If you like stand up paddleboarding, and you live in Rhode Island, then you are lucky because there are a ton of great spots to paddleboard. The majority of us are within a short drive of the bay and/or the open ocean. It’s pretty phenomenal for a state that’s only 48 miles long by 37 miles across to have 400 miles of coastline. And that doesn’t even include all the lakes, reservoirs and rivers that can be paddled.
The shores of Narragansett Bay are where the better part of that coastline resides, and there are many beautiful areas that can be explored on a paddleboard. There are probably well over 50 spots up and down the bay that I could tell you about, but for this post we’ll look at two spots on the west side of the bay that have easy access and are exciting, fun, very scenic and offer plenty of options.
Sandy Point in Warwick
Sandy Point has quick and easy access to the heart of Narragansett Bay and is situated just south of Greenwich Bay. From the beach, you have a full view of Patience and Prudence islands. Just to the north of the islands is Warwick Neck and Goddard Park Beach is around the backside of the point about two miles from Sandy Point. The paddle out to Patience Island is less than 2.5 miles and Prudence Island is about 3 miles from Sandy Point. Coggeshall Cove lies in the passageway between the islands and on the other side of Prudence is the stunning Potter’s Cove. Both of these coves are great places stop, rest, and have some lunch.
Heading south just a short distance brings you to the mouth of the Potowomut River. Following the Potowomut west you’ll see some amazing wildlife and lush, secluded scenery as you paddle further in. The paddle ends at the Old Forge Road bridge and dam located about 2 miles upstream.
Follow Ives Road past Goddard Park and all the way to the very end. There will be a rotary and public parking lot right at the beachhead.
URI Bay Campus
The University of Rhode Island Bay Campus is situated approximately 2.5 miles south of the Jamestown Bridge on the west shore of the west passage of Narragansett Bay. About 1 mile away and little to the north across the water from the Bay Campus beach lays Dutch Island. Directly across the passage lies Fort Getty, Jamestown (Conanicutt Island) also 1 mile away. Between Dutch Island and Jamestown is Dutch Harbor and Sheffield Cove, which make good destinations to rest and have some lunch.
Heading directly south about .75 miles from the Bay Campus will bring you to the majestic high and rocky cliffs of Bonnet Shores that skirt the West Passage for about 1 mile before opening to the Bonnet Shores beach and cove. Heading south from the end of the cliff bands directly towards the mouth of the bay you will see what looks like the back of a whale coming out of the water carrying a big water tank. That is Whale Rock, it is 1.75 miles from Bonnet Shores cove, and it is a beautiful spot to take in the views of Beaver Tail point, Narragansett Beach, Narrow River and a huge amount of awesome Rhode Island coastline. The north side of Whale Rock forms a mini-cove that is sheltered from the ocean swell and wind and it makes a great spot to rest, hydrate, have a snack, take some pictures and drink in the views. The structure on the rock is what’s left of a lighthouse that was built in 1882 and completely obliterated in the Hurricane of 1938.
There will be a small parking area in front of the beach.
Stay Safe – Have Fun
Narragansett Bay is designated open water by the Coast Guard so remember to bring your PFD (personal flotation device), whistle, and leash. Also, before venturing out into the bay, or any body of open water, you should check and re-check the weather and wind conditions. High winds can blow you off course and/or prevent you from getting back to your starting point. Don’t be overconfident in your ability to handle high wind and big seas as these conditions are unpredictable and can overwhelm even the most fit and experienced paddlers. Also having the right board for the conditions and area you are paddling will make your adventure much more enjoyable. Stay safe, go out on good weather days, and have fun!