Canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding offer a great way to experience the beauty of Buzzards Bay up close. Glide across the still surface of a freshwater pond, navigate the hidden byways of a salt marsh, position yourself over a great fishing spot or slice through the waves for an epic journey along the coast. Paddling on the Bay can offer quiet leisure, intense excitement, or a path to exploration and adventure. Best of all, it is easy to get started and discover what you enjoy the most.
Paddling on the Bay can offer quiet leisure, intense excitement, or a path to exploration and adventure. Best of all, it is easy to get started and discover what you enjoy the most.
— Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards
— Paddling safety and education
— Local shops and rentals
— More resources
— Places to go
Paddling offers lots of options, where you go and what you do out on the water. Before you tackle those decisions, though, you will want to decide what you plan to paddle—a canoe, kayak or stand up paddleboard (SUP). That may be easy to answer (or not), depending upon how much background knowledge and experience you already have in paddling.
In many ways, canoes and kayaks are quite similar. Given the wide variety of styles and specialized designs, both types of watercraft allow you to do many—though not all—of the same things. Perhaps one of the biggest differences between the two is that kayaks tend to be lighter and thus easier to store, load on top of a car and carry to the water’s edge. And while both can be operated by one person, kayaks lend themselves to solo travel more easily, and they move through water more quickly. In exchange for the greater weight, of course, canoes tend to be wider, more stable and able to transport multiple people and more gear. In addition, you are more likely to get wet in a kayak because you sit lower and closer to the water.
If you are interested in venturing beyond placid ponds and sheltered bays, you will want to consider acquiring a sea kayak—sometimes referred to as a touring kayak. These watercraft are built for rougher conditions and longer journeys. They are noticeably longer and narrower than recreational kayaks. Most important, sea kayaks feature a rudder or skeg to help the boat track consistently through wind and waves. They also include features to keep water out of the kayak, such as multiple bulkheads to resist filling the entire boat with water when capsized and a cockpit designed to accommodate a skirt.
By contrast, standup paddleboards offer a wholly different experience. Standing up provides a different view of the Bay than you will get from sitting in either canoes or kayaks. And operating a SUP guarantees a good workout. In addition to being an aerobic activity, using a SUP builds strength. Paddling from a standing position engages the core and leg muscles as well as chest, shoulders and arms. While you can learn to ride the waves and rougher waters on a SUP, it takes even more practice than in a canoe or kayak and a willingness to take a spill.
Paddling is great fun, but it does require some knowledge to get started and skill and experience for more advanced activities. Local shops and outdoor outfitters offer guided instruction on general paddling as well as specific activities, such as navigating whitewater or taking a long-distance journey by paddle. You also can find a good deal of information online, including an online safety course. You also will find a wide range of resources from the American Canoe Association, which actually embraces all forms of paddling.
Regardless of whether you choose to seek out some instruction, you will want to keep a few general safety tips in mind for any on-the-water paddling excursion.
At the end of the day, canoes, kayaks and SUPs are all great vehicles for getting out on the water for fun, adventure and relaxation. If you are not sure what you would like best, you can always try out a variety of craft by renting from one of the half-dozen local shops and outfitters. And if you have something already, you can always try something different.
Cape Cod Kayak in Bourne (https://www.capecodkayak.com/) with deliveries to Monument Beach, Picture Lake, Monk’s Cove, Pocasset River, Megansett Harbor in North Falmouth and West Falmouth Harbor
Cape Cod Windsurfing in Falmouth rents stand up paddleboards (http://www.capecodwindsurfing.com/)
MoCEAN in Mashpee (https://moceancapecod.com/)
NautiJane’s Boat Rentals in Padanaram (http://www.nautijanesboatrentals.com/)
Nemasket Kayak Center in Onset at the Onset Bathhouse, which serves as the Coalition’s base of operations for Onset Bay Center; in Wareham and in Plymouth near Myles Standish (https://nemasketkayak.com)
Osprey Sea Kayak in Westport (https://ospreyseakayak.com)
The Paddler’s Shop at Rivendell Marine in Monument Beach/Bourne (https://www.thepaddlersshop.com/)
To buy your own canoe, kayak or SUP, you have many options beyond the shops listed above. You can purchase a perfectly decent SUP, canoe or kayak from a major retailer, but you may want the guidance and expertise that a local specialty shop provides.
Experts guide, 2019: https://www.savebuzzardsbay.org/news/an-experts-guide-to-paddling-buzzards-bay/
5 perfect paddling spots, 2015: https://www.savebuzzardsbay.org/news/5-perfect-spots-for-paddling-in-buzzards-bay/
Paddling.com learning center: https://paddling.com/learn/category/techniques-safety/
Paddling safety videos: https://paddling.com/learn/paddle-safety/
This quiet boat launch in Westport is the perfect place to begin a paddling adventure on the Westport River West Branch.
Glide down the tranquil Agawam River for a long paddle or a freshwater fishing trip from Agawam Mill Pond Boat Launch in Wareham.
The Agawam River Trail in East Wareham offers a peaceful stroll, vistas of the Agawam River, and a paddling launch.
The Arthur F. Dias Town Landing provides boaters with easy access to beautiful Apponagansett Bay in South Dartmouth.
Whether you’re ready to go boating, paddling, or swimming, you’ll find a place to play at Barlows Landing in Bourne.
Have an island adventure on the pristine beaches and shallow waters of Bourne's Bassetts Island.
The deep, clear waters of Big Sandy Pond in Plymouth are a delight for freshwater anglers.
Escape the summer crowds at Falmouth's Black Beach or with a paddle through Great Sippewissett Marsh.
Savor the serenity to be found in the woods and along the shore of this strand of ponds that empty into Blackwater Brook.
Surround yourself with bird-filled salt marshes on a paddle through this water access-only preserve in Wareham.
Take a peaceful picnic or stretch your legs with a picturesque walk on Bull Island, nestled inside Naushon’s Hadley Harbor.
From the fish ladder to the glacial moraine, explore Bourne's natural history at Carter Beal Conservation Area.
“Chappy,” as locals call Chapoquoit Beach in Falmouth, is a sandy, secluded spot far from Cape Cod's crowds.
With rolling waves and a long, sandy shoreline, Cherry & Webb Beach is a favorite summer destination for Westport residents.
Take an island excursion to Cuttyhunk and discover Church's Beach, a Buzzards Bay paradise with crystal-clear waters.
Demarest Lloyd State Park in Dartmouth is a true gem for beachgoers, explorers, and Buzzards Bay lovers of all ages.
Launch a kayak from DePina Landing in Marion to explore the Sippican River’s rich natural habitats.
A wide, sandy beach on outer New Bedford Harbor, East Beach is a summertime destination for city families.
This rocky stretch in Westport offers stunning views of the Elizabeth Islands across the Bay’s sparkling waters.
Just south of the hurricane barrier, this public boat ramp offers boaters and anglers access to outer New Bedford Harbor.