Home | The Finest Stays Blog | Activities | Watersports you must try in South Devon


Aug 1, 2022 | Activities, Kingsbridge, Salcombe

If you want to explore the Devonshire coastline and see what makes it so beautiful, getting on the water is the best thing you can do. This blog reveals the top watersports you must try in the South Devon area. 


South Devon has a great mixture of beaches, with some providing big waves that are perfect for surfers, and others offering calmer waters that are ideal for family watersports such as canoeing and paddle boarding. 

Surfing is a popular watersport that many people will try out at some point during their visit to South Devon. All year round you will find surfers on the beaches in Devon. Whether you are new to the sport and are wanting some lessons, or if you have your own board and are looking for the best surf spots, look no further than the sea and sand in South Devon. 

What are the best beaches in South Devon for surfing?

Bantham Beach

Bantham is one of the most popular spots in South Devon for surfing. Its waves usually provide the perfect environment all year round for beginners and advanced surfers alike. Located between Salcombe and Plymouth, it is the perfect place to visit if you are staying in South Devon for a holiday or even a long weekend. The RNLI have lifeguards on the beach during the busier, summer months making it safe and accessible for many. 

Bantham Surfing Academy is one of the most popular surf schools in the county. It runs private and group classes for a range of abilities and ages so that those wanting to try out the sport for themselves or who wish to improve their surfing skills can do. Bantham also provides surfboard, bodyboard, wetsuit, canoe and kayak hire which is ideal for those wanting some more freedom in the water. You can even pack a picnic and explore nearby secret coves!


Just south of Bantham is Thurlestone beach. Thurlestone is a popular place for those with surf experience to visit. Beginners may find the waves challenging and the sea stacks and rocks slightly intimidating so be sure to consider the other beaches in South Devon too if it is your first time out on a board. 

North Sands

Despite its name, North Sands is located in the south of Salcombe. Due to its position on the estuary, which is often home to large swells that are brought up from the Atlantic, the bay frequently has large waves that are perfect for surfers. Hire your kit in town, then walk the short 15 minutes up to the beach, or drive and park at North Sands car park.

surfing in south devon

Canoeing and Kayaking

Canoeing and Kayaking are other watersports you must try in South Devon if you are visiting. If you are after a slightly more relaxed activity that still gets you moving, then this is the perfect solution. 

Canoeing involves using a paddle with one blade and kayaking involves using double-ended paddles. Both sports offer great days out for family and friends. Depending on the conditions, sea kayaking can prove quite a challenge – you may have to power through some waves before you reach the calm!

Bigbury-on-sea has a kayak hire as part of the Discovery Surf School. With hire prices starting from £20, you can explore the entire stretch of the bay when the conditions are right. If the water is especially calm you can paddle around the island. Brixham also has great coves that you can explore in a canoe or kayak. 


South Devon is a well-known sailing destination. Located on the beautiful English Riviera, the area has the perfect conditions for sailing (made up of a mixture of sheltered bays and wide stretches of water) and international competitions are often held here. 

Salcombe is the home of sailing in Devon. Its estuary is the perfect place for the popular pastime and it is no wonder why so many visitors are keen to take up the sport when in the area. Residents often keep their boats moored in the harbour but you can hire a sailing boat to take out. 

Salcombe Dinghy Sailing offer sailing lessons as well as hire. For other types of boat hire, including self-drive boats, Salcombe Launch Company has a fleet that you choose from and pay a daily rate for. 


Paddleboarding is taking the watersports world by storm! Many find that the relaxing nature of paddleboarding is what makes it so appealing. You have the freedom to choose whether to stand up or kneel on the board or even share it with someone else. 

With paddleboarding, you get the best view of the coastline. If it is safe to do so, take a trip around the headland or explore secret caves and coves. The best conditions for paddleboarding are when the water is still and calm. 

Some of South Devon’s most popular places to paddleboard include the Kingsbridge estuary, South Sands, and The River Dart. South Sands has a sandy bay that is perfect to launch your paddleboard from and return to when you fancy a picnic on the beach. 

paddleboarding devon

Holiday Homes for Watersports Lovers

If you are looking for a watersport-packed stay when you visit South Devon, Woodspring offers the ideal holiday home. Sleeping up to 14 guests and set along Bowcombe Creek, this luxury, contemporary house is the place for you to reunite with family and friends and spend some quality time together. 

Woodspring’s idyllic and rural location makes it perfect for those who love the great outdoors and getting active. With the water just metres from the doorstep where you will find a private mooring, and a boat store loaded with wetsuits, paddleboards, fishing gear and life jackets, you are fully equipped to explore the creek and paddle further afield onto the Kingsbridge estuary. 

If you want to stay in South Devon and try out some of the watersports for yourself, get in touch.

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