With one of the most dynamic coastlines in the Northeast, Cape Cod offers kayakers an amazing array of paddling opportunities. Here’s a few of the Cape’s best places to explore by kayak.
PLEASANT BAY – The largest contiguous bay along the Cape Cod National Seashore, Pleasant Bay shares a shoreline with the towns of Chatham, Harwich, Brewster and Orleans, and at high tide harbors more than 7,800 acres of saltwater. It provides paddlers with tons of places to explore, with undeveloped islands, salt ponds, and barrier beaches. And it is home to an abundance of coastal wildlife, including a large concentration of nesting ospreys. To have a pro show you around, take a tour of the area with Cape Kayaking.
WASHBURN ISLAND & WAQUOIT BAY NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESERVE [EAST FALMOUTH] – Scientists study Waquoit Bay to better understand coastal ecosystems. But kayakers will love this shallow bay for its scenery and wildlife. Paddlers can camp on 330-acre Washburn Island (reservations required), one of the last large undeveloped properties on Cape Cod. Hiking trails wind through the island’s oak and pine forests, barrier beaches and salt ponds. It’s primitive camping, with no fresh water or flush toilets, so come prepared.
HERRING RIVER [HARWICH] – Much of surrounding shoreline of the Herring River is protected, creating a scenic collection of salt and freshwater marshes, cedar swamps, woods, cranberry bogs, and kettle ponds.
GREAT ISLAND [WELLFLEET] – This 6-mile barrier beach and island system is one of Cape Cod’s most remote areas. Separating Cape Cod Bay and Wellfleet Bay, the island features pitch pine forests, high dunes, and, at low tide, a wide expanse of tidal flats that produce the famed Wellfleet oyster.
NAUSET MARSH [EASTHAM] – This marshy grassland features beautiful scenery and is home to an amazing array of coastal birdlife, including gulls, terns, herons and egrets. Currents can be strong, so be prepared for some sustained paddling and make sure you have the right gear. Great Marsh Kayak Tours can give you a great tour of the area, and you might even bump into some grey seals.
BASS RIVER [SOUTH YARMOUTH] – The longest river on Cape Cod offers a few different kayaking experiences in a single paddling trip. At the mouth of the river, where it meets Nantucket Sound, features beautiful coastal scenery, but lots of boat traffic. Upriver the traffic lessens, and paddlers can explore inlets and ponds. The river features plenty of places to launch. And if you need to rent a kayak for the day, visit Cape Cod Kayak in West Dennis.
BARNSTABLE HARBOR & GREAT MARSH [BARNSTABLE] – Sheltered from Cape Cod Bay by Sandy Neck, a 7-mile long barrier beach of dunes, forests and marshes that hugs the area like a mother’s arm, Barnstable Harbor is a collection of protected islands and scenic coastline that is a dream for paddlers. Visitors will enjoy exploring 4,000-acre Great Marsh at the backend of the harbor.