Frequently Asked Questions

I don't have my own kayak. Can I rent one?

Yes! You can reserve a kayak online with our friends at Coastal Kayak. Visit coastalkayak.com for details. Reservations MUST be made in advance of Paddlefest. The crew at Coastal Kayak will deliver the rental kayaks to the launching point and a Coastal staff member will be present to check you in. They will pick up your kayak at the end of the course - no need to transport anything! Please note that you MUST wear your PFD at all times. Closed-toe shoes that can get wet are required.

Can I bring a Stand Up Paddleboard?

Yes! However, please be prepared to paddle 4 miles, which can be much more challenging on an SUP than in the kayak. Please also note that our safety crew members are not trained in SUP safety and rescue, so you are truly paddling at your own risk.

Can I bring my canoe or pedal kayak?

We have had a few canoes complete our paddlefest course, but there are some areas that get very shallow during low tide which can be a struggle for those in canoes (low tide at Savages Ditch is around 1-1:30 p.m. on the day of Paddlefest). Pedal kayaks are welcome, but they can pose some challenges if it is a windy day.

Where do I park? Where do I launch? Where is the finish line? How does all of this actually work?!

With a one-way paddling course you can only imagine that the logistics of Paddlefest can get a little bit goofy. But have no fear - park staff and volunteers will be eager and happy to assist you! Here's what your day will look like: Arrive at Savages Ditch (located 1 mile north of the Indian River Inlet bridge on the bayside). Unload your kayak in the designated area, park your car, and check in under the picnic pavilion. Launch! Follow the course arrows, follow along on the Avenza dowloadable course map, enjoy the views, and chat with park staff along the way. The 4.25-mile course ends at Tower Road Bayside. Here, after you've relaxed for a moment, hop on the Delaware State Parks shuttle bus to get back to your car. Drive to the finishline, load up your kayak, and enjoy the rest of your day! You are also welcome to leave a second car at Tower Road Bayside to avoid using the shuttle service.

I've never been kayaking before. Can I still come?

We highly recommend having some paddling experience under your belt before partaking in Paddlefest. Four miles is A LOT for beginners. We would highly recommend signing up for one of our Kayak Eco-Tours prior to August 15. The Eco-tour is 2.5 miles long, and will give you a good idea as to whether or not you can handle the full, 4-mile paddlefest course! For details on our summer Eco-Tours, please call (302) 227-6991.

What happens if the weather is bad?

Our staff will be closely watching the weather as soon as August 28 shows up on the weather forecast! However, if the weather is uncertain, we will not make any major decisions until a few days out. If there is a strong wind out of the north, we will likely reverse the course direction (we did this in 2019 and it worked out well). If rain is in the forecast, we will still paddle. If thunderstorms are likely, we will probably need to cancel, but we may not make that call until Friday.

Do you have a safety protocol in place?

Safety on the water is of the utmost importance across all Delaware State Parks! Here's what we've done to ensure a safe day out on the water: --We have marine event permits from the U.S. Coast Guard and Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife. --We have park staff scattered throughout the course that are certified in kayak rescues and safety through the American Canoe Association and/or the American Red Cross. --Almost all staff working Paddlefest are certified in basic First Aid & CPR. --We have 3 designated emergency pull-out locations marked on the course for true emergencies. --More park staff will be patroling the course on a small motor boat. --All staff working Paddlefest are trained on the park's emergency-preparedness protocol

Can anyone come to the After-Party?

Yes! The After-Party is open to non-paddling friends/family, as well as the general public. Free park entry is only available to Paddlefest participants.

Will there be a family course this year? Is there a minimum age to participate?

Due to the vast majority of participants paddling the 4-mile course in 2019, we have decided to discontinue the shorter family course. However, if you are participating with young children, or you don't feel you're up for the 4-mile course, you are more than welcome to paddle to the first or second educational stop, and then turn around to head back to the beginning. Roundtrip, this is about a 1.5-2 mile distance.

Can I bring my dog?

Yes! We have had dogs as passengers in kayaks in previous years and it was super cute! We do recommend taking your dog paddling prior to paddlefest if you've never done so before. Your dog is also required to be on a leash at all times on land, and never left unattended. For more details onn the state parks pet policy, please visit https://www.destateparks.com/Know/Pets We may have a meet & greet with a DNREC enforcement K9 at some point during the after-party. Dogs may be asked to temporarily step out of the event space during that time.

How long will it take to paddle the whole course?

The average paddlefest participant completes the course in about 2 hours, however we've had some experienced folks that finish in as little as an hour and 15 minutes. Please keep this in mind as you choose a launch time. If you are experienced and want to get a workout, we recommend choosing a later launch time so you don't have any down-time between paddling and the party (the party doesn't start until 11:30, and music doesn't start until 12:00). If you are not as experienced and want to have a leisurely day on the water, choose an earlier launch time so you get to enjoy everything the after-party has to offer (since the party ends at 4:00, and music will die down around 3:00).

I'm not local, do you have recommendations on where to stay that weekend?

Stay in the park! We have beautiful waterfront cottages for rent on the north side of the inlet. Details can be found at https://destateparks.com/Reservations/Cottages If you'd prefer to camp, we have a campground with both tent sites, standard sites, and full hook-up sites. Details can be found at https://destateparks.com/Reservations/RVandTentCamping There are also campgrounds and cabins available at Cape Henlopen State Park (14 miles away) and Trap Pond State Park (32 miles away with BEAUTIFUL kayaking opportunities). If you'd prefer to stay in a hotel nearby, listings can be found at https://visitsoutherndelaware.com/hotels