Kayaking Outer Banks-All Season Beauty

KHKkayak

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.

Corolla

Whalehead Club

Offers a wonderful and different view of the storied art nouveau mansion. Paddling north leads to classic estuarine waters.

Duck

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

Manteo

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.

Mainland

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.

Hatteras & Ocracoke Beaches-Spectacular

The beach at Rodanthe, looking north.

The beach at Rodanthe, looking north.

The beaches on Hatteras Island Ocracoke are spectacular. How spectacular? Ocracoke is not longer rated by Dr. Beach, Steve Leatherman, who is considered the preeminent world authority on beaches. The reason it is no longer included is because in 2007 it was rated #1 in the US and when a beach is ranked #1 it comes off the list.

Hatteras consistently makes his top ten list, so it’s not far behind.

Hatteras beaches tend to be wide with very soft sand. Toward the north end, around Rodanthe the sand tends to be a little more coarse, but all of the beaches are wonderful.

Most of Hatteras Island is part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, although the northern end is part of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and is administered by US Fish & Wildlife. The National Park Service offers two lifeguard patrolled beaches:Hatteras Island: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach, next to the Old Cape Hatteras Lighthouse site and on Ocracoke Island at the Ocracoke Day Use Beach about a half mile north of Ocracoke Village.

Dare County just completed a beach access bathhouse and parking lot in Rodanthe. The site may be the best on the Outer Banks.

For anyone using National Park Service beaches, there are restrictions in some areas. Look for roped off dunes and beaches with signs warning that the area is a habitat site, usually for piping plover, sometimes the American oyster catcher. Do not enter those areas. Park rangers will issue citations are even the most casual incursion and since the areas are clearly marked and easily avoided there is no reason to enter.