One balmy July afternoon, I decided to embark on the Coecles Harbor Marine Water Trail on Shelter Island aboard my standup paddleboard.
Located within the Peconic Estuary — which has been declared a “Last Great Place” by The Nature Conservancy — this five-mile marine trail takes thrill-seekers on an adventure through a wetland filled with a variety of birds, fish, shellfish and turtles. The trail, which also offers glimpses of Taylor’s Island, is a joint project of The Nature Conservancy, Shelter Island Town and Shelter Island Kayak Tours. One of their major restoration goals is the replenishment of the shellfish population through the use of shellfish nurseries and safe environments.
Taylor’s Island is a tombolo in Coecles Harbor featuring the Smith-Taylor Cabin, which serves as a landmark for boaters navigating these waters. Built by New York City magnate S. Gregory Taylor at the turn of the 20th century, the one-room log cabin was later deeded to Shelter Island Town and is now enjoyed by the public.
I was able to easily lift my paddle board from my car and onto the easy-access boat ramp. With clear skies and a light wind, I embarked on the journey surrounded by moored sailboats and kayakers. With Ram’s Island to my left and Taylor’s Island in the distance, I traveled along the shoreline.
As I paddled, I was surrounded by a bounty of wildlife. From jumping fish to diving osprey to, unfortunately, jellyfish, there was no shortage of excitement on this excursion. While traveling the entire marine trail can take up to four hours, it was easy enough to turn around after an hour to make the trip back.
Hop in a kayak or on a standup paddleboard (SUP) and discover the shorelines and thriving marine life on The Coecles Harbor Marine Water Trail. To access the trail, follow Burns Road east until you reach lands’ end. Don’t have a kayak? Rent one from Shelter Island Kayak Tours.