Living the Paddling Lifestyle

Welcome! Here you will find great information on kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding (SUP), and learn about the Paddling Lifestyle.


Meet the Staff Mondays- Walt Mayo

Meet our owner, the big kahuna himself- Walt Mayo


Walt is a professional paddler and “glamp-er”. He started Paddle NC 4 years ago with 2 locations at Carolina Beach State Park and Hammocks Beach State Park, and it has now grown to 5 locations. Before he moved to Wilmington, he lived in St. John, VI for 10 years, where he owns Hidden Reef Eco Tours. His favorite part about St John was obviously the mosquitoes.

Walt is a L4 Coastal Kayaking instructor with the ACA, and loves to go out and play in the inlets. He is a member of the TRAK Kayak 20/20 Team, and recently got to paddle in Tofino, BC with the rest of the team (look for the blog post about that soon!). When he’s not paddling, he loves to hike and spend time with his wife, Amy, and two children, Aleia and Harper.

“Why aren’t these jackets facing the right way?”



Living the Paddling Lifestyle for me.


The first time I remember going paddling, I sat with my sister in the middle of a 17’ aluminum canoe between my parents.  We were on a narrow strip of flat water with lush green trees, and dark foreboding water.  My sister and I shared a paddle and spent the time grabbing it from each other and dragging it next to the boat.  I don’t know if this is actually the first time I went paddling, but it’s the memory stuck in my head and I cherish it. As the years went by my sister and I became accomplished recreational canoeist, and I consider those early experiences the basis for my love for all types of paddling.

I got my first job as a sea kayak guide in 2001 on Orcas Island in Washington State.  For the next year and a half I paddled constantly.  When I wasn’t kayaking for work, I was kayaking for relaxation or fun.  This was when I started living the kayaking lifestyle and I’ve been chasing that life ever since.  After Orcas I traveled with the seasons, learning the styles, techniques and philosophies of paddlers all over the US.  I have been lucky enough to have been a sea kayak guide in Maui HI, Yellowstone National Park WY, Jupiter FL, and in the winter of 2005/2006 I started Hidden Reef Eco-Tours on the Island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands.

Last year two major events happened in my paddling carrier.  I received my American Canoe Association (ACA) level four (L4) Open Water Coastal Kayaking instructor certification and Paddle NC was awarded the paddling concession for both Carolina Beach State Park (next to Wilmington NC) and Hammocks Beach State Park (in Swansboro next to Emerald Isle NC).  With the opening of Paddle NC and the launching of this new web site I want to share with you some paddling thoughts, philosophies and truly incredible adventures.  I hope this sparks some good discussions from you in the process and helps you enjoy, as much as I do, living the paddling lifestyle.