On The Water

For over four hundred years, the Chesapeake Bay has lured explorers seeking adventure, wonder, and fun.

Captain John Smith navigated the Chesapeake’s waters in 1608, when he set off for a voyage into the unknown. He was in search of riches and a route to the Pacific. Instead, he discovered America’s largest estuary: a place teeming with fish, oysters, and birds.

Today, these waters are yours to explore.

Set sail across sparkling waves on the Chesapeake’s open waters. Or take a calmer route, paddling upriver along the same swampy shores Captain Smith saw long ago.

Want a truly Chesapeake experience? Catch yourself a delicious dinner of fresh rockfish and blue crabs.

And at the end of a long summer day, cool off with a dip in the Bay at one of its great swimming spots.

Whether fishing, swimming, or boating, there’s so much for you to explore on the water. Create your own adventure today at one of the places and events below.

Practice Safe Boating

Safety on the water is everyone's responsibility. Though many of the waterways within the Chesapeake region are suitable for beginning boaters, there is also plenty of broad open water that demands respect. Sections of the rivers can funnel wind and develop nasty, choppy seas. Remember that accidents can happen on any type of water.

Whether you are paddling a kayak or piloting a trawler, it is important to build your boating skills, keep your vessel(s) in good operating condition, and review safety guidelines before every trip.

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Water Trail Maps & Guides

Every Chesapeake Explorer needs a good guide to get started. With these maps and guides, you’ll be on your way to a great adventure on the water in no time! Download the Boater’s Guide below to begin your journey on the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail.

Or check out dozens of other guides to water trails around the Eastern Shore and on rivers like the Anacostia, James, Susquehanna, and more.

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