You get a beach house for a week over the summer. On Day 1, you sit in the sun. On Day 2, you sit in the sun. On Day 3 … you start looking for things to do other than sit in the sun. Things like paddling some of the unsung paddle trails that thread through the coast’s vacation communities.

In the Oak Island/Holden Beach area there are seven such designated paddle trails ranging in length from two miles to seven. The trails explore the various protected waterways behind the barrier islands and offer a variety of beginner-friendly paddling experiences. One option: the 6-mile Davis Creek Trail, which starts not far from the boat rental (see below) and heads east, crossing under the Middleton Street Bridge and ends at Heron Park. Close to vacation houses on Oak Island, yet providing a worlds-away escape from another day on the beach.

Didn’t bring a boat? No problem. You can rent one from the Oak Island Recreation Center for $15-$21 for a four-hour stretch.

More info and maps here

Getting there: From NC 211, go south on Middleton Street, then right on Oak Island Drive to 24th street. Map here.

Access and shuttle

oak island

Difficulty: Easy
Length: From 2 to 7 miles
Time to complete: 2 to 5 hours
Location: Oak Island/Holden Beach
City: Oak Island
State: N.C.
Zip: 28465
Put-in latitude: 33 55.228
Put-in longitude: -78 21.944