Fun for all ages, stand-up paddle boarding has been growing rapidly on the Northshore. Bayou Paddle Co. offers guided excursions on the Tchefuncte and Bogue Falaya rivers and out on Lake Pontchartrain. Adventure on your own by renting a paddle and board from Brooks Bike Shop in Covington, and the Abita Board Barn.
With 80,000 acres of wildlife preserve on the Northshore, kayaking the parish’s many waterways offers a great opportunity to get out in nature. You can rent a kayak from one of several outfitters, including Bayou Adventure and Canoe and Trail in Lacombe, which offer guided tours of Cane and Lacombe bayous. Stay cool and book a Sunset paddle with either outfitter. Also renting kayaks are Brooks’ Bike Shop in downtown Covington, and Seal Sports in Mandeville.
Get cool, get wet on the Bogue Chitto, popular for tubing your cares away. Several operators, including Louisiana River Adventures and the Bogue Chitto Tubing Center offer tubing trips including tube rental, life vests, and shuttles. Some rent special tubes for ice chests, too. Great fun for families and groups of friends.
Families love the little sandy beach along the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline in Mandeville’s Fontainebleau State Park. The calm, shallow water is perfect for small children. Also on the grounds of the 2,800-acre park are the ruins of an 1829 sugar mill, trails, camping areas, a lodge and many large and lovely oak trees. Park admission is $3 per person, free for seniors 62+ and children 3 and under. Head to the East side of Lakeshore drive, parallel to Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, to discover the ideally located sandy beach to enjoy the sunset or catch some rays as the kids hangout on the playground.
Several operators offer tours of the Honey Island Swamp, a pristine natural area located between the east and west Pearl rivers. See alligators, large bird life, wild boar and other creatures of the swamp. Most of the tours take about two hours and give a great glimpse into the history, folklore, and ecology of this special and beautiful place. Most tours are in large covered tour boats; check out Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours, Pearl River Eco Tours, and Cajun Encounters for their availability.
St. Tammany Parish is home to a baker’s dozen of fishing charters, offering adventures out on lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain and in the fish-rich waters of the Rigolets. Catch redfish, speckled trout and triple-tail with knowledgeable pros who take you where the fish are biting. Most charters leave out of Slidell, on the east side of the parish.
Get out on Lake Pontchartrain with Capt. Rick Delaune, who offers sailing charters (and lessons, too) aboard his 42-foot sailboat, the Windward Passage. Choose between midday charters with beverages and snacks served or sunset sails with champagne and chocolates. The boat sails from Bayou Castine in Mandeville.
Crabbing in summer has long been a favorite South Louisiana pastime. It doesn’t require any real skill, just patience and maybe a bait – chicken necks, yum. Some people bait large, round crab nets, throw them out into the water and check periodically for crabs that may have foolishly scuttled aboard. Other folks prefer baited hand lines that they throw out and hold till they feel a nibble. The key is to very s-l-o-w-l-y pull the line toward you while quietly wielding a net with which to scoop up the nibbling crab. Lake Road in Lacombe is popular with families who set up lawn chairs and ice chests and try their luck with the area’s delicious blue crabs. Bait, nets and a little advice are all available at Bayou Adventure in Lacombe.
Cast a line and try your luck from one of the Northshore’s large and modern fishing piers. Open 24 hours, Mandeville’s Sunset Point and Fishing Pier offer public restrooms, picnic tables onshore and a water connection at the end of the pier for cleaning fish. The free pier also is the perfect vantage point for viewing a beautiful Northshore sunset. Over on the east side of the parish, in Slidell, fish from the St. Tammany Parish Fishing Pier, open to the public from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. in summer. Cost is $3 per person (under 12 free) to fish, $1 to sightsee. The pier is staffed and offers vending machines and Pier Patrol.