Family Weekender: Boston

Kayaking Great Bay

Wanna know a secret? The secluded Great Bay Estuary, an hour north of Boston, is a watery wilderness, free of crowds and teeming with wildlife. This undiscovered gem, boasting thousands of acres of tidal waters, mudflats and salt marshes, seven freshwater rivers, and several small creeks, is one of our favorite family kayaking destinations.

We like to get our hearts pumping with a paddle across Great Bay. The currents from river inflows and tide shifts can be strong but short-lived.You'll paddle hard for a few minutes (land is always in sight) before reaching the calms of the shoreline. Head for Adams Point, the peninsulaseparating Litttle Bay from Great Bay.

Here, explore trails and shoreline (look for giant-size horseshoe crabs on the beach!) Then, slip down the Oyster River for a leisurely paddle into salt marshes full of cormorants, blue herons, swans, and other waterfowl. Look for deer in the surrounding fields and hawks and bald eagles overhead.

When the kids scream,"I'm hungry!" head to Newick's on the shores of Little Bay for steaming bowls of chowder or picnic at pretty Wagon Hill Farm at the mouth of Oyster River andLittle Bay.

  • For maps and information, contact the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; (603) 868-1095.
  • Adventure Learning (800-649-9728) offers a one-day guided kayak trip to Great Bay.
  • Do-it-yourselfers can put in at several public launches, including Hilton Park, off Spaulding Turnpike (Rte. 16) in Dover, NH, Lamprey River in downtown Newmarket, and Adams Point in Durham.
  • Families should check out the Sandy Point Discovery Center off Rte. 33 in Stratham, NH, on Great Bay (603-778-0015) for indoor/outdoor exhibits, kids'activities, and self-guided trails.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »