The northeast wind off the ocean is a chilly reminder that winter is coming. Out on the sounds, the duck, geese and swans are carpeting the water, migrating to the bays and estuaries in a cycle of life that as constant as the change of the seasons.
Yet even this time of the year, as the days get shorter and the the Outer Banks goes back to its small town roots, there are still some great opportunities to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.
One of the best ways to explore the natural world of the Outer Banks is by kayak, and the fall and winter are great times to get on the water. There are a number of reasons for that.
Wind is the bane of many kayakers existence, and yes there usually a northeast wind at this time of the year, but the waters of Outer Banks sounds are to the west and are well-protected from the wind.
Because there are so few visitors at this time of the year, renting kayaks at almost any time should not be a problem.
Bugs are the great irritant of summer kayaking—yes, bug repellant does work, but it is nice to be on the water without a swarm of insects overhead.
Guided tours are still offered at this time of the year, but availability is very restricted so be sure to call ahead if plans include a guided tour. But for more experienced kayakers, the offseason is a golden opportunity to get on the water.
We’re including a list of kayak put-in sites with a couple of notes about some of the sites. We may have missed a few sites, but this is a good starting point.
Offers a wonderful and different view of the storied art nouveau mansion. Paddling north leads to classic estuarine waters.
Duck town boardwalk
There are a number of docks designed for easy kayak access.
No public put-in. However, civic associations maintain docks and parks along the Currituck Sound.
Dock of the Bay, Bob Perry Rd.
A great access point to Kitty Hawk Bay and Albemarle Sound. Located on a wide creek. Great fishing too.
Sandy Run Park, The Woods Road
Beautiful setting. A little difficult to get out of the pond.
Kill Devil Hills
Dock Street boat ramp Between W. Durham and Avalon Dr.,
Access immediately to the sound.
Second Bridge leading to Colington, Colington Road
Protected area leading to wide expanse of Kitty Hawk Bay.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park/Soundside Road
A little more remote and harder to find, but interesting paddle.
Oregon Inlet Fishing Center
Almost at the foot of Bonner Bridge
Bridge leading to Roanoke Island Festival Park
Very protected setting. A great paddle around Ice Plant Island that is the home of Roanoke Island Festival Park.
Washington Baum Bridge Boat Ramp
Across from Pirate’s Cove entrance. Maintained by NC Fish & Wildlife
Nature abounds. A real favorite. Part of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Milltail Creek, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
One of the most popular kayak paddles around and for good reason. Beautiful and relatively protected.
Most NC Fish & Wildlife ramps have provisions for kayaks.