Bristol Harbor

Bristol, Rhode Island

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A fairly quiet paddle through a historic harbor. If you enjoy gazing at beautiful sailboats, an occasional yacht, and a few large waterfront houses, but want to avoid all the chaos of Newport, try the less intimidating Bristol Harbor. Nestled between the charming town of Bristol and the lovely Poppasquash Point, the harbor is protected from the swells and strong currents of the open ocean. It still can get somewhat choppy on a windy day, however, and wakes from powerboat traffic can also create waves. This harbor isn’t the busiest in Rhode Island, but paddlers should always be aware of boat traffic, taking special care when passing boats that are docked at piers along the shorelines—if boats are pulling in or out, they might not be looking down to water level to see you. Kayaks are supposed to have the right of way, but it’s wise to follow the common sense rule: If a bigger boat is coming toward you, get out of its way. Though not a complete escape from civilization, the harbor does contain a few quiet coves that offer glimpses of coastal birds feeding. On a Saturday morning in late spring, we spotted a lone snowy egret on the prowl for breakfast.

Bristol Harbor Professional Review and Guide

"A fairly quiet paddle through a historic harbor. If you enjoy gazing at beautiful sailboats, an occasional yacht, and a few large waterfront houses, but want to avoid all the chaos of Newport, try the less intimidating Bristol Harbor. Nestled between the charming town of Bristol and the lovely Poppasquash Point, the harbor is protected from the swells and strong currents of the open ocean. It still can get somewhat choppy on a windy day, however, and wakes from powerboat traffic can also create waves.

This harbor isn’t the busiest in Rhode Island, but paddlers should always be aware of boat traffic, taking special care when passing boats that are docked at piers along the shorelines—if boats are pulling in or out, they might not be looking down to water level to see you. Kayaks are supposed to have the right of way, but it’s wise to follow the common sense rule: If a bigger boat is coming toward you, get out of its way. Though not a complete escape from civilization, the harbor does contain a few quiet coves that offer glimpses of coastal birds feeding. On a Saturday morning in late spring, we spotted a lone snowy egret on the prowl for breakfast."

Activity Type: Sea Kayaking
Nearby City: Bristol
Distance: 4
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: 1.5 hours
Season: Year-round; best spring through fall
Local Maps: USGS Prudence Island
Driving Directions: Directions to Bristol Harbor

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May 2018