Guide to Sea Kayaking in North Carolina
by Pam Malec (The Globe Pequot Press)
© Pam Malec/The Globe Pequot Press. All Rights Reserved.
Paddling from Cape Hatteras to Ocracoke can be anything from easy to challenging. One of the best places to launch from is the marina near the Cape Hatteras ferry station. You can also get weather updates from the station or ferry captains if they happen to be standing around.
Once you launch there are two basic routes you can take. 1) follow the main island towards the inlet and then paddle across. 2) paddle amongst the smaller islands on the sound side of the inlet and work your way across the inlet.
The first option is the most direct, quickest, and has the greatest chance for adventure. You will want to make sure you time the inlet crossing for slack tide or rising tide. Watch out for boat traffic and the ferries. There isn't a lot of room for the larger boats to manuever, make sure you are out of their way.
If you follow the islands around it is an easier but somewhat longer paddle. Some of the islands are just sand bars, but a few have grasses and small shrubs. Just work your way from island to island until you see the ferry landing at Ocracoke. If you are crossing at low tide you might have to wade a little bit. During duck hunting season there are hunters in duck blinds on the water. Out of courtesy it is best to give them a wide berth.
At the ferry station on Ocracoke there are a few vending machines, but not much else. You can walk around the beach and check out the old remains of a Coast Gaurd Life Saving Station. If you are tired or running out of time you can take the ferry back to Hatteras. This ferry is free and takes about 30 minutes to make the trip.
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