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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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boat launch at Russells Mills Landing in Dartmouth
50 Horseneck Rd., Dartmouth, MA 02748
|Directions

Located on a quiet bend of the Slocums River in Dartmouth, Russells Mills Landing is a fantastic places for paddlers.

Size: 1.5 acres
Parking: Medium-sized gravel parking area (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch, Picnic Tables, Playground
The paved boat ramp into Sampson's Pond as viewed from a kayak
27 Lakeview St., Carver, MA 02330
|Directions

Cast your line out for a bass or take a relaxing paddle in the calm, clear waters of this Carver pond with lovely shoreline views.

Parking: Small unpaved parking lot next to the boat ramp
beach and boat ramp at Seaview Avenue in Fairhaven
65 Seaview Avenue, Fairhaven, MA 02719
|Directions

The beach and boat ramp at Seaview Avenue in Fairhaven grant explorers access to Nasketucket Bay.

Parking: Medium-sized paved parking area
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Canoe/Kayak Launch
girl walking on Shell Point Beach at sunset
Onset, MA 02558
|Directions

With sandy shores and a grassy park, Shell Point Beach is a perfect destination to explore Wareham’s coastal scenery.

Size: 1.6 acres
Parking: Large paved parking lot; fee to park May 1 to October 1
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal)
woman holding a net next to the water at Shining Tides Beach in Mattapoisett
99 Reservation Rd., Mattapoisett, MA 02739
|Directions

Swimming, paddling, quahogging, crabbing – Shining Tides Beach truly offers it all for Mattapoisett residents.

Size: 4 acres
Parking: Small unpaved parking area; parking pass required in summer (first week of July through last week of August)
Facilities: Picnic Table
a family walks down the sand at Silvershell Beach in Marion
1 Front St., Marion, MA 02738
|Directions

With pretty views and peaceful waters, Silvershell Beach is a favorite summer spot for families in Marion.

Size: 2 acres
Parking: Large unpaved parking area; Marion or Rochester resident privilege sticker required to park at all times
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal), Playground
A wooden bench beside the water at Simmons Mill Pond Management Area in Little Compton
206 Coldbrook Rd., Little Compton, RI 02837
|Directions

Known for its educational signs, this Little Compton reserve is popular among hunters, hikers, paddlers, and curious young explorers.

Size: 433 acres
Parking: Medium-sized unpaved parking area on Coldbrook Road; small unpaved parking area on John Dyer Road
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
view of the Slocums River from the Slocum's River Reserve in Dartmouth
285 Horseneck Rd., Dartmouth, MA 02748
|Directions

Soak up the spectacular natural beauty of the Slocums River at the Slocum’s River Reserve in South Dartmouth.

Size: 47 acres
Parking: Small unpaved parking area
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
Two people walking along the water's edge at South Shore Beach in Little Compton
South Shore Rd., Little Compton, RI 02837
|Directions

Swim, soak up the sun, cast out a fishing line, or take a long walk along the rock-scattered shore at this Little Compton beach.

Size: 9.6 acres
Parking: Large unpaved parking lot
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal), Kayak launch (shoreline), RV camping with town permit
sandy shoreline of Squeteague Harbor Beach in Cataumet
18 Squeteague Harbor Rd., Bourne, MA 02534
|Directions

Peaceful, scenic Squeteague Harbor Beach is tucked into a quiet corner of Cataumet in Bourne.

Parking: Limited parking along beachway off Squeteague Harbor Road
Facilities: Trash
View of Buzzards Bay from Stony Beach in Falmouth.
38 Gosnold Rd., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

A small, hidden gem tucked away from the crowds, Stony Beach embodies Woods Hole’s low-key style.

Parking: Medium-sized unpaved parking area; resident beach sticker required to park in summer
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal), Trash, Shower
woman and little girl looking at sand at Swifts Neck Beach in Wareham
15 Roby St., Wareham, MA 02571
|Directions

The mixture of sand and grass along Swifts Neck Beach give this cozy neighborhood beach in Wareham a natural feel.

Size: 2.1 acres
Parking: Two large paved parking lots; fee to park May 1 to October 1
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Restrooms (seasonal)
Two picnic tables in the field at Tamarack Park in Lakeville
368 Bedford St., Lakeville, MA 02347
|Directions

Picnic in a bird-filled meadow or launch a kayak to explore beautiful marshes at this hidden gem in Lakeville.

Size: 49 acres
Parking: Large paved parking area on west side of circular drive
Facilities: Kayak Launch, Picnic Tables
Trees in fall colors behind the sandy beach at Naushon Island's Tarpaulin Cove
Gosnold, MA 02713
|Directions

Swim, kayak, snorkel, and beachcomb while enjoying a sweeping lighthouse view Tarpaulin Cove Beach, a public beach on private Naushon Island.

Facilities: None
Boats tied up at Taylor Point Marina with a view of the Cape Cod Canal railroad bridge
1 Academy Dr., Bourne, MA 02532
|Directions

Located at the head of Buzzards Bay, Taylor Point Marina offers a superb access point for boaters to explore the Bay or journey through the Cape Cod Canal.

Parking: Large paved parking lot (space for vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Canoe/Kayak Launch, Pier/Dock (wood), Public Restrooms (open May 1-October 31), Private Restrooms (open year-round), Showers, Ice, Trash, Fuel, Marine Store
boaters putting boat on trailer at Tempest Knob ramp in Wareham
30 Oak St., Wareham, MA 02571
|Directions

Embark into the Wareham River and upper Buzzards Bay from Tempest Knob, a town-owned public boat ramp in Wareham.

Parking: Medium-sized paved parking lot (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch, Dock (wood/floating)
sunset over The Knob in Falmouth
36 Quissett Harbor Rd., Falmouth, MA 02543
|Directions

Catch a breathtaking sunset over Buzzards Bay from the protected shores at The Knob in Falmouth.

Size: 12 acres
Parking: Limited parking at the end of Quissett Harbor Road
Facilities: None
rocky shoreline of The Knubble in Westport
Beach Ave., Westport, MA 02791
|Directions

The tall, rocky outcropping and panoramic water views at The Knubble beach in Westport are a treasure for local residents.

Size: 5 acres
Parking: Limited parking in designated areas (the easternmost end of Beach Avenue is periodically closed); resident beach sticker required year-round
Facilities: None
people stand on an overlook on the Acushnet River at The Sawmill
32 Mill Rd., Acushnet, MA 02743
|Directions

At the edge of New Bedford’s urban North End sits The Sawmill, a 19-acre former lumber yard on the Acushnet River.

Size: 19 acres
Parking: Medium-sized gravel parking area; additional on-street parking
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch, Learning Center (limited hours)
the remnants of a former mill on Tinkham Pond in Mattapoisett
Acushnet Road, Mattapoisett, MA 02739
|Directions

History and nature abound at Tripps Mill, a scenic trail and fishing spot on Tinkham Pond in Mattapoisett.

Size: 212 acres
Parking: Small gravel parking area on Acushnet Road
Facilities: None

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

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