Experience Nature: Kayaking the Crystal Coast

A first-person point of view from the seat of a kayak in the Crystal Coast.

Experience Nature: Kayaking the Crystal Coast

If you’ve never traveled to the Crystal Coast, you may wonder what the name is all about. The name refers to our glistening crystal clear waters and inviting white sandy beaches on 85 miles of beautiful coastline. Surrounded by the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, it makes sense that one of our favorite ways to explore the region is by water. Go kayaking on the Crystal Coast and paddle through salt marshes and barrier islands as you spot local wildlife. Discover our crystal clear waters for yourself at one of these kayaking destinations on the North Carolina Coast:

Intracoastal Waterways

The Intracoastal Waterways extend 300 miles in North Carolina through scenic sounds, rivers, creeks, and marshes. Paddling the Intracoastal Waterways is an easy way to explore all of the coastal communities from Swansboro to Atlantic Beach. The water is shallow and calm, so anyone can enjoy kayaking, even if you’ve never done it before!

Where to access the Intracoastal Waterways: Emerald Isle Woods Park, Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail in Atlantic Beach, Jaycee Park in Morehead City.

Hammocks Beach State Park

kayaking on the nc cost

Paddle the waterways to Hammocks Beach State Park from the dock off Hammock Beach Road in Swansboro. There are a variety of water trails to choose from that make up some of the best kayaking on the Crystal Coast. As you head towards Bear Island, you will paddle through scenic salt marshes abundant with wildlife. Once you reach the island, you can spend time hiking or fishing before returning to your Bluewater Vacation Rental.

Join Paddle NC for a guided Hammocks Beach State Park and Bear Island tour!

Rachel Carson Reserve

A bottlenose dolphin peers from the water.

The Rachel Carson Reserve is a collection of islands and marshes and a fantastic kayaking route for wildlife lovers. Launch your kayak from the Beaufort waterfront and paddle across Taylor’s Creek. Watch for dolphins, diamondback terrapins, and sea turtles on the way. Horse Island is one of four islands in the reserve known for its population of wild horses. Please read the reserve rules before you start your paddling adventure from Beaufort!

Join Beaufort Paddle for a guided tour of Rachel Carson Reserve and learn about the unique history and geology of the islands.

A horse eats grass atop a sand dune amid the Crystal Coast.

Cape Lookout National Seashore

the cape lookout lighthouse in the background

Cape Lookout National Seashore has 16 paddling trails that are accessible in Carteret County. Pick up your paddle trail map at Down East Kayaks in Beaufort. The trails take you through saltwater marshes, channels, and swamps. The calm waters offer a relaxing setting to watch birds as you paddle along the barrier island chain. The best access point is from the Visitors Center on Harkers Island, but the route can be challenging, so check the tide charts.

Discover Kayaking on the Crystal Coast Today!

Spend your vacation kayaking the Crystal Coast. Whether you want to stay in lively Emerald Isle or historic Beaufort, Bluewater Vacation Rentals has a premier collection of vacation homes on the Crystal Coast. 

Speak to one of our certified vacation planners, and we will help you find the perfect vacation rental based on your criteria. 

What is your favorite water sport on the Crystal Coast? Let us know in the comments below!