Essex Bay really is spectacular and scenic. There are a few sandbars to explore around half-tide. Crane Beach is paradise on earth, and all the other boaters docked on the beach agree with me. It's not unpleasantly crowded though because Crane Beach is absolutely huge at 4 miles long. Keep in kind that the bay waters get rougher as you approach Crane Beach toward the open ocean. It is quite difficult to paddle out of the bay due to the waves, so you'll be approaching the beach from the east end or the back of Castle Neck. Except near Crane Beach, Essex Bay waters were quite calm.
On the way back I hit Choate Island. Even though there were no biting greenhead flies on Crane Beach, there were very many on Choate Island and I had to cut my visit there short due to them. Online sources will say whether Crane Beach has the horseflies in the summer but will not mention the island, so if you plan to visit it, wear DEET. Preferably the 100% DEET stuff. You've been warned. Without the bugs, it's a beautiful island with panoramic bay views.
The part of the bay west of Choate Island is quite confusing but beautiful with many marshy creeks. The creek that goes into the interior of Choate Island is the most scenic one there i paddled. Plan on having enough time to explore because you'll have fun paddling down some side creeks or get lost. Have a map handy around here and don't be stuck at low tide. Google Maps works.
I did not find bay currents to be much of a problem, even when Im paddled against them. It was hard to find Conomo point hidden in the bay behind the islands and creeks and it was getting dark. Altogether the paddle was everything I hoped for and this trip should be on everyone's list.