Paddleboard & Kayaking on Cape Cod & the Islands
By: Marguerite Wiser
The miles of shoreline, protected harbors and bays, access to the open ocean waters, and wealth of marshes, ponds, and rivers make Cape Cod and the Islands a paddler’s paradise. For an adventure with a workout and a chance to get out on the water under your own power, join a kayaking or stand-up paddleboard tour, or rent the equipment and set out on your own!
Enjoy Stand Up Paddling(SUP) past sandy beaches, seals bobbing in the waters around your board or winding through the narrow mazes of channels in the marshes. Kayaking tours in Cape Cod are a great way to explore the water and estuaries at a slower pace, spotting wildlife and birds that might be spooked by a power boat. Kayaking on Cape Cod allows groups to wind through unique tidal environments experiencing the natural world at the water level. The tandem kayaks offered by many outfits are great for families with kids who might not want to paddle the whole way on their own or aren’t quite ready for their own boat.
If you’re new to the area or to paddling or want to learn more about the landscapes you are paddling through, a guided tour might be for you. Guides select a location that matches the weather conditions and your group’s skill level and interest. Usually meeting you at the launch site, guides come ready with all the equipment you’ll need to have a great time. They can show you the ropes of paddling, and help you hone your technique. Equipped with knowledge about the area, guides share insights into the ecosystems you are paddling through and can help you spot and identify wildlife. The tours are fun, peaceful, and relaxed!
Stand-up paddleboarding is taking Cape Cod by storm and is a favorite activity of many visitors! Get your balance atop the board and enjoy the up-close and personal view of the area. Glide through rivers, ponds, marshes, and bays from a paddleboard, or enjoy one of the yoga and fitness classes offered from atop a board! Many tour companies offer sunset or full moon tours for those looking to see the sun set from the water. A few outfits even offer ‘glow’ paddleboard adventures, allowing visitors to watch the sun set or moon rise from the water, paddling back with glowing multicolor LED lights attracting fish and squid under their boards!
On Martha’s Vineyard, the Mud Creek watershed feeding into Lagoon Pond, the Menemsha Creek inlet to Menemsha Pond, and the Tisquam River feeding into Town Cove offer some kayaking and paddleboarding potential while the ponds, harbors and bays are the primary paddling destinations. Visit Wind’s Up in Vineyard Haven or Kismet Outfitters in Edgartown for rentals and advice on the best places to kayak and paddleboard.
On Nantucket, try exploring Hither Creek off Madaket Harbor, Millbrook Creek kayaking from Polpis Harbor, Fulling Mill Creek at Nantucket Harbor, and Abrams Creek as it flows through Shimno Pond. Check out Sea Nantucket Paddle Sports on Washington Street in town for kayak and paddleboard rentals and lessons, or Nantucket Island Surf School at Cisco Beach for paddleboards and lessons.
If you’d rather set out on your own, many companies offer rentals of paddleboards and kayaks. The outfitters can deliver all the equipment you’ll need to a launch site and can often give you guidance on good spots for a paddling adventure. Paddling is a great way to relax and explore the unique environment that makes the Cape and Islands so special. There are many opportunities for paddling rivers and creeks on Cape Cod, from freshwater to salt water and the brackish in-betweens.
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