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Kayaking in South Devon is a popular pastime and this comes as no surprise – with a matrix of beautiful coastline, rivers, creeks and coves to explore, it’s no wonder that so many take to the water on kayak. Spend your time navigating the stunning natural scenery, see castles, forts and historic houses from a new perspective, and catch a glimpse of some wonderful wildlife, including friendly seals! If you’re feeling hungry for a challenge, and have sufficient skills and experience, why not head for a white water stretch of the River Dart?

Kayaking in South Devon - North Sands

Kayaking in South Devon

Looking for something in particular? Use our quick links below, or read our comprehensive guide to kayaking in South Devon to help you find your bearings…

Kayaking in South Devon - Dittisham

River Dart kayaking

Taking one of a number of boat trips along the River Dart will provide you with some fantastic views from the water, but exploring the waterways, creeks and wooded banks by kayak, however, will give you a real hands on experience. If you’re interested in kayaking on the River Dart, you’ll find plenty of options, with plenty of places from which you can launch your own vessel, and also local companies offering both structured tuition and equipment hire, depending on your needs.

Where to rent a kayak on the River Dart

  • Totnes Kayaks is based at the village of Stoke Gabriel, a beautiful village on the River Dart. You can learn to kayak under supervision or hire equipment if you’re experienced enough to go out by yourself.
  • Canoe Adventures offers something a little different. Based in Tuckenhay, about halfway between Totnes and Dartmouth, this company gives you the option to rent large canoes by group (each is suitable for up to 10 people). Alternatively, you can book by the seat and join an existing party.
  • At Dartington Hall Estate near Totnes, you’ll also find Dynamic Adventures, which offers a wide range of options for active days out. Although based by the Dart, most of their trips are focused on sea kayaking, and as such, they cover Dartmouth, Salcombe, the Erm Estuary, Bantham, Plymouth and Torbay.
  • Dittisham, a beautiful village around four miles up the Dart from Dartmouth, is home to Dittisham Boats, which rents out SUPs and kayaks in addition to motorboats.

Why is kayaking on the River Dart so popular?

Kayaking on the River Dart offers something for everyone, with challenging white-water sections upriver for experienced paddlers and gently meandering stretches as the river winds through the South Hams. Between Totnes and Dartmouth, the water is fairly easily to navigate, the scenery is spectacular and there are some wonderful places to visit by kayak. Why not stop at one of these places for a break?

Kayaking on the River Dart is a fantastic way to get to know the local area, and an excellent way to build up an appetite before visiting some of the region’s best food and drink establishments.

River Dart kayaking in South Devon

Dartmouth kayaking

Dartmouth is an extremely popular place to kayak, with rocky islands, secret coves and caves, and secluded beaches to explore, not forgetting the amazing wildlife you may be lucky enough to get up close to. From Dartmouth it’s possible to travel upriver to explore the creeks or head out to sea if your training and equipment are up to scratch. There are lots of beautiful coves accessible only from the sea, but caution and careful planning are strongly advised if you’re planning to visit any of these.

In Dartmouth itself, we recommend getting in touch with the Canoe Section of Dartmouth Yacht Club. Their experienced tutors can help complete beginners and they offer helpful taster sessions – these are ideal for those who are only visiting the area or simply want to try their hand before paying for full membership.

kayaking in South Devon

Salcombe kayaking

The gentle waters of the Kingsbridge Estuary make for excellent paddling, particularly for beginners. South Sands Beach, about 1.5 miles from the centre of Salcombe, is the place to head. There you’ll find Sea Kayak Salcombe, right on the beach next to Bo’s Beach Café. Rent equipment, join tours or receive instruction from their expert team. Fully qualified and insured BCU coaches can also rent equipment from Sea Kayak Salcombe if they’d like to use South Sands as a base for their own group tours or lessons, etc.

Sea kayaking in South Devon

Kayaking in South Devon isn’t all about exploring inland waters. If you’d rather head out into the ‘big wide blue’, you have a wealth of options to explore. Here are just a few of the popular choices:

Kayaking in South Devon - Beesands

Blackpool Sands

Blackpool Sands is a popular place for kayakers, who like to explore the bay itself, and also secret coves found not far along the coastline. In the summer holidays, Venus Watersports at Blackpool Sands runs the Venus Riders Watersports programme. This means you can hire sit-on-top kayaks, SUPs, boogie boards and other equipment, or join a kayaking tour if you’d like to receive some guidance. The beautiful, Blue Flag-awarded beach is at the perfect spot for exploring stunning Start Bay and its many beaches and coves.

Kayaking in South Devon - South Milton Sands

South Milton Sands

South Milton Sands sits at the southern end of beautiful Thurlestone Beach and looks out over iconic Thurlestone Rock. Kayakers love paddling out to see this unusual rock formation close up, and can even paddle through it on a gentle swell. If you don’t have your own vessel, not to worry, because you can hire sit-on-top kayaks and other watersports equipment from Surfin’ Sam. You’ll find Surfin’ Sam in the National Trust car park just behind the beach.

Bantham Beach

Bantham Beach is renowned as the best surfing beach in the region and one of the best spots for watersports in the country. It’s fitting therefore that it’s home to Triocean Surf, an approved RNLI surf hire centre which also supplies kayaks, SUPs and related equipment from their base just five minutes away. In addition to exploring the open sea, why not head up the River Avon (tide depending) and explore the picturesque route to Aveton Gifford that is flanked by rolling Devon hills and thriving wildlife.


On the beach at Bigbury-On-Sea, which holds a prestigious Blue Flag award, you’ll find a Discovery Surf School. This company rents out an extensive range of equipment including kayaks and SUPs. It’s hard to think of a better spot than Bigbury Bay, which looks out over unique Burgh Island, for exploring by water. On a calm and gentle wind, it is great fun to circumnavigate Burgh Island, where you will find many secret coves and even a mermaids pool, perfect for a quick dip!

Kayaking in South Devon - Hallsands


The peaceful shingle at Hallsands Beach is the perfect place to head out to sea on your kayak. If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, this stunning tranquil setting is ideal for spotting local wildlife from the water. As you paddle away from the shore, the striking vista of the dramatic Start Bay coastline is simply unrivalled!

Holiday cottages in South Devon perfect for kayaking!

Whatever your level, kayaking in South Devon is a wonderful way to get to know the region’s unspoilt beaches, stunning rivers and estuaries, and enticing harbour towns and villages. At Coast & Country Cottages we boast a wealth of properties perfectly suited to those who want to spend time kayaking in South Devon. Take a look at our extensive range of holiday cottages in Salcombe, Dartmouth and in the surrounding South Devon countryside, which include coastal cottages, luxury properties that take in sea and river views, and even dog friendly cottages near the beach – the list is endless, so you are sure to find something to suit!

Book your South Devon holiday cottage today