North and South Devon’s coastal locations naturally make them great for water sports; pair this with the countryside bliss of gentle rivers and lakes and you’re spoilt for choice. With plenty of locations to test out your skills on the water, you can search out the perfect place for your ability, whether you’re seeking something for beginners or a more advanced adventure. But if water sports aren't really your thing, why not check out our ultimate bucket list: the Devon edition?
First off, there are a huge number of water sports you can try out in Devon - find out some of our favourites below!
The surf is one of Devon’s greatest draws (amongst the cream teas, clotted cream ice cream and stunning golden sandy beaches), and the range of demands on each beach means you can choose the perfect shore if you're a novice or a more challenging break if you want to perfect your technique as a pro. Whether you’re visiting during the summer or winter months, you’re almost guaranteed a good surf at one of the hot spots; find out more about these in our guide to the best places in Devon to surf.
Our top recommendation: If it’s your first time, it is worth booking a lesson or block of lessons. These typically include board and wetsuit hire too and will help you to enjoy yourselves to the max! Plus, the surf instructors tend to know the best spots for surf in the local area and will give you all the insider info.
Top surf spots: Croyde, Woolacombe, Saunton, Challaborough
Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing water sports in the UK. It’s a fantastic full-body workout and an incredible way to explore the coast and lakes. Suitable for most ages, a paddleboarding session is perfect for couples and families alike and isn’t too difficult to pick up. Learning on a lake is easier to begin with as there isn’t as much movement on the water, but heading out to the sea when the weather conditions are just right is incredibly rewarding with the sights you can see. Plus, for special occasions, you can rent a party SUP, which is big enough for eight people to enjoy!
Our top recommendation: During the summer months, we recommend heading to Active Escapes at Watermouth Cove in Devon for a session; from here you can explore amazing caves, secret coves and the most beautiful hidden gems.
Top paddleboarding spots: Ilfracombe, the River Dart, Venford reservoir, Salcombe Estuary
Gentle paddles on the lakes and rivers in Devon are fun for all ages, providing a fantastic upper-body workout and an unforgettable experience. Sea kayaking is the perfect way to explore the coastal sights, rocky cliffs, stunning headlands and local wildlife from the water, but is a little bit more of a challenge than the calmer lakes. Take a short intensive course at one of Devon’s many water-based activity centres and your skills will be up to scratch in no time!
Our top recommendation: Dartmouth in South Devon is one of the UK’s finest sea kayaking locations, and from here, you can enjoy a half or full day of adventures on the water with Sea Kayak Devon. They’ll provide you with all the kit, and activities can be booked for individuals, groups and families.
Top canoeing/kayaking spots: Dartmouth, Combe Martin, Jurassic Coast
The 30-year-old sport of wakeboarding is similar to snowboarding, but on the water and with you fastened to the back of a motorboat. With speeds generally reaching around 30mph, it’s an adrenaline-inducing activity that offers so much fun. Ride behind the boat at your leisure or try and land a few tricks; it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Be warned: it can be very addictive!
Our top recommendation: Head to Shoreboard Waterski and Wakeboard School in Salcombe, South Devon or North Devon Wake Park for an incredible action-packed day of water sports.
Top canoeing/kayaking spots: Salcombe, Bideford
If you’re a first-timer at kitesurfing, Devon is definitely the perfect place to take your first dip in the water. With a number of fantastic coaches dotted along the coast, you can take a short course and additional lessons alone or as a family to get yourself started. Feel the wind rushing past you on this adrenaline-fuelled activity that requires a little bravery to get started; it’s the kind of activity that you rapidly fall in love with and will bring you back to Devon time and time again.
Top recommendation: Exmouth is one of the go-to kitesurfing spots in the UK, and if you’re an experienced kitesurfer, you’ll want to head to one of the two spots in particular that helped secure its reputation: The ‘Duck Pond’ and The Seafront.
Top kitesurfing spots: Exmouth, Croyde, Bantham, Budleigh Salterton, Westward Ho!
North Devon Wake Park is home to a fantastic inflatable aquapark where you can take on a Total Wipeout-style assault course on the private lake – a great family day out for all. Alternatively, head to somewhere like Active Escapes at Watermouth Cove and you can opt for an inflatable ride on one of many floating devices and enjoy being thrown around the sea whilst being pulled along by a motorboat.
Our top recommendation: Stay somewhere close to North Devon Wake Park during the summer so that you can test out a few of their activities over a few days, and then you can head to The Big Sheep next door for some fun for the kids on land.
Top inflatable fun spots: Bideford, Ilfracombe
Windsurfing is a fantastic sport and it’s relatively easy to pick up the basics in a few short sessions. A combination of surfing and sailing, the modern light, stable boards make this a more accessible sport than ever before and give surfers a real rush. A ride can be simple and relaxed, or you can really push your limits with looping and other tricks – it’s completely up to you, but just be warned, it is an extreme sport so you’ll have more fun if you’re willing to take to risk!
Our top recommendation: Some of the best windsurfing can be found during the autumn and winter months, so it’s a great option for those looking to get away out of peak season and make the most of the great outdoors!
Top inflatable fun spots: Putsborough, Hele Bay, Seaton, Hope Cove
Ready to try your hand at one of Devon’s incredible water sports opportunities this season? Browse our range of cottages in North Devon and South Devon to get ready for your next adventure!