If you go to Newport Rhode Island and it’s warm enough to sail, then getting out on the water should be on your must-do list, even if you haven’t a clue how to sail or ever been on a boat. We explored a number of options, from kayaking and paddle boarding to day cruises and also had a couple of private lessons with Sail Newport.

Newport Day & Sunset Cruises 

If you don’t want to invest that much time on the water (I’m a water baby so it’s hard for me to understand why anyone wouldn’t unless of course you get sea sick), you can easily opt for a cruise that runs anywhere from a couple of hours, to a half day cruise or full day cruise on the New England waters surrounding Newport’s harbor.

We went with a company called Classic Cruises of Newport to experience the boat they call the Madeleine, which does both day sails and sunset sails. What I love most about sailing is that you never know what you’re going to see out there, but one thing you can be assured of, you’ll inevitably be surprised by the variety of boats you’ll come across and the breathtaking views you’ll have along the way.

The boat is a 72 foot schooner that takes you through Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. Madeleine is a traditional Bermuda rig schooner and is apparently the oldest operating and most popular sailing vessel open to the public in Newport, a quirky factoid we didn’t know in advance. Day trips offer complimentary bottled water and soft drinks and the captain let Jake steer the boat which he loved….under supervision of course.

They point out the many historical points of interest along the waterfront including a number of estates, islands and lighthouses. Rather than complimentary water and soft drinks on the day cruise, they offer champagne and beer on the sunset cruise, all while basking in the warm glow of that sunset you’ve been waiting for on Narragansett Bay.

While some companies offer faster sightseeing options including Classic Cruises of Newport, I’m all about the ’natural sailing’ experience. It was nice to be on a smaller boat when we had our lessons with Sail Newport and on a much larger boat a few days later in the same waters. When you’re on a larger boat, it also means that it’s much easier to get up and walk around and take in some of the sights rather than focus on what the wind was doing and how we were supposed to respond.