqua River
The Piscataqua River forms part of the border between New Hampshire and Maine, flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. This historically significant river is not only a vital shipping channel, but it also offers a captivating boating experience filled with rich maritime history and scenic coastal landscapes.
4.2. Historic Portsmouth Harbor
As you navigate the Piscataqua River, you will encounter the historic Portsmouth Harbor, which has played a crucial role in the region’s maritime heritage. Boasting a vibrant waterfront, Portsmouth Harbor is home to the iconic Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where submarines have been built and repaired since the early 1800s.
Along the harbor, you’ll find charming waterfront restaurants, unique shops, and historical landmarks such as the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse. Take a break from boating to stroll through the streets of Portsmouth, discovering its well-preserved architecture and immersing yourself in its captivating history.
4.3. Sights along the River
The Piscataqua River is lined with picturesque coastal landscapes, including small islands, rocky outcrops, and sandy beaches. Cruising along the river allows you to take in the scenic beauty of the New England coastline while enjoying the refreshing sea breeze.
Keep an eye out for the iconic “Tugboats of Portsmouth,” which are often seen maneuvering large vessels in and out of the harbor. These powerful boats, with their distinctive red hulls, provide an exciting spectacle as they navigate the river’s currents.