If you’re a keen paddle boarder or even if you are thinking of buying a paddle board to use in and around Newquay then the following information should help you get the most out of your visit.
Stand-up paddleboarding is a great water sport that offers both exercise and relaxation. As a portable and affordable alternative to surfing or motor water sports, the stand-up paddleboard is ideal for your holiday on the north coast of Cornwall.
Newquay is a fantastic place to enjoy your paddleboard due to the variety of beaches, headlands and scenic coastline. There aren’t many places in Cornwall that offer this many beautiful locations so close together.
We’ve lived in Newquay now for over a year and have learned the best spots to go out on our SUPs. Learning the landscape, tide times and perfect weather conditions make the experience much more enjoyable.
So if you’re wondering, where can I SUP in Newquay, I have the answers for you below.
Best locations to paddle board around Newquay
Here are the best places to SUP in Newquay. Starting with our favourite.
The Gannel Estuary
Our favourite place to use our stand-up paddle boards is on the Gannel Estuary.
At high tide, this estuary provides a vast expanse of water to explore, with loads of wildlife, rocky embankments, amazing sunsets, overhanging tree lines, caves, underwater bridges and access to the sea itself.
You can access the Estuary from a number of different locations but we prefer the slip road which is located off Trevean Way.
There’s also a great car park on Gannel Road but it’s quite small and has a height limit of 1.8m. Get there early for a good spot.
To get the best out of The Gannel for SUPing you’ll want to pay attention to tide times and heights which I have explained in more detail below.
Crantock beach is also well known for being a great paddle boarding spot but there have been incidents in the past with quick moving tides, rip currents and large swells that can drag people out to sea.
I would recommend this for some of the more experienced boarders out there and advise wearing a quick-release waist belt leash and life jackets.
There are lifeguards on the beach between May and October. Parking in the National Trust car park can be found through the village of Crantock on the other side of The Gannel.
This is a great place to paddle board due to the calm waters. It’s perfect for beginners as the waves don’t enter the harbour itself.
Once you’ve built up your confidence here you can venture out into the sea at Towan Beach. On a calm day, this is a beautiful experience and a great opportunity to explore some of Newquay’s finest coastline.
It’s best to avoid the rocky cliffs to the left of the harbour as these can be quite treacherous even in calm waters.
Just remember, this is a working harbour and there are fishing boats and boating trips using this space.
During low tide, there is very little water in the harbour, so try to catch it at high tide.
Parking can be tricky near the harbour but you can normally find a spot early in the morning on the harbour itself or in the Fore Street car park at the top of the road.
Another popular destination for paddle boarding due to the enclosed bay is Porth Beach.
The tide can be very far out when low so expect a decent walk to the water, but once there you can enjoy some slightly calmer waves.
There’s a good-sized car park just across the main road and food and drink available from little cafes and the Mermaid Inn just next to the beach.
This is a great beach to explore the rocky coastline and if you’re feeling adventurous you can explore around the headland and over to Whipsiderry Beach on the right.
Head round the coast to the left and you’ll reach the popular beach of Lusty Glaze.
Whilst Lusty Glaze is a private beach it is often open to the public.
Tolcarne and Great Western Beach
These two lovely beaches are located directly in front of Newquay town and are both popular destinations for a paddle. The waves can tend to be a little larger here so it’s not perfect on a windy day.
Find a nice calm day and you can potter up and down the Newquay coastline with no problem.
Parking is difficult so be prepared to park a little further out and carry your equipment down steep stairs or walkways.
Time it right and you’ll have hours of fun on the open water.
Tide times and tide heights for Newquay
To get the most out of your time on The Gannel Estuary you’ll need to catch it at high tide. Normally an hour on either side of high tide will be best.
However, you’ll want to arrive a little early so that you have time to set up and launch for the right location.
How to find the best tide times?
We use a free app called Magic Seaweed to plan most of our paddleboarding trips. It is available as a smartphone app or via their website. This will list and show a chart of the future tide times and tide heights so you can plan ahead.
There are two high tides and two low tides every day but you’ll typically only be able to catch one high tide per day (unless you get the 7-8:00 am and the 7-8:00 pm tides).
The Gannel isn’t listed on the app but if you search for the closest beach (Crantock) you’ll get all the information you need.
Not all tide heights are the same
The tides are always higher when the sun and moon are in alignment together. So, although there might be a high tide, it might only be a low high tide and this makes for poor paddle boarding on The Gannel.
The image above shows a decent tide height of 6.69m. However, during a low high tide this can sometimes only reach about 5m. We have been out when it’s been like this and found that the fins on the boards were catching on the bottom in many places. This made it very difficult and far less enjoyable.
To get the most out of a session on The Gannel it needs to be above 5.5m
We use another app called Tides Pro which costs £3.49 but it’s worth the money. It gives detailed information about the tide times, heights and even has a Apple/Smart watch add-on for easy viewing.
Tide heights vary throughout the month and can be as low as 4.9m and go up to 7.67m.
Watch out for strong winds
If you’re using inflatable stand-up paddle boards then they generally aren’t great in the wind. It can become very difficult to steer one or even paddle forwards if the wind is too strong. This can be dangerous for obvious reasons.
If you get caught in an off-shore wind it can be very difficult to paddle back in to shore. Likewise, with a crosswind, you can easily get blown down the coastline and away from safety.
Wind strengths above 20mph should be avoided altogether. This strength of the wind will make it very difficult for you to control your SUP.
The best conditions will be winds of less than 10mph. Again, you can use Magic Seaweed to see current wind speeds.
Safety on your SUP around Newquay
The Newquay coastline can be the most amazing place to enjoy your SUP but it can also be a very dangerous place.
Always supervise your children when out on the SUP and think carefully about your surroundings.
Always have an escape plan in place should things turn south. Here are some essential safety guidelines to know before you head out.
- Invest in a decent buoyancy aid or a lifejacket. Staying afloat when you fall in the water is essential. Cold water shock can kill, so protect yourself with a lifejacket.
- Always go out with a friend. Going out as a group is much safer than being on your own. You can look out for each other should anything happen. If you do decide to go out on your own make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.
- Check the tide times and weather before you go out. Magic Seaweed and a reliable weather app will provide all the information you need. If it looks too windy try again another time. Avoid offshore winds, especially when they are above 15mph.
- Invest in a decent waterproof phone case and take your phone out with you. There is a phone signal around most of the Newquay coastline so you can call for help should you get into trouble.
- Wear suitable clothing depending on the time of year. Wearing a wetsuit is always a good idea and can prevent you from getting too cold should you fall in the water, especially in the colder months. Even a shorty wetsuit in summer is a good choice as it also acts as a flotation device.
- Use your SUP with a suitable leash. If you fall off your board you’ll want to be able to easily get back to it. Without a leash, you could easily get separated. A quick-release waist-bound leash is now the preferred type. The ankle-attached leashes have been known to tangle around people’s legs making it difficult to swim.
- If you’re new to paddle boarding it’s worth having a lesson on your first time out. The instructor will be able to teach you the correct techniques and specific safety precautions for the Newquay area.
We have two different waterproof phone cases. The first is a Lifeventure case which has a neck strap. It can be operated in the case and has a window on the back for taking pictures.
The second case is an Ocean+Earth case which also has a neck strap and can be operated in the case. The main difference is that this one actually floats in the water. So if you accidentally drop it, it floats. Strangely the manufacture lists this as a water-resistant case. (not waterproof). We have tested the case and it does float and no water got in. so it was a thumbs up from us.
Ocean & Earth
Floating phone case
- Size: 110 mm x 200 mm
- Material: PVC construction
- Suited for all kinds of water sports
- Inflated pocket
- Fits most phone sizes
Finding the right SUP for your Newquay adventure
There is a vast range of products on the market but not all are made equal. There can be a huge difference in quality between products so it can be important to know what you are looking for.
Making the most of your SUP adventures is important, and I can tell you now that having the right SUP will make a difference in your experience.
Cheaper and poorly made SUPs (many cheap Chinese brands) can tend to provide a poor experience. They feel less stable (rocking), they don’t glide through the water and can bow or bend in the middle.
We’ve tried a few different SUPs and none compare to our Tahe SUP-YAKs. It’s a dual-purpose SUP and kayak in one.
We purchased the add-on seats and footrests so that when we get tired of standing up, we can sit down.
We also have the double-sided paddle so we can kayak properly. You can fit two people on each board easily.
Inflatable SUP / Kayak
- 1 10’6 SUP-YAK assembly
- 1 detachable Touring 9” fin
- 1 adjustable paddle
- 1 safety leash
- 1 dual-action pump with pressure gauge
- 1 carry backpack
- 1 repair kit
They are at the higher end of the price bracket but you will see why when you’re on one. Plus, they should last a good decade and even longer if properly looked after.
Here are a couple of our SUP-YAKs in action.
We’re also very familiar with the Bluefin SUPs which our friends use and speak very highly of. They have a good selection of boards for beginners or experts and have been in the market for over 12 years.
Again, they can be on the pricey side but you can grab a deal here.
SUPing around Newquay is one of the best ways to enjoy the north Cornwall coastline. Above, I’ve listed the best locations to get out and explore the area.
There are more beaches where you could SUP around Newquay but they can be a little more treacherous and the waves can be a little strong, like Fistral Beach for example.
Remember to have safety at the forefront of your mind before you go out and always stay alert. Unfortunately, lives have been lost on this beautiful coastline so be careful and look out for each other.
Buy a good waterproof phone case which you can wear at all times and a life jacket so you can easily stay afloat in the water. The river part of the Gannel is one of the safest places to SUP in Newquay due to the shallow waters but it’s still important to be careful.
Have fun out there.