Choosing the best places to paddleboard in Torbay wasn’t easy. We thought it would be because we live there. Yet the more we thought about it, the harder it got. And the longer our list got too.
Having lived in Torbay for most of our lives, we assumed we knew every beach and cove for miles around only to discover new ones right on our doorstep. It was a real eye-opener. Tor Bay has a lot more squeezed into its 22 miles of coastline than even we knew.
So, in the end, this guide became something more than just a list of paddleboarding spots for someone visiting the area. It’s for us too – paddleboarding locals. Basically, it’s a local guide for everyone.
And in it, we name every single beach and cove on the Tor Bay coastline where we think it’s possible to paddle. From Mackerel Cove in the north to St.Mary’s Bay in the south. From Whitsands to Broadsands. From soft sandy beach to secret smuggler’s cove. We’ve listed them all.
And, just because we can, we’ve rated them for you too. All 40 plus of them. Which wasn’t easy, believe us. You try choosing between 40 different types of excellent. Anyway, we did it. And, if that wasn’t difficult enough, we also decided to treat you to a little something extra.
We’re going to reveal the top local bucket-list locations and SUP tours that we believe are guaranteed to take your SUP experience to the next level – regardless of how long you’ve been enjoying the sport.
These are the things we dream of doing on our paddleboards in the bay, so if you get to tick any of them off before we do we only ask one thing…
Don’t rub it in.
So, without wasting any more time, let’s get to it! No matter whether you’re a SUP beginner or SUP expert, Torbay has something to offer. And you’re about to find out that when we say “something”, we actually mean EVERYTHING.
Before you visit any of the paddleboarding locations in these lists, make sure you read our Ultimate Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Torbay.
It contains a wealth of other useful information about paddleboarding in the bay e.g. weather, winds, tides, geology etc. It also contains important national and local maritime safety regulations and byelaws that all stand-up paddleboarders need to be aware of.
Plus, we’ve chucked in as much useful LOCAL KNOWLEDGE as we could dredge up from our many decades of living, working, and playing in the area. And that stuff’s GOLD!
- How to use this guide
- How we made our recommendations
- Where to Paddleboard in Torbay – Our Local Town Guides
- Our Recommendations
- Best Places to Paddleboard in Torbay – Beginners and Families
- Best Places to Paddleboard in Torbay – Adventurous Amateurs
- Best Places to Paddleboard in Torbay – SUP Experts
- Our TOP Choices
- Our Torbay Bucket List
- Our Guide Ends
How to use this guide
A lot of work has gone into producing this guide. Over a few days in April 2021, we visited as many of Tor Bay’s beaches and coves as we could safely get to on foot to take up-to-date pictures and to get a feel for the paddleboarding conditions.
Every single image in each of the lists is original in that, at some point, they were taken by us. They’re not stock imagery or pictures pilfered from other websites.
NOTE: If you click on the main image for each location you should see an enlarged picture and get the option to scroll further through additional images that are hidden there.
We’ve tried to provide a useful all-round view where possible. Unfortunately, there were a few very remote locations where it wasn’t possible for us to take photos. These are the places that are only safely accessible from the sea. We hope to provide original images of these at some point from our paddleboards this summer – so check back later.
We’ve also included embedded location maps from Google for as many of the paddleboarding spots as possible. Where there wasn’t anything on Google maps for a specific location, we used either a link to Ordnance Survey maps or the excellent free resource that is OpenStreetMap. So, between those resources, we have every place covered.
Aside from providing you with directions and the location of other nearby landmarks, facilities etc., a really useful feature of Google maps is the overhead satellite imagery.
Click on the square in the bottom left corner of each map and you’ll see an overhead satellite view. Zoom in and you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the location. Drag the map around and you’ll see the surrounding location too.
This is super-handy for getting your bearings, even when you’re out on your board – provided you can get a signal, of course. In many cases, it also gives you an idea of the coastline beneath the water. This is useful because it enables you to suss out the sandier areas and prepare for the rocky.
Bear in mind, though, that these maps could be showing satellite imagery of Torbay that’s a few years old. When you actually visit the location on your paddleboard it may look slightly different.
And, finally, we’ve put a lot more additional information and also listed possible paddleboarding routes/trips out to each location, in a tab next to each map. Don’t forget to check those out too.
You could miss out on some extra little tidbit of information that could make choosing where to paddle much easier.
How we made our recommendations
We gave Petit Tor Beach an X-rating – Find out why
As the title says, this is an ultimate guide to the best places to paddleboard in Torbay. However, what’s “best” for one type of paddleboarder is not necessarily best for another. A SUP beginner is unlikely to thank us for recommending a remote rocky cove, while a SUP expert may head straight there with a huge smile on their face. And neither is likely to be too impressed if we sent them to the local naturist beach.
So we simplified it.
We broke each location down and looked at the specific things that we think make a day of stand-up paddleboarding fantastic fun and not full-on frustration. That means we looked at things like:
- ease of access – nearby parking, transport routes, access to the beach/cove
- facilities – toilets, cafes etc.
- safety – tides, currents, above and below water hazards
- skill level – beginner-friendly or only for SUP experts?
- sights and sounds – what to see, what to do, and where to explore
Bear in mind, we’re paddleboarding newcomers ourselves. In fact, thanks to lockdown 2020/2021, many of these places we’ve yet to paddle. Yet! Don’t be put off by that, though.
What we do have is many many decades of local knowledge. From childhood into adulthood, we’ve either sun-bathed on, swam at, rock-pooled at, explored at leisure 90% of the locations we talk about. Which means we’ve been to nearly all of the places in this guide over the years – some countless times.
Just not with a paddleboard.
However, we believe we have enough paddleboarding experience which, when combined with our extensive local knowledge, means we can confidently and competently talk about them. In fact, we think our local beginner’s eye view makes a guide like this much better. Why?
Because we won’t take anything for granted.
Proviso: Having said that, don’t just take our word for it. Do your own additional research. Always be your own expert.
Where to Paddleboard in Torbay – Our Local Town Guides
Originally, we tried to fit everything into one guide. However, it was huge and slow (there are a lot of pictures). So, for simplicity, speed and user-friendliness, we’ve split the list of local places to paddleboard into three – one for each of the towns that make up Torbay; Torquay, Paignton, and Brixham.
Each is a mini ultimate guide in itself and each starts where the last guide finishes.
Basically, if you imagine Tor Bay is shaped like the letter “C”, Torquay is at the top (North), Paignton in the middle (West), and Brixham at the bottom (South).
Our Torquay guide starts at Mackerel Cove, the furthest point North under Tor Bay’s maritime authority. It then works its way south along the coastline until the Paignton guide takes over at Hollicombe Beach. It lists 24 terrific places to paddle.
The Paignton guide, in turn, works its way south along the coastline until the Brixham part takes over at Elberry Cove. It only lists 10 perfect places to paddle. You’ll discover why later.
The Brixham guide then works its way east out around Berry Head, to finish at the most southern location under Tor Bay’s maritime authority; St.Mary’s Bay. It lists 12 brilliant places to take your board.
As we said, some of our local guides have more places listed than others. Torquay, in particular, is an all-you-can-eat paddleboarding buffet. However, that doesn’t mean it hogs all the “Best Of” top spots. As you’ll find out, both Paignton and Brixham have their own special highlights too.
In the end, all the guides show is that when it comes to stand-up paddleboarding, Tor Bay has something unique and appealing for everyone.
Anyway, enough talk. The guides are below. Enjoy!
Stand Up Paddleboarding in Torquay
Torquay’s coastline is dramatic. From gently shelving sandy beaches to towering tree-clad cliffs, there’s something awesome around every headland.
Stand Up Paddleboarding in Paignton
Paignton has some of the most geologically significant coastline in Europe. From long, sandy beaches to remote rocky coves, it has something to offer paddleboarders of every level.
Stand Up Paddleboarding in Brixham
Brixham has a long and colourful maritime history. Its rugged coastline full of secret, long-forgotten coves tells an exciting story of seafaring by day and smuggling by night.
As we said, there’s a lot of choice. So, to make it easier for you, we’ve narrowed it down. Here are our picks for the best places to paddleboard in Torbay.
We’ve categorised them based on paddleboarding difficulty – starting with those where we think you’d have the easiest SUP experience and finishing with the locations that would have us thinking twice about putting paddle in water.
If you live in Torbay, and you paddleboard, you may nit-pick with some of the choices. In general, though, and especially with regard to visiting paddleboarders, we think we’re pretty much spot on.
Ultimately, though, it’s up to you to try them and see what you think. Use our guides to find your level and work up from there.
Best places to paddleboard in Torbay – For beginners and families
- Torquay – Torre Abbey Sands
- Paignton – Preston Sands
- Paignton – Paignton Sands
- Paignton – Goodrington Sands
- Paignton – Broadsands Beach
Super-easy access, great facilities, and safe paddleboarding conditions were our top priorities here. This is the type of paddleboarding that suits absolute beginners, SUP-owning families with young children, and those that just want an easy day out on the water.
In our opinion, the Tor Bay beaches and coves listed above will provide just that; the easiest, safest, and most convenient stand-up paddleboarding in the bay, if that’s what you’re looking for.
It may not look like a long list, and the eagle-eyed amongst you might note it’s a little Paignton biased, but that’s entirely due to the geology of the coastline. The softer, sandier, easier-to-get-to beaches are mostly located where the softer Permian breccia meets and has been worn down by the sea.
In Tor Bay, that generally occurs in a strip from Torre Abbey Sands in Torquay to Broadsands Beach in Paignton. As a result, it’s the lowest-lying area with the lowest paddleboarding difficulty, but the highest amount of convenience. And it’s why Paignton has fewer, but longer, beaches.
Best places to paddleboard in Torbay – For the Adventurous Amateur
- Torquay – Maidencombe Beach
- Torquay – Oddicombe Beach
- Torquay – Babbacombe Beach
- Torquay – Anstey’s Cove & Redgate Beach (both accessed by the same route)
- Torquay – Meadfoot Beach
- Torquay – Peaked Tor Cove
- Torquay – Beacon Cove
- Torquay – Corbyn’s Beach
- Torquay – Livermead Sands
- Torquay – Institute Beach
- Torquay – Oil Cove
- Paignton – Hollicombe Beach
- Paignton – Fairy Cove
- Paignton – Waterside/Oyster Cove
- Paignton – Saltern Cove
- Paignton – Shell Cove
- Paignton – Crystal Cove
- Brixham – Elberry Cove
- Brixham – Silver Cove
- Brixham – Ivy Cove
- Brixham – Churston Cove
- Brixham – Barney Cove
- Brixham – Fishcombe Cove
- Brixham – Freshwater/Oxen Cove
- Brixham – Breakwater Beach
- Brixham – Ladybird Cove/Beach
- Brixham – Shoalstone Beach
- Brixham – St. Mary’s Bay
In our opinion, the Tor Bay beaches and coves listed above will require a little more effort, organisation, paddleboarding skill and experience.
They’re suitable paddleboarding locations for:
- the fit and adventurous
- for those who don’t mind a bit of a car journey or walk
- for paddleboarders with a little sea time under their wet suits
- for those SUP-owning families with older responsible children
- for those not concerned with having every convenience near to hand.
As such, they’re beaches and coves that might prove a little more testing, but they’re worth it. And, in some cases, they’re not just worth it, they’re an absolute must-see. In fact, the majority of our top places to paddleboard in Torbay are on this list.
Best places to paddleboard in Torbay – For Expert Adventurers and Adventurous Experts
- Torquay – Mackerel Cove
- Torquay – Blackaller’s Cove
- Torquay – Whitsands Beach
- Torquay – Watcombe Beach
- Torquay – Petit Tor Beach
- Torquay – Bathing Cove
- Torquay – Shelter Cove
- Torquay – Brandy Cove
- Torquay – Hope Cove
- Torquay – Shennell Cove
- Torquay – Daddyhole Cove
These are the paddleboarding spots in Torbay suitable for experienced, safety-conscious SUP amateurs and experts. Why? Because, in many cases, they’re remote, inaccessible directly and safely from land, and have no nearby facilities or help should you need it.
Yes, they may only be a short paddle from an easier location but, in our opinion, these locations are less straightforward to get to and get out of should anything go wrong.
In the cases of Watcombe Beach (land slippage) and Petit Tor Beach (naturist), there are other obvious reasons why we placed them on this list.
Regardless, if you intend on paddleboarding in or to any of these locations, plan your trip properly and take every suitable safety precaution. Then have fun!
Best places to paddleboard in Torbay – Our Top Choices
- Torquay – Maidencombe Beach
- Torquay – Oddicombe Beach
- Torquay – Anstey’s Cove / Redgate Beach
- Torquay – Meadfoot Beach
- Paignton – Hollicombe Beach
- Paignton – Goodrington Sands
- Paignton – Broadsands Beach
- Brixham – Churston / Barney / Fishcombe Cove
- Brixham – St.Mary’s Bay
If we were forced at paddle-point to pick our absolute top places to paddleboard in Tor Bay, these are the places we would choose. Not only because they’ll individually provide you with a great day out, but also because they’re ideal locations from which to explore the other beaches and coves on the Tor Bay coastline north and south.
If you chose to paddle in any of these locations, you’d have a fantastic time. We’re certain of it. However, if you use our lists to plan out a longer SUP trip using each of these locations as a starting point, you’d have an UNFORGETTABLE time. Plus, you’ll soon have visited every other beach and cove along the whole length of Torbay’s 22 miles of coastline.
That’s a paddleboarding bargain as far as we’re concerned.
Oh and before you ask, if we were made to pick just one place to paddleboard, one place locally that, if we were never allowed to paddleboard anywhere else again, we’d be happy to paddle out our days on. Where would that be?
And the Winner is: Anstey’s Cove / Redgate Beach in Torquay
Just a short walk from one of humankind’s ancestral homes – Kent’s Cavern. Those Homo SUPiens sure knew a great paddleboarding location when they saw one.
Our Torbay Bucket List
As we said at the beginning, we also promised to reveal our own personal bucket-list experiences. These are the local SUP trips and experiences we dream of doing on our boards.
At the moment, we can’t imagine many better paddleboarding experiences anywhere – and we’ve got pretty good imaginations. Hopefully, we’ll get to tick them off our list. Until then, this is where and when we’d like to paddleboard in Torbay.
Paddleboarding in Tor Bay at Sunrise
Tor Bay faces east. Guess what, the sun rises in the east. And there are quite a few locations we would love to be when that big ol’ ball of fire peeks above the horizon. But it would have to be just us. We’re not sharing it with anyone else.
- Dawn off Thatcher Rock near Meadfoot Beach
- Sunrise at St.Mary’s Bay
- First light near Fishcombe Cove with a family of seals
- Discovering dolphins at dawn off Berry Head
- And, if we’re really lucky, saluting the sun with our ancestral ghosts off Anstey’s Cove
Paddleboarding in Tor Bay at Dusk
At sea level, there are few places that catch the last light of day in Tor Bay. Everything faces east and the landscape inland to the west is dominated by hills and the bulbous uprising that is Dartmoor. However, sunsets can still be spectacular and Torbay has its own man-made illuminations.
- Paddleboarding alongside the promenade at Torre Abbey Sands under the evening lights would be fun
- Catching the last rays of the day off Goodrington Sands would be great
- Saying bye to blue sky at Breakwater Beach would be brilliant
Perfect Paddleboarding Picnics in Tor Bay
Paddleboarding makes us hungry. Take along a dry bag and a picnic, however, and our paddleboards become mobile meal stations. They’re inflatable dining tables at sea allowing you to eat in locations, and with views, land-locked foodies can only dream of. Shame there’s no paddleboarding Uber or Just Eat. Wait a minute, is there?
Anyway, until then:
- Breakfast at Bathing Cove would be brill
- Brunch at Babbacombe Beach would be a blast
- Lunch at Labrador Bay would be lovely
- Afternoon tea at Anstey’s Cove would be appealing
- Dinner at Daddyhole Cove would be delightful
- And supper at Silver Cove, stupendous
Sensational SUP Tours in Tor Bay
Sometimes it’s OK to be greedy – especially when there’s more than enough to go around. The advantage Tor Bay has for the stand-up paddleboarder is that a lot of fantastic locations are within a short paddle of each other.
Not only that, but within that short distance, you can go from rugged, rocky limestone cliffs rising 100 metres above you, to low wave-worn headlands and gently shelving sand below.
If you’re clever, and you plan out your route carefully, you can pack a lot into a paddle. These are some of the spectacular SUP tours we plan on packing into our itinerary this summer in Torbay.
- Oddicombe Beach to Mackerel Cove and back
- Anstey’s Cove to Oddicombe Beach and back
- Anstey’s Cove to Hope Cove and back
- Meadfoot Beach to Shennel Cove and back
- Meadfoot Beach to Beacon Cove and back
- Torre Abbey to Paignton Sands and back (or vice versa)
- Broadsands Beach to Fairy Cove and back
- Broadsands Beach to Freshwater/Oxen Cove and back
- Breakwater Beach to Berry Head (not sure we’re brave enough to paddle around Berry Head)
- SUPing south from St.Mary’s Bay to Sharkham Point
These short SUP tours will enable us to explore the entirety of Torbay’s coastline in snackable sections. You could do longer trips if you’re fit and capable but, although we said it’s okay to be greedy, you can easily over-indulge too.
Which is why we plan to enjoy paddleboarding around the Torbay coastline in small bite-sized chunks.
Our Guide Ends
Like we said at the beginning, Tor Bay has something to offer every stand-up paddleboarder. Whether you’re new to the sport, or a wave-worn expert, we know there’s a beach or cove just for you waiting to be found and explored. Hopefully, you now know that too!
Making a local best-of guide that rates and ranks each location wasn’t easy. All it did was remind us lucky paddleboarding locals, that there are very few unattractive or uninteresting parts of the coastline where we live.
Frankly, you could paddleboard anywhere along the Torbay coastline and you’d have a fabulous time. In the end, though, we had to choose. For your sake.
And now you know that if you ever decide to visit Torbay (and we hope you do), you have over 40 unique paddleboarding locations to choose from. In the end, our list of the best places to paddleboard in Torbay might not match yours, but you can bet your bottom fin you’ll have fun finding out.
Cheers, and safe paddleboarding!
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