your paddlesports destination

Pamlico Sound in North Carolina

Trip Overview

Although we stayed in Nags Head, my paddling partner Tom and I decided to explore some paddling areas just south of the Outer Banks so we headed south on Rt. 12. Just past Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is a small town of Hatteras Island called Salvo. We launched at a little white sand beach area filled with small prickly pear cacti into the Pamlico Sound and paddled north a few miles before heading back south past our original launch site. Although the areas we paddled were somewhat shallow, in this very wide part of the sound, you could not see the other side of the shore which made it appear as if we were paddling on the open sea. In this area, we observed some very large size jellyfish. Surprisingly, there were virtually no boats around.

In our journey south, we spent quite a bit of time exploring a few small narrow creeks and estuaries which were swarmed with wildlife. In one quiet creek, we spotted a little blue heron and a few wading egrets. The waters were loaded with jumping fish, blueclaw crabs and small diamondback terrapin turtles. The shores of these little marshes were also loaded with fiddler crabs. As we left the creeks and paddled farther south along the shore of the sound, the water was crystal clear and a little deeper along what seemed like miles of sedge. Along the miles of sedge and through the crystal clear water right below the waterline, we were able to see numerous nutria swimming and burrowing into holes in the sedge. (Nutrias look like a large rodent that is part rat and part beaver).

It was very sunny and about 85 degrees. We were starting to get hot and ready to take a break however there were no beaches in sight to land at. We continued to paddle, each mile hoping to find a beach...however there were none.

After paddling about 4 miles, we finally decided to simply land on an area of cleared muddy sedge where we drank some cool water, had lunch, watched some fish jumping out of the water and took a short rest. After our break we paddled a mile or so south to No Ache Island before paddling at a steady pace back to our take out. An invigorating pace. The beautiful weather and seclusion of the area made this a spectacular paddle.


Guide to Sea Kayaking in North Carolina: The Best Day Trips and Tours from Currituck to Cape Fear by Pam Malec. Globe Pequot Press, 2001.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip