Some of the most exciting salt-water kayaking on the east coast of the Unites States is just up the Sasanoa estuary from Tarbox Cottage. On an outgoing tide the currents are strong, and the paddling can be great fun for an experienced kayaker. The action is most intense at Lower Hell’s Gate, a few hundred yards upstream from the Tarbox Cottage’s old stone whar, and at Upper Hell’s Gate a mile or so further up.

The best way to scout out the river is to take the Seven Lighthouses tour from the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. Their vessel brings you right past Tarbox Cottage (Photo op!) and through the two Hell’s Gates. This way you can see what the challenges are likely to be.

A few hundred yards directly opposite the Tarbox waterfront is Beal Island, a preserve maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club. At the southern tip of that island is a small beach, kayak racks, a few campsites and access to a figure eight trail around the island – with another terrific view across to Tarbox Cottage. The island is close by, but, as always, keep tide and currents in mind when planning the paddle. The same applies to paddling down the estuary, for example to Knubble Bay.

Kayaks and gear can be rented from Rogers’ Trading Post, on Route 1 just south of the intersection with the Westport road, Rte. 144. They will deliver and pick up, and provide advice.