Kingston: A Must-Do Sea-Doo Destination

With big-city amenities and small-town charm, Kingston has the complete package for marine travellers.

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There are many reasons you can do plenty of great Sea-Doo riding out of Kingston, Ontario – and also enjoy many outstanding restaurants, attractions and sights. One reason that Kingston is a great Sea-Doo and boating destination is that this scenic Eastern Ontario city is strategically positioned where the St. Lawrence and Cataraqui Rivers meet Lake Ontario. In yesteryear, that made the “Limestone City” (so called because so many of its unique heritage buildings are constructed with limestone quarried locally) an important fur-trading hub, now guarded by Old Fort Henry.

Fort Henry

For today’s PWC riders and boaters, Kingston’s location places you at the western gateway to the famous 1000 Islands (see ride article), the southern gateway to the renown Rideau Canal (see ride article), and also enables you to journey west into the Bay of Quinte to Picton, Belleville or even Trenton (see ride article). Of course, if you want a truly big water adventure, Kingston also offers direct access to Lake Ontario and is directly across the lake is the mouth of New York State’s Oswego Canal, connection to the Erie Canal. By my count, that’s many cruising days to be had staging out of Kingston.

Portsmouth launch

A second reason that Kingston is a great Sea-Doo and boating destination is its harbours, marinas and launches. The City of Kingston provides seven boat launches, six of which are free. The seventh is Portsmouth Olympic Harbour Marina, which charges a launch and parking fee, but is probably the best choice for anyone planning to park overnight for a multi-day ride. Both Portsmouth Olympic Harbour Marina and the city-run Confederation Basin (see below) offer transient overnight docking (note: Portsmouth has fuel; Confederation does not). In addition, there are at least nine private marinas or yacht clubs at or near Kingston, so boaters and Sea-Doo riders are well served and can always find fuel, dockage and service.

Confederation Park

A third reason that Kingston is a great Sea Doo and boating destination is that it’s a vibrant tourist and university town (Queen’s) with a city base population of almost 125,000. This means that every major big-city amenity and service is readily available to Sea Doo riders and boaters – all offered up with small-town charm and hospitality that for many marine visitors, starts at Confederation Basin. Kingston’s historic waterfront is what every city’s should be like, but mostly are not – beautiful, accessible, well preserved, unobstructed and people-friendly – and Confederation Basin is its heart and soul. Disembark there and you’re literally right downtown, with restaurants, shops and nightlife within sight. What’s more, street events and entertainment often take place in the shoreline Confederation Park and its immediate downtown area.

Comfort Inn

And the fourth reason Kingston is a great Sea-Doo and boating destination is that you can choose to trailer, stage and stay there for a series of day rides, start and finish there on a multi-day ride, or visit by water while on route elsewhere. If arriving in town by trailer, you’ll likely find it more convenient for parking to stay at a hotel that’s not downtown (where truck & trailer parking can be limited and costly), like the Comfort Inn on Warne Crescent, which provides plenty of free parking. From there, it’s only a convenient 10-minute drive to launch and park for the day (or days) at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour Marina.

Martello Tower

If you’re arriving to stay overnight by water, there are several chain hotels within sight of Confederation Basin. Note that the day docks are located at the south end of Confederation Basin (closet to the lake), and are entered at the green & white harbour marker through a breakwater entrance to the far left of the Martello Tower (a circular fort that landmarks Confederation Basin). Check out their online booking form.

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Whether by sea or by land, check out Sir John’s Public House downtown for dinner or for something totally unique, the Battery Bistro, situated on a high terrace at Old Fort Henry, with a magnificent overlook of Kingston and the St. Lawrence River.

Battery Bistro

If I haven’t listed enough great reasons that Kingston is a great Sea-Doo and boating destination, here’s a biggie for me: Kingston is home to the world’s best ice cream at the White Mountain Ice Cream store located across the street from Confederation Basin. Nothing like a scrumptious cold cone on a hot, Sea Dooing day!

I’ve visited cities like Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and many other towns from the water, but none of them can compete with the total package that Kingston offers marine visitors. That’s why I consider it a must-visit destination when planning my Sea Doo itinerary each summer, and so should you!

About Craig Nicholson—The Intrepid Cottager

Popularly known in the summer as “The Intrepid Cottager,” Craig Nicholson is a freelance journalist, writer and communications consultant who specializes in motorized recreational activities, including personal watercraft. As an avid Sea-Doo rider, Craig logs over 100 hours and 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles) on the water most summers on many waterways in Ontario and Quebec. His one-of-a-kind Intrepid Cottager website features his Sea Doo tour articles, PWC riding tips, product reviews and comment.

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