35 places to rent a canoe/kayak in North Carolina

Part of the rental fleet at Lake Johnson.

It’s one of the cheapest recreation deals going: for as little as $5 an hour you can captain your own ship on any number of waterways throughout North Carolina. These bargain basement deals are offered at various county, municipal and state parks throughout the state.

We ran a preliminary list of such places in June; today, we offer a significantly more comprehensive listing (though if you notice an omission, let us know and we’ll be sure to plug it in). We’ve broken your options down by geographic region and included only the basic info: venue, type of boats offered and how much a rental will run you. Note that we’ve either included a range of prices or the minimum; boat houses often have complicated rate structures that you can learn more about at the Web sites provided.

Note, too: A deposit is often required, some boat houses take only cash, rentals are usually seasonal and some only rent on weekends. A good idea to call ahead before heading over.


Emerald Isle

Hot Wax Surf Shop, 252.354.6466
Boats: kayaks
Rates: $35 for five hours, $55 full day.

North Topsail Beach

Adrenaline Rush, (910) 934-3422
Boats: canoes, kayaks
Rates: Call.

Onshore Surf Shop, 910-328-2232
Boats: kayaks, standup paddleboards (surfboards, bodyboards, bikes)
Rates: $40 for four hours, $75 full day.

Oak Island

Oak Island Recreation Center,  910-278-5518
Boats: kayaks, canoes.
Rates: $15-$21 for four hours.


Barrier Island Kayaks, 252.393.6457.
Boats: various kayaks, standup paddleboards
Rates: $30 for two hours to $70 a day

Second Wind Tours,  910.325.3600
Boats: various kayaks, standup paddleboats, bikes
Rates: $25 half day (kayaks), $20 half day (bikes)

Salty Dog Kayak Rentals & Tours, 910.338.1541 or 252.515.1181
Boats: various kayaks
Rates: $15 for one hour to $55 a day

Coastal plain


Jones Lake State Park, 910.588.4550
Boats: canoes
Rates: $5 an hour


Merchants Millpond State Park, 252.357.1191
Boats: canoes
Rates: $5 an hour

Seven Springs

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, 919.778.6234
Boats: canoes
Rates: $5 an hour

South Mills

Dismal Swamp State Park, 252.771.6593
Boats: canoes, kayaks
Rates: $5 an hour



Morrow Mountain State Park, 704.982.4402
Boats: canoes, rowboats
Rates: $5 an hour

Person County
Mayo Park, 336.597.7806
Boats: canoe, kayak.
Rates: $10 for four hours

Charlotte area


U.S. National Whitewater Center, 704.391.3900
Boats: various kayaks, whitewater park
Rates: See Web site for rate structure

Kings Mountain

Crowders Mountain State Park, 704.853.5375
Boats: canoes
Rates: $5 an hour


Lake Norman State Park, 704.528.6350
Boats: canoes
Rates: $5


Brown Summit

Lake Townsend Watershed Park , 336.373.3694

Boats: rowboats, kayaks, sailboats
Rates: $10


Hanging Rock State Park, 336.593.8480
Boats: rowboats, canoes
Rates: $5 an hour


Lake Brandt Watershed Park, 336.373.3741
Boats: rowboats, kayaks, sailboats
Rates: $10


Lake Higgins Watershed Park , 336.373.3739
Boats: rowboats, kayaks, sailboats
Rates: $10


Salem Lake Park , 336.727.8000

Boats: canoes
Rates: $4 an hour
Note: Call before heading out; dam construction may affect boat rentals



Fred G. Bond Metro Park, 919.469.4100
Boats: canoes, kayaks, sailboats, rowboats
Rates: $5 per hour.


Lake Michie (919.477.3906) and Little River Lake (919.477.7889)
Boats: canoes, “flat-bottom boats”
Rates: $6 for six hours (Durham residents, higher for non-residents).

Holly Springs

Bass Lake Park, 919.557.2496
Boats: canoes, rowboats
Rates: $5 an hour


Lake Crabtree County Park , 919.460.3390
Boats: canoes, kayaks, sailboats, rowboats
Rates: rowboats $5 an hour, canoes & kayaks $7 an hour, sailboats $10 an hour

Orange County

University Lake, 919.942.8007

Boats: canoes
Rates: call

Cane Creek Reservoir, 919.942.5790
Boats: canoes
Rates: call


Lake Johnson, 919.233-.2121
Boats: canoes, kayaks
Rates: $5 an hour

Lake Wheeler, 919.662.5704
Boats: canoes, kayaks
Rates: $5 an hour

Paddle Creek,919.866.1954

Boats: canoes, kayaks

Rates: $45-$55 per day


Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co., 336.260-6465

Boats: Canoes, kayaks

Rates: Starting at $30, including put-in on Haw River.

Umstead State Park, 919.571.4170

Boats: canoes
Rates: $5 an hour


Dan River Adventures

Boats: Canoes, kayaks

Rates: $25 for 3 hours

Stokes County

Dan River Company
Boats: Canoes, kayaks

Rates: $35 for 3 hours


Blue Ridge Parkway

Julian Price Park, Milepost 297
Boats: canoes, kayaks
Rates: $12 per hour, plus tax

28 thoughts on “35 places to rent a canoe/kayak in North Carolina”

  1. Joe,

    You omitted a locally owned small business — Paddle Creek. They rent canoes and kayaks, as well as offer trips down the Neuse River. See their website:


    Paddle Creek sells kayaks and canoes as well, and there is a lot of expertise in their shop. We purchased our two kayaks there last season and got a great deal. We have also done the trip down the river with them.

    Thought you would want to know!

    1. Got you added to the list. Sorry we missed you on the first go-round; glad to hear there’s a rental option at Jordan Lake, one of our favorite places to paddle.

  2. Does Lake Benson in Garner offer it? We use the park there alot and I see a boat dock with paddle boats but there is never a person there. Thanks PS is it safe to take a 2 year old ( with a life vest)

    1. Lake Benson is indeed on the list; I would call ahead to see when the boathouse is staffed: 919-662-5703 (I’m adding the phone number to the list; not sure why I didn’t have it in the first place.) As for paddling with a 2-year-old in a life vest, I would guess that would depend on a few things, the first of which would be finding a vest that small (I’m sure they’re out there, but they might not offer ones that small at the boathouse). How active is your toddler? At that age, they can’t contribute to the boat’s locomotion (slacker!) which limits their activity. The 2-year-olds I’ve hung with likely wouldn’t be good candidates. How comfortable is your tot in the water? If you suddenly find yourselves poopside up (or is it down?) will he/she be terrified or think it’s part of the adventure? (I remember paddling in rough water at Lake Crabtree years back with my then-5-year-old daughter: I was having a “Help!-Mr.-Wizard!” moment as the waves broke over the bow, she was giggling her head off.) Perhaps more importantly, how comfortable are you in the water? Again, in the event of a poopside up/down scenario, would you be treating it as part of a fun adventure or taking an every man/woman/toddler for him/herself stance?

  3. The Dan River Company provides professional rental and shuttle services on the Dan River. We are located in the foothills of the Sauratown Mountain Range and adjacent to Hanging Rock State Park voted #1 in the state for 2012, in Danbury, North Carolina. Whether you are located in Winston Salem, Martinsville, High Point, Mt. Airy or Greensboro, you are less than 1 hour from adventure. Rent our canoes and kayaks, or bring your own boats. The new Green Heron Club is open next to DRC beer wine and Music
    Great website Thanks for Helping peope paddle NC

  4. Where is the best place to go for first time kayak rentals..what lake?
    Want to rent right where we would launch..with in 45 min of Raleigh or in Raleigh.

    1. Either Lake Johnson in Raleigh or Lake Crabtree in Morrisville. Johnson is more intimate, with more nooks to explore, Crabtree is bigger, more exposed. Both are good first-time options.

  5. Good day,

    I was hoping you might add Paddle NC to your list. We have been open since July and have two locations. We are located at Carolina Beach State Park, and also at Hammocks Beach State Park. Thanks, and happy paddling Walt

Leave a Reply