Top Five Outer Banks Kayak Launches

We know that the reason just about everyone is here on the Outer Banks is to enjoy our amazing beaches and the cool refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

However, there is much more to the Outer Banks than sand, surf and sun and after a few days of that, if there is a thought that maybe it’s time to do something else, a great activity is to head over to the soundside and go kayaking.

For inexperienced kayakers or families, it’s a good idea to take a tour with one of the many companies offering the service. More experienced kayakers, though, may wish to head out on their own.

For the more experienced, here is our list of five great put-in spots. There are many more than this, but this is a good place to start.

New Inlet, Pea Island

This is one of our real favorites. The put-in is about a quarter mile south of the Richard Etheridge Bridge on Pea Island.

This is a very active beach and surf zone. The Richard Etheridge Bridge crosses what was called a cut that was actually an inlet created after Hurricane Irene in 2011. The put-in was also an inlet within the past 200 years.

Richard Ethridge Bridge over New inlet. Kayak launch is just south of this photo location.

There are numerous small marsh islands before the open waters of the Pamlico Sound. Of note is the remnants of a wooden bridge that was a 1930s attempt to span the area.

Manteo Waterfront

Kitty Hawk Kites has a store right on the waterfront in Manteo and that may be the easiest place to rent a kayak.

It’s fascinating looking at a town from the water. The entire perception changes and it becomes apparent that Manteo was at one time a port town. A small port town, but the docks and buildings leave little doubt that the business district grew up around waterborne commerce.

Manteo waterfront aerial view

A really nice paddle is to go around Roanoke Island Festival Park. Most kayakers head south to the Roanoke Sound first to avoid fighting the wind on the way back, but either way works.

To extend the journey, paddle up Dough’s Creek, which the bridge to Festival Park crosses.

Bob Perry Road, Kitty Hawk

Bob Perry Road is off Kitty Hawk Road. The put-in has a large parking lot with very well maintained docks. There is a county recycling center on the land as well, so look of the recycling signs for directions.

This is a beautiful marshland site. The docks are at the end of a 1500’ slough that leads to Kitty Hawk Bay.

Bob Perry Road Kayak Launch in Kitty Hawk

Once out in Kitty Hawk Bay there is so much to explore it’s difficult to know where to start. Just to the west there is Stove Island, a good sized marsh island that has a lot of area behind it waiting to be investigated.

For a challenge, paddle over to the islands that mark the northern boundary of Colington Island. The distance is about a mile, and if the wind is up, it may be a good idea to put the trip off of a day or two.

Duck Boardwalk

There are a number of places to put a kayak in the water in Duck and we debated what would be the best location, finally deciding the boardwalk, with its convenience and ample parking was the winner.

Boardwalk in Duck
Kayak Launch in Duck NC

Looking for open water and beautiful sunsets? This is the place to be. The Currituck Sound has very few islands this far south and the sunsets are spectacular.

That also is where convenience comes in. The parking lot is close at hand and there are a number of restaurants lining the boardwalk, so after a paddle food and drink is near at hand.

Whalehead Club, Corolla

Like Duck, there are a number of great places to put a kayak in the water in Corolla, but once again, we’re choosing ease of use.

The Whalehead Club has a huge parking lot. The put-in is at the end of Club Lane.

The Currituck National Estuarine Reserve is just to the north, and there are a series of marsh islands perfect for exploration.

Whalehead Club Corolla
Aerial View of the Whalehead Club in Corolla.

Like Duck, this is a great location for a spectacular sunset, although the Whalehead Club doesn’t boast the restaurants within easy walking distance when coming ashore.

A Couple of Things to Keep in Mind

Sunscreen and bug repellant are important from mid-May to mid-October. The sunscreen probably longer than that.

In the summer the dominant winds on the Outer Banks are from the south. That easy paddle to the marsh islands north of the Whalehead Club can become a real challenge heading back. Give yourself some extra time when heading in and relax and enjoy the journey.