Paddling Southern Jersey Back Bays/Marsh

I made a promise to my son that after a few more lake sessions in his boat (he’s 7) I’d take him out in the back bays/marshes along the Jersey shore so he could begin to experience paddling against/with a current and tides, which is the next step to getting him at some point in the distant future surfing with me.

Anyway, it’s been a while (12 years or so) since I’ve paddled the bays and stuff in Jersey - my memory of them is two fold - some areas were pristine and quiet, others were full of boaters with narrow passages, sharp turns and tall grass which would inhibit a boater from seeing a kayaker.

I’m looking for any good advice on places to take him where he can get some next level experience without us worrying about Billy Bob and his 12 pack slamming into us. Any suggestions?



Tuckerton, Ortely Beach, Island Beach
Try the bay in Tuckerton. Go to Great Bay Blvd and park at the base of the first or second bridge. The green head flies are viscious this time of year so I would wait until after the summmer is over or use Sawyer product specially designed for flies.

Another place I have gone is Lavallette and Ortley Beach. You may be able to get access to the bay at one of the public playgrounds.

Another place you can try is Island Beach State Park. They have a canoe/kayak launch area on the bay side. I have not done this yet but may be your best shot at getting away from the fast boat crowd because this is a nature preserve.

back bay
you can paddle the eggharbor river ,there plenty of back bay and small creek…

go to the esell manor in mays landing(rt-50) for put in and can go to mcnarmara park at tuckahoe…also good place for paddling…any where down by ocean city in the back bay…can do the bays in section all way to cape may

Island Beach State Park
Water is shallow and no power boats allowed. There are 2 canoe and kayak launches. Go the the second one. Drive in the road, unload the boats and then park the car at the lot.


good link for launch sites

NJ back bays paddle
All the places mentioned are great. May I add another, The bay at Stone Harbor, there is a public launch out by the sanctuary. One thing that I did not see mentioned was to check tide tables. The is especially important if you start to wander up a small creek or inlet. No fun getting stuck on a mudflat at the mercy of the insects.


Stone Harbor/Avalon
I second the motion in favor of the back bays around Stone Harbor. Be aware of the tidal flows. Some of the big wide bays are shallow enough to strand you when the tide goes out, and the tidal flows at the inlets are substantial.

Go Straight To Surfing
Go buy a couple of long surf boards and go out in the 2-3’ waves. Your son can catch rides on his belly. When he gets that, he’ll learn to pop up on his knee, and then pop fully up on his feet. By then he is hooked.

I used to kayak with my younger son. He decided that he didn’t care for paddling. Too much hassle with immersion gear, skirts, etc. I actually feel the same way these days and got rid of all the seakayaks but the 14’ plastic Mystic (for rock play and surfing). I mostly surf with waveskis and one high performance (HP) surf kayak.

This summer, we’ve been surfing with mini-long boards. My son is having an absolute blast and so am I. The look on his face when he first popped up and rode his board to the shore.

Two weeks of vacation coming up. Looking forward to a lot of surfing. Minilong boards and waveskis.