Best places to go Stand Up Paddleboarding in Dorset | SUP Dorset
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has really taken off in the last few years, and it’s easy to see why! We’ve picked some of our favourite places to take to the water in Dorset to share with you.
Stay safe! As with any water activity, it’s important to keep yourself safe – here are a few 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!
Want to learn more about SUP? We offer Introduction and Intermediate Stand Up Paddleboarding sessions from our base in sunny Studland, why not come and pick up the basics?
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, gaze down under the crystal clear water at fish, crabs and other marine life, or gaze up at the magnificent cliffs and rock formations!
The paddle boarding 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!)
Parking, toilets and a café are all available at Middle Beach Car Park or Knoll Beach Car Park- these are both pay and display, or free for National Trust Members. Both are a short walk to the sea and are generally calm and shallow water.
Generally, 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, 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!
A birdwatching haven, Christchurch Harbour is a beautiful spot to glide across the water on your SUP while enjoying views of The Priory, an 11th century monastery church, and across to the Isle of Wight.
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.
Parking and launching is available at Mayors Mead Car Park which is close to the town centre. Parking is pay and display. Don’t have your own board? SUP hire is available at a few locations in Christchurch including the nearby River Shack.
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!) The harbour is shallow, with large areas drying out at low tide.
Poole Harbour Islands
Poole harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world, boasting several beautiful islands. With views across the Purbeck hills and 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.
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.
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.
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!
Take in the pretty seaside town of Swanage from the water, sandy beaches with impressive hills and cliffs as your backdrop!
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!
There are a few beach car parks, but 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. Don’t have your own board? Hire is available at the Pier.
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.
Wareham and the River Frome
Get on the water at Wareham Quay and take a relaxed journey on your paddleboard down the River Frome, great for spotting wildlife including birds and deer.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a museum about the area, and a marked snorkel trail in the summer months.
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.
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’.
Launching is easy at Lulworth Cove, and a 5km return paddle to Durdle Door takes in all the incredible scenery of the coast.
There is pay and display parking at Lulworth and a short walk down the road is your ideal launch spot in Lulworth Cove. Toilets and cafes are available nearby.
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 from our base in sunny Studland so you can pick up the basics or join one of our intermediate SUP adventures, ideal for the more experienced paddler!