Ahh paddleboarding in Cornwall.
It’s one of my favourite activities. Although, I’ve got to say the first time I ever tried a SUP it took me a little while (an emabrrisngly long time) to get my balance.
But since, then I’ve loved every second of the sport (is it a sport or an activity? Not sure). It’s fun either way.
And Cornwall is a prime spot for paddleboarding adventures. With its stunning coastal scenery and abundance of sheltered coves and bays, Cornwall is a paddler’s paradise.
You can pump up and head out for a peaceful journey down the estuaries and rivers which is home to birdlife of all shapes and sizes. Or challenge yourself to the open ocean in the epic bays, sandy beach breaks, and secret beaches.
There’s a wild amount of paddle spots to discover. For now, here’s my 11 best places to paddleboard in Cornwall. See ya out there!
Gyllygvase Beach, Falmouth
My first paddleboarding experience in Cornwall was at Gyllygvase beach in Falmouth. The memory sticks firmly in my mind. Being on the south coast and tucked into a bay, the water tends to be a calm tranquil blue. It’s an excellent place for beginners to try with SUP rental just meters from the water and lifeguards keeping watch.
You can take your time to get your balance in the shallows, then pick your direction. (Keep an eye on the wind and current, it might be easier going one way or the other). Look to your left and you’ll see Pendennis Castle on the headland. You can paddle your way along to Castle beach and take in the castle as you go. Look the other way and you’ll find cliffs and rocky outcrops to explore, although don’t get too close for risk of shipwreck. Continue further to the west and you’ll swing around to Swanpool beach. If your team is ready for a quick break, refreshment is on hand here at the local beach cafe.
This is an ideal spot to practice your SUPing, with plenty of open water in the bay (including a marked safe zone), you can even rent an XL paddle board from WESUP which can hold 6 people at once!
Adding to this, once you’re done there are restaurants, bars, and cafes on the beach.
Loe Beach, Feock
Loe beach in Feock is a little hidden for SUP adventures in Cornwall. It’s a small lesser-known beach just outside Truro (in fact it’s the closest beach to Truro). She’s a small stoney, rocky, beach so doesn’t attract big crowds. But it’s a stunning spot and you’ll always find a paddle boarder and swimmers here. The waters are mostly tranquil as it is located in a large bay where the River Fal meets the Carrick Roads.
Equipment hire for paddleboards and kayaks is available at Loe Beach Watersports, right by the beach. This also doubles as a cafe.
Throw on your wetsuit and launch your board, it’s time to explore. Float your way out into the bay past the summer boat moorings to find peace and tranquillity. Breathe in the fresh air and feel the salty breeze kiss your skin. Pick your head up and survey the scenery. Green rolling hills, mighty trees, and rocky breaks surround the gentle ripples of the tide. Pick your direction and begin to paddle. You can work your way further up the River Fal or float further west along the headland and around the point. Appearing on the land is a glimpse of stunning waterside property which will have you dreaming of a new life in Cornwall (at a heft price tag I may add…)
For beginners, you can rent and book lessons from the local watersports centre and the open calm waters allow you to get your balance in no time. While more experienced paddlers can freely roam the bay. A couple of hours paddling up the river and back is an idyllic way to spend time on the water. And if you’re super duper lucky, you might even spot a dolphin!
St Michaels Mount and Marazion
In 495 A.D. a sailor washed up on the beach of Marazion. His sleeveless brown top, faded by the sun, was ripped and torn. Ribbons of seaweed stuck to his arms and legs like bandages to the bloody scars from his misfortune. He was alone after his fishing vessel and crew had perished in a wreck on St Michaels mount. It is said that a mermaid lured the men in with a siren call. This was one of the unlucky few. Many more men claim an apparition of St Michael (the patron saint of fishermen) saved them from this fate as he guided them to safety on the west of the island, where the castle entrance is today.
Since then, mythical tales and history has engulfed St Michaels Mount which sits just off the beach of Marazion, with a walkable causeway that appears at low tide. Now the area is regarded as one of the most beautiful bays in Britain. And a bucket list paddleboarding spot and one for you history buffs out there!
You can grab board rental from Ocean High in the Marazion beach car park before launching into stunning blue waters that make an ideal spot for all abilities to explore the scenery. There’s few better backdrops for a SUP adventure than St Michaels Mount. Paddle across the bay and take in the 14-centuary castle from all angles. Then land on the shore to pick up ice cream or a cup of coffee.
I mean, the pictures do all the talking here, what more is there to say:
Let’s take a paddle into an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The widest of the River Fowey runs from Lostwithiel down to Fowey (no surprises there…) where it meets the Cornish south coast.
Lostwithiel makes a beautiful spot to enter the water, surrounded by the historic town. With your own SUP, you can park up in Coulson Park and get direct access to the water. Then slowly float your way downriver towards St Winnow. You’ll start paddling into stunning lush countryside teeming with birds and animal life. The river opens up more and more as you head towards the sea.
Alternatively, you could park at Caffa Mill car park and hire a SUP from Fowey River Hire. It’s a great family fun day exploring down to Readymoney Cove across the river mouth to the Castle, up to Golant and back. Adding to this, you can start mid-way at Golant with rental from Encounter Cornwall.
Whichever starting point and route you choose, there is so much to see, from colourful shorebirds and flowering sea plants to rocky caves, and secret sandy beaches only accessible from the water.
The Lizard Peninsula and Kynance Cove
For a super duper awesome paddleboarding adventure (experienced SUPers), then launch from one of the quiet beaches around the Lizard peninsula. You’ll get away from the busier paddling spots compared to more urban areas, and you can chart your own course. Take a second to check the weather, surf, and tide forecast to make sure it’s the water is suitable.
Try paddling out from beaches like Porthkerris, Mullion cove, or Kynance cove. Then you can start to explore the wild coastlines and float your way onto secluded beaches. Kynance cove is a particularly spectacular area to explore, when the tide is low it opens up beaches, caves, and mermaid’s pools. Plus you can work your way down to Pentreath beach before reaching the most southerly point in the mainlands UK.
During summer peak holidays, it’s wise to start your day early to get out on the water before the masses arrive. Kynance Cove is stunning but has become an Instagram travel hotspot.
Porthoustock is another highlight for a place to launch your SUP. Once a dangerous passage it is infamous for hundreds of shipwrecks (you might spot the odd one at certain times) but now is splashing with marine wildlife. Don’t be surprised to catch sight of birds, seals, and even dolphins!
Porthcurno Beach, West Cornwall
Adventuring down Porthcurno beach made me feel like Captain Jack Sparrow. It’s not like any other beach in the UK, you’ll straight up feel like you’re on a Caribbean island. And to be fair, it’s a remote location in west Cornwall (near Land’s End) so a perfect landing spot for smugglers and vagabonds back in the day.
But I hope your expeditions will be less fraught with danger and more filled with peaceful relaxation. This is indeed paradise. That means soft white sand, clear turquoise water, and sheltering cliffs to create this oasis. You might even bring a snorkel and mask with you!
Once you launch, take the time to peer up at the outdoor Minack theatre sitting on the cliffside above! Then you can change tack and paddle across the bay to Pedn Vounder beach. At low tide, the sand bars here make a cool place to stop off and snap pictures to remember your trip. You’ll feel like you have your own little slice of island heaven.
Then slowly check out the coastlines and delve into the tiny hidden coves and beaches. Most are only accessible from the water so you won’t be bothered by other tourists. The ideal place to enjoy some peace and listen to the sound of the lapping waves.
The Gannel, near Newquay & Crantock
The location and stunning surroundings make the Gannel a popular spot for paddleboarders of all abilities. It’s super close to Newquay, one of Cornwall’s most famous towns, which is home to all types of watersports fanatics.
Crantock beach is just outside of town (in the village of Crantock, funny that…) This gives you a choice of where to launch and explore. The Gannel estuary is tidal so the landscape and seascape change through the day. But it remains calm and ideal to learn your balance as a beginner. You’ll find plenty of places to enter the water along the river, including the National Trust car park at Crantock.
You can explore the river which runs from the edge of Newquay down to Crantock beach. This takes in lush countryside and marshlands tweeting with birdlife along with rippling blue water and sparkling white sand. Plus, if conditions are calm at sea you’re way down the beach and head out to open water.
There’s a ton of SUP hire options in Newquay, including lessons and guides. Newquay activity centre offers a SUP safari while Big Green Surf School at Crantock have hire, lessons, and tours right on the Gannel estuary.
The Camel Estuary, near Padstow
If you’re looking for a unique way to explore the Camel Estuary near Padstow, why not try paddleboarding? It’s a popular activity to get some exercise while taking in the stunning scenery. And who knows, you might even spot some wildlife! It’s a narrow waterway and named after the Camel River, which flows into it from the nearby town of Camelford. The estuary is home to a variety of wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and porpoises. It is also a popular spot for birdwatching, as it is home to a variety of migratory birds. Beautiful and peaceful place, and it is well worth a visit.
Paddleboarding here is suitable for all ages and abilities, so it’s perfect for a family outing. It’s an awesome place for a SUP adventure. You can pick up rental and lessons from Wavehunters in Padstow or Camel Ski School in Rock. The turquoise water is calm and the views are stunning. On a sunny day, you can see for miles. Last time I jumped on the water at Dennis cove and set off downstream to Padstow. If you’ve got the energy keep going among the moored boats to reach St Georges cove and Rock beach. The water changes as the tide runs in and out. During lower tide you can paddle out to the middle of the estuary and then stop to rest on the cool sandbars. Explore for a while, and enjoy the view and the peacefulness of being on the water. Delightful.
Helford Passage, near Helford
In south west Cornwall between Falmouth and The Lizard Peninsula is Helford Passage on the Helford River. It is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where you can hop on the expansive water here and lose yourself in nature for hours. In the village is a small sandy beach, which is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and, of course, paddleboarding.
It can be a brilliant spot for first timers, although check the weather and waves before you head out. It can get choppy at times, but often it is a nice spot for sheltered waters. The woodlands lining the edge of the water mix in with secret breaches and creeks to delve into. The area is filled with birdlife and sealife to stop and admire. With enough time, you can work your way out of the boat moorings towards the sea. Despite being a small village to launch from you’ll still find SUP rental nearby during the summer. Or pickup your kit on the way from numerous suppliers in Falmouth.
Sennen Cove near Land’s End
Sennen Cove, a fishing village near Land’s End, wouldn’t be my first pick to guarantee amazing paddleboarding conditions. The beach sits super close to Land’s End and is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic. That means things can get choppy out there. But if you check the surf forecast and wait for a flat day, it’s a cool spot to SUP. Double and triple-check the weather and waves before heading too far out here!
Start off by cruising around to Gwynver beach to get your balance. Then you can get more ambitious and head south towards Land’s End. Mind the rocks and peer up at the ginormous awe-inspiring cliffs. As you paddle the coastline, you’ll come across Mayon Cliff Shipwreck, a German cargo vessel which famously ran into trouble here in 2003. Be careful if you try to approach, things get slippy but you’ll quickly realise the power of the ocean in what is left of the ship. Once you’re done take a peek further down the coast to see the last westerly point on the UK mainland and the intimidating Goose Slade Point.
St. Ives Bay
St Ives Bay is a neat spot on the north coastline of Cornwall. Often, conditions can be rough on this coast, but St Ives Bay offers dozens of different starting points. This usually reveals calm turquoise waters protected by the headlands.
From St Ives town, you launch from beaches like Porthgwidden or Porthminster often provide the calmest conditions. You can find SUP rental from a number of places including St Ives Surf School.
Further around the bay is Gwithian and Towans beach (this is one of my favourite in Cornwall fyi.) It’s just got that x-factor with miles of sand dunes, quiet soft white sand, and Godrevy lighthouse as a scenic backdrop. There’s a number of car parks with Gwitihan car park on the cliffside or a National Trust site on the beachfront. Gwithian Academy of Surfing is on hand with SUP rental and lessons.
My best tip here – If it’s a calm clear day, try a sunset session. Paddle your way into the sunset as the sky turns red behind St Ives Head.
Where to Rent Stand Up Paddle Boards in Cornwall?
During the summer months May – September, you can find SUP rental at most busy beaches and popular paddle spots. All the major towns like Falmouth, Newquay, St Ives, Bude, and Padstow have local companies renting equipment plus providing lessons and tours. In the best location for paddleboarding in Cornwall above, you’ll find recommendations for rental near each spot. Adding to this here’s a selection of the top places in the county:
- Harlyn Surf School – Harlyn
- Lizard Adventure – The Lizard
- Big Green Surf School – Crantock
- Boatshed Activity Centre Praa Sands
- Vertical Blue Adventure – Porthleven
- Newquay Watersports Centre – Newquay
- Loe Beach Watersports – Loe Beach nr Truro
- WeSUP – Falmouth
Paddle Boarding Cornwall: Final Thoughts
That’s it, if you’ve read this far then there’s not much more you need to know about standup paddleboarding in Cornwall. It’s time to grab your gear and head to the nearest spot.
To be honest, you can paddle all around the Cornish coastline and water ways. The best place at any particular time depends on weather and sea conditions. Often you’ll find the calmest conditions on the south coast or further up estuaries. It is very possible to SUP on the North coast at beaches like Perranporth but these are big surf beaches for a reason – they get bigger waves. It can be tricky to get a large paddleboard out beyond the break!
Introducing Eliot, the Editor here and Cornwall local with a wanderlust spirit and an insatiable appetite for adventure. With a passion for the great outdoors, he can often be found catching waves on his surfboard, scaling peaks on a hiking trail, or discovering hidden gems in his exploration of Cornwall.