Best Places To Go Stand Up Paddleboarding In Dorset | SUP Dorset

May 16, 2022 | Sea Adventures, Stand Up Paddleboarding

The paddleboarding gurus at Fore adventure have got you covered with maps of suggested routes, some insider local knowledge as well as the all important safety considerations to get you out on the water in Dorset!

Check Out Our Favourite Places To SUP In Dorset

  1. Studland Bay and Old Harry Rocks – sheltered bay and awesome chalk cliffs
  2. Christchurch Harbour – bird watching haven
  3. Poole Harbour Islands – island hopping and exploration
  4. Swanage Bay – picturesque seaside town
  5. Wareham and the River Frome – secluded river leading to Poole Harbour
  6. Kimmeridge – stunning shale ledge and epic coastline
  7. Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door – majestic limestone arch and fascinating geology

 

SUP dorset old harry rocks stand up paddleboard

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has really taken off in the last few years, and it’s easy to see why! The Fore Team are mad about it- taking on their own SUP adventures as often as they can. When they’re not paddling themselves, they’re being inspired by other paddlers, like Fiona Quinn who SUP’d Lands End to John O’Groats! Don’t believe us? Check the blog “SUP Adventure Inspiration“. A little closer to home, we’ve picked some of our favourite places to take to the water in Dorset to share with you.

Maybe you’re a novice paddleboarder looking for somewhere calm and safe to learn the magic of SUP? Or maybe you’re more experienced and looking for your next great adventure? Well never fear, the paddleboarding gurus at Fore Adventure have paddled plenty of the coast and have put together some of their favourite spots for stand up paddleboarding in Dorset!

See you on the water!

standup paddleboarding studland bay sea

Studland Bay And Old Harry Rocks Paddleboarding Trip

There’s almost no better way of exploring Studland Bay and Old Harry Rocks than by Stand Up Paddleboard! Observe the wildlife under the crystal clear water including fish, crabs and other marine life. Or gaze up at the magnificent cliffs and rock formations!

half day intermediate old harry

The Route:

We like this route, staying near the cliffs to catch a glimpse of nesting coastal birds and staying in relatively shallow water. The paddle from Middle Beach to Old Harry and back is 4km, so achievable in a couple of hours at a leisurely pace (with some stops to soak it all in!) Depending on the tide (which it’s super important to check every time you go out on the water) there’s often a beach at Old Harry meaning you can hop off your board and explore. Why not bring a spot of lunch, or a cheeky flask of coffee, to enjoy before you paddle back!

Studland bay sup route dorset

Local Knowledge And Practicalities:

Parking, toilets and a café are all available at Middle Beach Car Park or Knoll Beach Car Park. Both car parks are pay and display, or free for National Trust Members. Both are a short walk to the sea and are generally calm and shallow water.

Refuelling after an adventure is very important, especially to to Fore Adventure Team! You’re spoilt for choice in Studland with the Bankes Arms pub serving food and locally brewed beers in their stunning beer garden overlooking the bay. Alternatively pay the Sandy Salt Pig a visit and try one of their epic sausage rolls!

Stay Safe!

Most of the time the waters in Studland Bay are calm and sheltered and perfect for paddleboarding, but always check the weather forecast! There can be strong tidal movement at Old Harry Rocks so be aware, check the tide times and stay in sheltered water.

Rather go with a guide? Why not visit Old Harry Rocks on SUP or kayak with us? Accompanied by one of our friendly guides who can tell you all about the local area and most importantly, keep you safe on the water!


sup stand up paddleboard beach calm

Stand Up Paddleboarding Dorset – Christchurch Harbour

A birdwatching haven, Christchurch Harbour is a great spot. Another beautiful place to glide across the water on your SUP.  Enjoy views of The Priory, an 11th century monastery church, and across to the Isle of Wight.

christchurch harbour sup

The SUP Route:

A 10km route that could easily be shortened to suit any ability, you can take in all the sights of this pretty harbour with a few spots for breaks. The harbour is well known for birdwatching, so keep your eyes peeled. There are a few spots you can beach for a rest- why not check out Hengistbury Head or Mudeford Spit with it’s famous beach huts!

christchurch harbour sup route stand up paddleboard

Practicalities:

Parking and launching is available at Mayors Mead Car Park which is close to the town centre. Parking is pay and display and there are public toilets nearby. Don’t have your own board? SUP hire is available at a few locations in Christchurch including the nearby River Shack.

Stay Safe!

Though the harbour is sheltered, it is tidal so you should check tide times and be sure you understand what this means for your paddle. No one likes fighting the tide! Be aware of the harbour entrance where currents can be dangerous. The harbour is shallow, with large areas drying out at low tide.


Explore The Islands and Creeks Of Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world, boasting several beautiful islands. The views are stunning across the Purbeck hills. And there are great birdwatching opportunities, Poole Harbour is an awesome place to stand up paddleboard in Dorset. Taking in Brownsea Island you can cross your fingers for a sighting of one of the Island’s Red Squirrels.

Stand Up Paddleboarding Dorset – The Route:

Shell Bay is a great launch spot, and our route takes you on an adventure around some of the harbours islands and gives great views across to Sandbanks. A 9km paddle with a few spots for breaks along the way- but be aware of where you land as most of the islands are private property. Keep your eyes open for red squirrels and other wildlife on Brownsea Island, as well as the harbours resident seal who can often be seen popping up to say hello!

Poole harbour sup route islands explore

Practicalities And Local Knowledge:

Parking and toilets are available at Shell Bay pay and display car park (free for National Trust Members). Bramble Bush Bay is a short walk across the road to a shallow beach ideal for getting afloat. Landing on the South Side of Brownsea Island is fine- check the finer details on their website. It’s the Fore Adventure Team’s preferred location for a picnic stop!

Stay SUP Safe!

The harbour entrance can be a dangerous place to paddle, with strong currents and lots of boat traffic so we advise staying clear! Island hopping can be great fun but be sure you are confident with your navigation and as always- check the forecast!

night paddle wild bivy sunrise standup paddleboarding


Stand Up Paddleboarding Dorset – Swanage Bay

Take in the pretty seaside town of Swanage from the water, sandy beaches with impressive hills and cliffs as your backdrop!

swanage bay standup paddleboarding

The Route:

Explore Swanage Pier and paddle as far as you like along the sandy beaches. Swanage is perfect for a very short paddle or take longer to explore further, there’s something for everyone! With Ballard Down to the North and Peverill Point to the South, there’s lots to explore. Why not check out the Victorian Pier?

swanage bay sup route sea seaside

Local Knowledge And Practicalities:

There are a few beach car parks. Broad Road pay and display car park is a short walk to a launch point near the Pier and has toilets nearby as well as Swanage town centre for shops and cafes. Feeling peckish? Loads of great options in Swanage including a range of fish and chip shops (you’re at the seaside, it’d be rude not to!) Or try out Pier Head serving fresh local seafood with views across Swanage Bay.

Stay Safe!

Swanage is a calm, sheltered bay, but be sure you’ve checked the weather forecast! There are parts of the beach that are covered by RNLI lifeguards.


 

Bimble Through Wareham And The River Frome

Get on the water at Wareham Quay and take a relaxed journey on your paddleboard down the River Frome. It’s great for spotting wildlife including birds and deer.

wareham river frome dorset priory calm

Stand Up Paddleboarding Dorset – The Route:

At about 8km from the Quay to the Harbour and back, the route can be easily shortened if you want to turn back early. Or extend and explore more of the harbour- just remember you’re paddling back up river! Lots of birdlife to be spotted along this quiet stretch of river. Plenty of boat moorings give a great opportunity to practice your slalom skills! There’s usually a few spots along the way to stop for a quick break- but be mindful of private property.

warehma sup route map river frome

Practicalities:

Parking is available right next to the water at Wareham Quay, or in the town centre. Toilets and shops are also nearby, and Wareham Boat Hire can hire SUPs, kayaks, canoes and more right on the river.

Stay Safe!

The river is very sheltered from wind, making it a great place to stand up paddleboard. However it is still tidal so check tide times as paddling against the flow can get pretty tiring! There are a few landing spots along the river.


Stand Up Paddleboarding Dorset – Kimmeridge

Stunning shale beach with awesome views of the Jurassic Coast, Kimmeridge Bay is probably the best snorkelling spot in Dorset. It’s a great SUP spot too. Beginners can enjoy practicing in the sheltered bay. While more experienced explorers can adventure along the coast beyond.

kimmeridge beach coastal dorset cliffs cleval tower

The Route:

Launch in the bay and explore the shallow waters, or paddle east out of the bay for views along the cliffs. Our mapped route is about 5km, but you can easily do more or less. Marvel at Clavall tower perched on the top of the cliffs, and gaze toward St Albans Head in the East as well as stunning cliffs and Portland in the distance to the West.

kimmeridge sup route dorset coast

Practicalities:

Parking is available at Kimmeridge beyond the private toll road. It’s possible to park very close to the slip way where toilets are also available. Kimmeridge Bay also has the Dorset Wildlife Trust Wild Seas Centre with tons of awesome information about the area, as well as a marked snorkel trail in the summer months. Don’t have your own snorkel? They sell and hire them, along with an information sheet about the trail.

Stay Safe!

While the Bay is usually sheltered, it can also be a great spot for surfing, so stay where you feel safe! To the west of the bay are the Lulworth Army Ranges so access is often limited (you cannot paddle in the red marked areas on the map). Check the Lulworth Army Ranges website before your visit.

Join An Intermediate SUP Session To Old Harry Rocks


Stand Up Paddleboarding Dorset – Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door

A truly iconic part of the Dorset Coast, Durdle Door is a fantastic place to paddleboard. Explore Lulworth Cove, Stair Hole and Man o’ War Bay before paddling through the incredible ‘door’.

durdle door dorset coast arch landscape cliff beach sea

The Route:

Launching is easy at Lulworth Cove, and a 5km return paddle to Durdle Door takes in all the incredible scenery of the coast. Loads of incredible geology to be seen along the way, especially at Stair Hole just beyond the entrance to Lulworth Cove. Paddling through the awesome Limestone Arch at Durdle Door is a fantastic feeling!

durdle door lulworth cove sup route sea coast

Local Knowledge And Practicalities:

There is pay and display parking at Lulworth and a short walk down the road is your ideal launch spot in Lulworth Cove. Plenty of public facilities here, if you choose take a break in Lulworth cove check out The Boat Shed café, it’s full English breakfasts will restore some of that energy, and has views to die for!

Stay SUP Safe!

Lulworth Cove is famously calm and sheltered. However the rest of the route is along exposed coast with few landing options. So be sure to check the weather forecast and tide times to avoid being caught out!

Want to learn more about SUP? We offer Introduction to Stand Up Paddleboarding sessions so you can pick up the basics.  Or join one of our intermediate SUP adventures, ideal for the more experienced paddler!


Safety for Stand Up Paddleboarding Dorset

We all SUP for different reasons, whether it’s to see some awesome sights, to compete or race, for fitness or just to have fun with the family. One thing we should all have in common though, is safety. The RNLI is reporting a massive increase in rescues:

  • Over the past five years, RNLI lifeboat volunteers have helped save the lives of 77 stand up paddleboarders, with 32 lives saved last year.
  • In 2022, RNLI lifeguards saw a staggering 155% rise in paddleboarding incidents compared with 2021 while volunteer lifeboat crews saw an increase of 20%.
  • In 2018, the charity’s lifeguards responded to 247 paddleboarding incidents compared to 1,290 last year, a 422% increase over the past five years.

It’s therefore super important to learn all you can about staying safe while you’re enjoying SUP- here are a few super top tips:

  • Invest in a waterproof phone pouch so you have a means to call for help if needed
  • Check the weather forecast and only paddle in your comfort zone
  • Tell someone where you’re paddling and how long you’ll be on the water
  • Wear your leash and a buoyancy aid
  • Respect the water!

How Will The Tide Impact My Paddle?

We all know the tide comes in and out every day, giving us high tide and low tide. This can be the difference between having a teeny tiny beach at high tide, and a long, potentially muddy, walk to the water at low tide.

The other factor to consider are tidal currents. Hazardous currents called tidal races can occur when the tide is moving (going from high to low, or vice versa) and the water needs to pass through  construction, which could be a narrow gap, or over a shallow point like  reef or rising seabed. These currents tend to be their strongest between the high and low tide, which is why checking a tidal graph can be super helpful.

High Tide

 

stand up paddle board dorset explore cliffs coast sea

Stand Up Paddleboarding Dorset – Learn More

At Fore Adventure we love SUP, it can be such an awesome, chilled way to see the sights of the coast. Or, for the more adventurous paddlers, and opportunity to push some limits!

If you’re completely new to SUP, why not take our 2 hour Introduction to SUP, we’ll have to standing and paddling in no time! We’ve also put together this super handy “Beginners Guide To SUP” for you to check out for some top tips!

If you have some experience, let us show you the wonders of Old Harry Rocks on our Half Day Intermediate session– get up close and personal with the arches, stacks and secret cove, and pick up some SUP top tips from our guides!

Learn More About Paddleboarding With Us!

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Starting with four Kayaks and a hut on the beach, Fore has evolved to include, sea, shore and solid ground adventures to get big and small humans in the great outdoors. Read our story.

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