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From Trails End put in, you can see the inlet side of Masonboro Island less than 300 yards away. Masonboro Island is a barrier island with an inlet side and an ocean side. I chose to paddle north (left) following the inlet. It's part of the Intercoastal, but there was almost no motorboat traffic, just a couple of fishing boats.
I launched about an hour after high tide, I don't think I'd launch around low tide. Many places in the marsh were only two feet of water. After a mile or so, I turned into the marsh and did some exploring. I saw great blue heron, cormorants, ducks and some gulls. I could see the sand dunes on the island.
I started looking for a path to a sandy landing area on Masonboro Island, it took a while. I put in and hiked across the island to beach (half mile). It was awesome. As far as the eye can see, there were only two other people in view.
Masonboro Island beach is eight miles long. I talked with a local lady on the beach who contrasted the isolation of the Masonboro Island with the insanity of Wrightsville Beach, just next door, on a 4th of July weekend. The only access to the island is by boat.
On my return to my kayak, I passed a campsite. Primitive camping is allowed on the island (no facilities or water, no charge).
On my way back to Freeman Park, I bought a fire pit (steel bucket) and enjoyed the fire and view as the sun went down. People at the two Hardware Stores on the main drag in Carolina Beach are knowledgeable and helpful with camping information.
Other nearby calm water paddling opportunities are Zeke's Island at Fort Fisher and Carolina Beach State Park. Unfortunately, I had to head home on Sunday.
Being early March, there were only two other tents in sight. The only facilities are porta-johns. You need an approved fire pit for a campfire, bring your own firewood. I pitched my tent with the Atlantic surf as my view. SWEET! Then I headed north to Trails End access point in Wilmington.
If you don't have a 4 wheel drive, there's plenty of camping at Carolina Beach State Park and private campgrounds.
2-3 Canoe/Kayak Trailer