Find a Place

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 41-60 of 114
pier next to the boat ramp at Hoppy's Landing in Fairhaven
69 Goulart Memorial Dr., Fairhaven, MA 02719
|Directions

Called a “fisherman’s paradise," Hoppy’s Landing on West Island in Fairhaven is your gateway to Buzzards Bay.

Parking: Large crushed-shell parking area (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch, Pier (wood), Restrooms, Trash
the remnants of an old dam at Horseshoe Mill in Wareham
Station Street, Wareham, MA 02571
|Directions

Discover Buzzards Bay’s largest freshwater river at Horseshoe Mill, part of the growing Weweantic River Reserve in Wareham.

Size: 34 acres
Parking: Medium-sized parking area at the end of Station Street
Facilities: None
The path down to Miles Pond in Falmouth during spring
390 Sippewissett Rd., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

Cool off at Falmouth’s Ice House Pond, a 7-acre kettle pond that's open for swimming, fishing, canoeing, and ice skating.

Size: 7 acres
Parking: Small paved parking area
Facilities: Canoe Launch
wooden dock with boat storage slips at Island Wharf in Marion
2 Island Wharf Rd., Marion, MA 02738
|Directions

Boaters and paddlers will find a place to launch and keep their boats at this wharf and park on Sippican Harbor in Marion.

Parking: Large paved parking lot (vehicles and trailers up to 72 hours); resident privilege sticker required for overnight parking (May 31 to September 15); limited parking for non-residents
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch, Dock (concrete/floating), Dinghy/Kayak Storage, Restrooms (seasonal), Showers (seasonal), Picnic Tables, Water
Aerial view of Naushon and the Elizabeth Islands
Gosnold, MA 02713
|Directions

This pristine crescent of sand is a peaceful place for boaters to enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and beachcombing on private Naushon Island.

Facilities: None
The sandy shore of Knowles Beach in Dartmouth, with the sailboats of Padanaram Harbor in the background
Smith Neck Road and Gulf Road, Dartmouth, MA 02748
|Directions

Escape the bustle of summer crowds on the quiet shores of Knowles Beach in Dartmouth.

Parking: Unpaved roadside parking along Smith Neck Road (space for 6-7 cars)
Facilities: None
bog boards through a salt marsh at Lawrence Island in Cataumet
Grasslands Lane, Bourne, MA 02534
|Directions

Whether by foot or on a kayak, make time to explore the sandy, protected shores of Lawrence Island in Cataumet.

Size: 7 acres
Parking: Small parking area at the end of Grasslands Lane
Facilities: None
picnic table next to Leonard's Pond in Rochester
359 Mary’s Pond Rd., Rochester, MA 02770
|Directions

Take in a lovely view of Leonard’s Pond in Rochester from the shores of these two small waterfront properties.

Size: 4.1 acres and 2.95 acres
Parking: Two small roadside parking areas along Mary’s Pond Road
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch, Picnic Table
entrance sign for The Let Conservation Area on the Westport River
Westport, MA 02790
|Directions

Accessible only from the Westport River East Branch, "The Let" is a perfect resting place for a mid-paddle picnic and a stroll.

Size: 63 acres
Parking: None (not accessible by vehicle)
Facilities: None
People walking on the trail through Little Bay and Monks Park in Bourne.
Valley Bars Circle, Bourne, MA 02559
|Directions

Visit Bourne's Little Bay Conservation Area to discover a walk that captures Buzzards Bay’s unique coastal geography.

Size: 21.33 acres
Parking: Two small unpaved parking areas off Shore Road and at the end of Valley Bars Circle
Facilities: Kayak Launch, Picnic Table
clouds and sun rays over Buzzards Bay from Little Harbor Beach
99 Beach Plum Ln., Wareham, MA 02571
|Directions

The sandy shores and gentle waves at Little Harbor Beach in Wareham are a wonderful way to enjoy life by the Bay.

Size: 22 acres
Parking: Large paved parking lot; resident parking sticker required
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal)
trail through the woods at the Lloyd Center in Dartmouth
430 Potomska Rd., Dartmouth, MA 02748
|Directions

This environmental education center in Dartmouth is also a destination for outdoor exploration on the Slocums River.

Size: 82 acres
Parking: Medium-sized gravel parking area
Facilities: Restrooms, Picnic Tables, Trash, Learning/Visitor Center
Red Brook and the Lyman Reserve in winter
110 Red Brook Rd., Plymouth, MA 02360
|Directions

This diverse paradise of woods, wetlands, and salt marshes in Plymouth shelters rare sea-run brook trout in Red Brook.

Size: 210 acres
Parking: Medium-sized gravel parking area
Facilities: Picnic Tables, Trash
boy holding up a fish he caught in Mary's Pond in Rochester
Perry’s Lane, Rochester, MA 02770
|Directions

A natural kettle hole, Mary’s Pond in Rochester is a popular destination for picnicking, paddling, and fishing.

Size: 10.29 acres
Parking: Two small unpaved parking areas on Perry's Lane
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
A small boat tied up at the Massasoit Avenue launch in Bourne.
43 Massasoit Ave., Bourne, MA 02559
|Directions

Set off on a Pocasset Harbor paddling adventure from the Massasoit Avenue Boat Ramp in Bourne.

Parking: None
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch
view of Mattapoisett River mouth and Mattapoisett YMCA property from Mattapoisett Town Landing
65 Mattapoisett Neck Rd., Mattapoisett, MA 02739
|Directions

Take a scenic paddle on Mattapoisett Harbor and the mouth of the Mattapoisett River from Mattapoisett Town Landing.

Size: 1.75 acres
Parking: Medium-sized gravel parking area; parking pass required
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch, Bicycle Rack, Restrooms (seasonal), Trash, Picnic Table
Stone wharf at Mattapoisett Town Wharf
8 Water Street, Mattapoisett, MA 02739
|Directions

Boaters cruising into Mattapoisett Harbor will find ample tie-up space and amenities at these five historic wharves.

Parking: Public street parking on north side of Water Street; resident parking pass required for Town Wharf parking
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Pier/Dock (concrete), Restrooms (seasonal), Trash, Picnic Tables, Fuel, Water, Ice (seasonal), Concession (seasonal)
water view from Megansett Beach in North Falmouth
239 County Rd., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

With its wide expanse of sand, Megansett Beach is a great spot for Falmouth residents to sit and watch sailboats on the harbor.

Parking: Medium-sized paved parking area; resident beach sticker required to park in summer
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Pier (wood), Restrooms (seasonal), Trash
boat ramp at Megansett Harbor Landing in North Falmouth
298 County Rd., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

For boaters on Cape Cod, Megansett Harbor Landing in North Falmouth is an awesome gateway to Buzzards Bay.

Parking: Medium-sized paved parking area (vehicles only; no trailer parking); resident beach sticker required to park in summer
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Pier (wood), Shower (seasonal)
Sandy shoreline of Little Bay at Monks Park in Bourne
Valley Bars Circle, Bourne, MA 02559
|Directions

Explore rolling pine-and-oak woods by the edge of Bourne’s Little Bay on the network of trails at Monks Park.

Size: 9 acres
Parking: Two small unpaved parking areas on Valley Bars Circle; additional parking at kayak ramp (with town of Bourne beach sticker)
Facilities: Kayak Launch

Upcoming Events

Teens take action
Fri, September 25 -
Fri, November 06
Onset Bay Center ,
Wareham
Instructional Rowing for Adults
Mon, October 26
3:30PM - 4:30PM
Onset Bay Center,
Wareham
Mindfulness: Awake in Nature
Tue, October 27
9:00AM - 10:00AM
Little Buttermilk Bay Woods,
Bourne

Featured Adventures

10 beautiful beaches on Buzzards Bay to visit this summer

Some of these Buzzards Bay beaches are crowd favorites, while others are hidden gems waiting for you to discover.

Full Story ›
Six stunning cycling routes on quiet country roads

Buzzards Bay is a bicyclist’s dream. From Little Compton, R.I., to Falmouth, MA, cyclists will find plenty of routes to excite the senses—views of verdant farms and quaint villages, the tang of salt air along coastal beaches and salt marshes,  and the deep quiet of peaceful woodlands and backroads.

Full Story ›
30 places to discover in 30 days around the Bay

Discover Buzzards Bay is celebrating the hundreds of public reserves and outdoor spaces that are open for enjoyment. During the month of April, we plan to highlight one preserve each day, pointing out places where you can get outside while following social distancing guidelines.

Full Story ›

Things To Do