Circumnavigating Manhattan by boat, rare vistas of NYC
Have you seen northern Manhattan from the Harlem River yet? One of the best things I’ve done in New York City is to circumnavigate Manhattan by boat. It’s thrilling yet relaxing to escape traffic and see sides (literally) of Manhattan you’ve never seen before.
Manhattan is an island, completely surrounded by water, and there are many ways to get out on the water. Easiest for visitors is to jump on one of the Circle Line boat tours that leave from their convenient midtown dock at Pier 83 at W. 42nd Street. Their shorter tours chug down to the Statue of Liberty or Brooklyn Bridge, then retrace their path back. Circle Line’s 2.5-hour Best-of-NYC Full Island boat cruise does not retrace any path but completely sails around Manhattan. Delving into tranquil Harlem River scenes, surging back out on the mighty Hudson, it’s easy to imagine the experiences of early adventurers like said Henry Hudson who explored here in 1609. I’m pretty familiar with Manhattan but this tour offered views of New York I’d never seen before.
Taking Circle Line’s Full Island tour is easy–but it’s not always a done deal. Here are some things to consider:
- There is one low bridge under which the boat cannot pass during heavy rain or high tide. Check a NYC tide chart for the day you want to do this to get an approximate idea of which tour time you should aim for. As water levels depend on weather, I don’t recommend buying tickets far in advance. Call Circle Line for information as early as 9:30 AM the day you intend to take the tour.
- New York CityPASS saves time and money at top NYC attractions and includes a shorter Circle Line cruise. Upgrade to the Full Island tour for a fee.
- Don’t worry about racing for ‘the best seat’! Wedged in by a window may not be the best spot if you want to roam around, get out on the deck to take photos.
- Circle Line recommends you allow 45 minutes to an hour for ticket purchase and boarding.
- Take a jacket.
- If your boat has to turn back at the low bridge, don’t be mad. Be making plans to try again on your next trip to New York–it’s worth it!
NEWS: New York’s oldest bridge and former aquaduct High Bridge (1848) connects northern Manhattan to the Bronx and will open to pedestrian and bike traffic in summer 2015, adding a new section to the New York City Greenway. Closed to the public for over 40 years, Highbridge Park has received $98 million in capital improvements. It’s the thing to see in NYC this summer!
Here’s the full boat trip around Manhattan in photos:
Have a favorite New York memory or moment? Leave a comment below!