kayaking spots between va and fl?

new to the east coast, but travelling from virginia to visit my mother in port st. lucie, florida this thanksgiving holiday. i am looking for advice/tips/locations on paddle places along the way.

i’m strictly flatwater and a new paddler, so, nothing too exciting, please :-). the little floaty thing is a pungo 140. and i’ll be female paddling alone so personal safety is a factor as well.

…what about alligators and poisonous snakes…are they something to be particularly concerned about? shudders

i’ve got time to spend on the trip down, so if someone knows of any non-paddling things i should check out feel free to forward that info too!

thanks in advance :-).

Not from that part of the world, but did
live in South Carolina for a while, in the Northwestern portion. Didn’t paddle much, but was aware of numerous places near the coast for paddling, as well as lots of saltwater and brackish water areas, the same can be said for North Carolina and Georgia. I’d suggest a good place to search is the tourisim and travel departments of those states.

As for alligators, they’re not interested in you if you leave them alone. I fish a lake that is full of them. My kayak is 9.6 ft and a number of the gators are as long or longer, as much as 13-4 ft in length. They don’t bother me and mostly dive, swim away, and surface yards farther away. If it still bothers you to paddle where gators may be habitating, take a toy poodle with you and throw it in the water if one gets too close.

tybee island, ga
turn left onto i-16 towards savannah and follow the signs to tybee. very nice, very safe. lots of cheap motels off season. also you can stay at the sea kayak georgia paddling inn- very cool and reasonably priced. there is ocean paddling there, but you won’t want to do that with a pungo. go to sea kayak georgia, right on the main road into town and ask them where to put in to paddle the back marshes. just gorgeous- tons of birds, dolphins, etc. you could do this for days. be sure to get up early and eat breakfast at “the breakfast club”.

have fun.


Too Many Places to Count in NC and SC
I live in the Wilmington area and am most familiar with my immediate area. Hammocks Beach State Park in Swansboro has designated paddle trails through the marsh out to Bear Island, Topsail Island has miles and miles of inland saltmarsh trails, Wrightsville Beach also has lots of saltmarsh trials through the marsh grass. There are several creeks in the area that offer great flatwater paddles of anything between a mile or two up to multi-day trips.

If you are very lucky you might just happen on an alligator in these parts but they generally will make sure that they move before allowing you to get close. Yes, we have lots of poisonous snakes here but you will not see them in saltwater and they will stay on and near the shore of the creeks and lakes. (Most of them will likely be asleep for the winter by Turkey Day.)

There are several sites that could provide you with more information about specific areas of interest. Actually, P.Net talks about several local sites. E-mail if you are interested in more info.

happy paddling,


agree …
Tybee’s nice. also check out Hunting Island, SC. a cool state park with a great protected lagoon. lots of birds and critters.

Edisto Island is nice as well. there is a woman there doing tours around the wetlands named Linsey. she’s a hoot and very EDUcational.


both of these places are a bit out of the way (18+ miles off the highway) but totally worth the drive.

Bring bug spray and sunscreen!

have fun


Waccamaw river, SC
The Waccamaw is a beautiful and relatively pristine fresh water river just a few miles from the Atlantic ocean in the Myrtle Beach area. There are several creeks such as the Socastee and Enterprise that make shorter 2-3 mile trips. We have a dock at the Waccatee Zoo which is in the South Myrtle Beach / Surfside Beach. You may see alligators but they usually avoid you as the gentleman from Wilmington stated. If you would like to launch from our dock just call . Capt Andrea Great American Riverboat Co. 843 650-6600 or 421-8752

Edisto River , SC. I-95 crosses it at
Canadys. Carolina Heritage outfitters can help you with a trip. I don’t think bugs and critters will be an issue then.

Check out Janes Island State Park

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It's in Maryland, but that's pretty close to Virginia. There are paddle trails throughout the park. No alligators. Never seen a poisonous snake in that area of the world, though I'm sure some exist. Just that there's enough room for them to get away before you see them, which keeps me real happy.

If you're not stuck on that flatwater thing, in Virginia there are some gorgeous rivers with lots of sections that have no rapids to speak of. And don't forget about paddling around DC. You can see some awesome sights from the water.

- Big D

I know this won’t help you,
but being the father of six daughters and after having read your post, I would strongly advise that you don’t try any unknown places on your own.

There are wonderful places all the way down, but make sure you hook up with a reputable outfitter.

I have paddled most of the places that have been mentioned so far, and although my wife and one of my daughters are both expert paddlers, I wouldn’t want them paddling there alone.



What Jack Said
What he said makes sense whether you are male or female. As a beginning paddler I’d recommend that you rarely paddle alone, and never do it in unfamiliar rivers.

The pungo is a very capable rec boat. Do you have float bags for it? Have you installed an electric or foot operated pump? Do you have a water proof VHF radio. Are you really good at self rescue in that big wide boat. Do you carry a flares, fire starting kit, emergency hypothermia kit and the other needed things if you end up wet and cold in the wilderness? How will you post a float plan while you are travelling?

If you are really well prepared then paddling alone can be fun, but even expert paddlers go in groups to scope out net territory. Why don’t you ask other pnetters to show you their homewaters as you paddle through.

If you want to paddle near Raleigh NC on your way down, give me an email. We have some beautiful lakes and a nice run on the Neuse river here.

I guess I should never paddle.
I’m sure the advice not to paddle alone is well meant, but its not practical for some of us. I always paddle alone, no one who can go when I go, besides, I like being alone on the water. Great release. For me, the danger zone isn’t in the water, but at the landing areas. But, its not much different at the parking lot of Wally World.

Did you happen to notice…
that the original poster was a female?

There are a few of us males left in this world that put a real value on the fairer sex and still like being their protectors even though to some that is not politically correct in this day and age.



Hunting Island, just there

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Was in the area for a couple of flatwater races this weekend. I camped at Hunting Island Friday and Saturday nights. My tent site was right on the beach under a canopy of pines. Breezes kept the bugs at bay mostly. Gnats were insane at the race in Port Royal, and at Isle of Palms, and in Brunswick GA when I stopped for gas so I'm sure they were bad back of the island out of the breeze. Bathrooms were clean even though the campground was PACKED. Not much light pollution so the night sky was very pretty from the beach. Lots of marsh creeks to explore. After my race on Saturday I had a blast playing on the shoals extending out from the inlet on the north end of the island in my touring boat during an ebb tide. Definitely not a bad paddling location.

Spent Thanksgiving at Tybee last year. Also an awesome option with ocean inlets or backwater galore.

If you hit coastal Georgia or SC, mind the tides. The tide range is pretty substantial (I grew up on a creek with a 0.75m tide so the tides in SC and Georgia look huge to me).

Really too many places to list though. Saw a huge party of kayaks on the Combahee where route 17 crosses between Beaufort and Charleston when I was returning from Sunday's race. Ashepoo and Edisto looked really interesting.

Up in VA the Northwest and North Landing rivers are protected and nice in the winter. The Mattaponi and Pamunkey are georgeous tidal freshwater rivers. They are prettiest in the early summer though when the marshes are greenest.

Alligator River NWR in eastern NC has some very pretty protected water that is great in winter.....................

But, as a beginner you should probably seek a local outfitter. Look up Halfmoon Outfitters and Higher Ground for a SC connection in the Beaufort/Charleston area (I'm plugging them because they sponsored this weekend's events). I don't know if they run tours but they will certainly know who in the area does.


A nice place to paddle on Tybee is at the back river at Alley 3. From Savannah follow hwy 80 all the way to Tybee Island. After you cross over the bridge a mile or so on the right will be Sea Kayak Georgia and the Outdoor Inn. If you go another mile or so past SKG, turn right on Jones Ave and follow until it ends/hits Chatham. Turn right and go 2-3 blocks and look for the Alley 3 street sign on the left. Turn left and park in metered parking. Be sure to feed the meters. From Alley 3, it is an easy paddle to Little Tybee and surrounding marsh creeks. Keep an eye on the tides if you go deep into the marsh as it dries in some spots or exposes oysters at low tide. I recommend taking a short tour with Savannah Canoe and Kayak or Sea Kayak Georgia.

I’m assuming

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you'll be travellin on I-95 but would detour if necessary. Kerr Lake (Bugg's Island Lake in VA) has some great flat water, lake paddling. I go there often and you'll likely see eagles and may get a glimpse of otters.

Lake Marion in SC is a big piece of water and is good. It's right off I-95.

Charleston has tons of places to paddle from saltwater marshes, the harbor, ICW. I did a tour some time ago. The owner's name is Kathie. She really good.


Charleston's also a blast to just hang out in.

Have a good time!

NC Aquariums
call the Aquariums in Morehead City and Fort Fisher, NC, they do marsh tours on certain days. Other than that, just starting out with a rec boat, I’d stay away from most of the coastal stuff. Just a couple weeks ago, I was going out with the tide, not paddling at all and reading 4 mph on the GPS. Most SC and GA inlets can be treacherous if you are not familiar with what to expect and what to watch for. If you just HAQVE to go out solo, the Edenton, Oriental, New Bern, NC waterfronts are OK, little tide way oup the sound. Beaufort and Morehead City waterfronts are nice, but watch out for the tide and the traffic. Mount Pleasant (across the bridge from Charleston) cross Shem Creek and watch for the boat landing sign, turn left a couple blocks past Shem Creed bridge, I wouldn’t go any further out than Crab Bank. There is an outfitter close by, may be Coastal Expeditions. Charleston, SC you could put in on the Ashley and paddle around the battery and back if you are comfortable with large boat wakes, get a copy of the Post and Courier, it will have tide tables. Beaufort SC waterfront should be OK, same cautions. Hunting Is. lagoon is nice but small, and you don’t want to get out of it by yourself in a rec boat. I would only recommend Tybee Is area on an organized tour, and maybe Thanksgiving is OK there, but other times parking is a real pain at the ramp on the back of the Island. Sea Kayak Ga. does tours, they are on the right as you go onto the island. There is an outfitter on St Simon’s Is Ga also.

keep the ideas coming, pelase :slight_smile:
these have been great suggestions. i’m using them to compile a general list even if i don’t get to them all on one trip…or until i am more experienced/with company!

alas, since this is a tightly-budgeted trip, outfitters or a pricey tour are out of the question.

and thanks to those of you who offered to meetup for a paddle along the way. it would be great to meet kindred spirits. once i get a better handle on my timeframe and route i’ll let everyone know.


ditto the beaufort sc area
there are so many places to paddle here the possibilities are infinite, and the lagoon at hunting island is pretty special.

I wasn’t responding to you jack, but the

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second responder, he DID say male or female in his post. Generally, I agree that its best for a female not to paddle alone. But, I know women who will do so. For them, one can only hope that they are watchful. As for personal safety for a woman, I'm not sure which is more dangerous, paddling in an isolated place or walking to a car alone late at night in a retailer's or mall parking lot. In the end, its for each woman to decide for herself whether to paddle alone, we can only suggest.

just looking at some maps…
so many paddles, so little time. i need a decision making strategy.

truth is, even before all the talk of it earlier on the thread, i’m not all hat keen on paddling alone. i think it would be really cool to hook up with kindred spirits along my route. which can (and probably will) include anyplace east of 95 between richmond and the georgia/florida border. (i’m heading for port st. lucie, but may head over to the gulf coast once i cross the state line).

my earliest departure date is 20 november, and i have to be in psl by late afternoon the day before thanksgiving.

i really would like to see the tybee/beaufort/edisto area, but other than that i’ve not got my heart set on any one place. and i’m absolutely sure they are all lovely in their own way :-).

anyone interested in, and able to join me for a paddle along the way, please do email your available times and contact info.

we’ll have a blast!