Kayaking Outer Banks-All Season Beauty


Enjoying a Currituck Sound sunset by kayak.

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.


Whalehead Club

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.

Southern Shores

No public put-in. However, civic associations maintain docks and parks along the Currituck Sound.

Kitty Hawk

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.

Nags Head

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

Hatteras Island

New Inlet

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.

Alligator River Kayaking-History, Beauty

Abandoned railroad bridge over Mill Tail Creek, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

Abandoned railroad bridge over Mill Tail Creek, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

Kitty Hawk Kites offers a number of kayak tours, offering paddlers a chance to explore parts of the Outer Banks and surrounding areas in a different way, in ways that very few people have a chance to see. The Alligator River Kayak Tour is a great example of that.

Across Roanoke Sound from Manteo, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, is a vast—154,000 acres—wilderness of swamp, pocosin and forest that nurtures an environment of extraordinary diversity. The woods are home to black bears, deer, fox and many others. . . and yes there are alligators in the reserve. This is also the release site for the reintroduction of the red wolf, a subspecies of wolves that was extinct outside of zoos.

There was once a small city here—Buffalo City—a logging town from the 1870s to the 1920s and when the logging gave out, the residents turned to moonshining during Prohibition. There is nothing left of the town; the surrounding swamp, pocosin and forest have reclaimed the land and Buffalo City is now the stuff of legend.

There is still a road that recalls that history. Flat, fairly straight and dusty, Buffalo City Road dead ends at a beautiful kayak put in on Mill Tail Creek.

The tour is a beautiful paddle through one of the largest primitive areas on the East Coast. The paddling is actually quite easy—the water is flat with little or no current and the environment is well protected from the wind. Yet with massive trees arching overhead and the remnants of the narrow gage railroad bed next to the creek, this is a kayak paddle into nature and history that is perfect for anyone.

An important hint—insect repellant is a must for this trip.

The Alligator River Kayak Tour is just one of many kayak tours Kitty Hawk Kites offers. For more information call 1-877-359-8447 or click to go online.