your paddlesports destination

The Basin - Zekes Island in North Carolina

Trip Overview

The Basin is short for the Cape Fear Basin which is the area right above where Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean meet.

Beautiful paddling day, temperatures in the 70s, moderate winds, lightly cloudy skies. I put-in at 1:45 pm at the Federal Point at Fort Fisher, just south of the ferry landing into the Basin.

As I left the put-in, I was facing the Island. It's a one mile crossing. The Rock, a low rock wall, built well over a hundred years ago that extends from the mainland to the Island is on my right running parallel to my course. It wasn't visible the last time I was here, the tide must have been lower today. It separates the main channel and its jumbo commercial traffic from the Basin's paddlers. I only saw four other kayakers and two jet skiers in the Basin during my paddle. With no roads or bridges, we had the place to ourselves.

I paddled directly across, as I neared the beach, I explored the marsh and the Rock to the right. In the marsh, I saw a dozen great egrets, big white heron with orange beaks. Then I reversed and paddled across the Island's beach and marshy shores. I kept going around the Island until I ran into a lagoon on the backside of the Island. I started running out of water. Ran aground. I ran into the Rock again, I didn't know it extended beyond the island.

Without my map, which I left in the truck, I abandoned my plan to circle the Island. I started backtracking. The wind picked up and gave me a nice push as I headed back to the beach. Afterwards I was informed that the winds pick up in the afternoons.

I beached, snacked and explored the Island. Though there are no "trails" I followed paths from the beach through the maritime forests and scrub lands with neat, windswept oak trees and yucca plants. I found a campfire site, paths through the grassy meadows and neat views of the ferry and commercial operations, and the sand dunes of the barrier islands. Cool.

The wind and wave action pretty much carried me back to the put in. In addition to the egrets, I saw lots of double crested cormorants on the water and in flight formation. Even with the winds, it was easy paddling.

There are actually three Islands that form the Zeke's Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (Zeke's, North and No-Name) and beyond them is Bald Head Island. So, there's something for paddlers of any skill level. I paddled about 4 miles, but a quick 2 mile out and back would be fun as well.


I camped on the beach at Freeman Park in Carolina Beach, two beaches north. It's a good deal if you have a 4 wheel drive. For more info

There's more camping at Carolina Beach State Park. There are more beach rentals and small hotel at Fort Fisher, Kure and Carolina Beaches than you can shake a stick at.


Sea Kayak - Necky Looksha IV (17 foot)


Camping at Freeman Park--$20 per night or $100 season's pass.


Almost 200 miles from Charlotte. Follow Highway 421 South from Wilmington NC. Follow the signs to the Southport Ferry and kept going until youre at the Federal Point put-in.



Guide to Sea Kayaking in North Carolina: Best Trips from Currituck to Cape Fear by Pam Malec.
It's an excellent resource for coastal North Carolina paddling spots.

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Open Water/Ocean
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip