Rhode Island’s has many excellent areas to paddleboard including lots of great spots to paddleboard on Narragasett Bay. The bay itself has over 300 miles of coastline that can be accessed pretty easily at many different spots. It is easy to transport and drop a paddleboard into any area that has water access, making the bay an awesome place to experience a wide variety of SUP adventures. In our last post we looked the two excellent paddleboard spots on the west side of the bay. Here are a few spots on the east side of the bay.
Colt State Park occupies a long stretch of coastline on the Popaquash Neck in Bristol. This coastline includes beach areas, sea walls, rocky waterfront and wetland. Obviously, the beach areas are the most hospitable places to put in. To get to the beach all you need to do is follow Asylum Rd at the entrance to the park straight up till you see the water. The parking area will be on your right.
Starting at the beach you can head north towards Rumstick Point. Staying to the west side of Rumstick will bring you along a lengthy stretch of sandy beaches that lead up to Barrington Town Beach and cove at the mouth of the Providence River. If you head to the east of Rumstick Point you will find the Barrington River and Belcher Cove.
Heading southwest from the beach out towards the east passage, you will see the north tip of Prudence Island about 3 miles away. Follow the shoreline south for approximately 1.5 miles and you will come to the gorgeous Potter Cove. Potter’s Cove is semi-enclosed by a long, sandy spit of land that extends .5 miles from the north end of the cove. This shelters the cove from currents and choppy seas and is a great spot to land, have lunch, relax and explore the island.
I sometimes lump Bristol Harbor with Colt State Park because they are so close to one another- just about 2 miles apart. You can access Bristol Harbor by way of Poppasquash Road on the north side by the marina but the parking is limited there, and who wants to compete with motorboats for water access. We found a great little hide-away spot further off of Poppasquash Road where there is day parking along the side of the street. Heading south on Poppasquash take Portside Road and follow to the end. You will see a path and stone pillar that says “Public Right of Way.” This leads through a wooded area (approx 250 feet) right out onto the beach. From there you can put in at the beach and paddle south towards Hog Island or head east towards Mount Hope Bay. Hog Island has a neat shallow inlet on the north side that is sheltered from chop and currents making it a good spot to rest and hydrate.
If you head east out of Bristol Harbor and round Poppasquash Point you will be directly across from Potter’s Cove on Prudence Island. It’s a 2 mile paddle from the point. You can also paddle north from Potter’s Cove and round the north end of Prudence Island where you will see Patience Island. In between the two islands are two more really pretty coves and sandy beaches.
Fort Wetherill lies on the East Passage side of Jamestown. It is a state park so there is plenty of public parking along with cliff walk trails and restroom facilities. There are two coves that make up West Cove in Fort Wetherill Park. They share the same parking lot but the cove on the right has the easiest access with a large boat ramp and a beach. This cove is often used for scuba training so you may see little red and white flags bobbing in the water- stay clear of them as there are divers underneath. The cove itself is very beautiful, in fact the entire southern coastline of this area is stunning. There are miles of huge rocky cliffs, breaking ocean swells, and cool looking rock formations reach out into the water. There are also caves, hidden beach-lets, and lots of wildlife.
Heading south you will pass a long strand of cliffs that eventually opens to the mouth of Mackerel Cove. Mackerel Cove is about 1 mile long and .5 miles across. There’s a sheltered beach area on the north side as you enter mouth that makes an excellent place to rest and enjoy the scenery. All the way down to the end of the cove you can see the causeway beach that connects Beavertail to the rest of Jamestown.
Travelling further south along the rocky coast you will pass Hull Cove about a mile up from Mackerel Cove. A little ways further and you reach Beavertail State Park. Beavertail point is a long, spear-shaped extent of rock that points out into the ocean breaking up open water swells that spray high up onto the rocks. The Beavertail Lighthouse stands above the break flashing it’s rotating beacon. This is an awesome sight to see from the perspective of a paddleboard and as you round the Beavertail Point a wide, engaging panorama of the Rhode Island coastline opens up that is really awesome to see.
If you head north out of West Cove the seascape is just as amazing as on the southerly stretch. There are outcroppings of rocks you can paddle between as you make your way past the Fort Wetherill battery and into Jamestown Harbor. You will pass the Clingstone cedar house built on a big rock across from Bull’s Point and the sprawling Newport Bridge will be in front of you a little over 1.5 miles away. Newport Harbor is directly across the channel about 2 miles away and offers many options. You can paddle around Goat Island, visit Fort Adams to the south or travel along the shores of Brenton Cove.
Fair Warning: The waters in the lower East Passage of Narragansett Bay are a bit tumultuous. Every time we have gone paddleboarding on this run it has been a challenge to one extent or another. This is an area where water depths can range from 20 feet along the coastline down to over 170 feet out in the channel. This makes for some pretty rugged seas that can be compounded by wakes from big ships moving in and out of the bay. If you are not an experienced paddleboarder you may feel you have bitten off more than you can chew. If you are an experienced and strong paddleboarder you will definitely appreciate the challenge. It goes without saying, if there are high winds or the weather looks unstable in the least, then I would strongly suggest that you consider paddling somewhere more sheltered.
If you have any favorite spots in the bay or on the coast that you would like us to check out and write about in our future blog posts drop us an email. We’d love to hear about your adventures!