We have been cruising the Hudson River for years and are asked quite a bit about what to expect and where to stop. This primer is based on our experiences between New York Harbor and just south of Albany.
Whatever your experience, at a minimum, you can expect to feel the river’s incredible history while being enamored of its beauty.
Navigation on the Hudson is straight-forward. When we cruised on our previous boats at 20+ knots we didn’t much concern ourselves with the tides and currents, but if you can plan to run with the tides it’s obviously always better. Now that we’re predominantly ten knot cruisers we’re more aware of that than in the past and will adjust departure times a bit if it makes sense and fits into our plans. One helpful tool that we often refer to is this tide planner which will help optimize your travel times.
As is always the case in boating, weather matters and must be respected on the Hudson. While the river is often calm or presenting light to moderate chop, do know that it can really churn up, from uncomfortable to dangerous, particularly in the wider sections. This happens easily on the Hudson when wind opposes tide. Be sure not to neglect your weather checks.
Be diligent about keeping watch for debris, particularly if there’s been a recent storm or big rain. Sometimes you’ll cruise the Hudson all day without seeing a stick but, as you know, one wayward log can ruin your day. Fortunately, the river has an excellent prop shop in Newburgh (Precision Propellers) that is well equipped to help you get back underway in short order should you have an incident.
You will pass several marinas that are on directly on the river and thus completely exposed so please be mindful of your wake. Many boats pass at what they feel is a good distance or at a somewhat reduced speed and think their wake won’t affect a marina they are passing. They are usually wrong.
One other note we mention to first-time Hudson River cruisers (with the caveat that you are obviously responsible for your own navigational decisions)… if you use your chart carefully, particularly between Manhattan and Haverstraw Bay, especially north of the Mario Cuomo Bridge (former site of the Tappan Zee Bridge, greens 11-15), you will see that you shouldn’t feel compelled to exclusively stay in the channel. As you’ll see on your chart, there are many parts of this stretch where there is deep water nearly from shore to shore and the channel in this area primarily need only be respected by large (shipping) vessels. We typically plot our route through this stretch as efficiently as possible, which often puts us in the channel, but occasionally takes us out. Not only does it clip a couple of miles off but it keeps you away from the big ships and, in some spots, closer to the beauty of the shoreline.
In New York Harbor we always stay at Liberty Landing Marina which, in our opinion, is the best option in the area. It is well protected from the boat wakes and swells of the Hudson whereas most other marinas nearby will have you rockin’ and rollin’. The view of Manhattan from Liberty Landing is priceless and if you want to go to the big city, it’s a fifteen-minute water taxi ride away with departures right from their docks. Liberty Landing Marina has some of the nicest bathrooms of any marina, anywhere, two very decent restaurants including the Liberty House which fully capitalizes on the incredible view and a ship’s store that rivals West Marine for selection. Yes, Liberty Landing is pricey, but for its location, you can’t beat it.
We have never stopped between New York City and Haverstraw Bay (32 nautical miles from New York Harbor) so our thoughts on places to stay based on experience begin there. We feel that Half Moon Bay on the river’s eastern shore in Croton-On Hudson is the nicest spot to tie up in the Haverstraw Bay area and an easy walk into a lovely town. It is our favorite marina on the lower Hudson and Dockmaster/Manager Steve, who has been there for decades, is wonderful. He couldn’t be more helpful and thorough with docking instructions and in providing a trove of information that will surely enhance your stay.
We have also stayed at Haverstraw Marina on the western shore many times, though not since 2017 and only once on OLOH. It is well-protected and has a big pool (that is usually packed on a hot summer weekend). It also has an easy-access fuel dock and a nice restaurant on-site with a great view of the river. We’re not fans of the aluminum docks for their noise and the heat they generate which can be unbearable for four-legged crew. Safe Harbor took over in late 2019 so hopefully there has been some much needed improvement.
If you like to anchor, the Croton Point anchorage just by Half Moon Bay is very well-liked unless a good west or northwest wind is blowing. See ActiveCaptain for details on the anchorages we mention on this page.
The next stretch of the Hudson is, in our opinion, one of the most spectacular as you wind through Bear Mountain and by West Point. There’s an anchorage near the Bear Mountain Bridge mentioned on ActiveCaptain that might be a place to throw the hook for lunch in a beautiful spot.
The next easy marina to stop at 29 nm from Haverstraw is Shadows Marina in Poughkeepsie on the east side. It’s right on the river and can rock a bit depending on conditions and how busy the river is, but it’s easy in and out if you tie up at the face dock on the outside of their basin (the current is wicked inside). Docks are floating and in excellent shape with moveable, beefy cleats and excellent power. Captain Keith who runs the place is a nice/interesting guy and he’ll even stop to get you breakfast sandwiches on his way to the marina in the morning if you want. There’s a good restaurant on property but nothing more. It’s a good stop if you plan to go to the Culinary Institute or any of the other many land-based sights in the area.
Before reaching Poughkeepsie you will pass Marlboro and Newburgh. We have never stayed at the Marlboro Yacht Club so we can’t comment on it from personal experience, but the several boaters we have met from there are nice and those we know who stay there as transients enjoy it. As far as Newburgh, we personally prefer to continue on to Shadows in Poughkeepsie, but there are several waterfront restaurant choices in Newburgh.
26 nm north of Poughkeepsie and worth the stop is the Rondout Creek in Kingston. It’s the first totally protected creek where you can stay off the river as you head north. Our first choice there is the marina at the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Dock space is limited so they may not have availability but it is definitely worth a try. It’s right at the foot of a sweet little waterfront town on the north side of the creek. Eat at Ship To Shore or Mariner’s Harbor – both are decent choices in our opinion.
If the Museum docks are full, the next best bet for us is Rondout Yacht Basin, a bit further up the creek on the south side. It’s a very nice, small-town marina with good docks, an excellent little dockside restaurant and very friendly service. Although it’s not in town, we really like it. Kingston City Marina would be the best remaining option. Take a ride on your tender all the way up the creek to its navigational end in Eddyville and you’ll find a manmade waterfall and remnants of the historic Delaware and Hudson Canal in a beautiful and peaceful spot. You can get a feel for what it’s like arriving in Kingston by checking out our video here.
An easy twenty miles to the north of Kingston is the well-protected Catskill Creek. Catskill Creek is plenty deep and easy to navigate but just be sure to honor the channel markers at the entrance as it quickly shoals outside of the channel to the south. Catskill Marina ((518) 943-4170) is the place to stay closest to the village. You can often find a friendly gathering at the firepit or cooking on the grills under the big tent. There are no services at the marina per se but it’s a very pretty spot. There’s a pool, clean restrooms and it’s an easy walk to the village of Catskill which is a terrific river town (eat at NY Restaurant).
Across the creek from Catskill Marina is Hop-O-Nose Marina. Sean, the owner, is a great guy who also owns Catskill Marina. The onsite Creekside Restaurant is a terrific, casual place to grab a good waterfront meal (you can tie your tender up if there’s space). Hop-O-Nose is also the remaining spot on the creek that can step sailboat masts which is big business in this area because of its proximity to the Erie and Champlain Canals where air draft is limited. The crew at Hop-O-Nose step hundreds of masts every year. 2022 was the last season for Catskill Creek institution Riverview Marine. After 45 years of taking care of Hudson River boaters, proprietors Mike and Sue are moving on to their next chapter. We thank them for their years of excellent service to the area and wish them all good things. They, and their marina, will be missed.
When you head north from Catskill the main channel goes up the east side of the river by the city of Hudson. Be sure to transit the west side of the island (Middle Ground Flats) at least one way if not both (there’s plenty of water for typical cruising boats – just follow your chart). The west side is prettier and more interesting and there are good spots to anchor by the island and a mud beach at the north side where you can land a tender or small boat. If you anchor in this area you’ll find good holding in what can be strong current. The town on the west bank is Athens where there’s a good, free, floating dock (no power) in this sweet little village that’s worth a stroll if you feel like stopping. And there’s also free dinghy/small boat dockage for dining at The River Grille which is part of the historic Stuart House. It’s a terrific waterfront spot with a cool vibe and good food and drinks.
16 nm north of Catskill is our favorite and one of the nicest marinas on the Hudson, Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina. Among the many amenities on the park-like grounds are excellent floating docks with reliable power, a very popular bar and restaurant, a pool, a terrific ship’s store, barbeque area, fire-pit, bocce ball courts, horseshoe pits and, of course, full mechanical services. And don’t miss their version of a tiki hut, the Twisted Prop Container Bar. Shady Harbor is truly a destination unto itself. If you stay there be sure to introduce yourself to the owners, Brian and Kathy Donovan and tell them OLOH sent you.
There’s a great, protected anchorage just to the south and around the bend from Shady Harbor. Search ActiveCaptain for Houghtailing Island (also known as “The Hook”). While the current doesn’t run as swiftly there as it does in the main channel, there is most certainly current there and everywhere along your way to generally be aware of.
There are, of course, many more options as you’re cruising the Hudson but, in our opinion, what we’ve mentioned here are great bets and hopefully a good start to your planning. Our Hudson River videos are a good visual companion to this page with lots more info. You’ll find them by clicking here.
As many times as we’ve transited the river, we still always keep a hard copy of Waterway Guide’s Northern Edition at the helm as it has terrific, detailed info on the entire Hudson as well as great background on the many historical spots you’ll pass. We’re always happy to answer any specific questions you might have so feel free to shoot us a note if there’s any way we can help. Finally, we host a Hudson River Boaters and Cruisers Facebook Group where you can interact and ask questions about boating on the Hudson – we’d love to have you join! ⚓️