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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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A motorboat pulled onto the sandy beach of Weepecket Island
Gosnold, MA 02543
|Directions

Discover island adventures on the untamed shores of the Weepecket Islands, a small island chain north of Naushon.

Parking: None
Facilities: Kayak launch (shoreline)
A small stream cutting across West Beach on Naushon Island
Gosnold, MA 02713
|Directions

Enjoy unrivaled seclusion on sandy shores along a wildlife-rich salt marsh at West Beach, a public beach on private Naushon Island.

Facilities: None
sandy shoreline of West Beach in New Bedford
200 West Rodney French Blvd., New Bedford, MA 02744
|Directions

West Beach in New Bedford is well-known for its clear, calm waters, where families can splash and play on Clarks Cove.

Parking: Roadside parking open 6am-9pm; additional parking in Hazelwood Park
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal), Bicycle Rack, Trash
West Falmouth Town Dock
55 Old Dock Rd., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

Boaters and anglers can launch on a Buzzards Bay adventure from the public ramp and town dock on West Falmouth Harbor.

Parking: Limited vehicle parking at the town dock; Medium-sized gravel parking area on Old Dock Road by bike path (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Dock (wood/floating), Trash
lookout tower at West Island Town Beach in Fairhaven
2 Fir St., Fairhaven, MA 02719
|Directions

Set next to windswept salt marshes on West Island, this Fairhaven beach is a paradise for outdoors lovers.

Size: 13.8 acres
Parking: Large gravel parking lot
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal)
West Beach next to boat ramp in New Bedford's South End
519 West Rodney French Blvd., New Bedford, MA 02744
|Directions

This public boat ramp in New Bedford’s South End offers boaters, paddlers, and anglers access to scenic Clarks Cove.

Parking: Medium-sized paved parking area (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Boat Ramp
boats launching at Westport River boat ramp
17 Cherry and Webb Ln., Westport, MA 02790
|Directions

Head out for a day of fishing and boating on Buzzards Bay from the state boat ramp on the Westport River.

Parking: Medium-sized paved parking lot (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Dock (floating), Restrooms (seasonal)
A group of kayakers in the Weweantic River at the state boat ramp.
I-195, Wareham, MA 02576
|Directions

Explore the Weweantic River in a small boat, kayak, or paddleboard from the Route 195 state boat ramp in Wareham.

Parking: Large paved parking area (vehicles and trailers)
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Restrooms (seasonal), Picnic Tables, Trash, Visitor Center (seasonal)
The ruined stone walls of White's Factory and connected channel
110 Hamlin St., Acushnet, MA 02743
|Directions

Step back in time at the 200-year-old ruins of White's Factory, a former cotton and saw mill on the Acushnet River.

Size: 2 acres
Parking: Medium-sized unpaved parking area with space for 8-10 cars
Facilities: Picnic Tables
A woman standing by the Agawam Mill Pond at Whitlock's Landing in Wareham.
150 Glen Charlie Rd., Wareham, MA 02538
|Directions

Begin a paddling adventure on the Agawam River's flat, beautiful waters from Whitlock’s Landing in Wareham.

Size: 0.5 acres
Parking: Small unpaved parking area
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch
Wickets Island in Onset Bay
Wareham, MA 02538
|Directions

Boat out to this tree-covered island in Onset Bay to enjoy a day of swimming, shellfishing, and beachcombing, ending with one of the best sunsets around.

Size: 4.4 acres
Parking: None
Facilities: Canoe/Kayak Launch (Shoreline), Pier/Dock (Stone)
Wing Pond in Falmouth
124 North Falmouth Hwy., Falmouth, MA 02556
|Directions

Peace and tranquility define Wing Pond Woods, a well-hidden gem directly off the Shining Sea Bikeway in North Falmouth.

Size: 19 acres
Parking: Medium-sized unpaved parking area
Facilities: None
kayaks on the dinghy storage rack at the Wings Cove Launching Ramp in Marion
64 Delano Rd., Marion, MA 02738
|Directions

For Marion boaters, the Wings Cove Launching Ramp is an excellent spot to start a day of fishing in the Cape Cod Canal.

Parking: Small paved parking area (vehicles and trailers); Marion or Rochester resident privilege sticker required to park at all times
Facilities: Boat Ramp, Kayak Launch
kids and adults explore the waters of Little Sippewissett Marsh in Falmouth
98 Wood Neck Rd., Falmouth, MA 02540
|Directions

With amazing water views and a lush natural setting, Wood Neck Beach is a summer destination for Falmouth families.

Parking: One medium-sized unpaved parking area; resident beach sticker required to park in summer
Facilities: Restrooms (seasonal), Trash, Shower (seasonal)

Upcoming Events

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
Buzzards Bay Coalition Golf Tournament
Fri, October 16
12:00PM - 6:00PM
The Bay Club,
Mattapoisett

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Things To Do