If being at the beach makes you want to get out on the water — whether aboard a kayak, paddleboard or a small, light sailboat — then you should check out Coastal Kayak, an 18-year-old school and outfitter that makes its home on Little Assawoman Bay in Fenwick Island State Park.
The bay seems to have been created with beginners in mind: The water is mostly three to five feet deep, and sometimes even shallower, so if you have a mishap, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to stand up. The shallowness also keeps the water calm and most boat traffic away, said Coastal Kayak owner Mitch Mitchell.
Mitchell, a kayak instructor certified by the American Canoe Association and the British Canoe Union, caters to all levels — intermediate kayakers who want to learn to paddle through surf as well as families who want to be on the water together. Everyone who rents a kayak (starting at $15 per hour and $45 per day) gets an introductory lesson and good advice about visiting the bay’s islands that are home to a variety of nesting birds.
Those who’d like a more hands-on experience can sign up for guided kayak tours of the nearby salt marshes and freshwater ponds, where you’ll paddle near wildlife refuges to see bald eagles, fiddler crabs and herons and get an up-close look at a swamp filled with bald cyprus trees. Coastal Kayak also transports groups to and from its tours to view the famous wild horses on Assateague Island, about 12 miles south of Coastal Kayak. Tours include basic instruction, last 90 minutes to two hours and cost $40 to $55 for adults.
The more advanced classes, which focus on strokes and riding in currents, are held throughout the summer. Each session usually consists of two to five people until the busy season hits in July, when some classes jump to a maximum of 10 students.
Paddleboarding has been increasing in popularity in recent years, and Coastal Kayak rents stand-up paddleboards (starting at $20 an hour or $55 a day) and gives tours on paddleboards.
The outfitter also offers sailing lessons and sailboat rentals — $120 for two hours on a Hobie Getaway, which holds up to six, or $80 for a smaller, faster Hobie Wave, which holds four.
Coastal Kayak is on the bay side of Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island State Park, about a quarter of a mile north of Fenwick Island, Del. 302-539-7999. www.