Eastern North Carolina has a lot of barrier islands. After paddling to a few of the protected ones (Rachel Carson, Dudley Island), I (with pooch) set out to knock another off the list.
On the edge of Onslow County, in the town of Holly Ridge, is a nice mainland boat launch called Morris Landing. This area is actually part of a 52 acre shoreline restoration project managed by the NC Coastal Federation. The boat launch here is a little elusive when you're searching for it online - it's not a State Fish & Wildlife launch like you may be used to (like the launches at Emerald Isle or Cedar Point). Morris Landing is the closest kayak/canoe/boat launch to the Permuda Island Reserve, my destination for this trip.
The Permuda Island Reserve is a NC Coastal Federation protected barrier island. It's long, narrow, and heavily wooded. It's 65 acres big with over a mile of shoreline. Among the multiple species of wildlife, there's also archeological evidence of human inhabitants from waaaaaay back (into the B.C.!). We read about this evidence online but did not see any signs ourselves.
Commercial oyster beds are scattered around in the adjacent waters (the Stump Sound). As you paddle around the island, you'll see these and beyond them to the beach houses of Topsail Island, pronounced "Top-sol" by the locals. If it's a still day you'll even hear the ocean waves crashing! Although Permuda Island doesn't have any trails (it's thick), you'll be able to bird watch many species right from your boat. There are a few places to beach your kayak and explore - but don't expect big sandy beaches on here. Look for low lying live oak trees, especially on the mainland facing side of the island, these are usually cool places to pitstop (see below).
We paddled, we stopped a few times, we took lots of pictures. It wasn't crowded at all on a weekday at the end of the summer, but I could imagine quite a few cars/trucks/trailers parked at Morris Landing on the weekends when the weather is nice. There's not an actual parking lot so get here early if you want a spot. I set the timer from the time we launched to when we returned - we took 2 hours and 24 minutes. I imagine you could cut that time down significantly if you didn't spend light years trying to get closeup video of ants on a tree like we did. The ants were giant and amazing, the video was not haha.
Also, since most of the cool stop points are on the mainland facing side of the island, probably better to paddle Permuda counterclockwise from the Morris Landing launch site to get more paddling in before you stop for a break. Watch the winds and the tide - this will (as always) impact your trip - which way and how far you wish to travel. It's a cool island, check it out!
~Paul & Eleanor everyonestravelclub.com
NC Coastal Federation
Brochure for Permuda Island
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