We’ve talked before about our love for cold-water swimming. Wading into the cool ocean gives us a little thrill every time, and makes us feel invigorated and revitalised. We’re so lucky to be surrounded by such great swimming spots here in Dorset and that also makes it easy for us to indulge in one of our other passions – stand up paddleboarding (SUPing). Here are some of our absolute favourite places to SUP, all with amazing views and perfect spots to sit and sip a nice cup of Dorset Tea during a well-deserved break!
The River Stour - Christchurch Harbour and Mudeford Spit
If you prefer flat-water paddleboarding then heading to a river is a great option. As you quietly cruise along you can check out the boats, waterside houses and wildlife. We love launching from the public slipway at Mayors Mead car park and then heading down river into Christchurch harbour. You’ll pass Stanpit Marsh where you’ll likely spot the semi-wild ponies and masses of seabirds. From here you can paddle all the way over to Mudeford Spit, lined with some of the most expensive beach huts in the country (£330,000+). Jump off at the beach and sit and enjoy a lovely cup of tea as you admire the view. This is a gorgeous trip to do around sunset when a nice cup of camomile goes down a treat – just give yourself enough time to head back before dark and make sure you check tide times.
Studland Bay and Old Harry Rocks
Back to one of our firm favourites – Studland Bay and Old Harry Rocks. We talk about this section of the Jurassic Coast a lot, and once you have visited you’ll see why it really is one of Dorset’s most magical spots. The sheltered, shallow waters of Studland Bay make it a great place to paddleboard if you are a beginner. You can hug the shoreline and have fun jumping off your board for a refreshing swim. If you’re a bit more experienced then you can head all the way over to Old Harry Rocks to explore the sea stacks and cliffs. Make sure you check local conditions first as it can get tidal at this point. Fore Adventure offer an intermediate trip out to Old Harry so if you’d prefer to go on an organised excursion this is great option. They are based at Middle Beach right next door to the Middle Beach Café, which stocks all our Dorset Teas! The perfect place to refuel after your paddle!
Sandbanks is possibly one of the most popular places to paddleboard in Dorset, and it’s another great spot for beginners. The conditions tend to be flat and calm and the water is really shallow, which is reassuring if you are nervous. If you’re a local, this is a great place to start, as there is a welcoming water sports community here meaning you’ll easily get chatting to other paddleboarders. If you don’t have your own board there are quite a few places along the harbour road where you can hire kit. At EasyRiders SUP hire starts from as little as £15 and they also offer lessons, tours and ladies nights. We’re thinking about joining one of their SUPventures to Brownsea Island. It can be really tidal once you head out of the harbour so this is a great way to explore with the safety and comfort of their team and boat cover. Easy Riders – you bring the kit, we’ll pack the tea!
Hamworthy and Arne
This is definitely more of a ‘locals’ spot, but we’ll let you in on our little secret! If you are after a real Dorset adventure and are an experienced paddleboarder, head to Lake Pier in Hamworthy to launch. From here you can cross Wareham channel and go over to the Arne peninsula. The area is home to a nature reserve and depending on the time of year you may spot ospreys fishing in the harbour, or large flocks of wading birds in the waters around the reedbeds - be sure not to disturb them! The views in this area are fantastic – pack a dry bag with a flask of black tea and you could simply sit on your board sipping, surrounded by the tranquillity of mother nature.
Boscombe is a favoured hangout among our team because of its golden sands, cafes, bars and water sports scene. If you enjoy the thrill of SUP surfing this is a great spot as there are often surfable waves, especially if you go close to the pier. You can check out local conditions before you head there on the webcam. Urban Reef bar and restaurant is a cool spot to grab a bite to eat and a cuppa afterwards. They use loads of local ingredients and suppliers, including our range of delicious teas. With all it has to offer, Boscombe is a pretty popular location for those on a London to Dorset escape – pack your inflatable paddleboard or hire one locally from Sorted Surf Shop just next-door to Urban Reef.
Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door
A few of us have done this paddleboard trip and it feels like a real adventure as you’re passing parts of the coastline that is in accessible on foot. It’s not for beginners though as you’ll need to be experienced enough to understand the conditions and confident in sections that have no access to land. As you paddle out of Lulworth Cove and head round the corner, you reach St Oswald’s Bay Beach and Man O’War Beach. There is a partially submerged reef, which protects the water in the bay from swells so it’s a good place to land and have a swim or take some fishing or snorkelling gear with you. On flat days you can then carry onto Durdle Door where you can paddle through the famous arch before landing on the beach. This has got to be one of Britain’s most scenic places to take a tea break offering up some of the most iconic Dorset views.
SUP with your pup at Dogmasters
We had to mention this one! If you love SUPing with your canine companion you’ll be as excited as we were to hear there is an annual dog surfing and SUPing championship - Dogmasters. The best bit, it takes place right here in Poole, Dorset on Dene Beach. With prizes for the best solo dog surfer as well as tandem dog and owner SUP races, this is an amazing way to have fun with your pooch on a paddleboard! It’s up to you whether you choose to share your Dorset Tea with your dog – maybe stick to our decaf so your dog doesn’t get an unwanted caffeine hit!
We hope you’ve enjoyed the paddleboarding version of our Dorset travel guide! SUPing is best enjoyed in really flat, calm conditions. Rivers and the sea are highly affected by flows, tides and winds. Always check the weather forecast before you go and if it looks anything less than flat and calm and you’re not an experienced paddler, seek local advice or wait until another day.
Tag us in your photos (@Dorsetteauk) and let us know where you enjoy sipping and SUPing!