The Delaware Bay is an ideal place for the growing sea kayaker. The bay can range from mirror-like conditions to full fury when the wind kicks up. On most days, the Delaware Bay is a pure pleasure to paddle and explore.
I found the best launch spot is in the Townbank area. You can spot this area by looking for the dozen-or-so Hobie Cats sitting on the beach. There is an excellent ramp to get your gear to the beach. Try to stay off the dunes, as they provide valuable protection to the ever-eroding coastline.
Depending on the wind and tide, you can either go north or south. To the north, you will paddle past some incredible bayfront homes. If you have the time and energy, 7 miles north of Townbank is Reed's Beach. This beach looks more like the Outer Banks than southern New Jersey. Reed's Beach is known for its shorebird and horseshoe crab spectacle. Around late May each year, the horseshoe crabs make their way to the shore to lay millions of eggs. These eggs provide a significant food source to migrating shorebirds. Other than the crab and bird viewings (bring a camera, sometimes the horseshoe crabs make it impossible to see the sand!!), Reed's Beach is an excellent place to stop for lunch.
To the south, paddle past the Cape May Canal (watch for boat and ferry traffic) and Higbee Beach is just south of the canal. Higbee Beach is just over 400 acres of hiking trails and wildlife viewing. It makes a quiet spot to stop and have lunch. Continuing south, you will come up on the wreck of the SS Atlantis. The Atlantis was an experimental concrete ship built during WWI when there was a steel shortage. It was moored off the Delaware coast, and broke free during a strong storm. Drifting, it came to rest off the New Jersey coast. It is just barely visible off Sunset Beach. Locals call it "The world's slowest sinking ship". Stop at Sunset Beach for a rest and maybe some ice cream at the small shop on the beach.
If you continue south, make sure you watch the wind and tide. The "rips" are where the bay meets the ocean. When the conditions are right, it can be quite an adventure to paddle. In calm conditions, continue around Cape Island and watch for porpoises.
Regardless of what direction you might take, the Delaware Bay is a wonderful place to explore by kayak, and will provide you with wonderful memories.
In the immediate area, there are no accommodations, but head into Cape May and you will find many. There is an excellent restaurant along Beach Drive called Whaler's Cove. It has a Key West, Jimmy Buffet atmosphere and the prices are very reasonable.
Wherever you are coming from, follow the signs to the Cape May - Lewes Ferry. Instead of going to the ferry, continue straight towards the bay. The street that parallels the bay is Beach Drive. Make a right and proceed north about 3/4 mile. Look for the Hobie Cat masts, and unload there. Make sure you find a place to park. Parking is not allowed along beach drive, and make sure you do not block any driveways.
Topo or USGS maps would provide more information than NOAA charts.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: Open Water/Ocean