This list is best used in conjunction with our main guide to the Best Places to Paddleboard in Torbay and is aimed specifically at those looking for places to paddleboard in Torquay. To find out how we made and how to use this guide (and to discover which of Torquay’s terrific paddleboarding spots made our Torbay “Best Of”), check it out.
We’ve also written separate guides for the other Torbay towns, Paignton and Brixham. If you’re interested in discovering what unique paddleboarding locations they have to offer, the links are below.
However, before you rush off to visit any of the fantastic locations in any of our local guides, make sure you read our Ultimate Guide to Stand Up Paddleboarding in Torbay. It contains crucial safety information, plus we’ve chucked in as much local knowledge and experience as we could think of related to stand up paddleboarding in the bay. It’s essential reading.
Right, with all that out of the way, let’s get to it!
What have you got to offer a stand-up paddleboarder, Torquay?
Our other local guides
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.
This list of terrific places to paddleboard in Torquay is also terrifically long. We don’t do half-measures at gonepaddleboarding.com.
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 Torquay 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.
- Torquay’s Beaches and Coves
- Terrific Places to Paddleboard in Torquay
- Mackerel Cove
- Blackaller’s Cove
- Maidencombe Beach
- Whitsand Beach
- Watcombe Beach
- Petit Tor Beach
- Oddicombe Beach
- Babbacombe Beach
- Bathing Cove
- Shelter Cove
- Redgate Beach
- Anstey’s Cove
- Brandy Cove
- Hope Cove
- Shennell Cove
- Meadfoot Beach
- Daddyhole Cove
- Peaked Tor Cove
- Beacon Cove
- Torre Abbey Sands
- Corbyn’s Beach
- Livermead Sands
- Institute Beach
- Oil Cove
- Torquay – Paleolithic and Still Terrific
Torquay’s Beaches and Coves
Torquay is a popular seaside town on the south coast of Devon in the UK. Along with the neighbouring towns of Paignton and Brixham, it makes up the borough of Torbay, also known as the “English Riviera”.
For local or visiting paddleboarders, Torquay’s coastline has approximately 24 named beaches and coves to discover. We’re going to take you on a paddleboarding tour of them all – starting at Mackerel Cove on the southern outskirts of Shaldon near Teignmouth and finishing at Oil Cove on the northern borders of Paignton.
If you’re a beginner or novice paddleboarder, some of them are a little to a lot off the beaten track. This means no easy access, no nearby facilities e.g. cafes and toilets, and no ready help in case of emergency.
If you plan on trying out one of the more remote paddle board locations listed in this guide, do not take risks. Paddle with a partner and always kitted out with safety in mind.
Torquay’s coastline is spectacular but rugged and unforgiving in places, with submerged rocks that could easily damage you or your board. The only maritime memories we want you to have of Torquay are good ones.
Fortunately, that shouldn’t be a difficult task.
Terrific Places to Paddleboard in Torquay
Paddleboarding along Torbay’s coastline is a unique experience. Very few places in the world have such a fascinating mix of geology, culture and history packed into such a relatively small space.
From north to south, Torbay’s coastline is approx 22 miles long. Some paddleboarders could cover that distance in a few hours. Yet, in that short space of time, you’ll travel from the Jurassic to the Middle Devonian period of geological history. From soft crumbling sandstone headlands and fossilised coral beds to hard rugged limestone cliffs and the floors of ancient seas.
You’ll also pass close by to one of humankind’s ancestral homes for the last half-a-million years and also past:
- Bronze age field systems
- thousand-year-old monastic ruins
- buildings that held captive sailors from the Spanish Armada
- medieval harbours
- a dormant volcano
- a Neolithic burial chamber
- a Napoleonic fort
- Agatha Christie’s favourite swimming spot
The list goes on and on.
And Torquay’s contribution to this paddleboarding banquet is significant. From the boundary of Torbay’s maritime authority in the north to where Torquay’s waters finish and Paignton’s begin, we found two dozen potential places to paddleboard.
Landlubbers get to see them from one viewpoint, stand-up paddleboarders from many. Lucky us! We know which we’d prefer. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Torquay – Mackerel Cove
Mackerel Cove is the northernmost point under Torbay’s maritime authority. To be honest, due to its remote and inaccessible location, we’ve never been there and judging by the lack of images on the net, neither have many others.
What the available images do show, however, is typical of much of this part of the Torbay coastline. Low tide reveals a red sandy beach at the foot of high sandstone/breccia cliffs. Due to its geology and exposure to easterly gales, evidence of erosion is everywhere. Irregular clumps of boulders and submerged rocky ledges dominate the shoreline.
At high tide, it’s likely that the beach disappears almost entirely. So, if you’re planning on paddling out to explore this area, make sure it’s not around high tide or there could be nothing to see except high, rugged cliffs.
Also, due to its remote and inaccessible location, there are obviously no facilities or quick access to help should you need it. Make sure you take suitable safety precautions if you fancy a visit.
We’ll try and get out to Mackerel cove on our stand up paddleboards this summer and get some proper pictures. Watch this space!
A paddleboarding trip to Mackerel Cove should only be safely undertaken from Maidencombe Beach to the South or Ness Beach to the North. There is no safe access from the landward side.
Not a suitable paddleboarding location for beginners. Take all suitable safety precautions. Watch for submerged boulders and ledges. Be careful when exploring the beach, the cliff faces will be unstable.
Things to look out for according to maidencombe.net :
A series of ledges called “The Fingers”, which dominate the shoreline near the cove. And a secret location, known locally as “Weeping Rock” which, as the name suggests, weeps water…perpetually.
Plan a trip outside of high tide or there’ll be very little to see aside from tall, rugged sandstone cliffs, and you’ll be the one weeping.
For the adventurous paddleboarder, Mackerel Cove looks like a decent place to explore. On a calm day, outside of high tide, the views and surrounding scenery will be spectacular. Not beginner or family-friendly, though. Children should be accompanied by an experienced adult at all times and you should be wary of rockfalls as this is some of the most changeable coastline in the area.
Torquay – Blackaller’s Cove
Blackaller’s Cove is a small coastal inlet just north along the Torbay coastline from Maidencombe beach. Like Mackerel Cove, a little further to its north, it’s really only safely accessible by paddleboarders from the sea. And like much of the coastline in these parts, the beachy area (if you can call it that) will disappear at high tide, so any paddleboarding trip to see the cove itself will need to take this into account.
In addition, as it faces east into Labrador Bay, this area of the Torbay coastline is directly exposed to easterly gales and has suffered badly from cliff falls and storm damage. Submerged boulders and potential underwater hazards should be expected.
If you plan on checking out Blackaller’s Cove on your SUP board, make sure you take suitable safety precautions. Cliff falls and landslides are unpredictable and dangerous. Navigate the area carefully and from a suitable distance.
A paddleboarding trip out to Blackaller’s Cove should only be safely undertaken from Maidencombe Beach to its south, or from Ness Beach along the coast to the north.
** This is a remote and mostly inaccessible part of the Torbay coastline. While it looks spectacular and wild, it can also be dangerous. Take suitable safety precautions **
For a fascinating snippet of history and a video of the cove from the coastal path above, check out
Blackaller’s Cove is not for SUP beginners or for practitioners of unsafe paddleboarding. For experienced, safety-conscious amateurs and SUP experts, though, this looks like a place to visit on a longer paddle – perhaps taking into account some of the other beaches and coves in the area.
We doubt there’s much to see or do – other than to admire the geology and feel small and vulnerable in the face of mighty Mother Nature.
Torquay – Maidencombe Beach
Maidencombe beach is situated at the foot of tall, rugged sandstone cliffs and faces east, looking out across Babbacombe and Labrador Bays into the wider waters of Lyme Bay. It’s a lovely little sandy beach, popular with locals and holidaymakers who prefer something a little off the usual tourist routes.
With regard to facilities, Maidencombe Beach has the basics covered.
For the stand-up paddleboarder, there’s a convenient but small car park up the hill. A cafe on the beach serves food and drinks. There’s also a small block of public toilets close to the car park at the top of the beach path. However, at the time of writing, these were closed due to being out of season and as a result of Covid restrictions. They might open again soon – watch this space!
The beach itself is accessed by a path that leads down from the car park and a set of narrow, steep steps and is less than a five-minute walk. It’s a nice combination of reddish sand and rocks.
Like many beaches along this part of the coast, though, it mostly disappears at high tide, so make sure any planned paddleboarding trip takes this into account.
The coastline around Maidencombe beach is some of the most changeable in the area. Due to its geology and exposure to easterly gales, it suffers from erosion. Rockfalls and landslides are reasonably frequent events, so be careful when exploring.
It’s not as beginner-friendly as some of the other beaches Tor Bay has to offer. If you’re just starting your stand-up paddleboarding journey, we’d recommend somewhere like Goodrington Sands or Broadsands, instead.
However, if you’re a little more experienced, and if you take appropriate safety precautions, Maidencombe beach and its surrounding coastline should provide you with some spectacular stand up paddleboarding.
We recommend you pump up your paddleboard on the beach, rather than inflate it in the car park and carry it down. The steps are steep and narrow and do not allow for people to pass very easily – especially if one of them is carrying an 11 ft long, 3 feet wide inflatable.
Paddleboarders with solid boards will need to negotiate the steps down carefully.
From Maidencombe Beach there are various routes you could paddle.
Head out from the beach and paddle north along the coastline (left) and it will bring you to Blackaller’s Cove and Mackerel Cove. These are the two most northerly coves and beaches under Torbay’s maritime authority.
Or, head south from Maidencombe Beach (right) and it will take you to Watcombe beach, Whitsands Beach and Petit Tor Beach.
The coastline will be spectacular whichever route you take. However, be wary of submerged hazards. Navigate carefully and take suitable safety precautions.
If you paddle south, look out for the natural rock arch known locally as Bell Rock.
Maidencombe Beach is a great little beach for paddleboarding. It has plenty of facilities. It’s family-friendly. And it makes an excellent starting point for experienced amateurs and SUP experts to explore the rugged, remoter Torbay coastline north and south.
If you’re a complete beginner, however, we’d recommend the much larger, much sandier, less rocky waters of the central Tor Bay beaches.
Torquay – Whitsand Beach
Whitsand Beach, not to be confused with Whitsand Bay Beach in Cornwall, is another remote and relatively inaccessible cove on the Torbay coastline. And another one we’ve yet to take pictures of.
For the stand-up paddleboarder, Whitsand Beach is again only safely approached from the sea. There are no paths to it from the landward side, unless you’re a mountain goat. And, like many other places on this part of the coastline, its beachy area will mostly disappear at high tide. So plan your trip accordingly.
At low tide, Whitsand Beach looks similar to many other coastal inlets in the area – red sand surrounded by irregular clumps of fallen rock and backed by high, wooded sandstone cliffs.
Needless to say, it has no facilities – though Maidencombe Beach, which does, is close by. And, obviously, it’s not for beginners.
A paddleboarding trip to explore Whitsand Beach should only be safely undertaken from Maidencombe or Ness beaches to the north or Watcombe Beach (with provisos – see Watcombe Beach description) or Oddicombe Beach to the south.
** This area of the Torbay coastline is changeable and unpredictable. While it makes for spectacular stand up paddleboarding it can be dangerous. Take suitable safety precautions and navigate carefully. **
Not for beginners. Not family-friendly. Safety-conscious, experienced amateurs and SUP experts, however, should find Whitsand Beach a memorable point of interest on a longer trip along the Torquay coastline.
Torquay – Watcombe Beach
** Due to land movement and erosion, the path and steps to Watcombe Beach have been declared unsafe and the beach itself is now officially closed **
In our youth, Watcombe Beach was one of the most popular beaches in the area – at least for locals anyway. And it’s not hard to see why. Situated at the foot of towering wooded hills and enclosed by red sandstone cliffs, it’s in a lovely location. Plus, it’s only a short drive from the much busier Babbacombe and St.Marychurch areas of Torquay and, back then, it had all the facilities you’d need.
Unfortunately, Watcombe Beach faces east out into Lyme Bay and, like much of the surrounding coastline, is directly exposed to the worst of the storms and easterly gales that occasionally arise.
Due to that and its underlying geology, the beach and surrounding areas have suffered badly from rockfalls and land slippage over the years. So much so, that it’s now been deemed unsafe and is officially closed to visitors and, therefore, paddleboarders. At least from the landward side, anyway.
Unofficially, access to the beach is still possible from the landward side. They haven’t fenced it off entirely, you can still get down. However, it’s not easy-going underfoot at all. The steps to the beach are buckled and broken in places. The tarmac road surface is cracked, slanted and torn open. And there are official “Beach Closed” signs dotted about that shouldn’t be ignored.
Plus, there are no facilities e.g. cafe, toilets, just the run-down ghosts of them. Even the large car park (which is free btw), feels like overkill.
It doesn’t stop locals (and possibly fit, adventurous paddleboarders) from still using it but, if you plan on paying a visit, Watcombe Beach is probably best approached by paddleboard from the sea; via Maidencombe Beach in the north or Oddicombe Beach in the south.
To be honest, you should thank us for recommending that route anyway, as the road down and back up from the beach to the car park was 15 minutes of hell. And that was without any SUP kit.
Full SUP gear would have turned it into an SAS training exercise.
Landward access to Watcombe Beach is currently closed due to land slippage and erosion.
However, it’s still possible to access the beach by paddleboard on a trip from Maidencombe Beach in the north or from Oddicombe Beach in the south.
If you lay up on the beach, be careful under the cliff faces. When on the water, watch out for submerged boulders and other underwater hazards. Take suitable safety precautions.
And take your rubbish away with you.
Watcombe Beach is a nice, picturesque sandy beach that would make for some great family-friendly paddleboarding if the beach and facilities weren’t currently closed. Still, well worth a visit by paddleboard from Maidencombe beach in the north or Oddicombe beach in the south.
Torquay – Petit Tor Beach
Petit Tor Beach, also spelled Petitor Beach, is a rocky beach located on the Torquay coastline between Watcombe Beach and Oddicombe Beach.
Due to its relatively inaccessible and private location, Petit Tor beach has developed a reputation locally for being a naturist (nudist) beach. So, unless you’re into naturism and paddleboarding, or you’re planning a trip out in the middle of winter when only the bravest/hairiest naturists would be out and about, this is probably a beach you may want to steer clear of.
The only way to access the beach from land is via the coastal path segment reached from Petitor Road – as the section of the coastal path that used to be accessible from the north end of Oddicombe beach has been cut off by rockfalls.
The main path that leads to the beach, from where we took the photos on a cold April day just in case, is at the bottom of the grassy slope on the left. The path is narrow and winds its way down through the woods.
Even if you’re a paddleboarder/naturist, you’re probably best approaching the beach from the sea. If you’re a paddleboarder just exploring this beautiful piece of coastline on a warm sunny day, it’s probably best to just maintain a discrete distance. Enjoy the surrounding views by all means. Just not THOSE views.
** NOTE: For some reason, on Google maps, Petit Tor Beach is called Crab Beach. Seriously, you couldn’t make it up! **
** Petit Tor Beach has a reputation for being a local naturist/nudist beach **
There are no facilities on or close to the beach. Parking nearby is very limited. Getting down to the beach with SUP kit will be tricky.
A paddleboarding trip that takes in Petit Tor beach (from a discrete distance) could be made from Oddicombe Beach to the south or from Watcombe or Maidencombe beaches to the north.
Either way, the geology and scenery along this section of the coast is spectacular. Navigate carefully and enjoy the area from a safe distance – especially if paddleboarding with children.
Petit Tor Beach is Torquay’s local naturist beach. Unless you’re a naturist and a stand-up paddleboarder (hopefully not practising both at the same time), Petit Tor Beach is a beach to paddle past from a discrete distance.
Torquay – Oddicombe Beach
Situated amongst some of the most spectacular scenery on the whole of the south coast, Oddicombe Beach is a stand-up paddleboarder’s dream. It has good facilities and plenty of level space. The beach is large and is a nice combination of sand and smooth pebbles. Plus, the waters are clean and relatively hazard-free.
Unfortunately, though, as stunningly picturesque as it is, Oddicombe Beach suffers from one major problem and always has. It’s not easy to get to.
As you can see from the pictures we took from Babbacombe Downs (one of Britain’s highest clifftop promenades), sea level is a long way down. Approx 90 metres down to be exact. And Oddicombe Beach has no public parking. Which leaves the SUP kit carrying paddleboarder with a problem. How to get themselves and their boards to the water.
There used to be more routes down to Oddicombe Beach – some of them a little (though not much) easier. However, due to cliff falls, erosion and neglect, access is now limited to just a few.
There’s a long, winding road down used by the beach facilities for access and deliveries. If you’re super-fit, and not bothered by a 750-yard trek down and back up under the shade of the woods, you could theoretically use that.
There’s also a path and steps you can take that weaves down through the woods alongside, and under, the nearby Babbacombe Cliff Railway. We’ve walked that path before. It would not be our first choice with paddleboarding gear.
Plus, there’s a coastal path from Babbacombe Beach nearby. However, Babbacombe Beach is just as far down and, although it does have its own small public car park, it also has its own issues which make it difficult to recommend. All in all, none of these routes is quick, convenient or easy.
There is a potential solution, however.
The simplest way of getting down to and back up from Oddicombe Beach is via the Babbacombe Cliff Railway itself. This spectacular funicular railway was created specifically for that purpose. It’s currently run as a registered charity and, though it looks scary, it’s been operating safely for over 90 years. As we said, Oddicombe Beach has always been difficult to get to. But, it’s also always been worth it.
For the relatively cheap price of a return ticket, the cliff railway provides not only easy access to one of the most awe-inspiring beaches around but a truly memorable experience as well. The only issue is, we’ve never tried to take a paddleboard down on it. Dogs are usually OK. Beach bags fine. An 11ft paddleboard?
We’ve no idea.
Our guess is that it would be at the discretion of the railway operators and would be dependent on how full or empty the carriage is at the time. If you get there when it first opens, you might be OK. If you’ve got your board stored in its carry bag and your paddles are safely broken down, you might also be OK. Or you may not.
Regardless. if you’re refused entry, respect that decision. Most staff are volunteers and maintaining a safe experience at any time, let alone in the current climate, is more important than our need to paddle.
Besides, you could just hire a paddleboard on the beach. Seakayaktorbay hires out beginner and touring paddleboards and even giant SUPS from their base at Oddicombe Beach. Giant SUPs? Big enough for families and parties? Time for a new experience, maybe?
Access aside, if you can get down to Oddicombe Beach with your paddleboard we guarantee you’ll not regret it. Paddleboarding along this section of the coastline is an experience you’re not likely to find anywhere else. You’ll feel small, yet part of something much bigger. It’s humbling, but inspiring too.
Plus, Oddicombe Beach makes a great base to explore the coastline north and east. Not that you’ll ever want to leave.
Suitable for beginner paddleboarders, though we’d recommend sticking to the central areas of the beach as the coastline north and east is more challenging.
If you’re a fit and healthy experienced amateur or SUP expert, we’d recommend the following paddleboarding trips, using Oddicombe beach as your base:
Trip 1: Paddle North (left) along the coastline taking in any number of the following beaches and coves on your way: Petit Tor Beach(from a discrete distance as it’s a local naturist beach), Watcombe Beach, Whitsand Beach, Maidencombe Beach, Blackaller’s Cove and Mackerel Cove.
Mackerel Cove is the most northerly point within Torbay’s maritime authority. If you’re fit and capable you could even paddle further north as far as Ness Beach in Shaldon and then head back.
Trip 2: Paddle east (straight ahead) along the coast taking into account any number of the following beaches and coves: Babbacombe Beach, Bathing Cove, Shelter Cove, Redgate Beach and Anstey’s Cove. If you’re fit, fast and capable you could even paddle further south to Brandy and Hope Coves then head back.
** Stay clear of the north end of Oddicombe Beach. An enormous landslide happened here in the last few years. You can see it in the pictures. The cliffs behind the cafe and cliff railway have been stabilised and are considered safe. However, the cliffs at that end of the beach are still dangerous. Rock falls still occur intermittently. You should be safe on the water, but we wouldn’t recommend venturing onto the beach in that area. **
Oddicombe Beach is easily in our top 5 best places to paddleboard in Torbay, if not the whole of the South West. It might be a pain to get to but, in our opinion, it should be on any stand-up paddleboarder’s bucket list. It’s paddleboarding at its best. Unique, unforgettable and ever so photogenic.
Here’s a video.
Torquay – Babbacombe Beach
Sheltered by towering wooded cliffs and protected by a small pier/breakwater, Babbacombe Beach faces north and, on a clear day, enjoys fabulous views along the Devon coastline as far as Dorset.
For the stand-up paddleboarder, it has reasonable facilities; there’s a nice pub, public toilets and a small pay and display car park. Like Oddicombe Beach just along the coast, though, it’s a bit of a pain to reach.
There’s road access for vehicles from the Downs above, however, unless you own a powerful 4-wheel drive, a tractor or a small tank, we recommend you don’t bother. Not only will you be lucky to find a free parking spot, but the last section of the beach road is treacherously steep (1 in 3). And it’s on a camber.
It’s a nightmare combination that still gives us, and many unsuspecting visitors, nightmares.
It’s up to you if you want to risk it but, take it from us, unless you too want flashbacks of being in a car stuck repeatedly on the steepest section of a torturous road, only to then have it burn out its clutch and slide back (even under braking) to hang precariously over the front wall of somebody’s garden, you might want to give it a miss.
We’d recommend using the car park on nearby Wall’s Hill and walking down the beach road instead.
Or, even better, from the same car park, walk down the small road that leads further onto Wall’s Hill and down through the woods next to Babbacombe Cricket club. A path should eventually bring you out halfway down the beach road. It’s quicker, gentler and prettier.
Alternatively, there are footpaths through the woods next to Babbacombe Theatre and a coastal path from Oddicombe beach. However, for somebody carrying full SUP gear, these are all steep in places, uneven and difficult to use.
Don’t let this put you off, though. Babbacombe Beach and the surrounding coastline is well worth the effort for the dedicated paddleboarder.
It’s another of Torquay’s most picturesque paddleboarding locations. It has a fascinating if morbid history. And, although the beach is small, very rocky and not beginner-friendly, at high tide access to the beautiful waters is simple.
Explore Babbacombe Beach by paddleboard from Oddicombe Beach to the north or from Anstey’s Cove along the coast to the south.
Or just head straight down to the beach itself and set out on your own trips (preferably after parking at Wall’s Hill car park above – see main description).
Not recommended for paddleboarding beginners. The shoreline is ankle-breakingly rocky. Definitely not a good place to be falling off your board at low tide. Experienced SUP amateurs and experts should be fine and can enjoy several possible SUP tours:
Trip 1: Paddle west and then north along the coast to Oddicombe, Petitor, Watcombe, Whitsand and Maidencombe beaches.
Trip 2: Paddle east and then south along the coastline past Bathing Cove and Shelter Cove to Redgate Beach and Anstey’s Cove.
** Watch for local anglers fishing off Babbacombe Pier and off Long Quarry Point if paddling towards Anstey’s Cove and Redgate Beach **
** Be wary of divers. Babbacombe Beach is a popular diving and sub-aqua training area **
Babbacombe Beach is challenging but worthwhile. On a calm day, the crystal clear water, the wooded cliffs towering hundreds of feet above and the limitless views provide a paddleboarding experience like no other. Another one for the stand-up paddleboarder’s bucket list.
Torquay – Bathing Cove
Marked on older Ordnance Survey maps, but not on many new ones, we knew nothing about Bathing Cove until we made this guide. And we still don’t. Which is a little embarrassing as we grew up in the area.
All we can guess is that, based on our local knowledge and its position, it’s not likely to be easily/safely accessible from land – especially not with SUP gear. Therefore, it’s probably best approached from the sea as part of a paddleboarding trip from Babbacombe Beach to the north or from Anstey’s Cove/Redgate Beach to the south.
When we know more, we’ll update you.
Only reached safely as part of a paddleboarding trip from more accessible beaches along the coast.
To get to it, paddle east and then south from Babbacombe or Oddicombe Beach, or north from Anstey’s Cove / Redgate Beach.
Probably one of the wildest and most remote parts of the Torquay coastline. If you plan on visiting Bathing Cove, take suitable safety precautions and paddle carefully.
It’s not a place you’d want to be in should things go wrong.
No idea what Bathing Cove or this area of the Torquay coastline looks like unless the OS map pin refers to the small inlet separated off from Babbacombe Beach by the pier and a spur of rock, that is. Either way, it’s on our list to be one of the first places to explore this summer. Watch this space!
Torquay – Shelter Cove
Shelter Cove, like Bathing Cove nearby, is another cove listed on older maps of the Torbay coastline and not on the new. From our local knowledge of the area, and judging by the satellite views, it’s also a cove only accessible from the sea.
For the experienced paddleboarder keen on checking it out, this would mean taking a trip out from Anstey’s Cove/Redgate Beach just south along the coast. Or, by setting off from Oddicombe/Babbacombe beach to the north.
Accessible only from the sea. Paddle north from Anstey’s Cove / Redgate beach area or south from Oddicombe / Babbacombe beach.
Take all suitable safety precautions.
** Watch out for local anglers fishing off Long Quarry Point nearby **
Summary: Like Bathing Cove, just further north along the Torquay coastline, Shelter Cove is in an area we’ve never seen up close. So, it’s another one for the bucket list this summer. Watch this space!
Torquay – Redgate Beach
If there’s a more dramatic place to go paddleboarding than Redgate Beach, we’ve yet to find it. In fact, if there’s a more dramatic place to do practically anything, we’ve yet to find it. From cold beers to coasteering. From rock-pooling to rock climbing. From selfies to sunbathing. Redgate Beach is simply stunning.
Shame it’s officially closed then.
In our youth, Redgate Beach was our go-to beach and easily one of the most popular beaches in the area. Accessible at the time by a wooden walkway from Anstey’s Cove, or by a steep path from Wall’s Hill above, it was nearly always cram-packed with people looking dazzled by the dramatic views, cooling down in the crystal clear water, baking in the blazing summer sunshine or quietly queueing for the bustling cafe.
Unfortunately, Redgate Beach is now closed due to rockfall and has been for some time. The wooden walkway has long since been removed and the path up the cliffside to Wall’s Hill above is now overgrown and securely boarded off at the top.
The busy cafe, which once served a beach chock-full of hot and hungry holidaymakers, is still there. However, it served its last vinegary cone of chips a long time ago and is now a broken, concrete ghost of itself.
Now, the only way to get to Redgate Beach is by crossing the rocks from Anstey’s Cove promenade at low tide, or by sea. Thank Hermes for paddleboards then, because paddleboarding around Redgate Beach is likely to be the highlight of any trip to Torbay.
And, thankfully, it’s still accessible. Just follow the directions to Anstey’s Cove and, whatever you do, don’t forget your cameras.
Access the water at Anstey’s Cove beach. Redgate Beach is then just a 2-minute paddle away.
** If you decide to alight on Redgate Beach, you do so at your own risk. The cliff face backing the beach is unstable and rockfalls still occur intermittently. Stay close to the shoreline. **
** Watch out for other sports activities taking place. This area is immensely popular not just with paddleboarders, but with divers, swimmers, rock climbers, local anglers, kayakers, boat owners, photographers etc. It’s a magnet for maritime activity. **
SUP beginners may find it too rocky. Experienced paddleboarders should have little to worry about, provided safety guidelines are followed and the rugged coastline is treated with respect.
Great SUP trips can be had north along the coastline to Oddicombe Beach – watch out for anglers fishing off Long Quarry Point and Babbacombe Pier. Or east and then South around Black Head to Brandy and Hope Cove. Watch out for jet skis and speed boats in that area. And again, be wary of local anglers fishing off Hope’s Nose.
Redgate Beach and the surrounding area is breathtaking! For the experienced amateur and SUP expert, there are few better places to paddleboard in the whole of the South West, let alone Torbay. Paddleboarding perfection.
Torquay – Anstey’s Cove
Anstey’s Cove is a small coastal inlet located a short distance from nearby Redgate Beach in Torquay. If you’re into sandcastle building or sun-worshipping, Anstey’s Cove will probably disappoint. If you’re into stand-up paddleboarding around some of the most spectacular coastal scenery anywhere in the UK, it definitely will not.
Accessed via a steep, but relatively short, road (with adjacent steps) from the public car park above, Anstey’s Cove has everything a paddleboarder could ask for.
There’s a small cafe, public loos and a nice wide concrete promenade on which to lay out your kit and pump up your board – that’s if you haven’t already inflated it in the car park and carried it down. Plus, it has a beach – if you can call it that.
Anstey’s Cove beach is tiny and rocky with very little sand. In fact, it’s not really suitable for anything beach-like aside from rock-pooling and gaining access to and from the water with your board. Which is fine by us. Because, in our opinion, visiting Anstey’s Cove with your paddleboard and staying on the beach should be made illegal.
Seriously, your paddleboard will hate you! Don’t do it.
Head out into the open water off the beach instead, then sit down and share a moment together. Just you and your board. Living the dream. In paddleboarder’s paradise.
Then, pinch yourself and get paddling.
The only thing stopping us from recommending Anstey’s Cove to stand-up paddleboarders of any level is that care must be taken in and around the rugged coastline. Falling off could be very painful, and some paddling skills are needed to navigate safely around obvious and not-so-obvious obstacles.
However, for experienced, adventurous amateurs and SUP experts, Anstey’s Cove is a great starting point for a number of memorable paddleboarding trips.
Trip 1: Head out from Anstey’s Cove beach and make your way around to the left to Redgate beach. Enjoy the beach and spectacular scenery safely from the water and then make your way along the coastline to the tip of Long Quarry Point. As you do, look out for rock climbers using the sheer cliff faces above for practice. And keep an eye out for people coasteering on the shoreline.
** Watch out for local anglers fishing from Long Quarry Point. Maintain a safe distance if necessary. **
You could then carry on around Long Quarry Point and follow the coast past Shelter and Bathing Coves to Babbacombe and Oddicombe beaches – again, watch out for local anglers fishing off Babbacombe Pier. Then return.
Trip 2: Or, you could explore the coastline around Redgate Beach, paddle back across the wide-open bay at the tip of Long Quarry Point and then paddle east along the coast towards Black Head and Brandy and Hope Coves.
** Be wary of local anglers fishing from the rocks at Hope’s Nose. Watch out for speed boats and jet skis too. Hope Cove is a popular local water sports area. **
Then, retrace your journey back to Anstey’s Cove.
Whichever route you take, make sure you’re fully prepared and kitted out. It might not look like it, especially in summer, but these parts of Torquay’s coastline are relatively remote. Help, should you quickly need it, is not always to hand. Make good memories, don’t encourage bad. Practice safe paddleboarding.
Anstey’s Cove and nearby Redgate Beach should be top of any paddleboarder’s Torbay bucket list. Choose a calm, sunny day a few hours either side of high tide to see the magnificent coastline at its best.
In the right conditions, at the right time of year, Anstey’s Cove can’t be bettered. Here’s a video to prove it.
Torquay – Brandy Cove
Marked on some old maps as Smuggler’s Cove (due to its dodgy maritime past), Brandy Cove is an inlet adjacent to Hope Cove in Torquay. Both lie within the sheltered crescent formed by the arms of Black Head and Hope’s Nose. And both enjoy views out into the open waters of Lyme Bay.
As far as we’re aware, Brandy Cove is only safely accessible for paddleboarders from the seaward side. Look at Google maps satellite view of the area, however, and you’ll see what look’s like a set of near-vertical steps cut into cliff-face. Mysterious, eh?
The truth is they probably just belong to, and were created for, the property above. However, due to it being out of sight of the official revenue and customs observers stationed at Berry Head, Brandy Cove was a notorious local smuggling area many centuries ago. So who knows? Old smuggler’s steps?
Regardless, they’re not accessible and would be dangerous if they were.
Therefore, to get to Brandy Cove safely, you’ll have to paddle from Anstey’s Cove around the coast to the north or from Hope’s Nose nearby. Aside from that, it doesn’t look like there’s much for a stand-up paddleboarder to see or do there except to quietly explore the shoreline. If you’re lucky, that is.
The views out into Lyme Bay will be unique but, you’ll likely be sharing them with a mix of jet skis and speedboats. Although not officially marked, this sheltered and relatively remote area is a popular location for powered watercraft.
Find Brandy Cove on Ordnance Survey Map
Not much to see at Brandy Cove itself. Best explored as part of a paddleboarding trip from Anstey’s Cove further around the coast to the north, or from Hope’s Nose.
** Hope Cove, right next to Brandy Cove, is a popular watersports area. Watch for anglers fishing off the rocky ledges at Hope’s Nose. Be wary of jet skis and water skiers – May to Oct **
Brandy Cove is another small inlet on Tor Bay’s rugged, ancient coastline. Not suitable for paddleboarding beginners and not easy to get to. Visit it for the history and to put your feet ashore where only you and a few long since deceased smugglers ever have.
Oh, and leave the brandy at home.
Torquay – Hope Cove
Hope Cove lies in the shelter of Hope’s Nose in Torquay and is a popular spot for powered water sports during Torbay’s summer season.
For this reason, and because it’s off the beaten track with no nearby facilities, Hope Cove is one for experienced, self-reliant paddleboarders only.
You can access the area from the shoreline at Hope’s Nose (not an easy task with full SUP gear), or by paddleboard from Ansteys’ Cove further up along the coast.
Regarding hazards, you’ll need to be wary of local anglers fishing from Hope’s Nose itself. And you’ll need to make sure you stay within the safety of the 5-knot marker buoys, to avoid any chance of collision with faster water users.
** Watch for water skiers and jet skis. Stay close to the shoreline and within the 5-knot marker buoys. Take suitable safety precautions. **
Enjoy Hope Cove as part of a paddleboarding trip north out from Hope’s Nose.
Or get to it from Anstey’s Cove to the north where the facilities are much better.
Like Brandy Cove nearby, Hope Cove is a place for the experienced, self-reliant paddleboarder who wants to see a part of the Torbay coastline only local water sports enthusiasts (and ghostly smugglers) normally get to see.
Torquay – Shennell Cove
Situated on the south side of Hope’s Nose in Torquay, and not mentioned on anything but old geological or Ordnance Survey maps, Shennell Cove contains a part-rocky, part-shingle beach that looks out into Tor Bay towards Brixham.
As you can see from the pictures, there are no facilities and nearby parking is limited to a section of road at the top of the hill. It’s also not safely accessible from land. We’ve been down to explore the beach before without our boards and, believe us, it was a dangerous and stupid idea.
Unstable slopes of slate leading to precipitous drops are not our idea of relaxing fun.
If you’re interested in paddleboarding around Shennell Cove, do yourself a favour and visit it on a SUP trip from Meadfoot Beach a little further south. It may also be possible to reach the shoreline somewhere along the south side of Hope’s Nose much lower down. However, in our experience, the coastline is tricky there and the waters trickier.
Saying that, if you’re interested in uniquely significant geology, then this whole area around Hope’s Nose is a never-ending textbook for you to browse. Geology students from all over the world come to take a look. Unfortunately for them, not many will have views like you.
Torquay’s coastline is geologically significant and nowhere is this more apparent than when paddleboarding in the waters around Shennell Cove and Hope’s Nose. Ancient, raised beaches, mysterious fractures, even small traces of GOLD have been discovered here.
It is potentially possible to carry, inflate and launch your paddleboard from the lowest levels of the limestone quarry at the bottom of the path down Hope’s Nose.
In our opinion, though, this wouldn’t be safe – not when carrying your kit and not when it requires careful footing on a sometimes steep and uneven footpath.
A paddleboarding trip out to Shennell Cove is more practicable and more convenient when undertaken from Meadfoot beach further around the coast.
However, care must be taken when paddling and navigating this area of the Torbay coastline as, according to local wild swimming clubs, the stretch of sea between the land and Thatcher Rock – the fairy tale looking island in the pictures – can experience strong tidal currents due to the water being squeezed between two large landmasses.
Pick the right tide, though, and it should be within the capabilities of fit and experienced paddleboarders.
Just be wary of local anglers fishing from the rocks at Hope’s Nose point. Be prepared for wobblier waters in the stretches between the islands of Thatcher Rock, Ore/Oar Stone and Lead/Flat Stone. And paddle carefully around the rocky shoreline.
Oh, and just be thankful the main sewage outlet for much of Torquay is no longer in use. It used to unload its unsavoury effluent into the sea around here. In fact, you can still see the tunnel entrance on the SE side of Hope’s Nose at low tide.
Shennell Cove is not for the inexperienced or out-of-shape paddleboarder. You may have to battle tidal currents, but it’s doable if properly planned. And don’t go without reading up on the geology of the area, either. Paddleboarding should be fun, but it can be educational too. This part of the Torquay coastline has taught Science a lot about how Planet Earth evolved.
Let it teach you a little about it too.
Torquay – Meadfoot Beach
On a summer’s day, stand-up paddleboarding at Meadfoot Beach can look and feel like being in an exotic paradise. Backed by tall wooded cliffs and looking out onto blue waters dotted with mysterious islands, you could easily be fooled into thinking that you’re on the French Riviera or maybe somewhere exclusive in the Mediterranean. Until you see the ice-cream van parked at one end of the beach road that is.
Two 99s and a can of Shandy, please. Ahhh, the taste of the British seaside.
Meadfoot Beach is certainly a stunning location for paddleboarding. And, considering it looks like a far-flung part of the globe, it’s easy to get to as well. Less than 5 minutes by car from Torquay Harbour, there’s limited public parking located at each end of the beach and also running along the length of Meadfoot Sea Road – the road that runs behind the beach.
There’s also parking (unpaid) alongside Meadfoot Green just up from the northern section of the beach if you don’t mind a longer walk with your SUP kit. You’ll have to get there early for those spaces, though, as they tend to be snapped up by knowledgeable locals and by people enjoying the green itself.
With regard to facilities, there’s a cafe, public toilets, steps down to the beach at various intervals along the main Meadfoot Sea Road, and a useable slipway (south end of the beach) from which you can launch your board. There’s also a slipway at the north end of the beach as well. However, it’s been undermined by the sea and is presumably awaiting repairs.
Plus, as we said, there’s also an ice-cream van normally situated at the entrance to Kilmorie car park at the northern end during the summer months. There was one there when we were children. There’ll be one there long after we’re gone. If there isn’t one there, you’re at the wrong beach.
As for conditions, Meadfoot Beach itself is shingle/sand in the southern section and becomes much rockier as you head north. At low tide, you’ll see exactly what we mean. It’s brutal. Fantastic for crabbing. Frustrating for paddleboarding.
At high tide, the beach disappears almost entirely which, considering you’re planning on paddleboarding and not rock-pooling, shouldn’t be an issue. You can just pump your board up on the slipway at the south end and launch from there.
Then simply head out and enjoy yourself.
There are some great SUP trips for experienced paddleboarders north and south along the coast. Paddleboarding beginners can have fun too. Though we’d recommend staying close to the facilities at the south end of the beach if you’ve never been paddleboarding before.
Charles Darwin, when writing part of his famous “Origin of the Species”, stayed in an apartment in the Osborne Hotel – the beautiful, crescent-shaped building overlooking the southern end of the beach. The view he had then is just as inspirational today.
With Shag Rock and Thatcher Rock drawing the eye and the blue waters set off perfectly by the rugged tree-lined cliffs, this is a stand-up paddleboarder’s dream location.
Paddleboarding beginners should stay at the southern shingle area of the beach near the cafe. It’s less rocky and more sheltered. And it’s where the majority of the facilities are.
Experienced amateurs and SUP experts should be safe to explore all of the beach and the coastline in both directions, with the following provisos.
The northern sections of the beach and coastline are very rocky. We would be very careful when paddling around them at anything other than high tide.
If you decide to venture further along the coast towards Shennell Cove and Hope’s Nose, the channel between the coast and Thatcher Rock can experience stronger tidal currents than you’re perhaps used to. Keep an eye on the tide times and plan your trip and you should be ok.
The water around Shag Rock can flow faster than normal too. So be wary if you decide to claim Shag Rock for yourself and your country.
If you decide to paddle south and west along the coastline towards Daddyhole, Peaked Tor and Beacon Coves (and the spectacular London Bridge Arch), keep an eye out for local anglers fishing off Triangle Point and Knoll Quarry.
If you take suitable safety precautions, Meadfoot Beach is a simply stunning location for stand-up paddleboarding. There’s lots to see, lots to do and lots that you’ll remember for a long long time. Give it a go. You won’t regret it. Here’s a short video of it to inspire you.
Torquay – Daddyhole Cove
Daddyhole Cove is situated on the Torquay coastline north of Peaked Cove and South of Triangle Point/Knoll Quarry near Meadfoot Beach. Backed by almost sheer cliffs rising up to the limestone plateau of Daddyhole plain above, it’s basically a boulder-strewn gash in the coastline and is not for the feint-hearted paddleboarder. In more ways than one.
Daddy is an Old English name for the Devil and, according to local legend, he lives in a cave at the bottom of the cliffs. Looking at the area, we can well believe it. The forces that shaped and still shape this area of Torbay, are brutal and unforgiving. It has a menacing feel to it.
Needless to say, for the paddleboarder, the only safe way to visit Daddyhole Cove is from the sea. Which means paddling from Meadfoot Beach just to the north. Or paddling from one of the small accessible coves along the coastline to the west.
If you’re into the SUPernatural, it’ll thrill you. If you’re into geology, it’ll fascinate you. If you’re just out for a paddle, it’ll make you feel small. Very small.
Daddyhole Cove can be reached by paddleboard from Meadfoot Beach to the north. Or by paddling from Peaked Tor Cove or Beacon Cove to the south/west.
If you intend on paddling from Meadfoot Beach, watch out for local anglers fishing off Triangle point and Knoll quarry.
Most importantly, make sure you’re fully prepared and kitted out for safe paddleboarding. The hustle and bustle of civilisation may appear close by, but this part of the Torbay coastline is hundreds of millions of years old. It not only looks like another world, but it could also feel like one too should anything bad happen.
Don’t take any unnecessary risks.
Daddyhole Cove certainly makes for some dramatic, dare we say devilish, paddleboarding.
It’s not for beginners. It’s not for fast paddling and falling in. It’s for gently bobbing about on your board and looking out across the bay towards Brixham – all the while trying to forget how Daddyhole Cove behind you got its name.
You’ll feel happy and scared at the same time.
Torquay – Peaked Tor Cove
Peaked Tor Cove is a small, rocky inlet situated on the Torquay coastline a little east of Torquay Harbour.
For paddleboarders, it’s accessed from a section of the SW coastal path – you’ll find signs pointing to it close to the main entrance of The Imperial Hotel. Follow the path and the signs and it will lead you to a small set of steps that wind their way down to a secluded, rocky beach.
The cove itself faces south and has great views across Tor Bay to Brixham and Paignton. However, be aware. There are no nearby facilities and the nearest public parking of any size is a 5-10 minute walk back towards Torquay harbour. Plus, although it’s reasonably sheltered and is a summer suntrap, the beach and the shoreline are rocky, so it’s not recommended for paddleboarding beginners.
For an experienced stand-up paddleboarder, it could be a useful location to explore the coastline east towards Meadfoot Beach and, in particular, the stunning natural arch of a local geological formation nicknamed London Bridge. However, we’d hesitate to recommend it.
There’s a better and more convenient location to do the same just a little further west – Beacon Cove. Plus, Peaked Tor Cove has developed a local reputation for youthful, anti-social behaviour.
Can’t really blame them. It’s the kind of spot we’d have wanted to meet up with our mates at when we were younger. Although if we could, we’d have brought our boards.
Head east (left) to explore the spectacular natural formation of London Bridge Arch. Continue to Daddyhole Cove and around Triangle Point to Meadfoot beach.
** Watch for local anglers fishing off the ledges around Triangle Point **
Alternatively, head west (right) to explore Beacon Cove and the coastline and rocks towards Haldon Pier. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as you can safely go as it’s against local maritime regulations to cross the harbour entrance on your board.
A nice cove to explore from the sea, Peaked Tor Cove is easily accessible from the landward side, but there are better places to launch from to explore this beautiful part of the Torbay coastline on your paddleboard.
Torquay – Beacon Cove
Beacon Cove is a crescent-shaped inlet with a small part-sandy, part-rocky beach. Once Agatha Christie’s favourite swimming spot, it’s located close to Torquay Harbour and is accessed via a path adjacent to the Beacon Quay public car park.
Aside from the car park, there are no facilities at Beacon Cove itself. The closest public toilets, for example, are down a flight of steps alongside the car park on Beacon Quay. Beacon Quay is also where you’ll find the nearest places to grab a bite to eat and drink.
For paddleboarders, the beach has a nice wide level concrete platform on which to pump up your board and store your kit – though you could probably inflate your SUP board in the nearby car park and carry it down, if necessary.
There’s also some interesting rocky outcrops and islands to explore offshore. Unfortunately, progress west is hindered by the pier and Torquay Harbour itself. East, however, offers the experienced paddleboarder some fantastic paddling. There are sea caves, old limestone quarries and a magnificent natural rock arch to discover.
Just make sure you return long before they shut the gates to the beach for the night. Beacon Cove is closed to the public overnight at set times, depending on the time of year.
Beacon Cove is not ideal for paddleboarding beginners. We’d recommend heading for Torre Abbey Sands nearby if you’re new to the sport.
For the experienced paddleboarder, however, Beacon Cove is a great place to start a trip east along the coast to explore the stunning London Bridge rock arch formation and the ruggedly magnificent coastline around Daddyhole Cove and Meadfoot Beach.
Unfortunately, the harbour entrance prevents you from paddling west to Torre Abbey Sands and beyond.
** Watch out for local anglers fishing from the rocks at Haldon Pier nearby and from the ledges around Daddyhole Cove and Triangle Point further around the coast. **
Beacon Cove is a good place to just paddle about and enjoy the views over to Paignton and Brixham and a great place to start exploring the fabulous coastline to the east. Just make sure you’re fully prepared and fully supplied, before you do.
Torquay – Torre Abbey Sands
Google “Torquay” and, chances are, there’ll be a photo of Torre Abbey Sands somewhere in the results. Named after nearby 12th century Torre Abbey, Torre Abbey Sands is Torquay’s main beach and is one of Torbay’s most popular tourist spots during the holiday season. In winter, it’s normally quiet, serene and non-descript. In summer it’s often busy, brash and very British.
For the stand-up paddleboarder, Torre Abbey Sands is precisely what it suggests. Sands. Well, mostly. At high tide, the sea comes in right up to and occasionally beyond the top level of the wide set of concrete steps that run the length of the beach. Handy for the paddleboarder, as it means almost no walking to get to the surf line. Tragic for the sandcastle builder.
At mid to low tide, however, it’s a long crescent of soft sand with water that stays fairly shallow all the way out to Princess Pier enclosing Torquay harbour. Not handy for the stand-up paddleboarder as, particularly at the northern end of the beach, it can mean a bit of a trek just to get to some useable, but still shallow, water. Sandcastle builders, however, will be in their element.
Needless to say, particularly at low tides, paddleboarding children should be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times. Having said that, Torre Abbey sands is great for stand up paddleboarders of all levels – especially beginners.
Aside from Harbreck Rock (visible at lower to low tides) and some rockier areas south towards Corbyn’s Beach, it has very little to trouble a stand-up paddleboarder.
You may have to watch for offshore winds; it’s a beach that can get a little breezy. You’ll also have to keep an eye out for local anglers fishing off Princess Pier. In general, however, most of your trouble will come from the sheer number of other beach and water users.
Out of season, it’s possible you could have the entire beach to yourself. On a sunny day in August, you’ll be lucky to have your board to yourself
It’s family-friendly too. There are plenty of facilities close by, particularly at the northern end of the beach where you’ll find most of the cafes, toilets and parking. If you find them too busy, there are also a few cafes just next to the bowling greens on the other side of the busy main road. There’s also a cafe and public toilets at Corbyn’s Beach to the south.
With regard to access, there is parking along the busy Torquay Road next to the beach – though consider yourself extremely fortunate if you find a parking spot there during the peak summer season.
The nearest large public car park (which you’ll probably be better off using instead) is just up Sheddon Hill from the beach. There’s a convenient walkway that winds over the busy road. From car park to beach, even with SUP kit, shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.
Though we don’t recommend you carry a fully inflated paddleboard over the pedestrian bridge or across the busy Torquay Road. There’s plenty of space to inflate your SUP board on the beach.
If you can’t be bothered with all that palava, you can now hire stand-up paddleboards and receive paddleboarding lessons from Torre Abbey too. WeSup, based at Torquay Marina, have begun to offer paddleboard hire and instruction from some snazzy-looking portacabins at the beach itself.
So, google “Torquay” in a few months time and you’ll still see photos of Torre Abbey Sands. The only difference will be that every image will probably have a stand-up paddleboarder in it too.
Stand-up paddleboarding newbies and total beginners – i.e. those who are likely to spend as much time falling off their boards as on – would be best paddleboarding at the north end of Torre Abbey Sands.
Just be wary of an area called Harbreck Rock that lies some distance out from the shore towards Princess Pier. Unless you’re paddleboarding at low tide, this shouldn’t really be an issue. However, Harbreck Rock has been known to catch many people out and has resulted in its share of tragic shipwrecks in the past.
Experienced amateurs and SUP experts should be able to enjoy all of this area – while taking appropriate safety precautions, of course.
A SUP expedition south along to Corbyn’s Beach and around Corbyn’s Head to Livermead Sands, Insitute Beach, Oil Cove and Hollicombe Beach would be very enjoyable.
A gentle paddle in the evening on a calm, warm summer’s day under the coloured lights of the Torquay seafront promenade, would be magical.
** Watch for local anglers fishing off the seaward side of Princess Pier. **
** Do not attempt to cross the Torquay Harbour entrance on your paddleboard **
Torre Abbey and its famous Spanish Barn is a listed ancient monument and multi-award winning visitor attraction. We took the kids shortly before lockdown 2020 and we can see why it’s bagged so many awards. The words interactive, educational and inspirational come to mind.
There are petrified forests beneath Torre Abbey Sands. And lots of fossils too. Medieval fishermen used to snag their nets on fossilised stag antlers when fishing off the beach. Don’t worry, though. Your board should be fine.
Torre Abbey Sands might be a little dull for the more adventurous paddleboarder, but for beginners and those with children wanting an easy, enjoyable day out paddleboarding in a lovely location, it’s ideal. Here’s a promotional video showing it off in all of its sandy splendour.
Torquay – Corbyn’s Beach
Situated in a little cove sheltering under the headland at the southern end of Torre Abbey Sands, Corbyn’s Beach is a lovely, sandy/shingle beach that looks out northwards towards Torquay harbour.
For the stand-up paddleboarder, there’s a small cafe, a slipway that allows easy access to the beach and a nice level area to set out your SUP kit.
The only issue is nearby parking – which unless you’ve luckily found a space on the local roads inland (e.g. Seaway Lane and further up) and don’t mind a bit of a walk, will mean using the public car parks at Torquay Railway station, Torre Valley, Abbey Car park and Shedden Hill (at the northern end of Torre Abbey Sands).
This whole area is one of the most popular parts of Torbay so, although parking facilities are good, it might mean anything between a 5-20 minute walk from your car.
The beach itself is small but gorgeous. Sheltered from the main force of the waves rolling in from the wider bay by the headland, it does becomes rocky quite quickly. So care should be taken when paddling around in the area. Falling in or getting off your paddle board too recklessly, could result in injury.
If you’re a novice or SUP beginner you might be better off moving a little further along to Torre Abbey Sands – which is far less rocky, but more exposed.
If you’re an experienced amateur or SUP expert, Corbyn’s beach is a delightful location to enjoy the waters and the view along the main Torquay seafront.
Corbyn’s Beach is sandy, but many rocks lie beneath the waters just offshore. Beginner paddleboarders would be better off paddling or walking to Torre Abbey Sands a short distance to the north.
From there you can safely enjoy a paddle along Torre Abbey sands towards Rock Gardens and Princess Pier. Keep an eye out for Harbreck Rock – see Torre Abbey Sands description.
Experienced paddleboarders might want to paddle around Corbyn’s Head to explore the beaches and coastline to the south; Livermead Sands, Institute Beach, Oil Cove and Hollicombe Beach.
** Watch for local anglers fishing off Princess Pier **
** Be wary of the active water skiing lanes and water sports off Livermead Sands from May to September **
For paddleboarding, Corbyn’s Beach is more sheltered and, generally, less busy than the main stretch of Torre Abbey Sands that it looks onto. However, it’s quite small and it only takes good weather and a high tide for it to become just as packed. Our only grouch is finding nearby parking.
Torquay – Livermead Sands
Although it might not look like it from the pictures, there is sand at Livermead Sands. You just have to visit outside of high tide which as you can see, when it occurs, covers the beach entirely.
When the sands emerge, however, they’re nice and red and soft underfoot. For sandcastles and sunbathing, Livermead Sands is ideal. For stand up paddleboarders, it has a few drawbacks – if you can call them that.
Facilities at Livermead Sands are practically non-existent. The nearest public loos and refreshments are at Corbyn’s Head/Corbyn’s Beach to the north. It’s only a 5-10 minute walk, but it’s hardly convenient.
Nearby parking is extremely limited too. Realistically, even if you manage to find parking on one of the residential roads inland, you’re still looking at a bit of a walk. It’s not a deal-breaker, but the following might be.
From May to October, one of Torbay’s main active water skiing lanes is situated off Livermead Sands. This turns it into a controlled area and a noisy one. You might be lucky and pick a quiet day. Or you might not. Either way, don’t let it put you off entirely.
If you can get there, and if it’s not busy, Livermead Sands is a great spot from which to explore the Tor Bay coastline north and south. And, provided you avoid the rockier waters surrounding Corbyn’s Head and Livermead Head, it might also be a decent location to practice.
Paddle north (left) around the rocks and enjoy the view of the caves and geology of Corbyn’s Head. Head round the headland to Corbyn’s Beach and Torre Abbey Sands.
Paddle south (right) to Institute Beach and around the headland to Oil Cove, Hollicombe Beach and Preston Sands. Be aware that Institute Beach is currently closed to the general public. If you land on the beach be careful around the cliff faces – they’re unstable.
No facilities, a lack of nearby parking and an active water ski lane from May to September, make Livermead Sands less convenient for paddleboarders than other nearby locations. However, it also makes it less busy. Worth a paddle if you’re not overly concerned about such things.
Torquay – Institute Beach
At the time of writing (April 2021), Institute Beach is closed to the public due to rock falls from the cliffs surrounding the beach. In our opinion this is a shame, because Institute Beach, though small, is beautiful.
Sheltering under the headland of Livermead Cliffs, it looks north along the length of Livermead Sands to Corbyn’s Head and Torquay Harbour beyond – which is ironic because, from medieval times until the mid 19th century, Institute Beach used to be the location of Torquay’s original harbour.
In fact, at low tide, you can still see the outline of the rocky spurs that created sheltered water close to the beach for the loading and unloading of goods. You can even just make them out on our Google map if you switch to satellite view and zoom in.
For the inquisitive stand-up paddleboarder, access to Institute Beach is normally via a short path running between the Livermead Cliff Hotel and Cliff road. The path is currently fenced off at the beach end, so all you can do is look longingly through the bars at what looks like a tiny piece of paradise.
However, the beach is still accessible from the sea. If you do decide to set foot on the beach, you do so at your own risk. Stay close to the shoreline and away from the cliffs.
Unfortunately, even if it was open, Institute Beach has all the same disadvantages for the stand-up paddleboarder as Livermead Sands nearby; no facilities, very limited parking, and an active waterski lane directly offshore from May to September. Plus, it’s even less suitable for paddleboarding beginners due to its rocky shoreline.
Currently, Institute Beach is only accessible from the seaward side, as the beach is officially closed and fenced off due to rockfalls. Therefore, you can’t start off from here to get to anywhere.
Paddleboarders can still get to it from Livermead Sands or Torre Abbey Sands to the north, or from Hollicombe Beach and Preston Sands to the south. However, if you decide to make it a stop on a longer paddle, you do so at your own risk.
** Watch out for rocky hazards around the headline and shoreline **
** There’s an active waterski lane just off the beach at Livermead Sands from May to September **
Institute Beach is worth a look just for the fact that this tiny area of the Torquay coastline has played a role in Torbay’s maritime history for well over five hundred years. However, just look and try not to touch. The beach is closed because the cliffs backing on to it are dangerous.
Torquay – Oil Cove
Ask any local and, chances are, very few will have even heard of Oil Cove, let alone be able to point out where it is. And, to be honest, until we checked the maps, neither had we.
All we know is, Oil Cove is an area situated beneath the south facing side of Livermead Cliffs. Inaccessible directly from land, it’s just a short paddle north from Hollicombe Beach. And it’s the last paddleboarding spot on the coastline south that Torquay has to offer.
From this point south, the stand-up paddleboarder is in Paignton’s waters.
What does Oil Cove have to offer a stand-up paddleboarder? No idea. There are no facilities there that’s for sure but, aside from that, we haven’t a clue. We can’t even find out how it got its name. There’s certainly no oil there.
It’s a fascinating part of the Torbay coastline, though. The weaker sandstone of Livermead Cliffs is slowly being eroded and, in places, undermined, giving rise to frequent rockfalls and sea caves.
Needless to say, care should be taken when paddleboarding around this area.
There’s probably not much for the stand-up paddleboarder to see at Oil Cove aside from the dramatic cliffs of Livermead Head. However, it’s only a short paddle from Hollicombe Beach or Preston Sands, so why not take a look anyway?
Torquay – Paleolithic and Still Terrific
And there you have it, 24 terrific places to paddleboard in Torquay. Hopefully, you found it interesting. And, if you plan on visiting Torquay to do a spot of stand-up paddleboarding, hopefully you’ll find it useful too.
Ultimately, though, useful or not, we hope this guide shows you something that, deep down, we paddleboarding locals have known all along.
There really are no bad, bland or boring places to paddleboard in Tor Bay and especially not in Torquay.
It hogs the lion’s share of Torbay’s paddleboarding locations – having more than Torbay’s other two towns put together. And every one of them has a story to tell.
Some will tell you of their part in the evolution of Planet Earth. Others in the role they played in the history of humankind. And once you’re out there, for every single one of them, Mother Nature will show and tell you the rest. Their story is still being written. By the wind, by the sun and rain, and by the sea.
Stand-up paddleboarding is fun. It’s also great exercise. But when it becomes educational at the same time then, in our opinion, it becomes something more. Take your time to enjoy Torquay’s coastline, whenever and wherever you choose to paddle. Make it something more.
Cheers. And safe paddleboarding.
** If you enjoyed this guide and found it helpful, please don’t forget to LIKE and SHARE. It helps to keep us motivated and encourages us to continue making more unique content for you. Thanks! **