9 Awesome Activities in Ottawa’s Waters to Beat the Heat

9 Awesome Activities in Ottawa’s Waters to Beat the Heat

To anyone looking to beat the heat in Ottawa, a few activities in the water are an ideal and entertaining option. The great thing about the capital city is that it has no shortage of stuff you can do in its rivers and beaches.

When you go to any body of water in Ottawa, just look around. You can find people jet skiing, swimming, fishing, rafting, parasailing, and more. 

These are all great options that you can do to experience the city’s gorgeous sights from an entirely new perspective. As a local myself, these have certainly given me a newfound appreciation for rivers and beaches. 

Now, let’s go into further detail as to what makes these activities so exciting for both Ottawans and tourists. 

Canoeing and Kayaking

Canoeing and Kayaking

The capital city is blessed with the majestic Ottawa River and the historic Rideau Canal (what is the rideau canal), two incredible bodies of water for canoeing and kayaking.

They have waterways that offer great exploration opportunities for anyone willing to look for them. 

Canoeing or kayaking here gives you a unique view of our city, mixing the sights of Ottawa with the beauty of nature in a seamless way.

One of the highlights is paddling along the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I’ve had several opportunities to do this, and let me tell you, it’s downright incredible. 

It’s especially magical when the warm colors of the sun bounce off the water in the early morning or late evening, creating a calm and almost otherworldly atmosphere.

On the other hand, the Ottawa River is a more exciting place to kayak, especially if you like white-water kayaking. It’s exciting to take on the waves of the waterway while surrounded by the lush greenery of Gatineau Park in Quebec.

Canoeing and sailing are special in Ottawa because they are easy to get to. You don’t have to be good at these things to enjoy them. 

There are rental shops all over the city that can help paddlers of all types, from those who have never paddled before to those who do it all the time. 

If you’re new to this, you can go on guided trips, but if you’re more experienced, you can go on your own. 

Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

One of the best things about SUP in Ottawa is how many different ways you can use it. The amount of freedom that it gives you allows you to tailor things according to your tastes. 

You can go for a calm paddle and see the city skyline from a new angle, or you can choose to paddle through gentle currents for a more intense workout.

When you paddleboard in Ottawa, you get a truly unique feeling of peace. Should you choose to glide along the Rideau Canal’s smooth surface, you will find yourself surrounded by lush trees and old buildings. 

It’s a peaceful place to get away from the noise and chaos of our city. Personally speaking, SUP has become a sort of moving meditation for me, a way to clear my mind, take in the beauty of Ottawa, and recharge my spirits. 

If you are a beginner with no experience, rest assured that SUP is easy to get to. There are rental shops all over the rivers, and they usually have everything you need, from paddles and boards to safety gear and quick lessons for newbies. 

Not only that, but the SUP community in Ottawa is friendly and always willing to share tips and tricks, further enhancing the experience for beginners who want to get into this activity.

Besides the sights, SUP is a great way to feel close to nature, especially if you appreciate the local wildlife like me. 

Paddling has given me the chance to see curious turtles, beautiful swans, and even the odd playful otter. All of these things add a sense of wonder to every trip and make each one unforgettable.

The changes in the seasons are another thing that makes SUP in Ottawa special. When the Rideau Canal freezes over in the winter, it becomes the biggest naturally frozen skating rink in the world. 

During the summer, it’s a great place for paddlers. This gives the experience a special flavor, and as a local, I love that I can enjoy SUP all year round.

White-Water Rafting

White-Water Rafting

White-water rafting is not just a thrilling activity; it’s a heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping adventure. This lets you experience the untamed power of the Ottawa River firsthand.

The main draw here is definitely the waterway. Our river is known for its world-class white-water rapids, and it is always listed as one of the best places to go kayaking in North America. 

The river’s strong currents, steep drops, and tricky parts make it a great place for rafters who want to have fun and try new things. 

I can speak to how thrilling it is to get through these rapids while being surrounded by the beautiful natural scenery of the Ottawa Valley.

Anyone can go white-water rafting, whether they are a beginner or an expert. Along the river, there are a number of outfitters that offer organized trips for people of all skill levels. 

If you’re a beginner like I was when I tried it for the first time, you’ll enjoy the professional guides who make sure you’re safe and have the time of your life.

One of the most exhilarating stretches of the Ottawa River for white-water rafting is the Rocher Fendu section. The thrill of navigating through Class III and IV rapids like “Coliseum” and “Butcher’s Knife” is an experience unlike any other. 

Of course, I can’t forget about the seasonal variation. This one aspect of white-water rafting adds even more charm, which makes you appreciate it even further. 

Spring and early summer are when the water levels are at their peak, making for the most challenging and exciting experiences. 

But even in late summer and early fall, when the river calms down a bit, it’s still an incredible adventure. The changing foliage adds a touch of scenic wonder that simply takes your breath away.



Grab your best rod and fishing gear, because Ottawa’s abundant waterways offer a diverse range of angler opportunities for everyone. The Ottawa River, its tributaries, and numerous lakes in the region are teeming with various fish species. 

Whether you’re into bass, pike, walleye, trout, or panfish, you’ll find plenty of spots to cast your line. I’ve had the privilege of reeling in some impressive catches in this location, and each experience is a testament to the region’s rich fishing potential.

The Ottawa River, in particular, is renowned for its fishing. Its strong currents, rocky structures, and underwater formations create ideal habitats for trophy-sized fish. 

For local anglers, the thrill of landing a massive northern pike or a feisty smallmouth bass against the backdrop of the Ottawa skyline is nothing short of exhilarating.

Another thing that makes fishing in the capital city special is the accessibility. You don’t have to venture far to find excellent fishing spots. 

You can choose from urban shores like that of the Ottawa River to the serene lakes tucked away in Gatineau Park. You will find the perfect fishing spot that suits your every preference and skill level. 

And if you’re in need of supplies or local knowledge, there are numerous bait shops and outfitters ready to assist you.

The changing seasons add an exciting dimension to fishing in Ottawa. Ice fishing in the winter is a beloved tradition for locals.

The frozen waters of the Ottawa River and nearby lakes become a winter wonderland. You will get unique opportunities to catch a variety of fish species like pike, perch, and crappie. 

It’s a time when the community comes together, huddled in ice huts, swapping stories, and enjoying the crisp winter air.



We can’t talk about the best water activities without mentioning swimming now, right? 

There are several public beaches in Ottawa, and each one has its own special appeal. One local favorite is Mooney’s Bay Beach, which is right next to the Rideau River. 

It is a great place for children and people who want to get some sun because of its sandy beaches, well-kept facilities, and supervised swimming areas. 

I’ve spent many warm afternoons here, soaking up the sun, swimming in the cool water, and having picnics with friends and family.

Britannia Beach is another gem that can be found on the Ottawa River. It is known for its long sandy beach, beach volleyball courts, and beautiful views of the river and the Gatineau Hills. 

From Britannia Beach, watching the sun go down is a magical thing to do, and I make sure to do it at least once every summer.

In general, there are many places to swim in open water along the Ottawa River. For more daring swimmers, try jumping into the clear river surrounded by nature’s beauty to get a very thrilling experience. 

The calm, winding parts are great for leisurely swims, while places with gentle currents are good for those who want a little more excitement.

Because Ottawa has cold winters, the swimming season can be relatively short, but that just makes it more special. When summer comes, people in the area rush to the water to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine. 

During this time, you can feel how excited and happy everyone is, and as a proud Ottawan, it’s something I eagerly look forward to every year.

Whitewater Kayaking

Whitewater Kayaking

For the more experienced kayakers out there, why not take the challenge that the Ottawa River offers? 

Our river is like a roller coaster for kayakers, offering a thrilling ride with its powerful rapids and challenging features. 

One of the most renowned sections for whitewater kayaking is the Rocher Fendu, a stretch of the Ottawa River that boasts Class III to V rapids. 

Navigating these rapids requires skill, technique, and a sense of adventure. Personally, I’ve felt the rush of adrenaline as I’ve tackled these rapids, and it’s a feeling like no other.

The Ottawa River is easily accessible from the city, and there are several outfitters and clubs in the region that offer guided trips and kayak rentals.

Of course, you also have a sense of community among Ottawa’s kayakers. You’ll find a welcoming and supportive group of fellow kayakers who are eager to share tips, offer guidance, and even paddle alongside you. 

It’s a community that many locals are proud to be a part of, and it’s one of the reasons why I and other locals and tourists keep returning to the river.

The changing seasons add another layer of excitement to whitewater kayaking in Ottawa. Spring and early summer bring high water levels, creating more intense rapids and faster-paced runs. 

Late summer and early fall offer a different kind of adventure as the river gets shallower, revealing new features and challenges. No matter the season, the river never fails to surprise and thrill.

The natural beauty surrounding the Ottawa River is a sight to behold. The rugged shoreline, lush forests, and rocky cliffs create a stunning backdrop for your kayaking adventures. 

Paddling through this picturesque landscape is an experience that combines the raw power of the river with the serenity of nature.



The unique landscape of Ottawa, which is between the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills, gives it the perfect conditions for windsurfing. The river is a windsurfer’s dream because the afternoon breezes that blow across it are always there. 

These steady winds make it easy for both new and experienced riders to use the power of the wind to move smoothly across the water.

One of the defining features of windsurfing in Ottawa is the diversity of spots to choose from. Whether you prefer flatwater cruising or riding waves, you’ll find a spot that suits your style. 

The Ottawa River offers a range of conditions, from sheltered bays for learning and practicing to open areas with exciting waves for advanced riders. 

From my own experiences, I enjoy the versatility of our local spots; they keep every session fresh and exciting.

I also have to mention the seasonal variations, as they tend to change the experience quite a lot. 

Spring and early summer have higher water levels and stronger winds, making it perfect for high-speed runs and aerial moves. In late summer and early fall, there are more gentle breezes, which are great for drifting slowly and taking in the sights. 

Jet Skiing

Jet Skiing

What makes jet skiing such an exhilarating activity is the sheer speed. 

There’s nothing quite like the rush of blasting across the water on a jet ski, the wind in your hair, and the roar of the engine beneath you. The Ottawa River’s wide expanses and consistent aquatic conditions make it an ideal playground for this particular activity.

A standout trait of this activity is definitely the accessibility. There are several marinas and renting shops in Ottawa where you can try jet skiing, whether you’ve done it before or not. 

These companies offer the gear, safety gear, and even quick lessons so that anyone can join in on the fun. 

Then you have the river’s diverse landscapes. On a jet ski, you will have ample opportunity to explore downtown Ottawa’s shores and find more remote and scenic stretches as you go further up the river. 

As you cruise along the river, you can expect to find some picturesque sights. There’s plenty of lush greenery and rugged cliffs for you to see, and if you’re lucky, some of the local wildlife like herons or bald eagles might make an appearance.

Besides that, riding a jet ski also offers a chance to view the capital’s signature landmarks from an entirely different perspective. 

The Parliament Buildings, Château Laurier, and the historic Ottawa Locks all look impressive from the water. It almost feels like they take on a whole new dimension when you’re gliding past them on a jet ski.



Parasailing is a fascinating and exciting water sport that allows you to observe our beautiful city from above. 

As you fly high above the Ottawa River, you’ll be able to see famous landmarks. Places like Parliament Hill, the Chateau Laurier, and the beautiful Gatineau Hills are a few things you can see in the background. 

These familiar sights almost feel completely new from a totally different angle, and my friends and I love this about the city and never cease to be amazed by it. 

Now, while parasailing on the Ottawa River is exciting in and of itself, it’s not just about floating in the air. 

Part of the appeal of the activity is to feel yourself being gently pulled behind a speedboat and climbing to heights. Once you are over hundreds of feet in the air, you get a clear view of the river’s wide waters and the lush greenery along its banks. 

This leaves you feeling like you are free and weightless, something very few activities can offer.