Holden Beach, NC

I’m going to Holden Beach, NC next week, haven’t been there in years & want to paddle around & about the intercoastal waterway. Anybody have any experience doing this? Where’s the best places to get in & out and what do I not want to miss in this area? I will be doing some fishing…what are the best fishing spots?

Download Google Earth and scout
from space. Sometimes the photography is so good, you can see individual kayaks. Shift to Google Maps to identify the approach roads.

Google for kayaking outfitters in the area. They may help you find the best routes.

These things have worked for me, both around Tybee Island GA, and on the Gulf Coast.

There is a good launch place
right after you go over the bridge where you can launch into the intercoastal water way.

Use caution at Tubbs Inlet. The surf can be very difficult at certain tides, but you can always line your boat around the shore to get out in the open Atlantic.

It’s been a while and would be nice to get back there for a few paddles.

Jack L

Thanks guys
I asked about the intercoastal waterway because I’m chicken to go out into the open ocean. I went to Roatan last year which is an island off the Honduras. I was in the ocean there but stayed on the land side of the reef and the water was never rough. I have more float experience than my boyfriend and I’m just not ready to try that. I know things can happen anywhere BUT I just don’t want to be in the waves.

Local Outfitter
Is The Adventure Kayak Company in Southport (just north of Holden)910-454-0607. They lead local trips, rent boats, and would be happy to steer you to a nice safe paddle even with your own gear - my local favorite is Rice Creek - a small blackwater creek, although tidal and long way from the ocean so the tidal effect is almost zero.

Lockwood’s Folly
My only experience in the area is paddling Lockwood’s Folly, just north of Holden. It was a nice little trip from the bridge at Holden and then up a few miles.

You might also get in touch with Watersmyth kayaking based in Wilmington.

I am quite familiar with the general
area. My family has had a house on Long Beach (now Oak Island) just across Lockwood’s Folly Inlet for about 30 years.

I would recommend against paddling out or near the mouth of Lockwood’s Folly inlet during periods of maximum tide flow, especially if there is a strong SW wind. I have GPS’d outflows over 6 kts at max flow without paddling and a strong SW wind can set up significant standing waves. Otherwise, it isn’t too bad, so know how to read a tide table and calculate max flow period. Just inside of the inlet mouth at the ICW is is calmer, although there is still strong current at at max change. You can paddle east on the ICW across the inlet inside over to Sheep Island, along Montgomery Slough, and back into Lockwood’s Folly River to Varnumtown for a great estuary exploration. The water is usually clear and abounds with fish, particularly this time of year when the big shrimp are in abundance in the estuary. The Adventure Company in Southport usually takes their trips there.

Another good area to paddle is to go over to Southport and launch off the small beach there (there is a small public park beach near the Pilot Tower). Paddle across the ICW to the west into the estuary and behind Oak Island. Again, I recommend against paddling across the Cape Fear toward Baldhead Island unless you know the area well. The area close to the mouth of Cape Fear at Ft. Caswell also has pretty strong flow and significant waves at certain times, and the Baldhead passenger ferry kicks up a lot of wake. I have taken advanced seakayakers from my group across there several times and it is a fun trip if you are more advanced, but you certainly want good local knowledge to do so.

You can also take the Southport/Ft. Fisher ferry across to Ft. Fisher. There is a public boat landing near the ferry dock at Ft. Fisher where you can put in and explore the area of The Basin and behind Smith Island in more sheltered and safe waters than Cape Fear River proper. The water is still warm even in late Oct and the weather generally mild.

I plan to be in Long Beach on the weekend of Oct 22. They are having a Pirate Invasion festival at Southport.