The county of Cornwall is well known as the UK’s surf capital because it is home to the country's largest waves and the highest concentration of surfers.
Now, you’re probably wondering, if it’s home to the biggest waves in the UK, how on earth is it possible to paddle board there? Well, a few locations spread out over Cornwall provide flat waters that are ideal for paddle boarding.
If you’re looking for a new UK SUP destination, we’re here to share the secrets of the best places to paddle board in Cornwall, so grab your SUP (and your wetsuit) and let’s get into it.
Cornwall spans over 3,000 square kilometers, and no matter where you’re stationed in the county, you’ll be sure to find a great stand up paddle boarding spot with beautiful sandy beaches, hidden coves, and bright blue seas.
The River Helford stretches through Falmouth Bay and, depending on the day, is a suitable paddling destination for both advanced and beginner paddlers. The nearby beach named Helford Passage Beach is a perfect launching spot that requires a small launching fee and can be accessed in high or low tides.
Seals, oysters, and wading birds like herons are regularly spotted on the River Helford, and its eastern side has particularly clear water that is an excellent location for fish spotting.
The river has a car park only a short walk away, and it is best to get there as early as possible as I’m sure you can imagine, it fills up quickly in the summer months.
If you’re new to paddle boarding or traveling from overseas, some companies offer SUP hire and tours along the river and will provide you with all the necessary equipment you’d need to get out on the water.
Carbis Bay is sheltered from westerly winds and, depending on the forecast, can have clear glassy waters or incredible surfing conditions thanks to large swells that form far out at sea.
The beach at Carbis Bay is incredibly popular throughout summer because of it’s soft golden sands paired with the water’s ideal swimming conditions.
Parking near the bay is relatively limited, and if you don’t arrive early, it may be hard to find a parking spot. Many people choose to park at the Railway Station car park or park further away and catch the train to the St Ives Station.
Private SUP companies along Carbis Bay Beach offer SUP guided tours and lessons, or you can hire equipment to cut out the hassle of lugging your own board to the beach.
The Fowey River is located at the bottom of a valley and is a haven for wildlife species and paddling enthusiasts.
Paddling in the lower part of the river will supply you with rocky headlands, sandy beaches, and intriguing caves that are full of marine wildlife and bird species.
To access the Fowey River, you can park at the Caffa Mill car park, where you can either paddle towards the river’s mouth which leads out to sea or towards Golant and Lostwithiel.
Maenporth, south of Falmouth, provides paddlers with a calm cove of water that has caves and rocky shore life just waiting to be explored. If you’re an avid SUP explorer, you can find an even greater exploration experience at the Ben Asdale shipwreck that wrecked near Maenporth beach in 1978.
The clear, pure blue waters at Maenporth see a large number of snorkelers gazing at marine wildlife and enjoying a cooldown in the still waters, especially during summertime.
Beach parking, campsites, and a cafe are not far from Maenporth Beach.
Portreath is home to towering cliffs, tucked-away coves, and paddling conditions for experienced and beginner paddlers.
Swells can form at Portreath, and if you’re looking to improve your paddling skills or try SUP surfing for the first time, this is the place to do it.
Paddling out to sea and turning left can take you to a dramatic western cove that has no land access and can only be explored by paddlers.
Numerous water sport rental companies can also be found dotted along the coastline at Portreath, making it easy for you to rent a board whenever you wish.
Porthallow on the Lizard is an excellent gateway to the sea that has views of Cornwall’s stunning coastline and rocky outcrops.
The pebbly beach is the perfect launching spot, and beach parking gives you easy access to the water, so you won’t need to carry your board over long distances.
When out on the water, you can explore a vast selection of coves in either direction while also spotting seals, sea birds, and other wildlife throughout all four seasons.
The Gannel River provides ideal paddling conditions for new paddlers or for those who prefer to take it easy and enjoy the surroundings.
The lower part of the Gannel River flows to the soft sanded Crantock Beach, and for the best waters with the calmest conditions, you should paddle an hour or so before or after high tide.
During the summer months especially, the turquoise water gets extremely busy with other paddlers and swimmers, but if you arrive early, you can park at the Crantock Beach car park and it is a 3-minute walk to the river.
Porthcurno Beach has soft fine white sand, turquoise seas, and stunning cliffs that shelter the beach from the wind.
The beach is said to be one of the most picturesque places in Cornwall, and from the shore, you can launch your board and paddle out during low tide towards Logan Rock.
Getting to the beach requires a challenging walk, but for those with inflatable SUPs, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Marazion Beach is the best place to launch your paddle board if you want to paddle to and around the historic castle of St Michael’s Mount.
The water in this area is calm year-round, and beginner paddlers can get the hang of the sport without taking on any extreme water conditions.
The beach has a car park not far from the soft sandy shore, and during the summertime, you can expect to see crystal turquoise waters that look like they should feature on a postcard.
You can find paddle board rentals at the beach, or you can request a guided tour that takes you around St Michael’s Mount so you can gaze at the magnificent castle from the comfort of a SUP.
Padstow has become famous in Cornwall for its huge collapsed sea cave that formed an 80-foot sinkhole in the surrounding cliffside.
The beach where you can launch your paddle board has beautiful soft white sand and clear waters making it easy to adventure towards the cliffs and rock formations while taking in the area’s outstanding natural beauty.
Sennen Cove is a popular spot for surfers and has incredible views of Land’s End. As swells can be strong, stand up paddle boarding is advised only on calm days, and once in the water, you may even get a glimpse of a resident seal colony that hides out in a secluded cave nearby.
In peak season, lifeguards are present at Sennen Cove, and you can rent paddle boards, other watercraft, and accessories at the Beach Complex.
The Camel Estuary is best explored by paddling, and the slow-moving waters of the river allow you to truly unwind and admire your surroundings.
Bird and wildlife lovers will enjoy paddling during low tide when the sandbanks are exposed, and an influx of wading birds come to the area to feed. If you’re extremely lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of rare otters that frequent the estuary.
The estuary enters the sea at Padstow, where you can continue your paddle until you meet the shore or turn around and see if you’re strong enough to paddle upstream.
Mousehole is a popular fishing destination for SUP and kayak anglers. Launching your SUP is possible from the harbor but slightly more challenging in low tide because of breaking waves that hit the shore.
Mackerel, bass, and pollack are some of the most popular fish at Mousehole, and even if you aren't a SUP angler, you’ll still find the paddle around the harbor enjoyable.
Towan Beach is one of Newquay’s popular beaches and is found at the bottom of a sloping hill, making parking in the Towan Head car park and walking to the beach a bit of a challenge.
During low tides, sand islands and sand strips form in the water to connect Towan to the Great Western Beach and other beaches in Newquay.
One of the most iconic features of Towan Beach is the “Island” which is a stack of rock at the east end of the beach with a house built on top in 1901. The island is joined to the cliffside with a suspension bridge and shallow blue pools gather at the bottom.
If you want to come and explore some of the best places to paddle board in Cornwall, an inflatable SUP will be in your best interests.
Not only are inflatable SUPs comfy, lightweight, and high quality, but they also deflate and pack down to fit into bags that are small enough to be checked in as luggage.
Check out some of GILI’s best inflatable SUPs that are incredible to travel with.
Cornwall isn’t just for surfers; it is also a fantastic paddle boarding location with beautiful beaches, slow-moving rivers, and plenty of opportunities to grab your SUP and hit the water paddling.
Here are our 14 top places to paddle board in Cornwall:
The River Camel is also known as the Camel Estuary and has slow-moving waters that are excellent conditions for paddle boarding. Wildlife is abundant along the river, and you can even paddle towards the river mouth and out to Padstow.
Padstow has stretches of soft sandy beaches that are great launch sites for paddle boards. The waters around the area are calm, and you can paddle out towards the cliffs where you can explore different rock formations and remote coves.
As Cornwall is not only a seaside town but the UK’s surf capital, you can be sure to find numerous water sports rental companies all over the county.
A quick Google search of the area will pull up nearby SUP rental locations where you can either simply hire boards or book lessons or guided tours.
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