Delaware has countless beautiful spots for paddling a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard. But actually finding the launch site is a little trickier.
The Coastal Delaware Paddling Map debuted on July 30 as a physical map and an online database to help people better experience coastal waterways. It’s a public service to assist paddlers and to grow the tourism economic around this environmentally low-impact activity.
“There’s a lot of kayaks and paddleboards being strapped to vehicles … around Sussex County now,” Scott Thomas of Southern Delaware Tourism. “So, paddling coastal Delaware is tremendously popular right now.”
Updated details and a PDF map will be added to the website (www.paddlecoastaldelaware.com). The map’s seven designated paddling zones offer a medley of sojourns through marsh, woodlands, bay, and ocean.
The map lists nearly 70 miles of trail, ranging from 1.3 to 10.4 miles. From novices to experts, everyone can find a course that suits their comfort level.
Details include launch sites, parking lots, parking fees, public restrooms, tide charts, safety tips, related businesses and more. Although it seems like common sense information, these details were never listed in a centralized location until now, Thomas said.
So many vacationers — and even residents — don’t realize the extent of Delaware’s gorgeous and diverse nature offerings, from woods to river and marsh, from seals and dolphins to migratory birds.
“One of our favorite things to hear is, ‘I never realized — we never knew this was back here,’” said Dave Wilson, a longtime eco-tour guide with Conservation Community Consulting.
“One surefire way that we know we can grow the sport is by making paddling information useful and available to every one of the residents and visitors alike … a variety of wonderful paddling experiences that you can enjoy, from Milton and Prime Hook all the way down to Fenwick Island,” said Ed Lewandowski of Delaware Sea Grant.
Operating under University of Delaware, the Delaware Sea Grant and its Sustainable Coastal Communities Initiative funded this map and website in their mission to provide public environmental and economic support.
In addition to the aforementioned agencies, other public and private partners included the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and Quest Kayak.
People have sought more waterfront activities, as evidenced by the popularity of events like Paddlefest on Aug. 24 at Delaware Seashore State Park and the regional Delmarva Paddling Weekend on Sept 28 to 29.
Western Sussex County has a similar resource with Paddle the Nanticoke (https://paddlethenanticoke.com).
By Laura Walter