Bobbing around on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, watching coastal scenery unfurl before you, or heading inland to the Duchy’s many lakes and rivers.. is it any surprise that paddleboarding in Cornwall is one of the very best activities in the South West?
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a total beginner, Cornwall is a paddleboarding paradise and there are plenty of top spots to choose from, each with its own unique charm and challenges.
One of the best things about paddleboarding in Cornwall is the immense variety of locations on offer.
Beginners can tackle sheltered bays and estuaries, while those looking for a challenge head out to the open sea and rugged coastline.
Some of the most popular spots to paddleboard in Cornwall include Porthcurno,Stithians Lake, Helford River, and Coverack Cove we’ll go into them, and others, in this blog post!
So why not grab a board and hit the water today?
Overview of Paddleboarding in Cornwall
Paddleboarding is one of the best things to do in Cornwall – but why, and how has this sport become so popular in the region?
What is Paddleboarding?
Paddleboarding, also known as stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), is a water sport that involves standing (or kneeling) on a large board and using a long paddle to move through the water.
An idyllic way to explore the beautiful coastlines of Cornwall, SUPing means that you can experience its famous scenery from a different perspective.
Paddleboarding’s a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors; and it’s also low-impact, meaning that it can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels.
Paddleboarding’s not that hard once you get used to it and it’s great fun!
Why Paddleboarding is Popular in Cornwall
Being nearly an island, Cornwall revolves around water.
The peninsula, which sticks outwards from the southwestern part of the UK, has long been a popular destination for watersports enthusiasts due to its stunning coastline and clear waters.
When SUPing took off in the UK, Cornwall immediately became one of the most popular places to try it out!
Cornwall boasts a wide range of paddleboarding opportunities, from calm estuaries to challenging ocean waves. Paddleboarding is also a fantastic way to explore Cornwall’s many hidden coves and beaches.
Cornwall’s mild climate and long summer days make it an ideal location for paddleboarding, with the season running from April to October.
The Best Time to Go Paddleboarding in Cornwall
The best time to go paddleboarding in Cornwall is during the summer months when the weather is warm and the water is calm.
The sea temperature is also at its warmest during this time, making it more comfortable if you fall in!
People do go paddleboarding during the cooler months, but it’s at your own risk. If you fall in, the water can be very chilly, and there’s a risk of shock, so I’d only recommend doing this if you’re used to cold water swimming!
Do bear in mind that even if you don’t fall in, the temperature is usually significantly cooler out on the water.
Always check the weather forecast and tide times before heading out, as conditions can change quickly.
To protect against falling in, you could also wear a wetsuit, as the water temperature can still be chilly even in the summer months.
In fact, whenever I’ve been swimming in the turquoise waters around West Cornwall, I’ve always noted how much chillier they are than where I live in Exmouth, Devon – even though they look incredibly enticing!
Top Spots for Paddleboarding in Cornwall
Cornwall revolves around water, which means that there’s a plethora of paddle boarding opportunities throughout the coastline, in its rivers and in its calmer lakes.
Some of the best spots include Gyllyngvase Beach, Stithians Lake and Readymoney Cove.
Take a look at our best picks!
Gyllyngvase Beach, located in Falmouth, is a great spot for paddleboarding in Cornwall.
With its clear waters and golden sand, it’s perfect for beginners and experienced paddleboarders alike.
Gylly Beach has the prestigious Blue Flag award, which is only given to beaches who have exceptional water quality and can offer safe bathing. So it’s the perfect family-friendly beach for anyone who’s not too confident in open water!
If you need any more reassurance before jumping onto your board, Gylly Adventures provide 1.5-hour paddleboard lessons or paddleboard rental, ideal for anyone looking to refresh their knowledge or take to the waves independently.
Paddleboarding at Gylly Beach is definitely one of the best things to do in Falmouth – it’s only a 15 minute walk from the town!
Porthcurno Beach is another beautiful spot for paddleboarding in Cornwall.
It’s one of my favourite beaches in Cornwall; surrounded by cliffs and rock formations, making for a dramatic and picturesque backdrop.
Because Porthcurno Beach is quite remote (it’s close to Land’s End), there aren’t any paddleboarding schools there, but if you have your own board (or have rented one elsewhere) and are confident in your paddling skills, by all means take it out to the water!
Sennen Cove, located near Land’s End, is more of a surf spot – there are usually quite strong swells here, making it more popular with those taking to the waves.
However, if you visit on a calm day and know what you’re doing, it’s a wonderfully scenic area to paddleboard.
There are lots of surf schools in the vicinity, but to the best of my knowledge none of them rent out paddleboards, so you’ll need to bring your own.
This is one of my favourite places in Cornwall, not because it’s leave-you-breathless scenic (it’s still very pleasant, though!), but because it has a wonderful relaxed atmosphere, it’s never too busy (don’t tell anyone I told you about it), and it has exceptional facilities.
We usually stay in the adjoining campground once a year.
Stithians Lake is home to a watersports centre, where you can take to the lake on a SUP, kayak, canoe or even go windsurfing.
Choose a lesson or just rent a board, and take to the calm waters in a safe environment.
The Fal River runs down from near Truro to Falmouth (it’s where the name comes from!) and it provides a scenic and tranquil paddleboarding experience.
When paddleboarding on a river, you’ll either work with the current or – if the current isn’t too strong – paddle against it.
You’ll enjoy some lush green scenery which can be a wonderful alternative to the coast – the Fal River is part of the Cornwall AONB.
Falmouth River Watersports provides a range of rentals, tours and lessons; in true British fashion, they even offer a “paddle to the pub” tour!
Helford Passage is a good spot for paddleboarding in Cornwall, especially if you’re looking for a more sheltered and relaxed take to the waters.
Surrounded by lush, beautiful scenery, the river offers vibrant greenery and sheltered coves, the River Helford is a favourite spot to explore in the Duchy.
Koru Kayaking offer a Helford SUP Adventure, which is a two hour excursion running from the Budock Vean Hotel, leading to the Port Navas Creek or to Frenchman’s Creek, which is often more challenging.
It’s best to go with Koru Kayaking for paddleboarding in Helford to ensure that you don’t paddle into areas with strong currents.
Port Quin is a beautiful spot for paddleboarding in Cornwall.
Situated close to the fairytale fishing village of Port Isaac – a popular location for tourists to Cornwall – this is a quiet, sheltered cove where you can bob on calm waters and enjoy the vistas of the high cliffs above you.
There’s a small office where you can rent paddleboards from in Port Quin; while it doesn’t have the same infrastructure as Cornwall’s popular beaches, it’s a relaxed spot to bask in the summer sunshine!
Port Isaac sits a 3.6 mile walk away. This is arguably the most beautiful stretch of coastline on the South West Coast Path, so you can combine hiking with enjoying Cornwall’s coastal waters!
Looking for something more sheltered?
The island and the sheltered waters of Marazion Bay provide a naturally calm and safe passage for paddling.
Ocean High rents out paddleboarding equipment (along with kayaks and windsurfing gear!) and you’ll find them at Marazion Beach in the summer season.
While St Ives is more famous for its surfing, head to Porthminster to enjoy sheltered, calmer waters.
As Porthminster Beach is located firmly in St Ives Bay, its seas are safer for paddling and swimming than other St Ives beaches – Porthmeor has much bigger waves and is better for surfing.
St Ives surf school offer paddleboard rentals and classes and are based on the palm-lined Porthminster Beach. This stretch of sand only a short walk from St Ives town centre, making it an ideal spot for restaurants and bars!
Newquay’s Towan Beach is one of the most scenic in the town, with a rocky outcrop sitting on the golden sands, a house on top and a bridge connecting it to the mainland!
Newquay Activity Centre is located at Towan Beach, and from here you can rent boards to take to the water.
Loe Beach is located on the south Coast of Cornwall, in a sheltered part of the Fal Estuary.
Ideally located close to Truro and Falmouth, Loe has some of the calmest, most family-friendly waters in the area.
However, the open ocean still provides some challenges for experienced paddlers, with remote coves and a range of creeks.
Watersports are popular at the beach; it has its own dedicated watersports rental office (called Loe Beach Watersports) where you can hire boards and enquire about routes.
Situated in Fowey, Readymoney Cove is one of the most gorgeous beaches in South Cornwall – and it also happens to be one of the best SUP spots in the county!
From here, you can paddleboard up the River Fowey, the lower section of which is scenic and tranquil (although, if you get a bit further up there are some industrial structures – but on a paddleboard you’ll likely just stick to the southern part).
You can also paddleboard right from Fowey Harbour, although be careful if you do so, as there’s quite a lot of boat traffic in the area.
You can rent boards from Fowey River Hire for use around the quay. Lessons and guided tours are also available.
If you’re using your own paddleboard, it will need to be registered in advance with Fowey Harbour – more information about how to do that here.
Situated by the idyllic town of St Agnes, in the middle of one of the UNESCO mining World Heritage Sites, this is one of the best Cornish SUP spots if you’re searching for somewhere scenic and relaxed!
Being on North Cornwall’s dramatic coastline (where the Atlantic waves crash into beaches creating ideal surf conditions!), the waves can be quite large and daunting here – but it’s also a popular paddle boarding spot, especially when the tides are smaller.
I’d recommend seeking advice – and maybe even doing a lesson or tour – with Breakers Surf School, who are based in the area and can recommend the calmest possible route.
Coverack Bay Beach
I stumbled upon paddleboarding at Coverack Bay Beach by happy accident when I was exploring the dramatic scenery and beaches of the Lizard Peninsula.
Located near Cadgwith Cove, Coverack Bay Beach has a sheltered harbour that’s perfect for watersports.
The calm harbour is ideal for beginners, and there are some glorious stretches of coastline to explore just a short paddle away. This is the Lizard after all – it’s one of the most glorious and naturally stunning places in the country!
You can hire a board and seek advice about routes from the Coverack Windsurfing Centre.
Undeniably one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall, Mousehole’s serene harbour is also a popular paddleboarding destination.
The beach here is small, and there aren’t any watersports offices, but if you have your own board the harbour is protected and relaxed. Just watch out for boat traffic!
It’s unadvisable to drive all the way down to Mousehole – most visitors leave their car in the car park above, so be mindful that if you’re taking your own board, you’ll either have to carry it for a distance – or, if it’s an inflatable board, leave it deflated until you reach the harbour!
Best Paddleboarding Lessons in Cornwall
Before you take to the blue waters, it’s best to take some paddleboarding lessons to ensure that you know how to take to the waters safely!
Aside from the schools mentioned above, here are some of the best paddleboarding lessons in Cornwall:
- Big Green Surf School: based at Crantock Beach, the school offers tours and tuition for all levels, from beginners to advanced paddlers. Lessons start from £45pp for a 2 hour tour.
- Ocean Sports Centre: situated in Carbis Bay, the centre offers paddleboarding lessons for all levels, from beginners to advanced paddlers. Prices start from £35pp for a 2 hour lesson.
What does a paddleboarding lesson in Cornwall entail?
You don’t have to take a paddleboarding lesson to head out on the waters with a SUP, but I definitely recommend it if you haven’t tried the activity before.
Why take a lesson? Well, here are a few reasons:
- All of these schools offer qualified instructors, top-quality equipment, and a safe and fun environment to learn and improve your paddleboarding skills.
- Whether you’re looking for a leisurely tour or a more challenging lesson, there are a few different options for all capabilities.
- During your lesson, your instructor will teach you the proper techniques for paddling, turning, and balancing on your board.
- They will also provide tips on how to read the water and navigate different conditions, such as wind and waves.
- In addition to improving your skills, taking a lesson acts as a guided tour – it’s a great way to explore the beautiful Cornish coastline and discover hidden coves and beaches that are only accessible by paddleboard.
Tips for Paddleboarding in Cornwall
If you’re planning to go paddleboarding in Cornwall, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience – these are especially important if you aren’t having a lesson.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your paddleboarding adventure:
1. Choose the Right Location
Cornwall offers a variety of locations for paddleboarding, from calm rivers with shallow water to crashing waves on the open sea.
It’s important to choose a location that suits your skill level and experience.
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start with calm waters (I recommend Stithians Lake) and gradually work your way up to more challenging conditions.
2. Check the Weather and Tides
If you’re heading out independently, check the weather and tide conditions on your paddleboarding excursion.
Strong winds and currents can make paddleboarding difficult and dangerous.
It’s also important to be aware when the incoming tide is, as some areas can become inaccessible at high tide.
If the currents are looking strong, stick to sheltered water in a sandy cove like Port Quin; these places are the ideal spot to practice your skills!
3. Wear the Right Gear
Wearing the right gear is essential for a comfortable and safe paddleboarding experience.
While it’s technically possible to paddle wearing a swimsuit or bikini, it’s better to wear a wetsuit to keep warm while on the water and protect yourself if you fall in!
Most paddleboarding schools will also instruct that you wear a lifejacket to ensure that you float if you fall in. It’s recommended to wear one even if you paddleboard independently.
You should also wear a leash to keep you connected to your board if you do fall in the water.
4. Respect the Environment
It’s fundamental to protect the environment as you paddle around, to ensure that you can continue to explore the idyll of these Cornish locations!
Be mindful of wildlife and avoid disturbing their habitats.
Take all of your rubbish with you, don’t drop any in the water and leave the area as you found it.
Can I take my paddle board to Cornwall?
You can absolutely bring your board to Cornwall, but there are a few things to consider before you do.
Before packing up your board and heading to the coast, make sure that your board is suitable for the conditions you are likely to encounter.
Cornwall’s coastline can be unpredictable, and the weather can change quickly, so ensure that your board is in great condition.
Make sure that you have all the necessary equipment, including a leash, a personal flotation device, and a paddle.
Also bring a wetsuit, as the sea temperature can be quite chilly even in the summer months.
What’s the best paddleboarding spot for beginners in Cornwall?
If you’re on an extended trip, you could check out a range of the Cornish SUP spots listed above.
However, if you only have time for one beginner paddleboarding location, I recommend Stithians Lake, which has calm waters (it’s a lake, after all!). You can also rent a board and take surf lessons from here.
What’s the best paddleboarding spot for experienced SUPers in Cornwall?
If you have a little more experience, try Sennen Cove or Porthcurno Beach, which don’t have the tourist infrastructure; instead, they have more remote, beachy scenes and slightly choppier waters!
FAQs about paddleboarding in Cornwall
Is Cornwall good for paddle boarding?
With 422 miles of coastline encompassing secluded coves, beautiful beaches and stunning scenery, Cornwall is excellent for paddleboarding. There are waters for a range of different levels across the south and north coast, with calm family beaches and some spots with more challenging conditions.
Where is it safe to paddleboard in Cornwall?
Stithians Lake has a hub for water sports which is an excellent location for beginners. It’s an inland lake, so the waters are totally calm and you’re never too far from the watersports rental office – making it ideal for beginner paddlers. However, many beaches and rivers in Cornwall are safe.
Which beach in Newquay is best for paddle boarding?
Towan is a centrally located Newquay beach that’s great for paddleboarding – from here, you can rent out boards, it’s always quite busy which makes it safer, and the waves are never as large as they are somewhere like Fistral Beach.
Where can I paddleboard in North Cornwall?
The waves around North Cornwall can be large, so it’s important to find calmer spots for paddleboarding (and take a lesson if you have any doubt!). Here are some of the best spots for North Cornwall paddling:
- Trevaunance Cove
- Towan Beach
- Porthminster Beach
- Port Quin
Is St Ives good for paddle boarding?
Yes, beaches in St Ives bay, including Porthminster Beach and Carbis Bay Beach, have calmer waters that are perfect for paddleboarding. Porthmeor Beach is the outlier, as it sits on the western side of the bay and its waves are more suitable for surfing.
Are you ready to go paddleboarding in Cornwall?
Whether you want to burn off all the cream teas or just bob around enjoying the vistas of Mounts Bay, Cornwall’s got plenty to offer when it comes to SUP!
If it’s you’re first time, take a lesson with one of the schools listed above, or stick to the calm waters of Stithians Lake or other beginner-friendly paddleboarding spots.
But if you’re experienced, there are plenty of other, more challenging waters that you can take to. Just be mindful of tides and swells before heading in – I’d also recommend consulting with local lifeguards before heading out.