Chart: NOAA 13211
Niantic Bay is wide open with good depths throughout, except for a few well-marked obstacles (e.g., Wigwam Rock, Black Rock and Three-Foot Rock). The entrance to the Niantic River (where all of the marinas are located) is in the northeast corner of the bay. Boaters must pass below 2 bridges. The railbridge has a vertical clearance of 17′ MHW when closed, while the highway bridge has a vertical clearance of 32′. Horizontal clearance through the inlet is 100′. Once inside the river, follow the well-marked channel closely, as it is bordered by shallow mud flats.
NOTE: When navigating the inlet, be aware that the current can be quite strong, and it is possible to find yourself caught between the 2 drawbridges, which operate separately. Those new to the river are advised to transit the inlet at slack water or against the tide.
NOTE: The Niantic River railroad bridge was replaced in 2013, and now offers 110′ of horizontal clearance and 17′ of vertical clearance on normal tides. More information is available at AMTRAK (800-288-1310).
- Three Belles Marina (860-739-6264): Offers transient slips and moorings, as well as repair, rack storage, pump-out, fuel, launch ramp, WiFi, a pool and a deli. Located just north of the bridges in protected Smith Cove, on the west bank of the Niantic River.
- Boats Inc. (860-739-6251): Offers transient dockage and repair/haulout service, rigging, painting, electrical and canvas work, along with a fish-cleaning station, cable TV and a pool and picnic area. Within walking distance of downtown.
- Port Niantic (860-739-2155): Offers 81 slips with 3 reserved for transients. Fuel dock and pumpout. Full-service boatyard and marina with dry-stack storage. Within walking distance of downtown.
- Harbor Hill Marina (860-739-0331): Offers transient dockage for boats up to 42 feet, as well as water, electric, cable TV hook-up and a patio with picnic facilities and grills. Within walking distance of downtown. B&B/inn onsite.
- Niantic Bay Yacht Club (860-739-0558): Tucked into the western side of the bay and protected to the south by a breakwater, NBYC is an informal club that is passionate about supporting sailing and sailboat racing. It offers transient slips and 2 transient moorings.
- Norton’s Auto & Marine Service (860-739-6077): Engine repair, parts, storage.
- Niantic River State Boat Launch: Located on the Waterford side of the river, past the Rte. 156 bridge. This is a large concrete ramp with floats for small or large trailered boats. Lots of parking, but can be crowded on summer weekends. Also offers sanitary facilities.
- Grand Street Town Boat Launch: Provides an alternative, especially for kayak and car-top boat launching, to the often crowded Niantic River State Boat Launch. To help you reach Grand Street Boat Launch, some routes leading to this site are posted with the brown and white Long Island Sound Access sign. No fee. On-street parking.
- Boaters can also launch at Three Belles Marina on Smith Cove. Cost is $5 to launch, $5 to haul, and $5 to park. Kayakers can launch for free but must pay to park. The ramp also has a fish-cleaning station nearby.
- Joseph Hitchery
- A good anchorage for shallow-draft boats is Smith Cove, inside the Niantic River, just south of the Oswagatchie Hills. The cove is located just above town, on the west bank of the river.
- The special anchorage area 1/2 mile south of McCooks Park and Hole in the Wall Beach, and just north of the Niantic Bay Yacht Club, offers good protection from prevailing southwest winds.
- Boaters can also anchor off Oswagatchie Hills, north of Smith Cove, which offers good depth and holding ground.
- Niantic Bay Natural Food Store (860-739-9916): Sells organic and fair-trade produce, herbs, vitamins and groceries.
- Stop & Shop (860-739-5957): Large grocery store located in downtown Niantic.
Niantic has numerous restaurants. The following are a few located on or just off Main Street in downtown Niantic.
- Skipper’s Seafood (860-739-3230): Serves seafood and casual cuisine with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking Niantic Bay.
- Café Cabrea (860-739-0220): Higher-end restaurant.
- The Eclectic Chef (860-739-3950): Great homemade soups, deli sandwiches and fresh salads.
- Village Bake House (860-739-9638): Highly recommended by locals and offers breakfast and lunch, as well as baked goods and coffee.
- Yellow Cab Co. (860-739-7775)
- Niantic Bay Bicycles (860-691-0757): May offer rentals in 2011; call ahead.
- Niantic Cinema (860-739-6929): A classic small-town cinema right on Main Street that shows new releases.
- Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut (860-691-1111): Offers loads of indoor and outdoor activities for kids who need a break from the water.
- Rocky Neck State Park: Offers camping, hiking, a nice beach and an old pavilion that’s fun to explore.
- McCook Point State Park: Located right in the village, as is Hole in the Wall Beach. Both are pleasant spots to spend the afternoon. To obtain a pass, contact the Parks and Recreation offices (860-739-5828)
- Oswagatchie Hills: Scenic walking trails just off the Niantic River.
- Sunbeam Fleet (860-443-7529): If you’d like to do a little fishing, take a dinner cruise or check out the lighthouses on someone else’s boat, ride the Sunbeam Express or one of her sister ships.