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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 61-80 of 114
The slips along the dock at Monument Beach Marina in Bourne
22 Emmons Rd., Bourne, MA 02532
|Directions

This Bourne town marina provides a one-stop destination for boaters to explore the harbors and shores of upper Buzzards Bay.

Parking: Large paved parking area (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch, Dock (wood), Restrooms (seasonal), Showers (seasonal), Trash, Fuel (seasonal), Food/Concession (seasonal)
grassy lawn next to Ned's Point Lighthouse at Veterans Memorial Park in Mattapoisett
50 Ned’s Point Rd., Mattapoisett, MA 02739
|Directions

Swim, picnic, and play in the shadow of Mattapoisett’s Ned’s Point Lighthouse at this town-owned park and beach.

Size: 4 acres
Parking: Large gravel parking area
Facilities: Kayak Launch, Restrooms (seasonal), Showers (seasonal), Picnic Tables, Trash
boat launch to New Bedford Reservoir at Lake Street
104 Lake St., Acushnet, MA 02743
|Directions

Known by locals as "Lake Street," the New Bedford Reservoir in Acushnet is a peaceful destination for fishing and paddling.

Size: 4 acres
Parking: Medium-sized gravel parking area; several small pulloffs along Lake Street
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
geese and birds on Broad Cove in Wareham
8 North Water St., Onset, MA 02558
|Directions

A short walk from Onset Village, North Water Street Beach offers spectacular sunset views over Broad Cove.

Size: 1.2 acres
Parking: Parking along the street in neighborhood, outside of resident parking zones
Facilities: None
salt marshes along shoreline at Oakdale Beach in Marion
Oakdale Avenue, Marion, MA 02738
|Directions

Launch a canoe or kayak and explore Marion’s scenic Hammett Cove from the beach at Oakdale Avenue.

Size: 0.8 acres
Parking: Small gravel parking area; resident privilege sticker required
Facilities: None
Boats tied up at Old Landing Wharf in Marion.
291 Front St., Marion, MA 02738
|Directions

Water-loving Marion residents can begin a day of boating or kayaking from Old Landing Wharf on Sippican Harbor.

Parking: Small paved parking lot; Marion or Rochester resident privilege sticker required to park at all times
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch, Dock (wood/floating), Wharf, Picnic Tables
gull flying over Old Silver Beach in Falmouth at sunset
296 Quaker Rd., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

For a classic sandy beach to enjoy in summer, Old Silver Beach in Falmouth is a top destination on Buzzards Bay.

Parking: Two large paved parking areas: one reserved for Falmouth residents and another for public parking
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal), Trash, Showers, Food/Concession
people on Onset Beach in the summer
186 Onset Ave., Wareham, MA 02558
|Directions

Families flock to kid-friendly Onset Beach in Wareham thanks to its protected waters, beautiful scenery, and central location.

Size: 10.9 acres
Parking: Large paved parking lot and metered street parking; fee to park May 1 to October 1
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal), Showers (seasonal), Food/Concession
people launching a boat into Broad Cove from the Onset boat ramp in Wareham
50 East Blvd., Wareham, MA 02538
|Directions

Launch your vessel into the waters of Onset Bay from the newly renovated Onset Boat Ramp in Wareham.

Parking: No parking at boat ramp; on-street parking (vehicles and trailers) only in marked residential and non-residential areas
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch
freshwater marsh along the Paskamansett River in Dartmouth
280 State Road, Dartmouth, MA 02747
|Directions

Paskamansett Landing is an oasis of nature and history in the urban center of North Dartmouth.

Size: 0.72 acres
Parking: Medium-sized gravel parking lot
Facilities: Canoe Launch
canoe launch on the Paskamansett River in Dartmouth
879 Russells Mills Road, Dartmouth, MA 02748
|Directions

With a canoe launch, picnic table, and bench by the river, Paskamansett Park is a peaceful streamside setting.

Size: 6.7 acres
Parking: Medium-sized gravel parking area
Facilities: Canoe Launch, Picnic Table
A group of people walking on Penikese Island with a view of Buzzards Bay
Gosnold, MA 02713
|Directions

Hike rolling hills, snorkel pristine waters, and take in a fascinating history on this Buzzards Bay island unlike any other.

Size: 75 acres
Facilities: Dock
rocky beach at Planting Island Causeway in Marion
Planting Island Road, Marion, MA 02738
|Directions

Planting Island Beach’s rugged, rocky shoreline offers a panoramic view of Sippican Harbor and Buzzards Bay.

Size: 3.75 acres
Parking: Three small unpaved roadside parking areas; resident privilege sticker required at all times
Facilities: None
Pocasset River
10 Wenaumet Bluff Dr., Bourne, MA 02559
|Directions

Discover Bourne’s vibrant waterways by small boat or paddlecraft from this small boat ramp on the Pocasset River.

Parking: Limited street parking (vehicles only; no trailer parking)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch
two fishing vessels in the distance on Buzzards Bay
98 Manhattan Ave., Fairhaven, MA 02719
|Directions

A small, secluded spot on Priests Cove, Pope Beach in Fairhaven offers sparkling views of Buzzards Bay.

Parking: Small unpaved roadside parking area
Facilities: None
Boats in the slips at Pope's Island Marina with the city of New Bedford in the background
102 Popes Island, New Bedford, MA 02740
|Directions

Centrally located in New Bedford Harbor, this marina provides protected waters with convenient access to Buzzards Bay.

Parking: Large paved parking area
Facilities: Pier/Floating Docks (wood), Wharf, Dinghy/Kayak Storage, Restrooms (private), Showers (private), Trash, Picnic Table(s), Bike Rack, Playground, Water, Ice, Launch Service
Salt marshes along Wild Harbor River at Quaker Marsh Conservation Area.
526 Quaker Rd., Falmouth, MA 02556
|Directions

Quaker Marsh in Falmouth is a peaceful spot to picnic or launch a kayak into Wild Harbor River's salt marsh-lined headwaters.

Size: .74 acres
Parking: Limited parking in small paved lot on town property next door (do not block any driveways)
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
The concrete boat launch at Red Brook Harbor Boat Ramp in Bourne
68 Red Brook Harbor Rd., Bourne, MA 02559
|Directions

Whether you're taking a day trip or keeping your boat at a local marina, start a Cape Cod adventure from this Bourne town boat ramp.

Parking: Small gravel parking area next to boat ramp (space for 1-2 cars)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Canoe/Kayak Launch
Bench at the edge of Red Brook Pond in Bourne.
Thaxter Road, Bourne, MA 02559
|Directions

For a peaceful walk through classic Cape Cod scenery, head to Red Brook Pond Conservation Area in Bourne.

Size: 40 acres
Parking: Small unpaved parking area on Thaxter Road
Facilities: None
sandy beach on Clarks Cove at Roger Street boat ramp
2 Rogers St., Dartmouth, MA 02748
|Directions

A bustling summer boating spot, this sandy public ramp in Dartmouth offers access to Clarks Cove and Buzzards Bay.

Parking: Large paved parking lot (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch

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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