Great Bay in New Hampshire
Although Great Bay is a large estuary (a mix of salt and fresh water), I classified it here as ocean kayaking because you need to pay attention to the tides before attempting the Bay.
First off, this is a large body of water, something like 5,000 acres of surface water and 150 miles of shoreline. There are at least 24 boating access sites to Great Bay. We kayaked the Bay with a naturalist guide and launched from the Great Bay Discovery Center in Greenland.
In the area we explored, we enjoyed wide open water with forests, fields, and marsh grasses embracing the shoreline. We spotted a deer and saw a number of birds including cormorants, ospreys, ducks, and swallows.
The water was smooth on the day we were there, although we had to paddle a little harder than we normally do on flat water because of the small current produced by the tide. We also encountered some motor boat traffic, though most power boaters were respectful of our kayaks.
Towards the end of the paddle, our guide took us into a small creek lined with marsh grasses that was very pretty, but we didn't get too far because of a downed tree. If you decide to go this route, be sure to use insect repellent!
We paddled Great Bay at high tide. Once low tide sets in, the Bay is about 50 percent deep mud flats and you can't drag your kayak across the flats without sinking. So be smart and do your homework about the tides for the specific area where you plan to launch. The timing of high and low tides varies a lot from one end of the Bay to the other.
Overall, Great Bay is a beautiful natural area and I would recommend it to anyone who is willing to take the time to understand its tidal influences.
Great Bay Discovery Center accommodates car-top boats only; no trailers.
We paid a fee for the guide; Not sure if the Center charges boaters on their own to launch there. Call them at 603-778-0015 for more information.
From the South on I-95, take exit 2 (just before the Hampton Tolls) and head west on Route 101 for 4.5 miles until you come to the exit for Routes 33/108. Turn right at the bottom of the ramp and follow Route 33 for approximately 4 miles. Take the second left (Depot Road) after the Squamscott Road traffic lights. Follow Depot Road to the end.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: Open Water/Ocean