This list is best used in conjunction with our main guide Best Places to Paddleboard in Torbay and is aimed at people specifically looking for the best places to paddleboard in Brixham. To find out how we made and how to use these guides (and to discover which of Brixham’s paddleboarding spots made our ultimate Torbay “Best Of”), check it out.
We’ve also written guides for the two other towns that make up Torbay; Torquay and Paignton. If you’re interested in discovering what unique locations they have to offer, the links are below.
However, before you rush out to visit any of the fantastic locations in these lists, make sure you also read our Ultimate Guide to Stand Up Paddleboarding in Torbay. We know, enough of the reading already! However, it’s important that you read it first as it contains crucial safety information and as much local knowledge and experience as we could think of related to stand-up paddleboarding in the bay.
Plus, it’s a good read. Promise!
Anyway, let’s get to it. What have you got to offer a stand-up paddleboarder, Brixham?
Our Other Tor Bay Paddleboarding Guides
Stand Up Paddleboarding in Torquay
Torquay’s coastline is dramatic. From level 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.
If you know the area or just want our thoughts on a particular location, then feel free to use the quick links below to jump straight to that section.
If you’re new to the Brixham area or plan on visiting, just start reading below and work your way down. Sooner or later (probably sooner), you’ll find something you like. We promise.
Every photo in this guide is original. We visited each location ourselves, where we could, to get shots. Any locations we weren’t able to get original images for, we’ll try to visit on our paddleboards at some stage this year.
Also, if you tap, click or swipe on most images in this guide more images of that location should be viewable. We apologise now for any wonky horizons.
And don’t forget to click on the tabs adjoining the location maps. We’ve put additional paddleboarding info and tidbits in there that we thought you might find interesting.
Brixham’s Beaches and Coves
Brixham is a picturesque seaside town on the south coast of Devon in the UK. Along with the neighbouring towns of Paignton and Torquay, it makes up the borough of Torbay, or the “English Riviera” as it’s also known.
For local or visiting stand-up paddleboarders, Brixham’s coastline has approximately 12 named beaches and coves to explore. We’re going to take you on a paddleboarding tour of them all – starting at Elberry Cove on the border of Paignton and finishing at St.Mary’s Bay on the southern outskirts of Brixham.
Brilliant Places to Paddleboard in Brixham
Not every one of these locations will provide you with a full day’s paddleboarding. In fact, some spots will barely provide you with a full hours worth.
However, the Brixham coastline is rugged and unique. It has a long and colourful maritime history. And many of the beaches and coves can tell a tale or two that most other coastal locations can’t.
For that reason alone, they’re worth a trip.
Brixham – Elberry Cove
Elberry Cove, with its picturesque pebbly beach, wild wooded backdrop and clear, sheltered waters is just a short paddle east around the headland from Broadsands Beach.
For the on-foot paddleboarder, it can also be accessed via a number of inland routes – there are footpaths along the coastal path from Brixham (not recommended), over Churston Golf Course inland, up Elderberry Lane from Broadsands Beach car park, and also via a cut-through from the residential area around Brunel Road not too far away. You can see them all on the map.
Personally, though, we prefer visiting Elberry Cove by paddleboard from Broadsands Beach, rather than heading straight there. Why? Because, as beautiful as it is, Elberry Cove in summer is quite small, quite uncomfortable, quite busy and quite noisy.
From May to September, there’s an active (and very popular) waterskiing/watersports lane in operation. Powerboats and jet skis speed into and out of Elberry Cove from early in the morning to late in the evening. Local yacht owners love to anchor a short distance offshore to watch all the fun too.
This limits your available safe paddleboarding area to close in to the beach and within the 5-knot marker buoys along the coast.
The beach itself can also get quite crowded. Though it’s a reasonable size, it rises in very pebbly tiers, and the shoreline is rocky. If you’ve ever had to get on or off your board at Elberry Cove, you’ll know what we mean. The only patches of sand for vulnerable paddleboarding feet are small and surrounded by slippery weed-covered rock. Suitable protective footwear is, therefore, highly recommended.
Unless the tide is right in, Elberry Cove is no place for stand-up paddleboarding beginners, either. Not in our opinion. Sit on your new SUP board and float about by all means, but face-planting repeatedly in water that’s full of rocks just beneath the surface will put you off the sport for good.
Plus, there are no facilities. You’ll have to trek to Broadsands beach, a good 10-20 minutes away, if you want cafes and toilets. And the queues for both are likely to add another 15 minutes waiting time to your journey. Basically, if you plan on paddleboarding at Elberry Cove you’ll have to make sure you bring everything you need and hope that what you need doesn’t include a quick trip to the loo.
Having said all that, out of season, at high tide late on a summer evening, and at practically any time of year for more experienced paddleboarders, Elberry Cove is a magical place to paddle.
The ruins of Lord Churston’s 18th-century bathhouse (with built-in sauna) always look dramatic against the wooded hills beyond. The rugged limestone coastline east towards Brixham just begs to be explored. Plus, it’s nice to know that beneath your paddleboard are fields and fields of rare seagrass – 120 football pitch sized areas around Broadsands Beach and Elberry Cove alone. Due to their rarity and importance, Tor Bay’s seagrass beds are considered of national importance.
You might not be able to see them. But, if you’re stand-up paddleboarding anywhere in the area, chances are you’re walking on water above fields of gold. How many people get to say they’ve done that?
In our opinion, for stand-up paddleboarding beginners, Broadsands Beach just a little further west along the coast is a much better choice.
For more experienced paddleboarders and SUP experts, however, Elberry Cove can be used to explore the fantastic coastline east towards Brixham Harbour – taking in Silver Cove, Ivy Cove, Churston Cove, Barney Cove and Fishcombe Cove.
Alternatively, paddle west around the headland to Broadsands Beach and across to the more secluded coves on the shoreline towards Paignton – Crystal Cove, Shell Cove, Saltern Cove, Oyster/Waterside Cove etc.
** Watch for the entrance buoys to the powerboat/waterskiing lanes just off Elberry Cove beach itself **
** Do not enter or paddle around the mussel farm west towards Brixham. This can be identified by several long parallel lines of marker buoys **
** If paddling west towards Brixham harbour, do not attempt to cross the harbour entrance. Brixham harbour is not only very busy, it’s also against the law **
On the one hand, paddleboarding at Elberry Cove can feel busy, noisy and cramped. On the other, it can feel secluded, peaceful and boundless. Visit at different times of the day and the year and you’ll experience both.
Brixham – Silver Cove
Another tiny cove few locals will even know the name of, let alone where it’s located.
Situated on the rugged coastline between Elberry Cove and Brixham Harbour, Silver Cove only really becomes visible outside of high tide when a small pebbly beach appears backed by tall wooded cliffs.
Although there are ways to get to it from the South West Coastal Path above, they aren’t safe or easy, especially if you’re carrying SUP gear. The only practical way for a stand-up paddleboarder to visit Silver Cove is from the sea. Lucky us.
Unfortunately, though, in summer months that often means navigating the busy waters around Elberry Cove, with its jet skis, powerboats and yachts.
As you can see from the photos taken from our paddleboards on a recent trip, this part of the Tor Bay coastline stretching east towards Brixham harbour is geologically spectacular. The view from Silver Cove across Tor Bay to Torquay and Paignton is something not many people get to see.
Not only that, but we reckon it’s one of the few places in Torbay to see the last light of day. Watching the sunset from there would be something special to see. When everywhere else is falling into shadow, Silver Cove is often still bathing in the golden glow of the sinking sun and does so right up until the last glimmers of light fade.
Maybe it’s how it got its name. Who knows?
Silver Cove is best visited by paddleboard from the sea from either Elberry Cove or Broadsands Beach to the west, or from Fishcombe or Freshwater/Oxen Cove to the east.
** Watch out for jet skis and power boats heading to and from Brixham harbour. **
** Steer clear of the mussel farm offshore – visible by its long lines of marker buoys **
Not much to see or do at Silver Cove except chill. For experienced paddleboarders, this part of the Torbay coastline is rarely seen close-up. Worth a look just for that reason alone.
Brixham – Ivy Cove
Ivy cove could have the exact same description, details and summary as that of Silver Cove just a short paddle further west along the coast.
It’s remote in that it’s only safely accessible by stand up paddleboarders from the sea. It’s not suitable for beginners and there’s not much to see or do except look back out across the expanse of the bay. Yet, every time we paddle from Broadsands Beach around to Elberry Cove, this tiny cove and Silver Cove next to it always draws our eye.
We haven’t set foot on it, but we’ve paddled past. Next time, we’re going to pull up on the tiny beach and claim it for our own for half an hour.
Ivy Cove is similar to Silver Cove nearby. If you can get there, and if you can do it safely, pay it a visit. Chances are very few other paddleboarders will have.
Brixham – Churston Cove
Scenery-wise, Churston Cove (and it’s two very close neighbours – Barney and Fishcombe Coves) is simply stunning.
For the stand-up paddleboarder, Churston Cove (sometimes called Churston Quay by older locals) can be accessed via the SW coastal path inland and also through the woods that back onto the beach.
It’s a long trek through the woods, though. And we certainly wouldn’t recommend lugging your SUP kit all that way when you can find parking and get much easier and safer access from nearby Fishcombe Cove or from Freshwater/Oxen Coves just around the headland towards Brixham Harbour.
Churston Cove is definitely worth a visit, though. The coastline is wild and spectacular. Wood covered limestone cliffs rise majestically above you. Cormorants dive for food in the sheltered waters. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll see one or more of the family of seals that live, feed and play nearby.
The beach at Churston Cove is shingle and has a wide level area at the top where you can picnic, pump up your paddleboard or store it out of the water if you want to explore. However, be warned. The beach gets progressively rockier towards the shoreline – as you can see by the pictures we took at low tide. Getting in and out of the water with your board at low tide is an ankle-breaker.
Still, as we said earlier, why bother? Just pump up your paddleboard and enter the water at nearby Fishcombe Cove and paddle across. It’ll take you less than a minute. Plus, Fishcombe Cove has a nice cafe and decent toilets too. Which, unfortunately in Torbay, are becoming more of a rarity.
Note: the toilets are run by volunteers who rely on donations, so make sure you keep some loose change in your dry bag.
Needless to say, if you’re prone to falling off your board, Churston Cove is probably not the place for you. You could just sit or kneel down and just float around enjoying the views. However, because of its spectacular scenery, just know you won’t be doing it alone. This little part of Brixham’s coastline is very popular.
And with good reason.
Visit from Fishcombe Cove nearby, or from Freshwater/Oxen Coves further around towards Brixham Harbour.
Alternatively, Churston Cove (and the area comprising Barney and Fishcombe Coves) would make a great halfway point on a paddleboarding return trip out from Elberry Cove/Broadsands Beach along the coast to the west.
** Keep an eye out for members of local subaqua clubs training in the cove. And also for their animal counterparts, seals lazily eyeing you from the water. They’ve been known to give people and things playful nips. Do not try to feed them – the seals or the divers. **
Treat this area with respect. Just like nearby Elberry Cove, there are rare and important fields of seagrass beneath your board with its own delicately balanced marine ecosystem. Try to stay on top of and out of the water as much as possible.
Visit Churston Cove for the scenery and for some seal-spotting. Not recommended for absolute paddleboarding beginners, as it’s very rocky along the shore and beneath the water. For everybody else, however, it’s a must-see.
Brixham – Barney Cove
We almost feel embarrassed putting Barney Cove on a list of places to paddleboard in Torbay. It looks and feels like it should be part of Fishcombe Cove right next to it. Our guess is that it looks and becomes separate towards high tide. Still, it’s been given a name by somebody and it’s on some old maps somewhere, so we’re duty-bound to list it.
You get to it in exactly the same way as you would Fishcombe or Churston Cove and, aside from the fact that it’s part of an area of stunning scenery, there’s nothing much to see. Looking at it straight on, it’s just a gash in the coastline and you’ll wonder why you bothered. Turn around, though, and you’ll be glad you did.
If you want to know what to expect if paddleboarding in the area, just read the descriptions for Churston and Fishcombe coves. Barney Cove sits unobtrusively right between the two.
Just one for the tick-list.
See Fishcombe Cove. It’s right next to it (literally) and the exact same details apply.
Barney Cove is tiny and there’s not much to see but, in combination with its close neighbours Churston and Fishcombe Coves, it’s part of something bigger and much more beautiful.
Brixham – Fishcombe Cove
Fishcombe Cove is situated close to Brixham harbour in a sheltered coastal inlet that also comprises Barney Cove and Churston Cove. It’s not a large area for stand up paddleboarding but, what it lacks in space, it more than makes up for in beauty. It’s stunningly picturesque.
The rugged limestone cliffs surrounding the three small coves are covered in some of the oldest woodland in the area. The waters are clean and clear and teeming with marine life – including a small field of rare seagrasses and the occasional seal. And on a calm, sunny day it’s hard to believe the hustle and bustle of the commercial port of Brixham is just a short paddle around the corner. Until a jet ski roars past, of course.
For the stand-up paddleboarder, Fishcombe cove itself is easy to access. There are steps down from the nearby historic battery gardens. There’s also a public car park above with a short road down to the beach for pedestrian use.
As for facilities, there’s a decent cafe and nice, clean public toilets – that are run by volunteers and rely on donations, so keep some loose change ready.
Fishcombe Cove itself looks north out into the open waters of Torbay. It has a shingle beach that becomes rockier towards the shoreline. This makes access to the water at low tide a little rough on the feet and ankles, but nothing too challenging.
Fishcombe Cove is not a suitable place to learn stand-up paddleboarding. However, for experienced amateurs and SUP pros, it’s definitely worth a visit – even if it’s only to laze around on your board whilst waiting for an inquisitive seal to pop by.
Fishcombe Cove is quite small, so if you’re after a longer paddle head west along the coastline around the headland (left) towards Ivy Cove, Silver Cove, Elberry Cove and Broadsands Beach. Take a well-earned breather at Broadsands Beach (and some refreshments onboard) and then head back.
Watch out for increased watersports activity around Elberry Cove (including an active waterski lane) and stay near the shoreline. There’s a large mussel farm off to your right – marked by long lines of horizontal buoys. Stay clear of that too.
You can also head east (right) from Fishcombe Cove towards Freshwater/Oxen Coves, but there’s little to see apart from public car parks and an increasing amount of commercial fishing vessels.
Plus, you can’t safely get any further to explore the coves and beaches on the other side of the Brixham breakwater, as it would mean crossing the harbour entrance – which is a big no-no.
The area around Fishcombe Cove is glorious and, therefore, popular. It has good facilities and easy access. It’s not straightforward paddleboarding for beginners but, if you know what you’re doing, it’s a must-see.
Brixham – Freshwater & Oxen Cove
To be honest, both Freshwater and Oxen Coves are only really included in this paddleboarding location guide for the sake of thoroughness. Most of their original shape/outline is long since buried beneath the public car parks, harbour walls and buildings that run the length of this piece of the Brixham coastline.
In their heyday, which was presumably when and why they acquired their names, they were important locations for naval ships to re-supply with freshwater (Freshwater) and meat (Oxen).
What’s left of them now? Who knows? Small areas of sand and rocks become visible at low tide, hinting at what lies beneath. But there’s nothing of real significance.
There are small slipways and steps leading down to the harbour waters that a paddleboarder could potentially use to gain access to the waters. But, there’s nothing to see unless you like looking at boats. And paddleboarding around a busy commercial harbour will soon get you into trouble.
It could be a handy place to park up and use as a base to paddle west along the coastline. Aside from that, there’s nothing to see here for the paddleboarder. So, move along, please! Move along!
Only the names remain. Anything resembling a cove that a stand-up paddleboarder could explore is long gone.
Best used only use as a starting location to paddle west towards Fishcombe Cove, Barney Cove, Churston Cove and the coves further west towards Broadsands Beach.
** Do not cross the harbour or enter it. Brixham is a very busy commercial port. Keep to the coastline west. **
Nothing much to see for the paddleboarder at Freshwater or Oxen Coves. Just the salty memory of older times lingers. Only use if you’ve been drawn to the nearby public parking, the level promenade, the quick and easy slipway access to the water, and if you intend on paddling immediately west.
Brixham – Breakwater Beach
You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to work out how Breakwater Beach got its name. Built to protect the inner harbour from damaging easterly gales, Brixham Breakwater stretches in a long lazy curve for half a mile, finally finishing pointing across the bay towards Paignton. Breakwater beach is located at its base on the seaward (eastern) side looking right out into the open sea.
For the stand-up paddleboarder, it’s a nice gently shelving shingle beach with relatively rock-free waters. You can set up your board with ease and everything you could possibly need is within easy reach.
There are plenty of facilities close by – cafes, toilets and a reasonable amount of public parking nearby too (though if you can find a spot in summer, well done!).
Being situated close to the marina/harbour and only a 10-15 minute walk to the town centre, it’s a popular beach with locals and visitors alike. Which can make it quite busy at times. However, it’s worth a look if only for the views across Lyme Bay and for the occasional lone porpoise sighting.
It’s also a popular location for local sub-aqua diving clubs to train, so keep an eye out for any unusual marker buoys.
Want to know what Breakwater Beach looks like right now in real-time? Check out the Breakwater Beach webcam.
You could just paddle around close to shore looking out for harbour porpoise and taking in the scenery – a small patch of Torbay’s rare seagrasses are just below your board. Or, you could paddle east (right) and explore the rocky shoreline to Ladybird Cove/Beach, Shoalstone Beach and Berry Head.
If you intend on making your way along the breakwater and back, be on the lookout for local anglers fishing from the breakwater walls and make sure you don’t cross or enter the harbour entrance. Brixham Harbour is busy all year round.
Local anglers can also be found fishing off the limestone platforms towards Berry Head. Watch out for stronger currents and more turbulent water when approaching Berry Head. As we said in our guide to stand-up paddleboarding in Torbay, Berry Head is a very large “sticky-out” obstruction that can affect tidal water movement considerably.
Breakwater Beach is a small, friendly beach that has everything a stand-up paddleboarder might need. In our opinion, though, there are better, quieter, more convenient and more interesting places to paddleboard in Torbay.
Still, it does the job. Plus, it’s the only real practical place to launch from to explore this stretch of the Brixham coastline along towards Berry Head. And you’ll want to see that.
Brixham – Ladybird Cove/Beach
According to some maps and local sea swimming websites, Ladybird Cove, or Ladybird Beach as it’s also called, lies on the coast somewhere between Breakwater Beach and Shoalstone Beach.
To this day, we’re not 100% sure we found it. Pictures of it online are scarce and no one at a nearby cafe had even heard of it, let alone could point us in its general direction.
However, the little cove in our pictures seemed to be the most likely. It even had a set of sea-worn steps leading down to it. So, that’s what we photographed, and that’s what and where we’ll pretend it is.
Which, in the end, is not much. It’s accessed via a footpath from the road above. It looks back along the shoreline to Breakwater Beach. And it’s likely to disappear entirely at high tide.
In fact, you could paddle, walk or fly by Ladybird Cove and never notice it at all. Unless you caught sight of the odd ruined steps leading down to nowhere and it got you thinking of smuggler’s, shipwrecks and pirates, that is.
Ladybird Cove is tiny, tough to find on a map, and one for the SUP touring tick list.
Brixham – Shoalstone Beach
Shoalstone Beach is the last-named beach or cove on this part of the Brixham coastline you could paddleboard to, before reaching the mighty cliffs of Berry Head. As such, it takes after its name. Stony. Very stony. In fact, to call it a beach at all is a bit cheeky.
To be frank, Shoalstone Beach would be ankle-breaking stuff for a fully laden paddleboarder, and is not suitable at all for beginners. It was bad enough clambering around with just a camera phone.
Access to the area is easy enough. There’s a reasonable sized car park close by and good facilities too – cafes, toilet etc. But they’re not there for paddle-boarding beach lovers. They’re for the visitors that flock to swim in the open-air seawater pool nearby.
Not a place many stand-up paddleboarders will ever get to. It’s rocky, exposed and there’s not much to see unless you’re also into rock-pooling.
Visit as part of a SUP trip from Breakwater Beach to the west, or use it as a quieter spot to start a trip back to Breakwater Beach yourself.
Just be very careful as, at lower tides, there are a lot of rocks that are likely to be slippery and painful.
Like much of this part of the Torbay coastline, Shoalstone Beach is tough, brutal and unforgiving. It has to be to give the sleepless sea a fair fight. Enjoy it from your board, offshore.
Brixham – St.Mary’s Bay
The furthest beach or cove under Torbay’s maritime authority, St.Mary’s Bay is a great place for stand-up paddleboarding.
It’s relatively easy to access from inland, provided you have your own transport (Sharkham Point car park is a 5-10 minute walk from the beach), and provided you’re capable of lugging your SUP gear down and back up a steep set of steps (112 of them, to be precise! We counted them when we took the photos).
Don’t worry, though! You’ll be spending most of the day here, so there’s plenty of time to recover. And what a place to recover.
The beach itself looks east directly out into the English Channel and is mostly made up of a coarse grey sand interspersed with the occasional rock or boulder. That might sound icky, but it’s actually pretty decent underfoot and makes the water look even bluer than normal.
It does, however, also seem to stir up easily at the wave line, leaving a band of murkier water close in along the whole length of the beach. The murky water clears a short distance off the beach – which is not a problem as you’ll be paddling out towards the fascinating rocks and dramatic coastline that dominates the area anyway.
St.Mary’s Bay Beach is also a decent size. Even in the height of the summer season, when it becomes the nearest beach for some of the major holiday camps nearby, there should be plenty of room for you to lay out your gear and inflate your board.
Unfortunately, though, there are no facilities nearby. So make sure you bring everything you might need. And make sure you’re fully prepared should anything go wrong!
Only one way in and one way out. Steps – 112 of them. We don’t recommend getting here by paddleboard from around Berry Head unless you really know what you’re doing.
So, pack your gear into your car and head to Sharkham Point car park. Inflate your board on the beach, because those steps are not physically or socially friendly if you’re carrying an 11 ft tall inflatable.
Find yourself a spot towards the middle to north end of the beach – where there’s more sand and the coastline is more interesting.
Then get out on the water.
There’s the coastline north to Durl rock to explore. Or you could paddle out to and around Mussell rock at the south end of the beach. Just be careful of faster-moving, wobblier water in those areas. Alternatively, you could just mess about on your boards in the waves enjoying the spectacular scenery.
St.Mary’s Bay is definitely worth a visit. There are no facilities except a nearby car park, but there are still hours of paddleboarding fun to be had amongst some of the most spectacular scenery around.
There’s a reason why this part of the South Devon coastline is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. There’s a reason why it’s been granted Heritage Coast status – only awarded to the finest stretches of undeveloped coastline in England and Wales. There are two reasons alone why you should visit.
Plus, it’s as far south as you can paddle and remain within Torbay’s maritime authority. It’s the last paddleboarding location on our Tor Bay list.
If you’ve been visiting every spot in our up until now, you’ll be ticked off if you don’t tick it off!
Farewell, Me Hearties!
So, there you have it. Twelve brilliant places to paddleboard in Brixham. In fact, all of Brixham’s potential paddleboarding locations listed in one spot.
We’d love to have gone into more of the fascinating history of each location. As we said at the beginning of this guide, each of these places has a maritime tale or two to tell that would melt the hearts and make stand-up paddleboarders of the most serious of land-lubbers. But they’re not our tales to tell. You need to discover those salty stories yourself.
It’s certainly a rough and ready list, though, and, in our opinion, provides a rugged contrast to other softer, smoother areas of the Tor Bay coastline.
To the paddleboarder used to easy-going, soft sandy beaches, Brixham’s coastline might appear harsh, bold and brutal. But it’s also beautiful. It appears to have formed a fragile yet respectful alliance with Mother Nature. It seems to be making a defiant stand against the sea in a battle it knows it can never win.
And, if it’s true that your environment forges your character, then we can’t help but think that goes some way to explaining the origins of Brixham itself.
Cheers! And safe paddleboarding.
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