The 8 Best Paddle Boarding Locations In South East England

From London to the Isle of Wight, South East England is home to some beautiful paddle boarding hotspots. We’ve scoured lakes, rivers, and coastlines to bring you the best paddle boarding locations in South East England.

Table of contents

1. Brighton, East Sussex

2. Viking Bay, East Kent

3. Langstone Harbour, Hampshire

4. Cuckmere Meanders, East Sussex

5. Paddington Basin, London

6. Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight

7. Bewl Water, Tunbridge Wells

8. River Hamble, Southampton

9. Specialist paddle boarding insurance from Insure4Boats

 

 1. Brighton, East Sussex

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A post shared by Brighton Paddler (@brighton_paddler) on Jan 12, 2019 at 6:18am PST

Brighton had to be the first pick on our list. One of South East England’s most popular seaside resorts, it’s best known for its famous pier, pebbled beach, and colourful beach huts. Better yet, it's less than an hour from London by train, which is ideal if you want to kill two birds with one stone (more on London later).

There are a few popular paddle boarding routes in Brighton. If you’re an experienced paddle boarder, we recommend the paddle from West Pier to Palace Pier or the 3-hour route from Southwick to the Marina. If you're a newbie, travel from Palace Pier to the Marina (without the Palace Pier loop). It's equally beautiful and less strenuous.

If you'd prefer to paddle with an instructor, local company Flow & Paddle offers private stand up paddle boarding (SUP) tuition and group sessions. A 90-minute session costs £60, or you can hire a paddle board from Brighton Watersports for £15/hr, or Hove Lagoon for £20/hr.

Once you’ve finished, have a well-earned drink. There are quirky bars, trendy restaurants, and nightclubs just a stone’s throw away from the beach. It's all going on in Brighton.

 

2. Viking Bay, East Kent

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This horseshoe-shaped sandy bay allures countless visitors to Broadstairs in Kent. With its beautiful clifftop promenade and pier, it’s easy to see why this was Charles Dickens’ treasured holiday destination.

Viking Bay is a beautiful spot in which to paddle board and explore Broadstairs’ picturesque coast. You can paddle board with Kent Surf School from April to October. You can get a 2-hour group lesson for £35 (for an adult) or a private session for £80. But if you’re an experienced paddle boarder and are itching to get out on the water, you can just hire a SUP for £20/hr.

If you want to check out Broadstairs town centre after paddle boarding, you can get the cliff-side elevator at the southern end of the beach to save your aching legs the climb.

 

3. Langstone Harbour, Hampshire

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Nestled between Portsmouth and Chichester Harbour, Langstone Harbour is a haven of stillness and beauty.

It’s protected to the highest level, which verifies its beauty and importance. Here are the titles it holds:  

  • SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest)
  • SPA (Special Protection Area under the Birds Directive)
  • SMSAC (Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation under the Habitats Directive)
  • Candidate SAC (Special Area for Conservation)
  • Ramsar Site (a designation for internationally important wetlands)

…Enough said!

If you visit Langstone Harbour, you'll share it with an abundance of life, from seabirds to the occasional seal in winter. In fact, 50 species of fish have been found in the harbour. And in 2008, a 26-foot (8-metre), 7-tonne northern bottlenose whale was beached on a mudflat in Langstone Harbour

What better way to immerse yourself in nature than by discovering such fascinating species from a paddle board? Of course, when paddling you shouldn’t disturb the local wildlife.

You can hire a SUP from SandbarSUP on Hayling Island from £30 or book a session from £45.

 

4. Cuckmere Meanders, East Sussex

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On the Cuckmere Meanders, you're guaranteed a relaxing paddle. This closed section of the Cuckmere river with shallow and sheltered water offers the perfect spot to hone your skills and explore the unspoilt Sussex waterways. It’s convenient, too – you can simply drive up the water’s edge and hop on your board.

If you want to explore, paddle down the river to the mouth by the jaw-dropping Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. This is a beautiful spot to complete your paddle. Or, take the route up to the historical village of Alfriston and pull the board out at the footbridge. You can also do this on a 5hr guided tour from Buzz Active for £35.

If you own a paddle board, you can hop on the water for free. Or, you can hire a board or take lessons from Buzz Active. A SUP taster session is £21, and they offer a 1-hour SUP yoga session for £14.

 

5. Paddington Basin, London

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Who knew there were so many paddle boarding locations in a big city like London? Kew Bridge, The Pontoons in Richmond, Walton-on-Thames – the list is endless. But what we love about the Paddington Basic is the opportunity to explore canals like the Grand Union Canal and Regent Canal.

We’d be lying if we said our choice didn’t have something to do with the waterside café’s and pubs in the famous 'Little Venice'. Here, you pass Camden Town, ZSL London Zoo, Regent’s Park, and theatres – who needs to go on an open-top bus? Paddling around here is nothing short of exciting.

With Active360 in the heart of London, you can hire a paddle board, book a lesson or trip, or try SUP Yoga. Gusty Girls also run introductory and social sessions at Paddington Basin.

 

6. Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight

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The Isle of Wight boasts plenty of stunning paddle board locations, but we think Freshwater Bay is the best.

Paddle along the cliffs at Freshwater Bay and explore the caves, like the caves below Tennyson Monument, on flat and crystal clear waters. It was these caves that smugglers used the caves to conceal the goods they stole.

If you’re an experienced paddle boarder and come prepared, you could paddle past the chalk cliffs to The Needles rocks. Tourists often take their boats and yachts out around here, so keep your wits about you.

When you’re not on your board, you could even take the iconic chairlift to the sand cliffs. Here, you can play the 9-hole adventure Jurassic Golf, purchase souvenirs or go to the café. 

iSurf, a 4-minute drive from Freshwater Bay, offers stand up paddle boarding sessions. A group lesson is £30 for 1.5hrs, whereas a 1 on 1 lesson is £60 and a SUP yoga session is £30 for 1.5hrs. Plus, it’s run by Surfing GB qualified surf coach Chris Mannion, so you're in good hands if you want to surf the 'gnarly' waves. Tackt Isle offers various SUP sessions, such as the 2hr SUP Safari where you can explore. Or, you can hire a board from Two Elements (they can even deliver to you) or book a guided SUP tour of the island from £35.

 

7. Bewl Water, Tunbridge Wells

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Bewl Water is a reservoir set between Kent and East Sussex – and the largest body of inland water in South East England. It's also home to a plethora of wildlife, from coots and herons to swallows and kingfishers. Launch your paddle board from the beach area next to the slipway and enjoy a smooth paddle on the reservoir – save for the occasional boat wake to keep you on your toes!

Please bear in mind, you need proof of third-party liability insurance to paddle on the lake. Our specialist paddle boarding insurance provides public liability and many other cover options. You also need to have a membership to use the lake which you can purchase here, but day permits are not available.

Once you've exhausted paddle boarding, why not cycle or walk the 13-mile route around the reservoir? You can hire a bike from Bewl Water from March to October. Or do fly fishing, sailing, or take on your own total wipe-out at the Aqua Park. By that time, you will have worked up an appetite – luckily, there's a cafe and bistro on the waterfront.

 

8. River Hamble, Southampton

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The River Hamble is the home of British yachting – and you paddle past outstanding yachts in Swanwick Marina. It’s recently become a hotspot for SUP, too. On the river, you're surrounded by countryside and a vast array of wildlife which you can see from your board.

Start next to the slipway at Swanwick Marina. Here, you can hire a board from The Paddle Centre which sits on the bank. A great route is to the Horse and Jockey pub and back, which is 3.4 miles each way. But make sure you check the tide beforehand.

From the slipway, travel North along the river to the Hamble, past Swanick Marine, under a road bridge, and continue to the tranquil countryside. At the first meander is Manor Farm Pontoon, where you can stop for lunch at a picnic bench. Continue North and fork right to Curbridge Creek. You reach the Horse and Jockey pub where you can stop for a drink. Then head back the way you came.

At this point, we should warn you that the Hamble is extremely busy with commercial and leisure shipping, so keep an eye out for this. 

 

Specialist paddle boarding insurance from Ripe Boats

Now you’ve decided where to go paddle boarding in South East England, make sure it’s stress-free with our specialist paddle boarding insurance.

This protects your paddle board against loss, theft, or damage. And you’ll be protected if you cause injury to another person or damage someone else’s property whilst using your paddle board. Get a quote and create your own policy in just a few minutes.

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