Kayak Launch Spots North Carolina

Kayak Launch Spots North CarolinaNorth Carolina offers a multitude of kayak launch spots for adventurers looking to explore serene lakes and river paths. From Carolina Beach and Kure Beach to Masonboro Island and Shark’s Tooth Island, there are numerous locations to choose from.

Embark on an unforgettable adventure as you paddle through the breathtaking landscapes of North Carolina. Whether you’re seeking tranquil waters or thrilling rapids, the state offers diverse options for every kayaking enthusiast.

Kayak Launch at Zeke’s Island

The Kayak Launch at Zeke’s Island is a popular spot for kayaking enthusiasts in North Carolina. Located at 2515 Fort Fisher Blvd S, Kure Beach, NC 28449, this launch point offers convenient access to the beautiful waters and major destinations in the area.

To get to the kayak launch, visitors can park on the right-hand side just past the ferry landing and follow the kayak trailer to the boat ramp and kayak launch beach. The launch site is well-maintained and provides easy entry into the water.

One of the major advantages of launching at Zeke’s Island is its proximity to various destinations. Paddlers can easily explore the Carolina Beach boardwalk, downtown Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Airlie Gardens, and Jungle Rapids from this launch point. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing paddle or an adventurous journey, Zeke’s Island is an ideal starting point for your kayaking adventures in North Carolina.

So, if you’re looking for a convenient and scenic spot to start your kayaking excursion, make sure to check out the kayak launch at Zeke’s Island. With its easy access to major destinations and serene waters, you’ll have a memorable experience exploring the North Carolina coastline.

Masonboro Island: Trail’s End County Park

Masonboro Island, located off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina, is a picturesque destination that offers a unique kayaking experience. One of the best ways to access Masonboro Island is through Trail’s End County Park, which provides convenient facilities and access points for kayakers.

To reach Trail’s End County Park, visitors can follow the directions to 613 Trail’s End Road, Wilmington, NC 28409. From here, kayakers can launch their boats and embark on an adventure surrounded by the natural beauty of Masonboro Island.

Trail’s End County Park also serves as an excellent starting point for exploring other major destinations in the area. While enjoying your kayaking trip, you can easily visit attractions such as the Carolina Beach boardwalk, Zeke’s Island, downtown Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Airlie Gardens, and Jungle Rapids.


Major Destinations Distance from Trail’s End County Park
Carolina Beach boardwalk 8 miles
Zeke’s Island 12 miles
Downtown Wilmington 10 miles
Wrightsville Beach 14 miles
Airlie Gardens 9 miles
Jungle Rapids 11 miles

Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner, Masonboro Island and Trail’s End County Park provide the perfect setting for a memorable outdoor adventure. Enjoy the tranquility of the waters, take in the breathtaking scenery, and explore the diverse marine life that resides in these coastal waters.

Shark’s Tooth/Keg Islands: River Road Park

For kayaking enthusiasts seeking adventure and natural beauty, River Road Park provides easy access to the stunning Shark’s Tooth and Keg Islands. Located at 6500 River Road, Wilmington, NC 28412, River Road Park serves as the ideal launch point for exploring these picturesque islands.

To reach River Road Park, simply search for “River Road Park” on your GPS to find the exact location. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted with a well-maintained boat ramp and convenient parking facilities. From here, embark on a kayaking journey that will take you to some of the most captivating destinations in North Carolina.

Major Destinations

  • Carolina Beach boardwalk: Experience the vibrant atmosphere and enjoy the wide range of recreational activities available in this popular beachfront area.
  • Zeke’s Island: Discover the breathtaking beauty of Zeke’s Island, located just a short distance from River Road Park. Explore its untouched beaches and observe the diverse wildlife that calls this island home.
  • Downtown Wilmington: Paddle your way to Wilmington’s captivating downtown area, where you can immerse yourself in the city’s rich history, cultural attractions, and vibrant dining scene.
  • Wrightsville Beach: Visit the pristine shores of Wrightsville Beach and revel in its crystal-clear waters and picturesque surroundings.
  • Airlie Gardens: Take a break from kayaking and stroll through the stunning Airlie Gardens, renowned for its magnificent displays of colorful flowers and lush greenery.
  • Jungle Rapids: Located on Oleander Drive in Wilmington, Jungle Rapids is a water park and family entertainment center featuring thrilling water slides, mini-golf, go-karts, and more.

Table: Kayak Launch Directions

Kayak Launch Street Address City State Zip Code
River Road Park 6500 River Road Wilmington NC 28412

Intracoastal Waterway

The Intracoastal Waterway in North Carolina is a significant segment of the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail, covering over 800 miles from the Chesapeake Bay to the Georgia-Florida border. This segment offers kayakers the opportunity to explore a vast range of natural and cultural features, providing an unforgettable paddling experience.

One of the highlights of the North Carolina segment is the overlap with the Intracoastal Waterway, which allows kayakers to navigate through a network of inland waterways that offer stunning views and diverse wildlife. Tidal changes play a crucial role in this trail, especially in the sounds and at the confluence of rivers and the coast, creating unique paddling conditions and opportunities.

Along the North Carolina portion of the Intracoastal Waterway, paddlers can discover breathtaking locations such as the Outer Banks, Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras National Seashores. These areas are known for their pristine beaches, historic lighthouses, and abundant marine life. With its combination of natural beauty and cultural significance, the Intracoastal Waterway in North Carolina is a must-explore destination for kayaking enthusiasts.

Table: Major Features along the Intracoastal Waterway in North Carolina

Natural Features Cultural Features
Outer Banks Historic Lighthouses
Cape Lookout National Seashore Maritime History
Cape Hatteras National Seashore Coastal Communities
Estuarine Systems Local Cuisine

As shown in the table above, kayakers can encounter a wide range of natural features along the Intracoastal Waterway, including the scenic Outer Banks and the picturesque Cape Lookout National Seashore. Additionally, the trail is enriched by cultural features such as historic lighthouses, maritime history, coastal communities, and the opportunity to savor local cuisine.

Little River to Cape Fear

The Little River to Cape Fear section of the North Carolina coast encompasses the picturesque Brunswick Islands. This stretch includes five barrier islands, six beautiful beaches, and three charming mainland towns. These barrier islands create protected back-barrier estuaries connected to the ocean, offering visitors a unique kayaking experience. With south-facing beaches, the Brunswick Islands provide a perfect destination for beach lovers and water enthusiasts.

The towns of Calabash, Shallotte, and Southport offer a blend of coastal charm and vibrant culture. Calabash is renowned for its delicious seafood and is often referred to as the “Seafood Capital of the World.” Shallotte is a thriving town with numerous shopping and dining options, while Southport is known for its historic downtown area and breathtaking views of the Cape Fear River. These towns provide a welcoming atmosphere and serve as starting points for exploring the barrier islands.

Whether you’re looking to relax on pristine beaches, discover hidden coves and marshes, or spot unique wildlife, the Little River to Cape Fear section of North Carolina offers something for everyone. With its barrier islands, beach towns, and charming mainland communities, this area is a must-visit for kayaking enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Kayaking Opportunities in the Brunswick Islands

Barrier Islands Beaches Mainland Towns
Sunset Beach Ocean Isle Beach Calabash
Ocean Isle Beach Sunset Beach Shallotte
Holden Beach Holden Beach Southport
Oak Island Oak Island
Bald Head Island Bald Head Island

Table: Key Destinations in the Brunswick Islands for Kayaking Enthusiasts. Explore the barrier islands, relax on the beautiful beaches, and immerse yourself in the coastal charm of the mainland towns. Plan your kayaking adventure in the Brunswick Islands today!

Cape Fear to Cape Lookout

The journey from Wilmington to Cape Lookout takes you along the picturesque coastline of North Carolina, offering a variety of attractions and natural wonders. Starting in Wilmington, a vibrant city situated on a peninsula formed by the Cape Fear River, you can explore the historic downtown area and enjoy the lively atmosphere along the Riverwalk. From there, you can embark on your kayaking adventure, heading towards the stunning Cape Lookout National Seashore.

As you paddle north, you’ll pass by popular destinations such as Wrightsville Beach, known for its pristine sandy shores and crystal-clear waters. Continuing along the coast, you’ll come across the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, which offers opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and bird-watching. This area is also home to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, where you can learn about the diverse marine life found in the region.

Continuing further north, you’ll reach the Bogue Banks barrier island, which includes attractions such as Hammocks Beach State Park, known for its scenic hiking trails and undeveloped shoreline. As you explore this area, you’ll have the chance to spot a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, sea turtles, and bird species unique to the coastal region. The nearby Fort Macon State Park provides a fascinating glimpse into the state’s history, with its well-preserved Civil War-era fort.

Your journey culminates at Cape Lookout National Seashore, a pristine and remote area encompassing three undeveloped barrier islands. Here, you can marvel at the iconic Cape Lookout Lighthouse, explore the sandy beaches, and discover the unique plants and animals that call this area home. With its breathtaking beauty and untouched landscapes, Cape Lookout National Seashore offers a memorable kayaking experience.

Key Destinations:

Destination Attractions
Wilmington Riverwalk, historic downtown, cultural events
Wrightsville Beach Beautiful sandy beaches, water sports, dining
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area Hiking trails, picnicking, bird-watching, aquarium
Bogue Banks Hammocks Beach State Park, Fort Macon State Park, wildlife spotting
Cape Lookout National Seashore Cape Lookout Lighthouse, remote beaches, nature exploration


North Carolina offers a diverse array of kayak launch spots, providing adventurers with a range of options to explore the state’s coastal and inland waterways. From the picturesque shores of Zeke’s Island and the Cape Fear River to the tranquil Nantahala and Rocky River, there are countless opportunities to embark on unforgettable kayaking experiences in North Carolina.

One of the highlights of kayaking in this beautiful state is the chance to encounter wildlife in their natural habitats. As you paddle through scenic landscapes, keep an eye out for majestic birds, playful dolphins, and even alligators in some of the more remote locations. North Carolina’s rich biodiversity truly adds an element of excitement and wonder to any kayaking adventure.

But it’s not just the wildlife that makes North Carolina a kayaker’s paradise. The state boasts a stunning array of natural beauty, from the pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters of its coastal areas to the lush greenery and serene rivers of its inland regions. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of navigating challenging rapids or prefer a peaceful paddle along calm waterways, North Carolina has something to offer every kayaking enthusiast.

Richard Dodds

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