THERE ARE FEW THINGS MORE INVIGORATING AND MYSTERIOUS THAN PADDLING OUT ON COOL, GLASSY WATERS AT THE BREAK OF DAWN. EGRETS AND HERONS GLIDE ON THE SALT-INFUSED BREEZE AS THEY SEARCH FOR THEIR MORNING NOURISHMENT, AND THE SUN PEAKS OVER THE HORIZON TO TELL NATURE IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP AGAIN.
Story & Photographs by Terah Wilson
The Cape Fear Region offers many ways to reconnect and unwind on the water. From exploring ancient swamps and paddling the pristine waters around Masonboro Island to navigating the area with the Cape Fear Riverwatch, there is something for everyone, so grab your paddles and get exploring.
Richly bathed in history, the Cape Fear River often entices adventurers searching for their next fix. Our first unique exploration opportunity will have you steeped deep into ancient cypress swamps and perusing the waters of Colonial rice canals. Cape Fear River Adventures and Captain Charles Robbins offers an intriguing look into backwater places that most wouldn’t dare to venture into.
Using a combination of kayaks, canoes and skiffs, Captain Robbins guides you to discover some of the unknown mysteries lurking beneath our dark waters—from 2,500 year old cypress trees in the “Three Sisters Swamp” to old sunken shipwrecks, a trip with Cape Fear River Adventures will be a trip you will not soon forget.
If something more laid back is your cup of tea, consider Wrightsville Kayak Company’s Masonboro Island Adventure Tour. They will hook you up with everything you need to spend a day kayaking around and exploring one of the area’s greatest untouched havens.
This is a self-guided tour (they provide you with a map) that launches from Wrightsville Beach. The map takes you past nesting grounds for loggerheads, green sea turtles and fishing spots for least terns and osprey. Paddle around the island or take a dip in the pristine waters that surround you. No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong.
For the ultimate experience in comprehensive exploration, look no further than Cape Fear River Watch (CFRW). CFRW is a grassroots organization that was founded in 1993 by a group of local citizens that wanted to be better stewards of our area’s most precious natural resource.
One way the organization educates is through their Third Saturday Paddle Series. Experience the enchantment of the water as you explore the Lower Cape Fear River Basin and all the small rivers and tributaries that flow into it. This adventure will immerse you in unspoiled backwaters and all the wildlife that resides in its habitats while learning how precious the river ecosystems are.
During a Third Saturday Paddle Series, you will join a group of other like-minded people who want to experience all that the river has to offer. Each month you will go on a new adventure. You can expect to visit places like Keg Island, Holly Shelter and the Black River. This is really the most comprehensive way to explore the inland waters of Southeastern North Carolina. Registration is required to participate.
The Cape Fear Kayakers Club was established on August 27, 2013 by Walter Mayo. 1,800 members strong, the club is a local group of kayak fanatics and beginners alike that meet weekly on Wednesday nights at 5:30 p.m. under the Heide Trask bridge at Wrightsville Beach. The group paddles together through Motts Channel, Banks Channel, around Harbor Island and back, often stopping at Dockside Restaurant for refreshments before heading back to the bridge.
In addition to the Wednesday night paddles, the group also regularly plans overnight excursions to areas throughout North and South Carolina. They frequent places like Bald Head Island, the Black River, Burgaw, Lockwood Folly, the Outer Banks and inland rivers and lakes. If you are new to kayaking this club will be a great resource, as they have many highly skilled and trained kayaking instructors ready to give you tips and advice to help you become a better kayaker.