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    Kayaking The Outer Banks

    Outer Banks kayaking and canoeing launches.

    We know that the reason just about everyone is here on the Outer Banks is to enjoy our amazing beaches and the cool refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

    And while laying on the sand beside the ocean cannot be oversold, kayaking across the waters of the Outer Banks is an experience no one soon forgets.

    If you’re new to kayaking, it’s a good idea to take a tour with one of the many companies offering the service before venturing out on your own. More experienced kayakers, though, can get to kayaking the outer banks on their own schedule.

    For those more experienced kayakers, here is our list of five great put-in spots for kayaking on the Outer Banks. There are more kayaking launch locations than this to be sure, but this is a good place to get started.

    New Inlet, Pea Island Kayaking

    This is one of our all-time favorite spots for kayaking on the Outer Banks. The put-in is about a quarter mile south of the Richard Etheridge Bridge on Pea Island.

    This is a very active beach and surf zone. The Richard Etheridge Bridge crosses what was called a cut that was actually an inlet created after Hurricane Irene in 2011. The put-in was also an inlet within the past 200 years.

    Richard Ethridge Bridge
    Richard Ethridge Bridge over New inlet. Kayak launch is just south of this photo location.

    There are numerous small marsh islands before the open waters of the Pamlico Sound. Of note is the remnants of a wooden bridge that was a 1930s attempt to span the area.

    Manteo Waterfront Kayaking

    Kitty Hawk Kites has a store right on the waterfront in Manteo and that may be the easiest place to rent a kayak on the Outer Banks.

    It’s fascinating looking at a town from the water. The entire perception changes and it becomes apparent that Manteo was at one time a port town. A small port town, but the docks and buildings leave little doubt that the business district grew up around waterborne commerce.

    Manteo waterfront
    Manteo waterfront aerial view

    A really nice paddle is to go around Roanoke Island Festival Park. Most kayakers head south to the Roanoke Sound first to avoid fighting the wind on the way back, but either way works.

    To extend the journey, paddle up Dough’s Creek, which the bridge to Festival Park crosses.

    Bob Perry Road, Kitty Hawk Kayaking

    Bob Perry Road is off Kitty Hawk Road. The kayak put-in has a large parking lot with very well maintained docks. There is a county recycling center on the land as well, so look for the recycling signs for directions.

    This is a beautiful marshland site. The docks are at the end of a 1500’ slough that leads to Kitty Hawk Bay.

    Bob Perry Road Kayak Launch
    Bob Perry Road Kayak Launch in Kitty Hawk

    Once out in Kitty Hawk Bay there is so much of the Outer Banks to explore it’s difficult to know where to start. Just to the west there is Stove Island, a good sized marsh island that has a lot of area behind it waiting to be investigated.

    For a challenge, paddle over to the islands that mark the northern boundary of Colington Island. The distance is about a mile, and if the wind is up, it may be a good idea to put the trip off of a day or two.

    Duck Boardwalk Kayaking

    There are a number of places to put a kayak in the water in Duck and we debated what would be the best location for visitors to the Outer Banks, finally deciding the boardwalk, with its convenience and ample parking was the winner.

    Kayak Launch
    Kayak Launch in Duck NC

    Looking for open water and beautiful sunsets? This is the place to be. The Currituck Sound has very few islands this far south and the sunsets are spectacular.

    That also is where convenience comes in. The parking lot is close at hand and there are a number of restaurants lining the Duck boardwalk, so after a paddle food and drink is near at hand.

    Whalehead Club, Corolla Kayaking

    Like Duck, there are a number of great places for kayaking the Outer Banks waters of Corolla, but once again, we’re choosing ease of use.

    The Whalehead Club has a huge parking lot. The put-in is at the end of Club Lane.

    The Currituck National Estuarine Reserve is just to the north, and there are a series of marsh islands perfect for exploration.

    Whalehead Club Corolla
    Aerial View of the Whalehead Club in Corolla.

    Like Duck, this is a great location for a spectacular sunset, although the Whalehead Club doesn’t boast the restaurants within easy walking distance when coming ashore.

    A Couple of Things to Keep in Mind When Kayaking on the Outer Banks

    The Outer Banks offers great kayaking locations and loads of sunshine, making sunscreen and bug repellant important from mid-May to mid-October. The sunscreen perhaps even longer than that.

    In the summer the dominant winds on the Outer Banks are from the south so it’s best to plan accordingly. That easy paddle to the marsh islands north of the Whalehead Club can become a real challenge heading back. so give yourself some extra time when heading in and relax and enjoy the journey.