The Best Boating Locations in Massachusetts

Sailboats on the Charles River with Bostons Back Bay skyline in the background
SHARE Share on email Share on twitter Share on linkedin Share on facebook

Massachusetts is one of the smaller states in the US, while also having a very diversified landscape. It features all sorts of urban centers, mountains, hills, lakes, and coastal plains. Therefore, there are also plenty of places to go boating in Massachusetts. 

If you find yourself in this beautifully diverse state looking to feel the wind in your face while boating, then this list is for you. Here, we'll go over all of the best locations in Massachusetts for boating.

The 10 Boating Locations

Massachusetts is home to plenty of lakes of varying sizes. And while you won't be able to blaze past the dock in a speedboat, it still has plenty of space for a variety of boating activities. Some also have a rich history, making them even more interesting to explore.

Lake Boon

Lake Boon, named after the famous Charlestown explorer Matthew Boon, takes up a total space of 66 hectares. Of course, the lake isn't just big, but it is also seven meters deep, making it great for all sorts of recreational activities.

The massive space allows you to take your watersports boat out for a spin and enjoy some fun water skiing. It is also a great place for you to take out the cruiser and ride around the lake while taking in the beautiful scenery. Those two factors alone make it one of the most exciting locations for boating in Massachusetts. 

Walden Pond

Walden Pond is a small natural lake that came to be almost 10,000 years ago. Retreating glaciers left this lake with an eerie atmosphere, which Henry David Thoreau, the famous philosopher, took inspiration from for his novel the ponds.

The Walden Pond near Concord, MassachusettsThe Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts

But despite its unique atmosphere, Walden Pond is also one of the best places for boating in Massachusetts. The 25-hectare lake ensures plenty of space for you to cruise without worrying about hitting someone. It is also a great place for fishing and picnicking, with the nearby park having some beautiful hiking trails.

Lake Monomonac

Lake Monomonac is a massive 240-hectare lake created artificially through water from the Millers River's North Branch. With water coming in from the river, it is essentially a massive freshwater reserve for all fish species. The warm waters make it an especially great place to bring out the fishing boat and the bait. 

Bluegill, black crappie, bass, and chain pickerel are popular species of fish present there. The open lake also means that you can take up canoeing or have fun wakeboarding.

Lake Massapoag 

Lake Massapoag is one of the most beautiful lakes in the states, with natural scenery and trees littering its outskirts. The spring-fed lake sits in the small town Sharon allowing you to escape the loud city for something much quieter.  

Private dock at Lake Massapoag in Sharon, MAPrivate dock at Lake Massapoag in Sharon, MA

The lake itself is also very old, especially useful for the ice industry back in the 18th century. With strong winds, you can usually find sail boaters dominating the waters, with the massive space on the water making it a special location for boating in Massachusetts.

Lake Attitash

Lake Attitash is one of the most popular lakes in the entire state, all thanks to its two massive beaches and being surrounded by cottages and boat docks. Those docks are going to come in handy because the Attitash is another incredible fishing haven in Massachusetts. 

The lake is open year-round for fishing but does close down in the winter months for swimming and boating. The open space is also why most people have made it their go-to vacation spot, as they can enjoy the real fun and freedom of boating in Massachusetts. 

Lake Ashmere

Lake Ashmere is a unique lake in the city, seeing how Route 143 divides two major chunks of the lake. People can also access this body of water through Route 143, which is also home to multiple summer camps and plenty of vacation rentals. Plus, the only thing surrounding it is rural countryside. 

The water is warm, especially during the summers, which makes for a great time to throw in a line and pull out a nice game worth showing your friends. The lake is also big enough for you to enjoy a fast ride on a sports cruiser, making it another fun boating activity in Massachusetts. 

Lake Quinsigamond

Taking up a total space of three square kilometers, you can find eight small islands of varying sizes. The show's real star on this lake is rowing, with multiple competitions throughout the year. 

Historic Elm Park in Worcester, MassachusettsHistoric Elm Park in Worcester, Massachusetts

However, if rowing is not much your style, you can also enjoy sailing or fishing throughout one of these islands. Those fun activities could also make for a good time boating in Massachusetts. 

Lake Crystal

Once popularly known as Baptist Lake, the Newton Center Baptist Church would perform their baptisms here. However, it then adopted the name Crystal Lake, as it became popular for commercial ice harvesting in the 19th century. 

The shoreline of this popular lake has become a hotspot for swimmers, as many institutions and teams practice there. It is also where many lifeguards come to train. While you can't bring a motorboat onto the water, canoeing is still on the table. In fact, it is one of the most fun activities to do there. 

Quabbin Reservoir

The Quabbin Reservoir is an absolutely beautiful lake that is a major water source for Boston. Of course, many tend to use this space as a recreational area, with people going to the park for a fun hike or launching their boat and taking it for a spin around the lake. Since swimming is off-limits there, boating still remains incredibly fun. 

Quabbin ReservoirQuabbin Reservoir Body of water in Massachusetts

However, you will need a dedicated Quabbin Boat Seal before you can launch your boat. Therefore, be sure you have one before you start to ride.

Otis Reservoir

Otis Reservoir is one of the smaller lakes on this list that the town could form by flooding three ponds nearby. While it remained an important place to store water a few decades ago, it has become a popular spot for recreation, with fishing being the highlight. 

"Taco" Bella enjoying a summer kayaking day at the Otis Reservoir"Taco" Bella enjoying a summer kayaking day at the Otis Reservoir (photo: Michele Kenney)

While you can indulge in various other activities at the lake, fishing is easily one of the best experiences for boating in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has even added a variety of species to the reservoir, making it a flourishing ecosystem that is great for anglers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Launching Your Boat in Massachusetts Legal?

Following the pandemic, Massachusetts did not allow individuals to launch their boats into different commonwealth lakes. However, since the pandemic, people can now launch the boats into the water without legal repercussions, in some cases.

Certain lakes require you to have a permit for boating in Massachusetts. A popular example is the Quabbin Reservoir, which requires boaters to have a Quabbin Boat seal to launch their preferred boat into the waters.

Is It Important to Wear a Life Vest When on a Boat?

Life preservers, or life vests as some call them, are essential to wear in certain circumstances. More importantly, certain people need to wear them if they are: 

  • Under the age of 12 
  • Kayaking 
  • Canoeing 
  • Waterskiing 
  • Boarding a personal watercraft alone

Furthermore, a boat owner will be legally responsible for all passengers on their boat wearing vests as required. Therefore, be sure to keep those guidelines in mind while boating in Massachusetts.

Two boys enjoying kayaking on lake on sunny summer day

Can Police Board Your Vessel?

Local authorities have the right to board your vessel if they have probable cause that you are breaking the law. If your passengers are not wearing their safety vests or other laws are being violated, they could board the boat. Local law enforcement could even order the boat owner to shore their vessel if the driver has violated the law. 

Is it Illegal to Drink on a Boat?

It is not illegal for passengers to drink on a boat, but it is illegal for the operator to drink. Like all other states, driving a vehicle in an intoxicated state is against the law. The legal Blood Alcohol Concentration is 0.08. Any higher, and you will be above the legal limit. If you can drink within the legal limits, it is allowed.

Massachusetts has one of the most diverse landscapes in the US, despite being smaller. Luckily, there are also plenty of places to go boating in Massachusetts so that you can have a good time fishing, waterskiing, and/or wakeboarding while on the water. Do remember that you cannot launch your boat into just any body of water, so be sure to do your research before dropping your boat in.

Get Everything Boat in your inbox

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on everything you need to get on the water!