The coastline of Cornwall is perfect for standup paddleboarding (SUP) with the county boasting the longest stretch of continuous coastline in Britain and is one of the sunniest areas in the UK. With miles of long sandy beaches, enchanting rivers, creeks and estuaries, turquoise clear waters, picturesque harbour villages and seaside towns and all kinds of wildlife, what’s not to love! Exploring Cornwall on a SUP is one of the best ways to experience the stunning coastline of Cornwall and research has shown there are many health benefits to standup paddleboarding. It’s great exercise for the core but the rest of the body works hard during a SUP session and it’s all low impact making it popular with all ages. Research has also shown that standup paddleboarding has many mental health benefits too with positive effects on mood and wellbeing and researchers are also beginning to understand the additional benefits of exercising in or on the water.
During our honeymoon back in 2007 in Hawaii (SUP originated in Hawaii in the 50’s), we saw how popular SUP was over there but that popularity hadn’t hit our shores back then. Today ‘SUPing’ is one of the fastest growing watersports in the UK. Here in Cornwall, there are now many SUP hire centres, tuition and guided SUP tours available. We thought we’d share with you the best places in Cornwall to SUP. These are locations all over Cornwall where it’s easy to launch your SUP and go explore. We’ve divided the guide into 3 areas of Cornwall; South Cornwall, North Cornwall and West Cornwall. We’ve also included maps for each location so it’s easy to find your way there.
If you have any SUP recommendations in Cornwall, we’d love to hear them, drop a comment below or email us at email@example.com
We start this guide in our home town of Falmouth, one of the best places to SUP in Cornwall for ease of SUP launch, scenery, range of wildlife and the facilities on offer. Falmouth is one of the most southerly stretches of coast in the UK and blessed with an exceptionally mild climate. With the sheltered position of Falmouth bay, you’ll find an abundance of ocean critters that flourish in the temperate shallows along with bird life, dramatic coastlines and pure blue waters. If you’re lucky you may even spot seals and dolphins.
We have split Falmouth into the most popular locations to SUP – Castle Beach, Gyllyngvase (Gylly beach), Maenporth, Swanpool, Fal River Estuary & Carrick Roads, Mylor and Loe Beach.
Castle Beach, Falmouth
First up on our list is Castle Beach, a perfect location for SUP. You can park free on the road and walk down the slip to launch your SUP easily. Paddle west from Castle Beach and the scenery shifts dramatically. Shallow blue pools make way for imposing cliffs and precipices. 600 year Pendennis Castle is a great focal point which stands guard over the bay. Follow the cliffs around the cape and you’ll be met with the Fal River Estuary known to locals as Carrick Roads. This natural harbour is the third largest of its type in the world reaching depths of 34m. In warmer months the river mouth is populated with hundreds of sailing boats & yachts making it good fun navigating your SUP through them.
Gyllyngvase ‘Gylly’ Beach, Falmouth
Gyllyngvase beach or ‘Gylly’ beach is another perfect spot for SUP. Car parking is a short walk away from the beach, either grab a free space next to Gyllyngvase Gardens or pay at the council car park by the tennis courts, approx 100m from the beach. SUP lessons or SUP hire are both available from WeSUP on Gylly beach. You’ll find excellent facilities including toilets and showers. There is the superb Gylly Cafe and also next door is Gylly Cafe take away. Across the road from the beach is award winning luxury hotel St Michael’s Resort with lovely restaurants.
When it’s sunny and calm at Gylly, it’s an ideal spot for SUP. On a high tide, Head East towards Swanpool beach which is next on our list and you’ll be rewarded with a myriad of rocky shore life.
Swanpool Beach, Falmouth
Popular with families, this beach is a great spot for a SUP as it’s sheltered in most conditions. It has great facilities with a large paid car park a short walk across the road cafe, SUP hire available, toilets and Swanpool Beach Cafe on the beach. One of our favourite restaurants in Cornwall is located here too, enjoy a drink or bite to eat at Hooked on the rocks.
Maenporth Beach, Falmouth
Maenporth is another family friendly gently sloping sandy beach, sheltered in most conditions, perfect for SUP. The car park at Maenporth is located right on the beach making it one of the easiest places in Cornwall to launch a SUP. For facilities you have Maenporth Beach Cafe located on the beach along with toilet facilities and also across the road from the beach is The Cove Restaurant.
Head just out of the cove to find the notorious Ben Asdale shipwreck, a cave with a secret passage and on low tides keep an eye out for pasty crabs and spiny starfish.
Fal River Estuary & Carrick Roads
The Fal River is a vast expanse of water providing the perfect sheltered waterways to explore by SUP. You can launch from Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth and head around Pendennis Point – be aware that Falmouth Harbour can be a busy shipping lane. For quieter creeks head towards Mylor, Feock and St Mawes, but be aware that you will get a tidal effect on the river.
Mylor is another popular location for SUP in the Falmouth area. Head for Mylor Yacht Club, the main car park is right next to the slipway so it’s very easy to launch your SUP. There is also SUP hire available at the car park. There are toilets nearby and you have a choice of Cafe Mylor or Castaways for a drink or bite to eat. A nice relaxing SUP with beautiful scenery is to head left out of Mylor Harbour towards Mylor Bridge. Another great option is to head second left to Pandora Inn, a 13th century Creekside inn with low beams and flagstone floors serving amazing food. You can usually pickup a map from Mylor Boat Hire like this one:
Loe Beach is a small shingle beach offers easy parking and a short carry to the water. A great spot for messing about on a SUP near the shore, heading up Fal River or exploring the creeks. There is car parking at Loe Beach waterspouts centre which costs just £3 and is almost right on the beach so it’s a perfect sport to launch a SUP. You can head out into Carrick Roads and down to Mylor or in the other direction towards Trelissick. Again there are usually river maps around if you need to get your bearings.
Helford Passage Beach
Not far from Falmouth is Helford Passage beach which is a private beach which is accessible in all tides. You can’t park close to the beach so it’s best to drop your SUP boards off at the beach where there’s a small fee in summer months to launch payable at the kiosk on the beach, and then drive back up the hill to the car park. The Car Park is 100 metres back up the hill and is reasonably priced. Like all locations in Cornwall get there in the morning to find a car park space.
Route one – head west
Set off from the Helford Passage beach towards the left and mouth of the river. Cling to the Northern shore which is a sun trap and sheltered in a northerly breeze. You pass the private Trebah Beach, quaint National Trust owned Durgan and Grebe beach. The beach at Durgan is a good place to rest. There’s a National Trust shop where you can buy a cup of coffee and an ice cream.
On the south side there are secluded sandy beaches perfect for a picnic. It is possible for the committed paddler to head into Gillan Creek on the Lizard or stay on the north side and paddle to Maenporth which is likely a one way trip. The recommended trip is to creep along the southern shore heading west, looking out for seals popping up who are feeding in the many rocky outcrops.
Route two – head east
There is an amazing one way trip to Gweek if you catch the wind and tides right. Frenchman’s Creek and Port Navas have a lot to see. Heading up the river Tremayne Quay makes an amazing picnic spot. Look out in Spring low tides there is very little water in the river. If you cross the river you’ll find yourself at the picturesque village of Helford and further up you can access Frenchman’s Creek, made famous by Daphne du Maurier in her novel of the same name.
Whichever route you take, you’ll find the welcoming Ferryboat Inn back at Helford Passage Beach; enjoy a drink and a bite to eat looking out across the water.
Polkerris Beach, Par
This small sandy cove is great for hiring or launching your SUP, you can drop off your own boards just at the bottom of the hill, and the car park is only a short walk away. Paddling South from the beach the coastline is a great paddle down to the headland with small caves and turquoise waters to enjoy.
A hub for water sports activities Porthpean offers a great location for hire kayaks and SUPs to explore this diverse stretch of the South Cornish coast. If you launch from the sandy beach and head East you will come across Duporth and the famous harbour of Charlestown. Or head West for lots of little coves and caves along toward the headland.
On the east side of The Lizard, Porthallow is one of the easiest spots to launch your SUP as the car park is right on the beach. You can park on the beach, even in busy summer months. Paddle north or south exploring the stunning coastline with far reaching views across Falmouth Bay. There are lots of little coves to explore in either direction and it’s a great location for spotting seals and other wildlife.
The River Fowey is a fantastic place to SUP and one of our favourites. You can park and launch easily at Caffa Mill car park opposite Daphne du Maurier’s house, Ferryside. From there you have the option of paddling up river towards Golant and Lostwithiel or towards the mouth of the river and out into the sea. If you’re feeling up for a challenge you could go all the way to Polkerris which itself is a lovely paddling location.
Dennis Cove, Padstow, The Camel Estuary
The Camel Estuary is a mecca for watersports enthusiasts. It’s extremely tidal here, SUP is best timed an hour either side of high tide (slack water). With access points from beaches and slipways there are so many choices for a SUP adventure. Perhaps visit idyllic little Petherick Creek or beautiful sandy beaches such as Daymer Bay. You even can SUP from Padstow to Wadebridge. Located next to the Camel Trail just 1 km from Padstow, you can launch from the small rocky beach or opt to camp at Dennis Cove Farm Campsite which has its own slipway.
The Gannel Estuary, Newquay
Much quieter than other Newquay Beaches, Crantock is a popular spot with familIes and paddlers, the River opens up into a stunning sandy bottomed lake. Being tidal, it is best paddled an hour either side of high tide (slack water). The Gannel Estuary is an all-round idyllic spot positioned just south of Pentire Headland where the Gannel meets the sweeping sands of Crantock Beach and enjoys a sheltered position tucked away from the buzz of Newquay’s popular beaches. Best explored at dawn or dusk when the spring tides are at their biggest, keep your eyes peeled for an array of birdlife. If you like a SUP with scenery, wildlife and heritage, you won’t be disappointed.
Towan Beach, Newquay
Towan Beach in Newquay is a perfect spot for SUP’ing. Sitting in the shadow of Towan Head, the beach enjoys protection from big swells and shelter from strong winds. You can park close by at Towan Head car park so easy to launch your SUP.
Little Fistral, Newquay
Little Fistral in Newquay is another great spot for a SUP adventure when the conditions are nice and calm. Enjoy rock pools and lagoons with an abundance of miniature sea life. Located to the north of the world renowned surfing venue of Fistral beach in Newquay, Cornwall. A small number of parking spaces are available by the beach but there is a substantially larger car park at the main Fistral Beach a short walk away which also boasts excellent facilities including restaurants, toilets, shops and watersport facilities.
Harlyn Bay, Padstow
Harlyn Bay just south of Padstow is a brilliant place for SUP in Cornwall. Glassy water, incredible cliffs, wide spacious sands, sheltered surf and calm waters. Launch from the far-left side of Harlyn beach and paddle across the turquoise bay towards Trevone and expect to be blown away by the coves, rock formations and far-reaching views. High tides unlock pools and rocky shore life.
If it’s a calm day then a SUP at Portreath on north coast of Cornwall is perfect. The landscape is dramatic with towering cliffs and remote coves. You’ll see bird colonies and if you’re lucky, seals and dolphins. Our advice is to head out to sea then turn left, after a few hundred metres you can land up on dramatic Western Cove which has no land access. A little further down the coast lies Ralph’s Cupboard, a huge collapsed sea cave with a beach inside, it truly is awe inspiring.
There are a few options to launch a SUP at Porthleven. There is the harbour where you’ll find a jetty leading gently down to the water where you can safely launch your SUP. For those less confident, you can simply keep your board within the safety of the harbour and explore at your own pace. In Porthleven harbour you’ll find some great pubs, cafes and restaurants. Parking is close to the harbour. Another option is to launch your SUP from the beach which is only a few minutes walk from the harbour and down a bit of a steep hill.
St Ives Bay
An excellent SUP spot in Cornwall with easy launching from the North Quay from where you can head into the calm conditions of the harbour or out into St Ives Bay for more of a challenge. You can park easily on the North Quay of Hayle harbour and launch SUPs straight off the beach at high tide. This river mouth is sheltered, but be aware of the tidal pull as the water comes in and out. If you are not confident then only SUP for the small period either side of high tide where there isn’t so much water movement.
Mounts Bay, Marazion
If you only SUP in one place in Cornwall, make sure it’s Mounts Bay. There’s a large car park right on the beach at Marazion and Longrock which makes it a great spot to launch your SUP in a long sheltered sandy bay. Mounts Bay is home to St Michaels Mount so the backdrop is pretty awesome here. If you don’t own your own SUP then you can hire from here too. We normally park at the Station car park in Marazion where it’s just a short walk onto the beach. From here you can easily paddle to St Michael’s Mount and if the tide’s in, you can go all the way around which is amazing to see the other side of St Michael’s Mount.
There are a couple of options for launching in Penzance. The Abbey Slip provides easy access to the calm waters of Penzance Harbour although you need to time it right to make sure there’s enough water to get back. Drop your gear off and then park in the nearby Harbour car park.
Further along, Wherrytown is another good spot. It’s just a short walk over the Promenade to reach the beach. You can head towards Penzance and the Jubilee Pool in one direction or towards Newlyn in the other. If you want a bit of shelter and a guarantee of seeing some seals, try Mousehole just west of Penzance. Pronounced ‘Mowzel’ the place gets its name for the mouse-hole-like harbour entrance. It is often sheltered and the little island in front of the harbour entrance has a boisterous seal colony living on it. Common dolphins and harbour porpoises are often spotted out here.
Not far from Penzance and Praa Sands is Prussia Cove, a SUP spot that may not be the easiest of our suggestions to park at and get your SUP to and launch, but if you are confident and don’t mind the distance then park at Perranuthnoe or Praa Sands and paddle around to Prussia Cove. The South Coast stretch is usually sheltered from the wind and swell so can be a great place to SUP in Cornwall when other locations are too rough.
There’s a bit of a walk from the car park to the beach with a SUP but it’s perfectly manageable. You can stay around exploring Perranuthnoe or paddle around Cudden Point to gorgeous Prussia Cove.
Saving the best to last for the best spots to SUP in Cornwall, Porthcurno wins for scenery with crystal clear waters, many coves and sand islands – in spring and summer months, Porthcurno is amazing and is one of our favourite spots to SUP in Cornwall. I think if you were to ask people who SUP in Cornwall to vote for their favourite location to SUP, Porthcurno would be right up there and it’s easy to see why – beautiful picturesque beach with white sand, turquoise waters & surrounding granite cliffs.
One downside is there’s a bit of a carry of your SUP to the beach, 300m from the car park to the beach…but it’s well worth the effort. Once you’re on the beach and ready to launch, head left at low tide towards Logan Rock. You can paddle to the spectacular Pedn Vounder beach or carry on to the picturesque fishing village of Penberth.
There are toilets and there is a cafe/shop close to the car park.
If you have any SUP recommendations in Cornwall, we’d love to hear them, drop a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org