South Devon beaches

Sailing in Salcombe

You haven’t really seen Salcombe until you’ve explored it from the sea. Discover the dramatic coast, visit hidden coves or hop onto a secluded beach. Sailing in Salcombe experiences can vary from traditional Salcombe Yawls to high-tech speed boats, if you book one of our luxury holiday homes our concierge colleagues can organise a charter to suit your group with some seriously cool toys.

There are oodles of boat activities available ranging from sailing to coasteering adventures, to stand-up paddle boarding. Let’s go through the options for your stay in Salcombe.

Salcombe Sailing at it’s Best

Sailing in Salcombe is incredibly interesting (and at times frustrating!) as conditions vary along the estuary; the wind swirls around the coves and bounces off cliffs plus the tides throw in an extra level of complexity. But when the sun is glistening on the water and the wind fills your sails it is positively magical to be sailing in these waters.

Operating from Whitestrand pontoon in the centre of town, Salcombe Dinghy Sailing offer flexible sailing to suit any group size or sailing ability. Their fleet includes Wayfarers, Lasers and Optimists. The business is run by a young dynamic duo who also offer sailing tuition. For those seeking a more traditional sailing experience, you can sail a Salcombe Yawl with the hugely talented Fred Hitchen (nicknamed Scratch – inspired).

Part of our Fleet is the stunning Sailfunk. Why not have a luxury sailing experience aboard a skippered yacht or catamaran around the South Coast and beyond. Fab food and wine can be arranged with their onboard team. The Salcombe Yacht Club runs regular regattas for all classes of boats. They also warmly welcome visiting yachtsmen so get thee to the bar for rum! The views from the yacht club terrace have to be some of the best in Salcombe which is just perfect for watching the racing.

Power Boating

Many visitors to Salcombe (and locals) have powerboats – they give you the freedom to travel discover quiet coves, explore the area at leisure and enjoy water sports such as waterskiing and donutting (for the uninitiated, this means sitting in a rubber ring and holding on for dear life whilst you get pulled behind a boat).

Powerboat courses are becoming more popular which can only make Salcombe a safer place to be. If you are interested in learning more there are two excellent companies for you to consider: Salcombe Power Boats and Sea N Shore.

Everyone wants to get out on the water in Salcombe so we recommend you book your boat hire before you arrive. Salcombe Boats and Boards offer the sturdy Whaly 435s for hire. These roomy craft are used by Search & Rescue crews and are great at riding the waves!

South devon activity holidays

Boat Hire in Salcombe

For an adventure, a little independence from the ferries or even fishing, you can hire a boat for the duration of your stay or just for the day in Salcombe. The boats are excellent quality; you are kitted out with lifejackets and have a good safety briefing before your maiden voyage.

For a more traditional experience we recommend hiring Ibis who is a 21ft harbour launch. Or for boats with outboard engines there is a lovely couple that run Whitestrand Boat Hire who are happy to help or the fishmongers in Salcombe have another string to their bow with Salcombe Boat Hire.

For a more traditional boating experience, the Salcombe Launch Company offer a fleet of clinker style boats for hire. Perfect for pottering along the Salcombe estuary and stopping off at secluded beaches for a picnic. If you book a boat for a few days, you even get a complimentary mooring just off the town quay for the duration!

South Devon watersports

Rib Hire in Salcombe

What can be more exhilarating than feeling the wind in your hair and the salty spray on your lips as you ride the waves on the South Devon coast.

Guests of Finest Stays have a special discount code for the monthly membership at Salcombe RIB Club  This new family enterprise club gives members access to 2 Highfield Sport RIBs for a fraction of the cost of ownership. 

For the ultimate in fun and excitement check out the daily rib charter from Sea-n-Shore. Get out  on the water and explore the beautiful coastline around Salcombe without the hassle and expense of taking your own craft. 

Hire a 7.8m Ribcraft (250hp engines) with Salcombe Rib Charter available by the day or week, (you’ll need to hold RYA Powerboat. Level 2 or a Power ICC ) for an exhilarating ride along the south Devon coast.

Salcombe crab


Crabbing is still a big industry in Salcombe; you must try some handpicked Salcombe crab during your visit as this is a delicious local speciality. But if you would like to reel in your own meal, there are many varieties of fish to be caught in the South Devon waters: bass, cod, pollock, ray, sole, plaice, shark, conger eel and mackerel. Offering some of the best angling charters in these waters is Salcombe Angling or a mackerelling trip with Whitestrand Boat Hire.

Water-skiing & Wakeboarding

For water-skiing, wakeboarding, and other water sports activities from an RYA powerboat training centre we highly recommend using Sea N Shore or Adventure South.


There isn’t usually any surf in Salcombe (apart from when there is stormy weather in the winter). The closest we get to surfing are the waves crashing onto The Hipple at low tide. However, a 20 minute drive from Salcombe to Bantham will get you in the midst of the action. There are two surf schools at Bantham both offering excellent group and 1-to-1 tuition. For the surf-supporters there is a good café onsite for watching radicals moves…

Check out Bantham Surfing Academy and Discovery Surf School for more information.

Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking is a great way to see the estuary at a leisurely pace and requires no previous experience. Using tandem kayaks make it a sociable sport, and if there is a group of you wishing to explore, you can get a guide who will not only show you around the estuary, but provide hot/cold drinks and snacks, plus they will take lots of photographs with their waterproof camera. We really like the team at Sea Kayak Salcombe based at South Sands who offer are more independent approach. You can rent a kayak on a weekly basis and they’ll even deliver to your Salcombe holiday home.

SUP Walk

Stand-up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

This sport has grown exponentially over the last few years, and the Salcombe – Kingsbridge estuary is so perfect for the sport given the flat water up and down the many creeks. In the light of the summer evenings, paddling around the estuary is sublime. Sea Kayak Salcombe based at South Sands and Waterborn is based in Kingsbridge.

Salcombe Watersports  offers lessons, board hire and stand up paddle board tours, a fun experience for family and friends. Book a private tour or join one of the guided explorations of the Salcombe estuary and discover hidden coves and beaches and wildlife around shores. Lessons are available for beginners or, if you’re already familiar with paddle boarding, just hire a board and explore under your own steam.

North Sands Watersports offer free paddle board delivery to your holiday home (within 5 miles of Salcombe) when you hire a board for multiple days or delivery to North Sands beach for daily hire. 

The Finest Fleet

The ultimate way to enjoy and appreciate Salcombe is by exploring it from the sea. Discover the dramatic coastline in this area, visit hidden coves or hop onto a secluded beach. From traditional Salcombe yawls to high-tech speed boats, we can recommend a charter to suit your group.

Salcombe Yawl Y27

The Salcombe Yawl has a history which goes back at least 200 years. The Yawl originated from the small fishing boats used in the Salcombe estuary which had to be capable of sailing to windward in strong tides out of the estuary and beyond to work crab and lobster pots. They were later known as Licensed Waterman’s boats and raced in the annual Regattas.

The Salcombe Yawl is built using the clinker construction method with steamed ribs and frames and fastened with copper nails and roves. The Centre Plate is cast from bronze and to add extra stability there is a bronze shoe running the length of the centre board case. She carries a generous sail area making for exhilarating sailing.

The Yawl has now evolved into one of the keenest local racing classes in the British Isles. Regattas and Open Meetings can attract upward of 30-40 boats. The designs come off the boards of Stone, Taylor, Gibbens, Atfield, Howlett and Morrison.

You can learn to sail a traditional wooden Salcombe Yawl & explore the beautiful Salcombe estuary in the company of a local fisherman & expert yawl sailor. Or just be taken for a leisurely sail around the harbour in safe hands.

Prices from £90 for half day.

Sailfunk Yacht Charter

Pitched at the Mr & Mrs Smith’s of the world on water, Sailfunk is a boutique yacht charter company for both the corporate and leisure sailor. The yacht has been designed to be incredibly luxurious and easy to sail, allowing you to be hands-on or waited on; it’s entirely up to you.

During the summer months, Sailfunk is based in Salcombe and is available for a luxury yacht charters. Think of it as your own boutique on the water. Enjoy a great day or few days on the water, letting yourself unwind and completely relax. Settle in, let the kids stretch their legs and then make the toughest decision of the day, which fabulous place to eat.

Lunch will be a beautiful buffet created by a local deli, the afternoon can be spent racing, relaxing or roving around the bays and coves, on or off the boat. You might visit Hope Cove and anchor up for dinner or moor up in the stunning Salcombe estuary, you decide. A cool drink whilst watching the glorious sunsets. And we’ll do it all again tomorrow.

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