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Health & Wellness

Canoe or Kayak on the Charles

Beat the heat with a river breeze


With the summer sun finally beating down (the thermostat is set to top out at 90 tomorrow), the water is a great place to enjoy the great outdoors. So think about renting a boat for a leisurely paddle down the Charles.

Charles River Canoe & Kayak has five locations around greater Boston, but it rents kayaks and canoes locally for one-way trips heading toward Boston or Cambridge.

Boaters can begin their journey either along Soldier’s Field Road in Allston/Brighton or in Kendall Square, Cambridge. They then paddle five miles to the opposite location. Boaters don’t need to have much experience before heading out—a quick tutorial is given before the start of each trip. And there’s no current on this stretch of the Charles, so rowing is fairly easy.

The cost of a one-way trip for a single kayak is $15 an hour, plus a $10 one-way fee. (Round-trip is an option as well.) Canoes are $18 an hour, $15 an hour for solo use. Reservations are not necessary, and rentals include life jackets and paddles for each person. There is a one-hour minimum charge on all rentals, and the only items you need to bring are a form of payment and a photo ID.

Closer to home is BU’s Fitness & Recreation Center, which allows members to borrow kayaks from BU’s Sailing Pavilion. To participate, boaters must purchase a Sailing Card and pass the BU Boating Swim Test or sign a waiver verifying their ability to swim. Sailing cards are $20 daily, $40 monthly, and $100 annually for FitRec members and $35 daily, $70 monthly, and $165 annually for nonmembers.

Whatever direction you take, the river is a great vantage point to see the Museum of Science, BU, the Hatch Shell, and the Boston skyline. Along the way, boaters are likely to spot birds, fish, and the occasional Duck Tour vehicle. Lunch and snack breaks can be taken along the way, at places like the Esplanade.

To get to the Charles River Canoe & Kayak Kendall Square location, take an MBTA Red Line train from Park Street to the Kendall/MIT stop and then walk. To get to the Allston/Brighton location, take a Red Line train to Harvard Square and then the number 86 bus. Get to BU’s Sailing Pavilion by crossing the Storrow Drive footbridge off Back Street, which runs parallel to Storrow, and proceeding west along the bike path until you get to the pavilion.

Find more information about Charles River Canoe & Kayak here. Find more information about FitRec here.

This story was originally published on July 21, 2011, and has been updated to include current information.

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Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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