An icy Christmas Day swim has been a tradition across the UK for some time now, but in the...
Our beautiful region is a paddleboarders paradise, with secluded hidden beaches, beautiful sheltered estuaries with lush green banks, and spectacular cliffs and sea caves that can only be properly explored from the water. Stand up paddleboarding in South Devon is fast becoming one of the most popular pastimes of locals and visitors alike.
Explore the scenic South Devon coastline this way and you’ll see its wildlife from a perspective you’re unlikely to have seen before. With nothing but the sound of lapping water as you glide along, witness the wildlife undisturbed in their natural habitat.
With good reason, stand up paddleboarding is one of the most popular things to do when visiting our beautiful region.
SUP allows you to immerse yourself in the outdoors and soak up the spectacular views of South Devon. It is an activity that everyone can participate in and has the added benefit of being low impact and great for your physique, well-being and building stamina.
We’ve used our local knowledge to pull together tips and information to help you make the most of stand up paddleboarding in South Devon.
Stand up paddleboarding guide
Stand up paddleboarding, also known as ‘SUP’, is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK and across the globe. Originating from Hawaii, SUP is a modern interpretation of an ancient form of surfing.
The type of board you choose is dependent on your requirement, lifestyle and experience. Beginner paddleboarders should choose a wider, longer and thicker board. This will offer the greatest stability to learn the paddleboard basics on a flat body of water. As you gain experience, you can progress to a smaller paddleboard.
Inflatables are the easiest type of paddleboard to transport. You don’t need a large vehicle, SUV or van, because when deflated, inflatables roll up to the size of a large sleeping bag – perfect for bringing along on your holiday to the coast.
When it comes to paddleboard performance, hard boards provide optimal performance compared to inflatables. Hard paddleboards are more agile, have better glide and are easier to catch waves. In other words, hard paddleboards are the best option if you plan to use your board for SUP surfing, SUP racing or long-distance expeditions.
If you want to try out paddleboarding and choose between a hardboard or inflatable, and which size you prefer, there are loads of places in South Devon which hire out boards, all the gear and even give tuition:
Based in Kingsbridge in the very popular Crabshell Inn, Waterborn SUP offer SUP lessons and guided tours up and down the Kingsbridge Estuary including a popular tour for beginners that stops at a secluded beach for a cream tea. They also offer SUP Yoga, VIP tours and boast one of the largest women’s SUP clubs in the country!
Highly experienced and SurfingGB qualified instructors provide professional tuition and coaching for beginners through to elite levels, in a safe and friendly environment. Based at the beautiful South Hams premier surfing beach, Bantham, no time is lost getting to the surf due to their prime location on the beach.
Triocean Surf are an approved RNLI surf hire centre and are located just a five-minute drive from Bantham beach. They hire and sell stand up paddleboards, wetsuits and more all year round and also lend soft tracks free of charge, so you won’t have to worry about transporting your boards to the beach. Triocean Surf offer 10% off full length wetsuit purchases for Coast & Country Cottages guests, so don’t forget to mention if you are staying with us!
Salcombe Paddleboarding is based at Port Waterhouse, nestled amongst the sandy beaches of the Salcombe Estuary. Located in the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where there is often shelter from any prevailing winds. Salcombe is the ideal location for beginners and experienced paddleboarders alike.
Based in Dartmouth, The Paddleshack provide guided SUP trips and skills courses for all abilities. Whether you are a family getting onto a paddleboard for the first time or an experienced pro looking for a grand adventure, The Paddleshack will give you an unforgettable experience!
Discovery Surf School was the first surf school in the UK to offer SUP lessons! They provide professional coaching for all ages and abilities with an emphasis on safe, high quality tuition in small groups as well as SUP and kayak hire.
Surfin’ Sam provides equipment for families to make the most of the beach. They offer windsurfers for children and adults, single and double kayaks, stand up paddle boards, wetsuits and buoyancy aids.
Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner, it’s a great full-body core workout and way to experience the beauty of the outdoors. Best of all, it’s perfect for people of all ages, body types and skill levels. There’s even enough room to paddle with your dog! Here are just a few of our top SUP tips.
Here are just a few of the fantastic spots to go paddleboarding in and around the coast and estuaries.
South Milton Sands is regarded as one of the best places to go stand up paddleboarding in South Devon. Not only does the bay boast crystal clear waters teeming with marine life, it’s also extremely sheltered, making it the perfect environment for children, adults, newbies and also those more experienced.
Paddle through the famous Thurlestone rock and explore the surrounding rock-pools which are full of life, keeping your eyes peeled for the lesser spotted lobster. If you’re a seasoned paddleboarder, why not head southwest to Hope Cove, stopping for a bite to eat or a drink from The Cove before heading back. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the occasional seal or dolphin pod!
For complete beginners, a great place to launch a paddleboard from is The Crabshell Inn. The estuary is nearly always still and the traffic on the water is much less frequent than Salcombe, providing great learning conditions. Being a sheltered and tidal estuary, expect to enjoy wildlife in abundance with stunning surroundings that are peppered with creeks and inlets. Depending on tide times, navigate to Salcombe and back (it’s around an hour each way). Regardless of where you choose to explore, be sure to refuel at The Crabshell Inn for a drink or bite to eat on your return, the food is delicious!
One of the most unspoilt beaches in the region, South Sands is a beautiful (and increasingly popular), flat sandy beach. Located at the mouth of Salcombe Estuary, it’s a great spot for beginners to gain confidence before heading out to explore Salcombe and the nearby beaches. If you’re feeling confident and wish to explore the coastline a little further, you’ll be rewarded with secluded beaches and isolated coves that are only accessible from the water.
At high tide, Warfleet Creek is an ideal place to hone SUP skills. Often enjoying calm waters, you will find yourself plenty of space to practice paddling without too much traffic to contend with. From here, you can either navigate up river towards Totnes, stopping at Sharpham Vineyard for a refresher, or meander down river towards Dartmouth. For the seasoned paddleboarder, navigate beyond Dartmouth Castle, and explore the stunning coastline that is brimming with hidden coves and canyons.
A firm favourite amongst the Coast & Country Cottages team, the Aveton Gifford paddle is a slice of South Devon at its finest and is the best ways to arrive at the village of Bantham. Drop with the tide from Aveton Gifford and drift down the estuary towards the sandy shores of Bantham beach.
Whilst this route is a relatively short paddle, it boasts stunning scenery and has an idyllic quiet and remote feel. Unlike many estuaries which are often muddied with poor visibility, The Avon has crystal clear waters and a sandy riverbed allowing for perfect clarity. Above the surface, enjoy the rolling countryside which is rich in agriculture, whilst beneath you, gaze at the underwater world of oyster beds, fish, seaweed and twisting tree roots. For the bird spotters, there is plenty of wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for swans, egrets and ospreys. Once you arrive at Bantham, there are plenty of sandy spots for a picnic, so pack a drybag with a sumptuous feast!
Regardless of how you choose to enjoy the region’s crystal-clear waters, be it on it, in it, or beside it, be sure to book your South Devon holiday soon.