It doesn’t have to be summer to explore the coastline on a stand-up paddleboard. With its stunning coastline laced with sheltered crannies, pearly coves and winding estuaries, Cornwall is a paddleboarder’s Mecca in any season.
And being a relatively easy ocean sport to master, it’s no wonder that people of all ages and fitness levels are hopping onboard and gliding from cove to cove, coming nose-to-nose with marine life while toning their core muscles.
So, is it time to try the world’s fastest-growing watersport for yourself? Don a wetsuit, check the wind and tides, and castaway into the big blue at one of our favourite places to SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board) in Cornwall.
Not only a sailing and wakeboarding paradise, the glassy waters of the Camel Estuary are a sublime spot to set off on a paddleboarding adventure. Take an hour’s supervised session to learn the basics, or gather friends and family who dare to share a 6-man Monster SUP. Once you’ve got your balance and nailed the paddling technique, you can join a two-hour guided SUP safari to secret spots along the estuary, or glide away on a ‘Paddle and Prosecco’ evening (adults only on the latter).
Post SUP snacks: Flanked by Padstow and Rock there are plenty of foodie options either side of the estuary. Just footsteps from Camel Ski School fuel up gourmet local produce and majestic views at The Upper Deck.
Tucked into a furrow of rugged coastline a pebble’s throw to the east of Port Isaac, Port Gaverne provides sheltered, shallow waters where you can find your feet aboard a SUP. Once you’ve got the knack of gliding between the headlands, steer out into Port Isaac Bay, where you can explore sea caves, come face-to-face with sea life and follow the wake of the fishing boats landing their fresh catch at neighbouring Port Isaac.
This is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area and is generally sheltered from the south west winds, so it’s a safe spot for paddling when all other beaches are blown out. Come here on a calm, sunny day and enjoy your SUP experience on Caribbean-esque water as you float from beach to cove and, for an added adventure, pass under the RNLI’s lifeboat ramp.
SUP hire: Bring your own
Post SUP snacks: In summer, there’s a homemade ice cream kiosk opposite the entrance to the campsite. For something more substantial, head to The Lobster Shed at the Pig, along the road towards Harlyn.
With a flat-water lagoon and a craggy headland to explore under paddle power, Porth is the perfect beach for an all-round SUP experience. Find your balance and get to grips with your technique on the shallow lagoon, where the whole family can have a splash in a safe, sheltered location. Then, if you’re ready for an adventure, paddle around the promontory to see if you can find the blowhole where spray erupts from the rocks at mid-tide.
SUP hire: Bring your own
Post SUP snacks: Grab a hot chocolate from the Hole in the Wall cafe or fuel up on classic Cornish grub bang on the beach at The Mermaid Inn.
While Newquay is renowned as a surfing destination, its Gazzle area – a nook of caves and headlands wedged between Fistral and the town beaches – is a paradisiacal place to explore under paddle power. Opt for monster SUP group fun, or learn how to paddle, navigate and read the wind and tide conditions for your own paddleboarding adventures around Cornwall.
SUP hire and lessons >
Post SUP snacks: Bag a front-row view over Fistral Bay with classic Cornish cuisine at the Lewinnick Lodge.
As the tide flows in, this winding estuary on the edge of Newquay fills with glistening turquoise water that lures paddleboarders to glide along past tropical plants and wheeling sea birds. There are plenty of easy access launch points along the banks. Just make sure you know the tide times so you don’t have to paddle back against the current. If you’re unsure or don’t have your own kit, hop onboard with Big Green Adventures from Crantock Beach.
Post SUP snacks: Seek out the sublime setting of the C-Bay for a delicious meal overlooking the Gannel and Crantock beach.
Situated on the watery border between Cornwall and Devon, the sheltered cove of Cawsand is the perfect spot for a paddle. The glassy ocean lures swimmers, kayakers and paddleboarders out into the bay, where you can float to neighbouring Kingsand, SUP to Plymouth’s mighty Artillery Steps and Grenville Battery Fort, or explore the sea caves and secret coves of Rame Peninsula, stopping to scramble ashore at Penlee Battery and the chapel perched atop Rame Head.
SUP hire and lesson >
Post SUP snacks: Moor up beside The Bay and bag a window seat for delicious cuisine beside the sea.
Do you want to hire a SUP and paddle out into a sparkling bay under your own steam? Or perhaps you’d prefer to launch into a full throttle SUP adventure, exploring Falmouth’s beaches and coves from Pendennis Headland to the mouth of the Helford River? Whether you want a guided SUP, a beginner lesson, or an advanced session to improve your technique in the waves, WeSUP offers paddleboarding for all levels from the south coast paradise of Gylly Beach.
Post SUP snacks: Lounge on the sand-side decking for coffee and cakes, delectable dishes and roasts by the coast at the stylish Gylly Beach Café.
Nestled between Fowey and Charlestown, this crescent of pebbles and sand is one of our favourite family beaches on the South Coast. The sheltered cove is an easy launch spot for beginners on SUPs, whether you want to explore St Austell Bay and historic Charlestown, or tackle the wilder territory around the headland and into Fowey. Whichever you choose, you can get all the kit and know-how from the experts at the first-class watersports centre that’s right on the beach.
SUP hire and lessons >
Post SUP snacks: Refill with pizza, a pint and a bucket of mussels at the original Sam’s on the Beach.
Go with the flow on a SUP adventure along the River Fowey, messing around on the water like Ratty and Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. Afloat on the picturesque waterways from Fowey to Lerryn, it’s easy to see why the magical scenery has inspired many artists and authors – including Grahame and Daphne du Maurier.
Post SUP snacks: There are oodles of riverside bars and cafés where you can soak up the estuary views, but for something really special, head to the Michelin-starred dining room of The Old Quay House.
This foodie Mecca nestled on the south coast of Cornwall, is well known for its fishing fleet and picturesque harbour surrounded by waterside pubs and restaurants. Where better, then, to try paddleboarding than on the sheltered waters where the day boats are moored? Once you’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to head out on the open sea, join a SUP safari, exploring caves, coves and crannies along the way.
SUP hire and lesson >
Post SUP snacks: Porthleven is well known for its wealth of waterside eateries. Try Kota Kai Bar and Kitchen for award-winning food in a family-friendly sea-view setting.
1. Check the weather forecast – including wind speed, wind direction and both water and air temperature. You can always look at the trees and clouds to get an idea of how strong the wind is and which way it’s blowing.
2. Dress for the occasion. No matter what the weather, it’s advisable to wear a wetsuit, and you might also need neoprene gloves, boots and a hood or sun hat. If you’re not sure, pack extra layers in a dry bag.
3. Check the local webcams. If the conditions look beyond your abilities, don’t attempt to paddle out in them.
4. Check the tides – and know how they affect your plan. For example, how far will you need to carry your board to the ocean’s edge, which way will the current be flowing (especially in an estuary and narrow stretches of water), and will there be a shore dump on your entrance or exit from the sea?
5. Pack some supplies, such as water and energy bars in a dry bag. You might also want to take a beanie or a sun hat.
6. Prepare to get wet – because, let’s be frank, falling off is half the fun! If you bring a camera, you’ll want a waterproof one. Invest in a waterproof pouch/ dry bag if you want your mobile to survive the trip.
Ready for a stand-up paddleboarding adventure in Cornwall? Book your holiday cottage in North Cornwall and heed our tips for a safe, sublime SUP experience.
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