Swanage Bay SUP
Feels like you’re paddleboarding along side a French village in the Mediterranean. An easy, relaxing shoreline cruise, suitable for sup paddlers of all levels of ability.
≈ Quick Facts:
- Beach Name: Swanage Bay
- What is the distance: 3/4 mile each way
- How long does it take: 30 minutes each way
- Shelter from wind: SW – S
- Best Tide: N/A
- Waves: No
- Pay To Park: Yes
- Parking Distance: 10 minute walk
- Do you pay to launch: No
- SUP Rental: No
- Wildlife: Maybe Dolphins
- Eat & Drink: Restaurants, pubs & cafes
- Toilets: Yes
- Hazards: Fisherman on the pier
≈ Location Guide:
Where to park & launch a SUP in Swanage?
There are two car park options, Option 1. A pay and display at the Southern end of town located on Broad Road, quite a lot of spaces and by far the nearest to the beach. After only a short walk you will find both a narrow slipway and a tiny beach to launch from. Way too small to deposit the family on though. Option 2. Pay and display again. This is the main town car park, located on the A351, Victoria Avenue. It is about three times the size of the other one, it is located in the dead centre of town. A much longer walk to the beach, about 10 minutes with the board, take wheels if you have them. I prefer this one because it gives access to the main Swanage beach, much better option if you have the family with you, plenty of room to play. There are other smaller car parks dotted about but they fill up very quickly.
Best wind and tide direction?
South West to South is the best wind direction if you want sheltered flat calm water for cruising along the beachfront and town shoreline. The tide isn’t an issue on this paddle but be careful when you reach the end of the town, at Peveril Point. On a strong outgoing Spring tide, you might get washed round to Durlston Bay, it will be very rough around there and you may not be able to SUP back against the current.
What is there to see in Swanage?
The first thing you’ll see when stood on the Main beach is the huge white cliffs curving around the far side of Swanage bay, roughly 2 miles away. When launching from the beach (the Main car park end) you will want to turn right towards the town.
View from main beach towards pier
It takes 5 minutes of paddling along side the beach to your right before you reach the town. There’s plenty of day boats moored all around the bay which adds to the pretty scene. Then you’ll be passing the waterside cafes, shops and restaurants of Swanage town. On a sunny day you’ll find lots of people fishing and relaxing at the waters edge all the way along the town shore.
You will eventually arrive at the Swanage pier in about 10 minutes. You’ll find scuba diving groups dotted all over the place in this corner. SUP under the legs of the pier and continue along the shoreline, the view from the other side of the pier is very much like a scene from Mediterranean. With the ornate Swanage clock tower as part of the backdrop, which looks very French (some people say a folly) and all the expensive homes running down to the sea.
Swanage Clock Tower
There is a small stony beach to the right of the jetty , which is partly taken over by a dingy yacht club, a good place to land if you want to have a breather. You will then SUP pass the clock tower and on to the RNLI Lifeboat ramp which runs a few hundred metres in to the sea, you’ll have to do a bit of a shimmy to avoid it. A spectacular site if the lifeboat is in the process of being launched.
RNLI launch ramp
After this point you will paddle pass more homes and gardens until you reach Peveril point at the end. There is a National Coastguard Watch building here looking down to the sea below. I had a chat with a couple of kayakers when I was last at the point about the possibility of seeing dolphins in Swanage Bay, they have not once seen them in all the years they’ve been coming here. Surprising really as the neighbouring Durlston Bay is well known for them, there’s even a lookout on the cliffs.
I turn back here and SUP further out on the way back weaving in and out of the yachts moored along the bay. Be careful if you decide to paddleboard around the end of the pier, it’s fisherman central, lines pointing in all directions, I look out for the floats which are usually easy to spot. The entire route is not a long SUP, probably one of the shortest I’ve done, but there is so much to see that I practically paddle backwards the entire way, this is a place to come and chill and cruise, not to paddle like your backside is on fire! I’ve not yet paddleboarded to the left end of the bay, to the white cliffs 2 miles away, simply because it’s not as interesting! You are running along a very long and uninspiring beach the entire way. Also you will be exposed to the southerly winds which tend to fill in half way along Swanage Bay, this is due to losing the much needed shelter of the town.