Exploring the Isle of Wight: Top five places to paddleboard and kayak

About Tim Wiggins – Isle of Wight adventure expert

Tim Wiggins is a specialist in all things adventure on the Island. An endurance cyclist and bike racer, Tim has ridden and competed all over the world; but the Isle of Wight remains his favourite place to ride, paddle, kayak and much more.

The Isle of Wight boasts breath-taking landscapes, stunning coastlines and pristine waters that make it a haven for water sports enthusiasts.

Among these activities, paddleboarding and kayaking stand out as serene and immersive ways to explore the Island’s beauty. With its diverse range of waterways and coastal routes, the Isle of Wight offers endless opportunities for paddlers of all levels to embark on unforgettable adventures.

Here, we unveil the top five places to paddleboard and kayak on this enchanting island.

1. Freshwater Bay

Situated on the Island’s western coast, Freshwater Bay is a picturesque cove framed by towering cliffs and rugged coastline.

Paddleboarding and kayaking here offer a unique perspective of the Island’s geological wonders, with its chalk cliffs and sea stacks. The bay’s sheltered waters provide ideal conditions for beginners, while more experienced paddlers can venture further out to sea for a thrilling ride along the coastline.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for local marine life, including seals and seabirds.

2. The River Yar

For a tranquil paddle through lush landscapes and wildlife-rich habitats, head to the River Yar on the Island’s north west coast.

This meandering river offers a serene journey inland, flanked by marshes, reed beds, and woodlands teeming with biodiversity. Launch your kayak or paddleboard from locations such as Yarmouth or Freshwater Causeway, and glide along the river’s gentle currents as you soak in the sights and sounds of nature.

Keep your camera ready for glimpses of herons, kingfishers, and other wildlife that call this area home.

Note: if launching from the Causeway, you will only have access for a few hours either side of high water, so time your paddle carefully.

3. Sandown Bay

With its expansive stretch of golden sands and azure waters, Sandown Bay beckons paddlers to explore its scenic coastline and vibrant seaside atmosphere.

Whether you choose to paddleboard or kayak, you will be treated to stunning views of the bay’s sandy shores, bustling esplanade, and the iconic Sandown Pier. Time your trip for high tide, and venture into the bay’s clear waters to paddle alongside colourful beach huts and perhaps even catch a glimpse of playful dolphins.

With plenty of amenities and water sports facilities nearby, Sandown Bay offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation for paddlers of all ages.

4. Bembridge Harbour

Located on the Island’s eastern coast, Bembridge Harbour is a haven for kayakers and paddleboarders seeking calm waters and scenic beauty.

This tidal estuary and its surrounding marshlands provide a tranquil setting for exploration, with numerous creeks and channels to navigate. Launch your craft from Bembridge Harbour or nearby St Helens Duver, and set off to discover hidden coves, salt marshes, and abundant birdlife along the way.

As you paddle through this peaceful haven, you will feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

5. Alum Bay and the Needles

For the more adventurous and seasoned paddler, consider ‘threading’ the iconic Needles and paddling amongst the dramatic cliffs, multi-coloured sands, and stunning geological formations of Alum Bay.

Colwell Bay is the easiest spot to launch from for this adventure; then paddle along the coastline towards the Needles, and take in the towering chalk stacks rising majestically from the sea.

This stretch of water has some of the strongest winds and tides in the country, so only attempt it if you are a competent paddler and have a good local guide.

Top tips for safe and enjoyable paddling

  • Always check weather forecasts and tidal conditions before setting out.

  • Wear appropriate safety gear, including a life jacket and suitable clothing.

  • Respect wildlife and marine habitats, keeping a safe distance from animals.

  • Stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and a hat.

  • Be mindful of other water users and follow navigational rules and guidelines.

Paddleboard and kayak hire Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight offers a wealth of opportunities for paddleboarding and kayaking enthusiasts, from tranquil rivers and sheltered bays to rugged coastlines and iconic landmarks.

Whether you are a novice paddler or a seasoned explorer, these top five places promise unforgettable adventures and breath-taking scenery at every turn. So, grab your paddle, embrace the Island’s natural beauty, and embark on a paddling journey you’ll never forget.

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Tim Wiggins

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