Emerald Isle is our go-to beach. Sitting on Eastern North Carolina's 'Crystal Coast', it's near the mainland towns of Swansboro and Cedar Point. It's the closest beach to where we live (about 25 mins away:). Some of its charm comes from the fact that it's not too busy with businesses - it's really just a lot of residential/beach houses and the beach.
On Emerald Isle, access to the water via kayak, stand-up paddle board (SUP), or fishing boat can actually be a little tricky if you're not renting a beach house or especially if you need parking. We've written before about the kayak launch at Emerald Isle Woods, well, the NC Wildlife Public Boat Ramp at Emerald Isle (next to the Chapel by the Sea) is a little farther down, mid-island-ish, and has parking right at the put-in (not to mention it's a proper boat launch with trailer parking).
Speaking of parking, there is a good amount of it - 112 truck-trailer parking spaces and 18 single parking spaces. There's bathrooms (sometimes closed during high winds...don't ask me...), and lots of space to launch (4 launches). There is no fee to launch a boat.
If you're a paddler shy of busy boat traffic you can also launch at the end of the waterway (there's an unofficial trail on the other side of the channel from the boardwalk), however, be ready to walk a bit. We use Innova Kayaks so it's not a big deal to walk with them on our backs, but a hard shell boat would be a drag.
Once you paddle outside of the launch you can house shop down nearby Archers Creek (also known as Piney Creek), or get your barrier island hop on. You're in the Intracoastal Waterway and there's plenty to explore. Know that although tides are pretty minimal around these latitudes, a high tide means not much sandy beach on the barrier islands you may want to explore. Too low of a tide means you may have to stick to the power boat channels even in a kayak due to the shallow water. Don't forget about the current! If you're just exploring it's always a good idea to paddle against the water-flow/wind first so your return trip will be a breeze.
We basically turned our day into a doggie and Captain photo shoot. Man, we look like we know what we're doing!
Bottom line - if you need parking close to the water and want to launch on Emerald Isle, this is a pretty great option. Cons for paddlers include busy boat traffic at times, however, weekdays and early mornings even on the weekend are manageable. Time to island hop. Paddle safe and get out there.
~Paul & Eleanor EVERYONESTRAVELCLUB.COM
Address of boat ramp: 6800 Emerald Drive, Emerald Isle, NC
Related blog posts: Paddling Emerald Isle Woods
Ahhhhh, I remember the first day of summer. I packed up Eleanor the dog and my Innova kayak and cruised down to this boat launch in Pollocksville, North Carolina.
This is the closest boat launch to us and it provides easy access to a quick paddle or boat ride on the Trent River. You could paddle this all the way down to where it meets the Neuse River in New Bern and onward (a long way) to the sea. On this trip we just paddled down river a little and turned to explore a little of Mill Creek.
It was a quiet paddle this time, the only wildlife to speak of on this trip was the mutt on the bow (#alligators:). After an hour of exploration we turned back and called it a day.
Check out the map below if you'd like to explore the river as we did. Here's a few links for more adventure:
*A local kayak rental business, BearFoot Kayaks - they bring the kayaks to you (on the Trent River and beyond).
*A description of Living Waters, a photo essay of the Trent River written by Ben Casey.
*A link to the Trent River Campground, an upriver campground with paddling access to the Trent River.
~Paul & Eleanor ETC
Near our favorite Eastern North Carolina town of Beaufort, the Rachel Carson Reserve is a gorgeous group of barrier islands, the closest just a mere 5 min paddle from downtown. We explore Beaufort on the regular, mainly just to walk around the town pretending we could actually afford a house here! The seaside town is a booming with great local shops and restaurants, tons of sailing and paddling opportunities, beautiful historic houses, and some adventurous history (#pirates).
Town is quaint and amazing, and we'll definitely post more on Beaufort in the future (we have in the past), but the destination today is the reserve. Off we go. Paddle-paddle!
We set off from a little town boat launch in Grayden Paul Park, located along the downtown waterfront (map of park here). There is lots of parking nearby - paid close by and unpaid a few blocks off. There are even a few load/unload-only parking spots right next to the launch. It is a super quick paddle over to the trailhead on Town Marsh. We pulled our kayaks above the high tide line and hiked through the island, following the markers to the other side and on to Bird Shoal.
While we weren't planning on seeing any wild horses (we didn't want to get our hopes up), we stumbled upon a trail...of wild poop! As we rounded the island to return to our kayaks for lunch we lucked out and caught a glimpse of one of North Carolina's wild horses grazing near the shoreline.
After lunch we paddled back to the mainland and put the gear away. Since the park and boat launch is in downtown, you're just minutes away from refueling and grabbing a bite to eat if needed. Before heading home, we made a quick stop by the Old Burying Ground next to the Ann Street United Methodist Church. Historic cemeteries in the South like this one are always amazing to visit. Underneath the arms of these century old oak trees are the graves of Beaufort locals from long ago - including Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers.
We love the town of Beaufort. The Rachel Carson Reserve is a great paddle with lots of shoreline, trails, wildlife, and beach to explore. Its closeness to a great seaside town make the adventure even better. We highly recommend this trip! Questions about the paddle? Need help deciding on a restaurant for some post-paddle grub? Leave them in the comment section and we'll answer quick!
~Paul, Amber, Ann, & Eleanor ETC
Link to NC Division of Coastal Management info on the Rachel Carson Reserve
THE ETC Membership Card!
Discounts where you adventure!
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