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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

Displaying 21-40 of 114
the shoreline of Electric Avenue Beach in Bourne
26 Gardinier Ave., Bourne, MA 02532
|Directions

Come down to Electric Avenue to discover an intimate beach and boat ramp a stone’s throw from the Cape Cod Canal.

Parking: Medium-sized paved parking area
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Pier/Dock (wood/floating), Bicycle Rack, Trash, Picnic Table, Playground
Fall salt marshes along a sandy boat ramp in Westport
129 East Beach Rd., Westport, MA 02790
|Directions

This small Westport landing is a great place launch a kayak or go quahogging, surrounded by the unique habitat of the lower Westport River.

Size: 0.18 acres
Parking: Small unpaved parking area bordered with stones (space for 2-3 cars); resident beach sticker required year-round
Facilities: Kayak Launch (shoreline)
Fearing Hill Swamp in Wareham.
37 Fearing Hill Rd., Wareham, MA 02571
|Directions

Canoe or kayak upstream from Fearing Hill Swamp in Wareham to explore the Weweantic River's protected wooded shores.

Size: 0.2 acres
Parking: Small roadside pull-off
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
Trees reflected on the surface of Forge Pond in Westport
235 Forge Rd., Westport, MA 02790
|Directions

From fishing to hiking to paddling, discover a variety of activities on this eight-acre Westport property.

Size: 7.8 acres
Parking: Small pull-off area along Forge Road, on north side of Forge Pond
Facilities: None
Fort Rodman and bike paths at Fort Taber Park in New Bedford
1000 South Rodney French Blvd., New Bedford, MA 02744
|Directions

With a sandy beach, bike path, and fishing pier, Fort Taber Park offers sweeping Buzzards Bay views steeped in history.

Size: 50 acres
Parking: Large paved parking lot
Facilities: Pier (concrete), Restrooms (seasonal), Picnic Tables, Trash, Playground, Learning/Visitor Center, Food/Concession (seasonal)
shoreline of the Slocums River in Dartmouth from Gaffney Road Landing
2 Gaffney Road, Dartmouth, MA 02748
|Directions

Take a paddling adventure on the gorgeous Slocums River in Dartmouth from this small town-owned landing.

Parking: Small gravel parking area (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: None
George E. Wood Memorial Fishermen's Access Ramp in Rochester
487 Neck Rd., Rochester, MA 02770
|Directions

Explore Snipatuit Pond on a canoe, kayak, or small boat from this state launch ramp in Rochester.

Parking: Small unpaved parking area
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Canoe/Kayak Launch
Two dinghys on a storage rack at the Gifford Street Boat Ramp
110 Gifford St., New Bedford, MA 0240
|Directions

The Gifford Street Boat Ramp provides boaters and paddlers with easy access to the protected waters of inner New Bedford Harbor.

Parking: Large paved parking area (parking for vehicles with trailers only)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Canoe/Kayak Launch, Dinghy Storage
People gathered on the sandy beach and swimming in the waters of Grews Pond, at Goodwill Park in Falmouth
Goodwill Park Rd., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

Families flock to Goodwill Park in Falmouth to enjoy grassy lawns and sandy beach along the cool waters of Grews Pond.

Size: 86 acres
Parking: Three free parking areas on Goodwill Park Road
Facilities: Restrooms, Picnic Tables, Grills, Trash, Pavilion, Playground
A view of Buzzards Bay between two World War II lookout towers at Gooseberry Island in Westport.
West Shore Road, Westport, MA 02790
|Directions

Explore nature, history, and spectacular coastal beauty along the rugged shores of Gooseberry Island in Westport.

Size: 73 acres
Parking: Medium-sized gravel parking lot (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch, Restrooms (seasonal)
Large ship on the Cape Cod Canal seen from Gray Gables beach in Bourne
15 Gilder Rd., Bourne, MA 02532
|Directions

This sandy beach in Bourne is a local favorite thanks to its cozy neighborhood vibe and fascinating views of Cape Cod Canal.

Parking: Medium-sized paved parking lot
Facilities: Trash
dock with commercial fishing vessels on Great Harbor in Woods Hole
16 Albatross St., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

This Woods Hole boat ramp is a gateway for boaters and anglers to the waters of Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound.

Parking: One parking spot at ramp for loading and unloading; metered street parking available throughout Woods Hole
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Dock (wood/floating)
Sandy boat ramp leading into the waters of Great Herring Pond Boat Ramp
144 Herring Pond Rd., Bourne, MA 02532
|Directions

This Bourne boat ramp is a great place to launch paddle crafts or small boats, as well as a popular fishing spot.

Parking: Small unpaved parking lot (space for 6-7 cars) on Little Sandy Pond Road
Facilities: None
a man walking a dog on the trail through the woods at Halfway Pond Conservation Area in Plymouth
387 Mast Rd., Plymouth, MA 02360
|Directions

Discover Plymouth’s peaceful ponds and woodlands by foot or canoe at Halfway Pond Conservation Area.

Size: 409.6 acres
Parking: Small unpaved parking areas on Mast Road and at the intersection of Gallows Pond Road and West Long Point Road
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
129 Hartley Rd., Rochester, MA 02770
|Directions

Take in scenic water and woodland views around the seven ponds of this wildlife management area in Rochester.

Size: 70 acres
Parking: Small unpaved parking area off Hartley Road (space for 3-4 cars)
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
three people in kayaks on the East Branch of the Westport River at the Head of Westport Town Landing
495 Old County Rd., Westport, MA 02790
|Directions

Head of Westport Town Landing is a quaint spot for paddlers to begin a journey down the Westport River East Branch.

Size: 2 acres
Parking: Small unpaved roadside parking area on Drift Road; Small unpaved parking area off Old County Road; Additional street parking on Old County Road
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
Hen Cove Beach in Bourne
180 Circuit Ave., Bourne, MA 02559
|Directions

With calm waters and a roped-off swimming area, Hen Cove Beach in Bourne is perfect for families with small children.

Parking: Medium-sized paved parking area
Facilities: Trash
view of Hen Cove from town landing in Pocasset
109 Circuit Ave., Bourne, MA 02559
|Directions

Launch from Hen Cove Landing in Pocasset to reach Red Brook Harbor, one of Cape Cod’s favorite boating destinations.

Parking: 2-3 parking spaces for vehicles and trailers; additional vehicle parking at Hen Cove Beach
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch, Pier (wood)
sandy and salt marsh shoreline at Hiller's Cove Beach in Mattapoisett
46 Aucoot Rd., Mattapoisett, MA 02739
|Directions

In summer, Hiller's Cove Beach is a favorite destination for Mattapoisett families to splash in warm, calm waters.

Parking: Medium-sized unpaved parking area; parking pass required in summer (first week of July through last week of August)
Facilities: Restrooms
Dharma Voyage rowing at Hix Bridge Landing on the Westport River
303 Hixbridge Rd., Westport, MA 02790
|Directions

Set on the upper East Branch of the Westport River, Hix Bridge Landing is a place to launch a boat or kayak into the river.

Size: Dawn to dusk
Parking: Large unpaved parking lot (vehicles and trailers); resident permit required to park
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch, Dock (wood/floating)

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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