We New Yorkers are surrounded by water, constantly going over, under and around it. But most of us — with the exception of many Staten Island commuters, of course — don’t really spend a lot of time on the water. Taking a boat ride, be it big or small, powered by wind, feet, or diesel fuel is a great way to enjoy the city with kids. Here are some of the coolest ways to go boating in NYC, for all kinds of reasons. Click through to see our seafaring picks!

To Take in Local Flora and Fauna: Eco Adventures

It may be a big city, but NYC has a wildlife refuge, nearby open waters, and a surprising amount of local flora and fauna.  NY Water Taxi offers three different Audubon Summer EcoCruises, during which a guide will point out herons, egrets, falcons and more. (Head to the company's page on the EcoCruises for coupon codes that can save you up to $8 per ticket.)

American Princess Cruises come through once again with dolphin and whale watching adventures and bird and seal watching cruises out of Rockaway Beach.  In Montauk, the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island runs whale watching trips where you can also sight birds and sharks, and — if you want to take a hardcore, memorable adventure — the 51-hour Great South Channel Trip, which includes hours of whale watching, a stop in Martha’s Vineyard, and sleeping in old-school sailors’ berths.

photo: via New York Water Taxi Facebook page

Where is your favorite place to explore the seas around the Big Apple?

—Gretchen Kunz