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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.

a group of girls launch kayaks into the East Branch of the Westport River from the Head of Westport Town LandingPaddling 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.

In this section:

Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards
Paddling safety and education
Local shops and rentals
More resources
Places to go

 

Kayaks, canoes and SUPs

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.

Safety and education

a girl kayaking off the coast of Fort Taber Park in New Bedford HarborPaddling 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.

  1. Wear a life jacket. It’s the most important thing you can do. A properly fitted life jacket can spell the difference between an accident that leads merely to your getting wet and one that endangers lives. Federal law requires children under 12 to wear a life Jacket aboard a vessel.
  2. Be prepared with the right equipment. Beyond a personal flotation device, you should bring a whistle or airhorn, something that can create a loud sound as an alert should you need help. Attach it to your PFD. A bilge pump, a towline and a water bottle are also must-haves. If you are on a SUP, make sure you have a leash to ensure you don’t inadvertently get separated from your board.
  3. Dress for comfort and safety. You will want to wear clothing that allows you to move easily and be seen as well. Equally important, be prepared to get wet and bring enough clothing to adjust to changing weather conditions. Quick-drying technical clothing in bright colors, and a layered approach to dressing, are ideal.
  4. Know before you go. A little time spent gathering relevant information about where you are headed will help you to be prepared for any obstacles or hazards that you might encounter. Don’t choose an adventure that requires greater skills, stamina and experience than you have. You also will want to check the local weather forecast to be sure you bring the right clothing layers with you.
  5. Don’t go solo. No matter your level of experience, it’s always safer to paddle with a buddy whenever possible. It’s hard to rescue yourself, if you run into trouble or get injured. At the very least, make sure others know where you are going and when you plan to be back.

Local shops and rentals

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 Kaya 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.

More resources

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/

Places to go

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great egret wading in the West Branch of the Westport River
310 Westport Harbor Rd., Westport, MA 02790
|Directions

This quiet boat launch in Westport is the perfect place to begin a paddling adventure on the Westport River West Branch.

Parking: Small unpaved parking area
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
A man paddling a kayak away from the Agawam Mill Pond Boat Launch in Wareham
2844 Cranberry Hwy., Wareham, MA 02571
|Directions

Glide down the tranquil Agawam River for a long paddle or a freshwater fishing trip from Agawam Mill Pond Boat Launch in Wareham.

Parking: Large paved parking area
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Canoe/Kayak Launch
great blue heron on the Agawam River in autumn
20 Knowles Ave., Wareham, MA 02538
|Directions

The Agawam River Trail in East Wareham offers a peaceful stroll, vistas of the Agawam River, and a paddling launch.

Size: 8.5 acres
Parking: Small parking area along the end of Knowles Avenue
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
Arthur F. Dias Town Landing at Apponagansett Park in Dartmouth
75 Gulf Rd., Dartmouth, MA 02748
|Directions

The Arthur F. Dias Town Landing provides boaters with easy access to beautiful Apponagansett Bay in South Dartmouth.

Parking: Large paved parking lot (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Canoe/Kayak Launch, Pier (wood), Restrooms (seasonal), Picnic Tables, Trash, Playground, Food/Concession (seasonal)
Pocasset Harbor from Barlows Landing in Bourne
498 Barlows Landing Rd., Bourne, MA 02559
|Directions

Whether you’re ready to go boating, paddling, or swimming, you’ll find a place to play at Barlows Landing in Bourne.

Parking: Medium-sized paved vehicle parking area with additional gravel parking for vehicles and trailers
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Pier (concrete), Kayak Launch, Picnic Table, Trash, Bicycle Rack
White sandy shores on Bassetts Island in Bourne, with views of sailboats in the distance
Bassetts Island, Bourne, MA 02559
|Directions

Have an island adventure on the pristine beaches and shallow waters of Bourne's Bassetts Island.

Parking: None
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch (shoreline), Picnic Tables
Big Sandy Pond in Plymouth in winter
20 Gunning Point Rd., Plymouth, MA 02360
|Directions

The deep, clear waters of Big Sandy Pond in Plymouth are a delight for freshwater anglers.

Size: 134 acres
Parking: Small unpaved parking area
Facilities: Boat Ramp
Patches of Black sand swirled into the shore of Black Beach
104 Chapoquoit Rd., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

Escape the summer crowds at Falmouth's Black Beach or with a paddle through Great Sippewissett Marsh.

Size: 190 acres
Parking: Medium-sized paved parking area at Chapoquoit Beach; resident beach sticker required to park in summer
Facilities: None; Restrooms, Trash, Shower at Chapoquoit Beach (seasonal)
A red kayak traveling up the marsh channels of Broad Marsh Conservation Area
Great Neck Rd., Wareham, MA 02751
|Directions

Surround yourself with bird-filled salt marshes on a paddle through this water access-only preserve in Wareham.

Parking: None
Facilities: None
Small floating dock at the pier attached to Bull Island, in Naushon's Hadley Harbor.
Gosnold, MA 02543
|Directions

Take a peaceful picnic or stretch your legs with a picturesque walk on Bull Island, nestled inside Naushon’s Hadley Harbor.

Parking: None
Facilities: Dock (floating)
small footbridge across Herring River at Carter Beal Conservation Area in Bourne
20 Bournedale Rd., Bourne, MA 02532
|Directions

From the fish ladder to the glacial moraine, explore Bourne's natural history at Carter Beal Conservation Area.

Size: 29.7 acres
Parking: Small dirt parking area
Facilities: Benches, Trash
people sitting in the sand on a sunny day at Chapoquoit Beach in Falmouth
158 Chapoquoit Rd., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

“Chappy,” as locals call Chapoquoit Beach in Falmouth, is a sandy, secluded spot far from Cape Cod's crowds.

Size: 1.6 acres
Parking: Medium-sized paved parking area; resident beach sticker required to park in summer
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal), Trash, Shower (seasonal)
people walk along Cherry & Webb Beach in Westport
168 Cherry and Webb Ln., Westport, MA 02791
|Directions

With rolling waves and a long, sandy shoreline, Cherry & Webb Beach is a favorite summer destination for Westport residents.

Size: 80 acres
Parking: Large unpaved parking area; resident beach sticker required year-round
Facilities: Picnic Tables, Bicycle Rack
kids playing on Church's Beach on Cuttyhunk Island
Blue Heron Drive, Cuttyhunk, MA 02713
|Directions

Take an island excursion to Cuttyhunk and discover Church's Beach, a Buzzards Bay paradise with crystal-clear waters.

Parking: None (boat and foot access only)
Facilities: None
Calm, shallow water at beach at Demarest Lloyd in Dartmouth
101 Barneys Joy Rd., Dartmouth, MA 02748
|Directions

Demarest Lloyd State Park in Dartmouth is a true gem for beachgoers, explorers, and Buzzards Bay lovers of all ages.

Size: 200 acres
Parking: Large paved parking area
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal), Picnic Tables, Trash
DePina Landing on the Sippican River in Marion.
29 River Rd., Marion, MA 02738
|Directions

Launch a kayak from DePina Landing in Marion to explore the Sippican River’s rich natural habitats.

Size: 0.5 acres
Parking: Small paved parking area
Facilities: Kayak Launch, Picnic Table
sandy shoreline at East Beach in New Bedford
1076 East Rodney French Blvd., New Bedford, MA 02744
|Directions

A wide, sandy beach on outer New Bedford Harbor, East Beach is a summertime destination for city families.

Parking: Large paved parking lots; additional street parking
Facilities: Pier (asphalt), Restrooms (seasonal), Trash
rocky shoreline at East Beach in Westport
198 East Beach Rd., Westport, MA 02790
|Directions

This rocky stretch in Westport offers stunning views of the Elizabeth Islands across the Bay’s sparkling waters.

Parking: Sandy/gravel parking along East Beach Road; resident beach sticker required year-round
Facilities: None
fishing pier on New Bedford Harbor in New Bedford's South End
1522 East Rodney French Blvd., New Bedford, MA 02744
|Directions

Just south of the hurricane barrier, this public boat ramp offers boaters and anglers access to outer New Bedford Harbor.

Parking: Medium-sized paved parking area
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Pier (wood)
The rock and sand kayak launch at Edgewater Street
Edgewater St., Fairhaven, MA 02719
|Directions

Explore picturesque marshes by kayak or spend the afternoon digging for clams on the edge of Little Bay in Fairhaven.

Parking: Space at the end of Edgewater Street
Facilities: None

Upcoming Events

2020 Falmouth Road Race
Sat, August 15 -
Sat, August 29
The First At-Home Edition,
New Bedford
2020 Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride
Sun, October 04
Sakonnet Point, RI to Woods Hole,
Falmouth
Pumpkin Day at Bourne Farm
Sat, October 10
9:00AM - 3:00PM
Bourne Farm,
Falmouth

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