Moving Along the Inland Waterway

If you have never traveled along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, you are missing something wonderous. A hodge podge of nature’s watery creations joined by man-made connective lengths, it is now possible to travel from Key West, Florida to New England and see one of the most interesting displays of Americana. This 3,000 mile showcase can be enjoyed from the deck of your boat. There are many places where you are close enough to the ocean to see it easily.

Throughout the trip, you will enjoy the drawbridges. Depending on the size of your boat, you may be able to travel under some of them without having to wait for enough boat traffic to collect in order for them to be raised. There are still old, low bridges that are antiques in the world of bridges.

The best time of year to cruise the waterway is between April and September. This is because it is a good idea to avoid the chance of snow in the north. The spring flowers and fall colors will vary along the way and make a beautiful backdrop for your trip. If you start in Key West, make sure you sample the local dishes, especially the conch chowder, before departing.

Moving up through the Keys, with Highway 1 to the east, you will approach the coast of Florida. Civilization has not invaded the southern coast which is still carpeted by the Everglades. Except for small communities that dot the highway, most of the area is desolate. Before you stretches nothing but water and a few isolated islands. The sea air is invigorating.

Traveling through Florida, by far the longest state along the way, you will encounter a mixture of untouched natural land, businesses that earn their living by the sea, old middle class communities, and wealthy neighborhoods that enjoy the view from the decks of their mansions. On your trip, you will discover there are many excellent restaurants, with docks, where you can stop and eat.

Georgia is the next stop. The coastline is similar to that of Florida with long miles of pristine shore, small communities, and a few large cities. Much of the land has been reserved for state parks. Part of the reason is that a fair amount of the land is swampy as well as difficult and expensive to tame. The Carolinas are largely undeveloped except, of course, for Charleston, the home of a major port.

Starting with Virginia, the land becomes more densely populated. There are many major ports and cities as you work your way through Maryland, Delaware, New York and, finally, New Jersey, the end of the waterway, although it is possible to continue northward. While the coast, itself, is not that heavily developed for many miles, it is possible to travel inland at certain points along the way, and there are huge ports at the James, Susquehanna, Delaware, Hudson, and Connecticut Rivers.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of cruising along this water highway, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. While commercial traffic is free to move along the waterway, you will encounter many travelers like yourself. If you can’t take the time to make the entire trip, any portion of it will be well worth the effort.

Gloria Bishop contributes to, loves to travel and has spent many pleasant hours on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway with her family. She hopes to spend many more.

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