This guide is best used in conjunction with our main guide to the Best Places to Paddleboard in Torbay and is aimed at those specifically looking for the best places to paddleboard in Paignton.
To find out how we made and how to use these guides (and to discover which of Paignton’s picture-perfect paddleboarding spots made our ultimate Torbay “Best Of”), check it out.
We’ve also created local guides for the other Torbay towns, Torquay and Brixham. If you’re interested in finding out what unique paddleboarding locations they have to offer, links can be found below.
However, before you visit any of the paddletastic places in any of our lists, make sure you read our Ultimate Guide to Stand Up Paddleboarding in Torbay. It contains crucial safety information you need to know. Plus, we’ve thrown in as much local knowledge and experience as we could think of relevant to stand-up paddleboarding in the bay. It’s a must-read.
Right, let’s get to it!
What have you got to offer a stand-up paddleboarder, Paignton?
Our Other Local 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 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.
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 Paignton 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.
Paignton Beaches and Coves
Paignton is a town on the south coast of Devon in the UK. Along with the neighbouring towns of Torquay and Brixham, it makes up the borough of Torbay – a popular seaside resort also known as the “English Riviera”.
For local or visiting stand-up paddleboarders, Paignton’s coastline has approximately 10 named beaches and coves to explore. We’re going to take you on a paddleboarding tour of them all – starting from Hollicombe Beach on the southern fringes of Torquay and finishing at Broadsands Beach on the western outskirts of Brixham.
Perfect Places to Paddleboard in Paignton
Thanks to its underlying geology and central location in Tor Bay, Paignton has some of the most popular, most easily accessible and most family-friendly beaches in the area. This means a safe and enjoyable day of paddleboarding is easy to be had.
However, to some paddleboarders, easy equals boring. For the more adventurous paddleboarder, Paignton has them covered too. There are remote coves and a dramatic and geologically significant coastline to explore.
It’s not bucket-and-spade SUPing. It’s not just soft sandy beaches slathered in sunbathers and slowly melting ice cream. It’s not just for beginners. In our opinion, there’s great paddleboarding to be had in Paignton for paddleboarders of every level.
Let’s show you what we mean.
Paignton – Hollicombe Beach
Hollicombe Beach is a red sandy beach straddling the borders of Torquay and Paignton. Known locally as “Gasworks Beach” (due to the large natural gas storage containers that once dominated the gardens above), it faces straight east out into the expanse of Tor Bay.
Unfortunately, this leaves it unprotected from the easterly gales that sometimes arise and is the reason why the beach is backed by huge boulders protecting the fragile cliff faces beneath the railway line from being undermined by the sea.
For stand up paddleboarders, Hollicombe Beach is an absolute delight. Although it lacks facilities, and nearby public parking is limited to a tiny stretch of parking spaces on the main Torquay Road, once you get there you won’t regret it.
The water and the views are easy on the eye and the body. The beach is usually less packed than nearby Preston Sands a short paddle away. And the high cliffs backing the beach provide some decent protection for the paddleboarder from the prevailing south-westerly winds.
The beach also has very few paddleboarding hazards, if any. We used to swim here occasionally in our youth and remember it being sandy and gently shelving for quite some distance out from the shore. It’s unlikely to have changed much since then.
The easiest access to the beach is via the Hollicombe Gardens entrance on the main road above. Head through the gardens and there’s a tunnel that leads to a slipway that takes you directly onto the soft sands. If you’re carrying full SUP kit it’s easily manageable – just be careful as the slipway gets sandy and can be a little slippery underfoot.
There’s also alternate access to the beach via a set of steep steps at the southern/Preston Sands end. We wouldn’t recommend tackling it with a fully inflated or hard paddleboard, though. If you’re approaching the beach from the south be safe and take the slightly longer but much easier route through Hollicombe Gardens.
Or head to Preston Sands, jump on your board and paddle around to it. It’ll take less than 5 minutes.
The middle of Hollicombe beach is safe for stand-up paddleboarders of any level. It’s sandy and the sea bed hardly shelves at all – remaining fairly shallow for some distance out to sea.
The only issue is the run-off outlet by the central slipway, which allows excess groundwater from the surrounding local area to pass out into the sea. Water quality near these run-off outlets can be a little lower than usual, so try to avoid falling in or swimming around in this area.
The northern and southern ends of the beach are rockier and the waters hide the submerged remains of cliff falls and ancient headlands long-since eroded. Take care when paddleboarding in those locations.
In general, Hollicombe Beach is a great location to simply paddle around enjoying the views out to Brixham and the wide-open sea. For more experienced amateurs and SUP experts, however, there are a few SUP tours you could try using Hollicombe Beach as your base.
You could paddle north into Torquay waters taking in Oil Cove, Institute Beach, Livermead Sands, Corbyn’s Beach and Torre Abbey Sands. Just be wary of the active waterski lane set up at Livermead Sands from May – September.
Alternatively, you could paddle south along the entire length of Preston and Paignton Sands and back.
North will be more interesting and challenging. South, easy and relaxing.
Hollicombe Beach is a great spot to do some easy practice paddleboarding or to use as a starting point for a longer paddle up and down the coast. On a calm, sunny day it’s a joy!
It’s well-served by bus, but nearby public parking is very limited – unless you know the local side streets. If you’re new to the area, we’d take advantage of the more ample public parking around Preston Sands and either paddle the short distance to the beach around the headland, or walk up and over into Hollicombe gardens.
Either way, prepare to spend the whole day.
Paignton – Preston Sands
Preston Sands is, in effect, just a section of Paignton Sands separated by a small headland. At high tide, it looks like a separate beach. At low tide, the sands of Preston and Paignton join seamlessly into one. For the stand-up paddleboarder, though, Preston Sands has everything you need.
There are cafes, toilets and a reasonable amount of nearby public parking. It has a wide, level concrete promenade and a large grassy area on which to lay out your kit and pump up your board. And there are steps and several slipways along the length of the promenade that allow easy access to the water.
The beach itself is sandy and gently shelving for some distance out to sea. As a result, it’s great for paddleboarding beginners – especially if you stick to the middle and south end of the beach.
The only area we would be wary of is the section close to the headland at the north (Torquay) end. Submerged rocky-weed covered platforms begin to accumulate in this area. It’s great for shrimping and rock-pooling. Not so great for falling off your board.
Aside from that, the only other slight concerns we would have would be the potential for slightly stronger winds than normal and the long walk to water at low tide. This area of the Tor Bay coastline is slightly less protected from the prevailing winds than others and, as we said, Preston Sands is gently shelving. So much so, that the water line can end up being quite a distance from shore at low tide.
Neither are deal-breakers in our opinion, but it does mean young paddleboarding children should be supervised by an adult at all times. Which, to be honest, they should be regardless.
Other than that, Preston Sands is a great place to paddleboard. The views out into the wider expanse of the bay are endless. The waters are generally as safe and hazard-free as paddleboarding at sea can get. And there are plenty of other things to do should you get bored of your board.
It might not be the most challenging or most interesting place to paddle in Torbay. It might not be every paddleboarder’s first choice. However, in our opinion, it’s definitely one of the simplest. It’s “park, pump and paddle”.
Good luck with the parking bit!
You could easily spend your entire day just paddling up and down Preston Sands itself. It’s proper SUPing at the proper seaside. As we say in Devon, proper job!
Alternatively, you might want to take a quick SUP tour up and along nearby Paignton Sands towards Paignton Harbour and back. Even SUP beginners might be able to manage that.
** Just be careful around the stanchions at Paignton Pier and be mindful not to cross or enter Paignton Harbour entrance itself **
Alternatively, if you’re more experienced you could paddle around the headland to the north (Torquay) end of the beach and explore Hollicombe Beach, Oil Cove and the locations Torquay has to offer further on.
** Paddle carefully around the headland as the shore underneath is very rocky. Also, watch out for the active waterski lane located off Livermead Sands between May and September **
Family-friendly with easy access and plenty of facilities, Preston Sands is suitable for paddleboarders of all levels. Possibly a little bland and touristy for more adventurous paddleboarders. Nevertheless, a great spot to spend some time enjoying the water. Here’s a short video for your enjoyment.
Paignton – Paignton Sands
Paignton Sands is Paignton’s main beach and, along with Torre Abbey Sands in Torquay, is likely to feature in most travel articles you’ll read about Torbay. Why? Because it’s so…British.
Picture a traditional British seaside holiday and you’ll picture something that looks like Paignton Sands. It’s suncream and seagulls, chips and choc-ice, pale skin and pasties. However, it’s now also paddle and boarding.
For stand-up paddleboarding beginners and for paddleboarding families that include younger children, Paignton Sands is ideal. It’s long, sandy and scenic. The beach shelves gently – as you can see from the pictures. And the waters are clean and reasonably hazard-free.
The only obvious things you’ll need to be wary of are when paddling around/under the iron pier stanchions and if you venture too close to the harbour entrance at the south end of the beach. There are submerged rocks there. Be careful!
With regard to ease of access and convenience, Paignton Sands scores top marks. It has plenty of parking close by (though that parking also serves the town centre) and has every facility you could ask for with regard to cafes and toilets etc. Plus, it has lots to keep the kids entertained on and off the water too.
Not only that but there’s also plenty of space to store your SUP kit and pump up your board without annoying anyone. Lots of space. In fact, at low tide, as you can see from some of the pictures, useable water can end up quite a distance from the shoreline.
As a result, children that are paddleboarding should be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Another thing to watch out for are the winds. Not those produced by that “mother-of-all meat pasties” you might have had earlier, but by Mother Nature. Inflatables should never be used when the winds are blowing out to sea anyway but, due to its location in the bay, Paignton Sands can sometimes be quite exposed to the elements – at least compared with some of Tor Bay’s more sheltered beaches and coves.
Ultimately, offshore winds might not be the issue. Blustery winds might. They can be tiring and cool you down quicker than you’d think – so wear appropriate clothing.
Suitable for paddleboarders of any level.
Spend your time just paddling up and down the lovely sandy beach under the gaze of thousands of holidaymakers. Or head north along the beach to Preston sands, Hollicombe beach and Oil Cove for something a little quieter and different.
Take care around Paignton Pier and be careful not to cross Paignton Harbour entrance.
Paignton Sands provides paddleboarding that’s as safe, easy and convenient as you’re likely to get. Super family and beginner-friendly. Maybe a little boring for the more experienced and adventurous. Still, just look at those views. There’s boring and there’s boring. Check out the video below for a birds-eye view.
Paignton – Fairy Cove
Fairy Cove is a beautiful sheltered cove with a lovely sandy beach that nestles under the cliffs of Roundham Head. Bordered on one side by an arm of Paignton harbour and by a rocky headland on the other, Fairy Cove looks north along the Paignton coastline towards Torquay.
There’s a convenient multi-storey car park nearby and the nearest cafes and facilities are just a short walk around the harbour.
Access to the beach is via steps at Paignton harbour, or by another set of steeper steps leading down from the gardens up on the headland above. Just be careful if you’re carrying full SUP gear from that side. It might be safer to use the stairs in the multi-storey car park, as they bring you out onto the harbourside, where access to the beach is much easier.
Though the beach is sandy, the shoreline just beyond is rocky. Great for rock-pooling at low tide, a bit hazardous for inexperienced paddleboarders.
The beach is not huge and can, ironically, get busy with people wanting to avoid the crowds at nearby Paignton Sands.
Not really suitable for absolute paddleboarding beginners due to the rocky shoreline just out from the beach.
Also, paddling routes north along the coastline are limited due to the fact that maritime regulations forbid you from crossing the harbour entrance on your board.
However, if you paddle east and then south along the coastline (right), it’ll take you on an enjoyable excursion to Goodrington Sands and beyond (if you’re fit and up for the challenge).
Just be careful if you do, as this part of the Paignton coastline is very rocky. Roundham Head is made of softer sandstone and is in an eternal battle with the sea. Every year the sea takes a little more ground.
It also has a long history of shipwrecks. Don’t add to that list. Unless the tide is high stay a reasonable distance from the cliff face. If you do it’ll give you a better chance of enjoying the dramatic geology. Plus, you may even catch a glimpse of the Peregrine falcons known to nest on the seaward-facing side of Roundham Head itself.
If you’re paddling in between tides or towards low tide, you may also catch a glimpse of another casualty from a different war. Towards low tide and as you approach Fairy Cove from the south, the steel skeleton of a German Torpedo destroyer emerges.
It was lost at the end of the first world war while being towed to Teignmouth to be scrapped. There’s not much of it left now, but it’s an odd thing to see so close to snoozing sunbathers.
Fairy Cove is a lovely secluded cove with a nice, but small, sandy beach. Not really suitable for beginners, but a good spot to visit from Goodrington Sands to the south or to use as a starting point to explore the coastline and sights and sounds south around Roundham Head and beyond.
Paignton – Goodrington Sands
Goodrington Sands is a long beautiful crescent of golden sand split in the middle by a spur of rock (called Middle Rock, strangely enough) which becomes visible at low tide. For stand up paddleboarders, and particularly for paddleboarders with younger children, access and amenities are excellent. In fact, in our opinion, they’re probably the best you’ll find at any beach in the whole of Torbay.
There are cafes, restaurants, toilets, play parks, amusements arcades, a boating lake, a water park, a hotel and masses of parking nearby. It even has its own railway station where hissing and whistling steam trains from the Dartmouth Steam Railway pull up regularly throughout the day. Unfortunately, there isn’t direct access to the beach from the Goodrington Sands railway platform, but it’s only a short walk.
If you don’t have any paddleboarding kit or experience and you fancy trying it out, there’s also an award-winning paddleboarding school and SUP hire centre, run by local outdoor activity specialists Reach Outdoors. They offer a selection of SUP tours, coaching and various paddleboarding experiences to suit most tastes.
With regard to the beach, there’s plenty of space and level ground on which to lay out your paddleboarding kit and pump up your board. If you can’t find space on the beach itself, there’s loads of level space just inland. Both sections of the beach, North and South sands, are also relatively hazard-free.
There’s a large outlet pipe approximately halfway along South Sands that you’ll have to look out for. This outlet pipe, constructed from remnants of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s failed atmospheric railway, discharges the 6km long Goodrington stream into the sea.
During periods of heavy rainfall, it can also include run-off and overflow from the surrounding area which can affect/lower the quality of bathing water. So, do your paddleboarding (and in particular your falling in and swimming around) a reasonable distance from the open mouth of the pipe.
There’s also the area around Middle Rock and the rockier areas along the length of the promenade at the North Sands end of the beach, plus the increasingly rugged coastline to the south to watch out for. Practice safe paddleboarding if you’re paddling in any of those areas.
In our experience, Goodrington Sands can also get a little windy. Keep a weather eye out for offshore winds and obey any warning flags that might be flying. Never paddleboard, or use any type of inflatable, if the winds are blowing out to sea.
In general, though, Goodrington Sands is fantastic for paddleboarders of all skill levels – especially if you stick to the central areas of each part of the beach.
It can get a little busy. But when you get there you get there, you’ll understand why. Goodrington Sands is beautiful. The views out into the bay are phenomenal. The water is clean and clear. And the photo opportunity provided by the steam trains passing behind the colourful beach huts can’t be found anywhere else.
Goodrington Sands literally has everything a day out paddleboarding needs. The access, the facilities, the scenery and the SUPing, cannot be faulted.
Goodrington Sands is suitable for paddleboarders of all levels – with a few provisos.
** Watch out for the rocky area (Middle Rock) by the Inn on the Quay/Travelodge, the visibly rockier area at the extreme north and south ends of the beach, and the huge run-off pipe halfway along Goodrington South Sands **
Stand up paddleboarders should also be wary of local anglers fishing from the promenade under Roundham Gardens at the north end of Goodrington Sands.
Look for floats/lines, listen for shouts and steer clear. Angry anglers, fishing hooks and inflatable paddleboards are not a good mix. Aside from that, just enjoy yourself.
It’s easy to spend a relaxing day just slowly paddling along the beautiful shoreline taking in the views and waving at the steam trains if that’s your thing. If you get bored easily or fancy a bit of exercise/practice, however, there’s also stuff to do too.
You could take a trip north around Roundham Head to explore Fairy Cove. However, if you find yourself paddling that way, watch out for submerged boulders and rocks. Due to its geology, Roundham Head is very slowly losing a battle with the sea and the elements.
In fact, the last section of the promenade at North Sands, closest to Roundham Head, is now completely fenced off due to unstable cliffs. It never used to be. Not that long ago you could walk right to the end, clamber down some wonky steps and, at low tide, make your way around the coast all the way to Paignton Harbour. Not anymore.
Unfortunately, age affects us all including Roundham Head. We probably couldn’t manage it now even if it wasn’t fenced off.
Regardless, a SUP tour around to Fairy Cove from Goodrington Sands would be cool. That stretch of the Paignton coastline has a fascinating (and tragic) maritime history. You’ll pass the locations of some of Torbay’s worst shipwrecks. At low tide, you’ll see the skeletal steel remains of a world war one German torpedo destroyer. And, eventually, you’ll reach magical Fairy Cove itself.
Just don’t be tempted to magic yourself across the Paignton Harbour entrance to get to Paignton Sands beyond. It’s prohibited under maritime law.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could paddle South from Goodrington Sands to explore the geologically significant coastline around Oyster/Waterside Cove, Saltern Cove, Shell Cove and Crystal Cove.
It might not look like much, but there are not that many sections of our or anybody’s coastline that have had a period of geological history (Devonian) named after them.
Goodrington Sands is easily in our top three family-friendly places to paddle board in the whole of Torbay and an excellent location for the more experienced paddle boarder to explore the coastline north and south.
It can get very busy in summer, but that’s because it’s awesome. Highly recommended. Here’s a video showing you why.
Paignton – Oyster/Waterside Cove
Also known as Waterside Cove, Oyster Cove faces east out into the wide-open waters of the bay. Due to its location and the more tourist-friendly appeal of nearby Goodrington Sands and Broadsands Beach, it’s not a beach you’re likely to find packed with holidaymakers, even on the nicest day in the middle of a blazing hot summer. Locals might use it. Fun-seeking visitors rarely venture here.
For stand-up paddleboarders, it’s a rugged, unforgiving area full of submerged rocks – though the beach itself does have some nice soft shingle to lounge and lay your SUP kit out on.
However, Oyster Cove is not an area to practice or learn paddleboarding if you’re a beginner. The shingle quickly gives way to a large area of rocks, submerged platforms and weed. Open, unobstructed water is a fair distance out and, ultimately, there’s not much to do.
It’s a brilliant area for some quiet leisurely rock pooling. Not so good for some noisy fun paddleboarding. If that’s what you’re after, head to Goodrington Sands or Broadsands Beach. Both are close by.
If you still fancy a visit, land access to Oyster Cove is relatively easy. Park up on the nearby residential roads around Horseshoe Bend and look for the cut-through to the SW Coastal path. Head straight across and over the footbridge that crosses the railway track (a great place to view the Dartmouth Steam Railway trains) and then follow the path down across the grassy headland. A set of scaffolded metal steps lead down onto the beach.
Personally, for paddleboarding purposes, unless it’s close to high tide, we wouldn’t bother. There are more convenient locations with better amenities a short paddle away.
Note also: If you follow the path to the right on the headland you’ll come to a set of steps that lead down to the next cove along the coast – Saltern Cove.
Not suitable for beginners.
A good, quiet location for safety-conscious experienced amateurs and SUP experts to explore the fascinating and important coastline north and south.
This whole area is an internationally significant site of special scientific interest.
The geology attracts visitors from all over the world.
Paddle north (left) and you’ll quickly reach the beautiful and very popular area of Goodrington Sands. Paddle along the beach to North sands. Watch for local anglers fishing off the promenade under Roundham gardens at North Sands. Consider extending your paddle around Roundham Head to Fairy Cove. Then return.
Alternatively, paddle south (right) and explore Saltern Cove, Shell Cove, Crystal Cove and the busy and popular paddleboarding areas of Broadsands Beach. Consider extending your trip around to scenic Elberry Cove. Watch out for the active waterski lane marked out at Elberry Cove between May – September. Then return.
It might look small, quiet and unassuming, however, Oyster Cove is not for paddleboarding beginners. It’s an interesting, easily accessible location, though, halfway between two of the most popular beaches in Torbay. Which might make it a good spot to explore the fantastic coastline north and south.
Just don’t visit at or close to low tide. You’ll have trouble reaching clear open water without breaking a fin, or something much worse.
Paignton – Saltern Cove
Saltern Cove is a wide rocky/shingle crescent situated beneath the imposing presence of Sugar Loaf Hill (apparently an extinct underwater volcano) and backed by the tracks of the Dartmouth Steam railway.
For paddleboarders, it’s reasonably easy to access from land. Just follow the same route as for Oyster/Waterside Cove, but turn right across the railway bridge instead of straight on. A gap in the hedge leads to a small, but sometimes uneven, set of steps down to the cove.
Like all of the coves along this section of the coastline, Saltern Cove is not suitable for paddleboarding beginners. There are no facilities and the shoreline is rocky and unforgiving.
At low tide, access to and from open water with your paddleboard could prove difficult. Though the beach is partly shingle, the waterline is very rocky. There is a small sandy inlet at the south end of the beach that could allow fairly easy access, but if you’ve entered the cove at the northern end this could mean scrambling over quite a few rocks to get to it.
Note: There is a path to the cove from the headland to the south, but it means clambering down a set of very large, irregular boulders. That route is only normally used by intrepid, knowledgeable locals and the occasional holidaymaker venturing out from the holiday camp above. It’s NOT suitable for anyone carrying even the smallest amount of SUP kit. Don’t risk it! It’s dangerous.
In our opinion, if you intend on visiting Saltern Cove for some frantic fun paddleboarding, you’ll be disappointed. It’s not that kind of location.
However, if you enjoy peace and quiet paddling, if you appreciate fascinating geology, and if you just want to lie on your board at the feet of a dormant underwater volcano while watching steam trains pass by, then Saltern Cove is the place for you.
Like Oyster/Waterside Cove nearby, Saltern Cove is not suitable for paddleboarding beginners. At low tide it could even be a problem for more experienced paddleboarders due to its very rocky shoreline. However, don’t let that put you off.
Kneel down, take your central fin off if you have to to stop yourself grounding your board, and just paddle around enjoying the quiet, the view of Sugar Loaf hill and the steam trains as they pass.
Plus, there’s all the fascinating rock formations that make geologists around the world giddy with excitement.
Saltern Cove is worth a visit on higher tides for the views, the quiet and for the part it has played in our understanding of the evolution of Planet Earth. Not for paddleboarding beginners, though.
Paignton – Shell Cove
Shell Cove is not a place many locals will have even heard of, let alone visited. Accessible from land only by scrambling around the shoreline to the north at low tide, it’s a part shingle, part rocky cove backed by high rugged cliffs that look east out into the bay.
For the experienced paddleboarder (not suitable for beginners), Shell Cove is only safely accessible from the sea. Don’t even attempt to carry your SUP gear over the rocks to the north. Believe us, carrying a camera phone was tricky enough.
However, if you can get to it between tides, it’s worth the trip as you’ll probably be the only other person/people there to enjoy the peace, the quiet and the crystal clear waters.
Needless to say, there are no facilities. If something happens to you, you’re on your own. So paddle safe!
However, if something doesn’t happen to you, but you fancy a snack, cold drink or loo break, Broadsands Beach is only a short paddle south along the coast and has everything a needy paddleboarder could ask for.
Aside from that, there’s not much more to say. It was lovely and tranquil while we were there. The sun was out. The sea was inviting. All that was missing, oddly enough, were some shells.
Though only a short paddle from much busier beaches nearby, you could easily think Shell Cove was in a much remoter part of the Tor Bay coastline. Until you hear the whistle of the steam train overhead and watch a string of jet skis speeding past in the distance, heading towards Broadsands Beach and Elberry Cove.
Put it on your tick list for that “try something different” day.
Paignton – Crystal Cove
Presumably named after a section of exposed crystal in the rock face nearby and a small cave (Crystal Cave) that was a popular spot for enthusiastic Victorian amateur geologists to visit, Crystal Cove is a short paddle north along the coast from Broadsands beach.
There’s a very small sandy beach that, if you know where to look, can be accessed by a path from the landward side. However, the path is through brambles and the steps down to the beach are now completely unsafe for anything or anybody except the reckless or mountain goats.
Anyway, why bother when you can jump on your paddleboard at Broadsands Beach and be there within a few minutes?
It’s certainly a lovely location to look back across the sweep of Broadsands Beach nearby. And thanks to its secretive and relatively inaccessible nature, it’s unlikely to be anywhere near as busy. Which, for us, means it’s perfect for the three P’s – park, paddle and picnic.
Not a place to start or finish a paddleboarding trip.
Accessed from the sea as part of a trip out from Broadsands Beach nearby, or as part of a longer paddle from Saltern/Oyster/Waterside Coves or Goodrington Sands to the north.
Crystal Cove would make an interesting stop on a tour of this part of the Paignton coastline if only to look at the crystal formation, visit the cave (if you can find it) and to lay up and lunch on the small sandy beach.
Paignton – Broadsands Beach
One of the most family and paddleboarder-friendly beaches in the whole of Torbay, Broadsands Beach is, as its name suggests, a broad crescent of sand that looks north into the open waters of Tor/Lyme Bay.
For the stand-up paddleboarder, it has everything you’d need for a great day out; good facilities, vast amounts of nearby parking, easy and level access to the beach, sheltered water and beautiful scenery. For paddleboarding beginners it’s perfect. In fact, it’s where we started our own paddleboarding journey in 2020.
What made us choose Broadsands Beach out of every other fabulous place in the bay? Exactly the same reasons you’ll find paddleboarders of every other skill level there too. It’s just so easy. Easy on the mind, easy on the body, easy on the eye.
Beginners can paddle up and down the beach and fall in as many times as they want in relative safety. More experienced paddleboarders can set off north or east along the rugged coastline to explore some of the remoter coves.
To be honest, our pictures don’t do it justice. We’ve been to Broadsands beach in and out of season many times and it never disappoints. The water is clean and, on a calm day, crystal clear. The only real hazards (aside from the occasional offshore wind) are from other water users and from a rocky area at the east end of the beach under the headland.
It can also get very busy on and off the water. You may/will have to queue quite a while for refreshments and the loos. You may also have to be extra careful when carrying your board to the waterline. Weaving your way through throngs of people with an 11ft long, 3 ft wide inflatable can be socially challenging. However, it’s hardly ever an issue.
The beach is large enough to take a significant amount of visitors. There are slipways at both ends of the beach and steps at intervals along the length of the promenade that allow easy access. Plus, the two public car parks, one huge, can accommodate a lot of cars. All in all, Broadsands Beach makes stand-up paddleboarding look easy. Until you try it that is.
Speaking of which, there’s also a water sports/activity centre on the beach where you can hire a paddleboard if you don’t already have one of your own. They’ll kit you out and, should you get into difficulty, fish you out too. They have qualified lifeguards/instructors and a fast jetski at the ready should you need it.
They also have a webcam. If you want to see what Broadsands Beach looks like right now in real-time, check it out.
The shoreline gets rocky towards the eastern end of the beach and around the headland towards Elberry Cove. The waters along the coast heading north also contain a significant amount of potential underwater debris.
The geology changes here and is more prone to erosion from the sea and the elements. Paddle from one end of the beach to the other and you’ll see exactly what we mean. Softer sandstone to the west. Harder limestone to the east. Stay a suitable distance offshore, pick the right tide and you should be okay regardless.
Paddleboarding beginners, however, can safely (taking suitable precautions – using ankle leashes, lifejackets etc.) paddle anywhere around the main sandy section of the beach at almost any time. It’s gently shelving and sandy.
The waterline does end up being some distance away at low tide, so paddleboarding children should always be supervised by an adult. At high tide, the sea comes in all the way to the promenade.
More experienced paddleboarders may want to paddle east towards the beautiful, but watersports busy, area around Elberry Cove. Watch out for the active waterski lane there between May and September.
Alternativel, a SUP trip north along the rugged, geologically significant, less busy coastline towards Paignton – via Crystal Cove, Shell Cove, Saltern Cove, Oyster/Waterside Cove and Goodrington Sands may be an interesting change of pace.
If you’re new to the sport of paddleboarding, or just after a beautiful place to spend an easy day out on the water, then Broadsands Beach should be near the top of your list. We’re not going to be happy making it any busier and more popular than it already is. We want it all to ourselves. However, we owe it to you and to paddleboarding.
Give it a go. You won’t regret it.
And, just for you, here’s a video of it too created by englishriviera.co.uk. 48 seconds of fabulous.
There you have it – 10 perfect places to paddleboard in Paignton. In fact, every place to paddleboard in Paignton. Job done!
If you’ve been to Paignton before, or perhaps have holidayed in a traditional British seaside resort, you may have had preconceived ideas about what it had to offer a paddleboarder. Hopefully, we’ve changed your opinion or at least given you food for thought.
If you’ve never been to Paignton, and intend on visiting, then lucky you. As we said, it’s not bucket-and-spade boring. It’s not (just) stealth-trained seagulls stealing your chips. And it’s not parked-up pensioners snoozing in their cars on the seafront.
In fact, it might shock you. When you get here, look around. Those pensioner-packed promenades might be short of a grey hair or two. Why? Because they’re all out on their paddleboards too, enjoying the exercise, savouring the sea breeze and SUPing in the summer sunshine.
And who could blame them?
Cheers. And safe paddleboarding.
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