5 Picturesque Places to Go Kayaking Outer Banks NC
Adventure-seekers who enjoy kayaking (or have always wanted to give it a whirl) will be pleased to learn that the Outer Banks offers a variety of different places to explore by kayak.
With miles and miles of waterways scattered throughout either side of the barrier islands, there are so many places from which to launch.
Whether you are in the mood to explore canals where there is abundant wildlife or go to the extreme and power through waves and turbulent conditions of the Atlantic Ocean, there’s something for everyone.
Read on to learn about our five favorite places to kayak on the Outer Banks.
Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve
Here you get longing points for two great places to kayak – Currituck Sound and Kitty Hawk Bay. Both offer a great way to explore the waterways as well as get up close and personal with some of the wildlife throughout the reserve.
Currituck Sound extends from Currituck south to Duck (about 30 miles north-south) with the entrance to the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve just beyond the Wright Memorial Bridge. It is perfect for anyone who wants a good workout by paddling towards Currituck.
Kayaking on Kitty Hawk Bay brings to life just exactly how much wildlife lives on the OBX (bird watching paradise). It is undeveloped and protected and offers a varied ecosystem with open water and small marshy islands.
Most importantly, if you choose to hit either of these waterways via the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve, be sure to do it early because the reserve closes nightly at sunset.
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
Wow is the first word uttered when kayaking here. Located at the north end of Hatteras Island, the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge is about 10 miles south of Nags Head.
As one of the best places on the OBX to kayak, you can explore one of the most spectacular preserves which quintessentially display what the Outer Banks is about.
Whether you take a guided tour or head out on your own, be prepared to be mesmerized by everything that you see. This is a “must-do” for photographers because you must see it to believe it!
One of the most popular bodies of water on the Outer Banks (second only to the Atlantic Ocean), Pamlico Sound is an excellent spot for kayakers of all levels. It measures 80 miles long and 15-20 miles wide and encompasses much of the western side of the OBX coastline extending the edge of Bodie Island down to Portsmouth Island.
The shallow waters (only 5-6 feet deep well offshore) make it perfect for kayaking and other water activities like paddleboarding, kiteboarding, and windsurfing.
Birdwatchers can have a field day with the number of feathered friends along with the Pamlico Sound including herons, white ibises, and snowy egrets. On rare occasions, they might even spot a white pelican or even American Bald Eagle.
Whether for pleasure or a good workout, this is the perfect place to spend a day or just an hour or two.
Roanoke Sound by kayak offers nature lovers the perfect way to see a well-known part of the Outer Banks from a different perspective.
It is a pretty easy way to find unchartered areas (especially towards the northern part near Wanchese) of the Sound as well as the parts of downtown Manteo along the waterfront.
On top of this, there are tons of wildlife and beautiful views of water, marshlands and other areas.
Primarily for experienced kayakers, ocean kayaking is kind of like surfing because the objective is to paddle out to the larger breaks and ride the waves towards the shore.
For those who just want to enjoy the vastness of the Atlantic, kayaking past the breaks and further out to sea is a little more relaxing (after navigating the strong surf).
A Different Location Every Day
Vacationers who kayak during their Outer Banks getaway can enjoy kayaking in a different spot during each day of their stay on the barrier islands. Kayak rentals are available by the hour, day or week, and offered by several different vendors on the islands.
If you’re a water sports enthusiast or just want to explore the lesser-known areas of the Outer Banks via small watercraft, consider planning a kayaking excursion with friends and family during the spring, summer or fall months.