I wouldn’t call myself a “boat person”, but I married a man who loves to fish. So just after our first was born, we bought a used 13 foot Boston Whaler to have as a small family craft. I’ve learned to love it. There’s nothing better on a hot summer day than getting out on the water, jumping in for a swim, fishing, or just enjoying some “unplugged” time together. Here are four places to boat with your family on the Seacoast.
Great Bay – Stratham, NH
Great Bay is a 6,000 acre tidal estuary located in Strafford and Rockingham counties of New Hampshire. The impressive bay is a notable feature of most Seacoast towns where waters from the Piscataqua River meet the Atlantic Ocean. Boaters enjoy fishing the tidal waters for striped bass, enjoying the scenic working estuary, as well as the biodiversity of wildlife in the region. There are multiple public boat launches that will provide access to this area. New Hampshire Fish and Game Provides a detailed list of these access points on their website. My family’s favorite is the Chapman’s Landing Bridge boat launch of Route 108 in Stratham, New Hampshire. This boat launch is free and usually has plenty of parking. Note that, as a tidal river, some watercraft will only be able to access this river at high tides. Tide charts are available online. NOAA provides depth and nautical charts of the bay.
Baxter Lake – Rochester/Farmington, NH
Baxter Lake is a 302 acre lake located on the Rochester/Farmington town line. It is an excellent spot for small, motorized watercraft as well as paddling. The public boat launch is located down the aptly named Boat Ramp Road which is off Four Rod Road. New Hampshire Fish and Game provides a map of the lake and surrounding shore. Baxter is popular for fishing, swimming, and leisurely boating. Parking at the boat ramp is limited and can be especially busy on summer weekends.
Swains Lake – Barrington, NH
Swains Lake is a 341 acre lake located in Barrington. It’s a peaceful waterway where you can expect to see loons and likely catch fish. The small, free public boat launch is located on the corner of Young Road and Beauty Hill Road. With limited parking, this spot often fills up on weekends – especially in the summer months. New Hampshire Fish and Game provides a detailed map of the lake and shoreline.
Lamprey River – Newmarket and Durham, NH
The Lamprey is a 50 mile long river that snakes through multiple Seacoast towns including Raymond, Epping, Lee, Durham, and Newmarket. The free, public Piscassic Park Boat Launch is at the end of Piscassic St in Newmarket. This is a great spot to motor up the scenic river. The river has awesome wildlife, great fishing, and even a few swimming spots. Anchor off by the Moat Islands at Doe Farm in Durham for a rope swing and small sandy beach. A river map is available by the Lamprey River Advisory Committee. Newmarket Rec also offers kayak rentals at this site with information on their website. No boat? You can hike to this awesome picnic and swim spot as well.
Enjoying places to boat with your family on the Seacoast
Boating has provided our family with an outdoor activity that we all enjoy. One of my favorite outings is to take a dinner “picnic” out on the boat on a summer night. It’s a great way to enjoy the long summer days and make the most of the cooler summer hours. In addition, the boat launches are *usually* less crowded in the afternoon and evenings. No motorized boat? How about a kayak or stand up paddle board (SUP)? I also have a similar list of favorite spots to kayak. No watercraft at all? No worries. You can still enjoy the water with my list Seacoast hikes where you can dip your feet in the water. Lastly, practice water safety and know the water way.