Watersports

Paddle past iconic backdrops on a glittering NJ kayak tour along the Hudson

Urban Paddle welcomes people of all ages, interests, and athletic abilities with a dizzying array of ways to experience the true beauty of the Hudson River. Photo courtesy of Urban Paddle

Arthur Greenberg remembers the scene like it was yesterday.

The avid kayaker set out one summer morning in search of a new perspective, as he had done so many times in countries around the world: Trinidad and Tobago, Tasmania, St. Thomas, The Bahamas. But never before in his life had he discovered a sight quite like this – in his home state of New Jersey, no less.

As he paddled through the open water, a sea of ​​blue unfolded in front of him that was so still he said it “looked like a bathtub”. He slid across the surface, a few ripples emanating towards the golden horizon, not a single other person in sight. Then, suddenly, he heard her. In the distance, a faint hum floated on the water, to the rhythm of a melody he knew so well: traffic in New York. That’s when the Jersey City resident got the fresh perspective he needed.

“I’ve spent half my life under the Hudson,” said Greenberg, a semi-retired psychologist who walked through the Holland Tunnel to attend to clients at The City. “And now I’ve decided I’ll spend the rest of my life on it.”

You never know what sights Mother Nature has up her sleeve on any given tour. Photo courtesy of Urban Paddle

Greenberg is part of a growing wave of people discovering the transformative power of the Hudson River and New York Harbor. It’s all thanks to Urban Paddle, a Jersey City-based canoe and kayak tour company launched in 2019 by Hudson County resident Kevin Murray to create “greater appreciation for the world’s greatest harbor.” “.

“(The Hudson) is a very peaceful and quiet environment, but it has a reputation for being – as it was in the 70s and 80s – very polluted,” Murray explained. “But we’ve seen so many changes that we take people on tour now and they’re scared of falling, but in the end they want to come back again and again.”

Urban Paddle has caused a stir not only for its perspective-changing approach, but also because it welcomes people of all ages, interests, and athletic abilities with a dizzying array of ways to experience the true beauty of the Hudson.

The 4.5-mile Liberty Isle Adventure takes paddlers past universal icons such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Liberty State Park. Photo courtesy of Urban Paddle

Beginners start with the Skyline Kayak Tour, which serves as an introduction to the sights and sounds of the Hudson and the harbor. The hour-long hike can vary from a therapeutic, ethereal silence to a hubbub of energetic, exciting activity, depending on the time of day. Once you’ve proven your paddling prowess, you’ll want to tackle the 4.5-mile Liberty Isle Adventure, which takes you past universal icons such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Liberty State Park. (Don’t worry: it’s a one-way trip and they’ll take you back by boat.)

Regardless of the tour, each expedition comes with a beginner-friendly tutorial on how to disembark, paddle, and turn, as well as a review of safety guidelines. While you’re on the water, a crew on boats and jet skis keep harbor traffic at bay while a CPR-trained guide and lifeguard leads the way, periodically stopping at checkpoints to s make sure everyone is comfortable and well. All tour itineraries are Coast Guard approved, which Murray understands like the back of his hand thanks to a captain’s license.

These layers of security create a peace of mind that allows the views to take center stage – a reality that really comes to life with two fan-favorite circuits: the Sunset and LED Night circuits. The Sunset Tour takes you to the harbor for breathtaking views of the New York skyline at golden hour, when the sun reflects off buildings in a dazzling display of Mother Nature’s perfection. Then, as the sun goes down and the city lights shine against the water, the LED Night Tour begins to show its glow.

“I recommend the LED Night Tour because the water is much calmer,” said Amandine Panepinto, a coordinator-turned-guide. “There will be nights when we’re out there, the water will be completely calm and the skyline will be beautiful. The whole thing is amazing.”

LED Night Tours are accompanied by a DJ, neon lighting, and incredible views of the New York skyline. Photo courtesy of Urban Paddle

The night tour is particularly popular due to its party atmosphere. Neon green and blue lights illuminate under each of the kayaks as a DJ plays tunes chosen by attendees throughout the hour-long harbor tour. The whole scene is custom made for social media.

“When you look at the skyline on one of the night tours, people are amazed. The only danger there is how crazy people can take pictures,” Greenberg joked.

Murray credits TikTok as the main reason for the surge in interest. The video-centric app, which allows its users to share memorable content with the rest of the world, has created an expanded pool of paddlers from Jersey City and Hoboken to Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

“People come and say, ‘I can’t believe I haven’t considered doing this before, I wouldn’t want to paddle anywhere else,'” Murray said.

Murray has ideas for continuing to spread that love for watersports beyond social media. This summer, he will introduce a program where kids from downtown Hudson County who have never been on the water before can be part of the Urban Paddle staff. He hopes that by the end of the season they will have the skills to learn the maritime trade and possibly start a career.

And, ultimately, it’s yet another way to fulfill its mission: “The more people we have, the more we can change the misconception of the Hudson.”

Dogs can paddle for free on any day trip with Urban Paddle. Photo courtesy of Urban Paddle

Urban Paddle is located at 11 Marin Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07302.

The 2022 season runs from today through October 30, and tour prices range from $25 to $160 per person. Dogs are allowed on day visits (free of charge). Private kayak/canoe, stand up paddle and yoga lessons are also offered throughout the season. For more information, visit urban-paddle.com.

When you take part in this glittering urban adventure, remember that you can only find it… Just in Jersey.

Hunter Hulbert is the Just in Jersey Articles Editor for Jersey’s Best magazine. Do you have a story suggestion? Contact him at hhulbert@njadvancemedia.com. To read more stories like this, click here.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Jersey’s Best. Subscribe here for in-depth access to everything that makes the Garden State great.

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