Brownsea Island SUP
SUP around the shore of beautiful Brownsea Island or relax and enjoy stunning 360 degree views across Poole Harbour from one of the many deserted beaches.
≈ Quick Facts:
- Beach Name: Evening Hill
- Distance to Brownsea: 3/4 mile each way
- Distance around Brownsea: 3.3 miles
- Total SUP distance: 4.8 miles
- How long does it take: 1 hour – 2.5 hours
- Shelter from wind: One side of island
- Best wind direction: Avoid dead West & East
- Best Tide: Slack tide or neaps
- Pay to park: Yes
- Parking Distance: 5 seconds walk
- Do you pay to launch: No
- SUP Rental: No
- Wildlife: Sea bird santuary
- Eat & Drink: No
- Toilets: No
- Hazards: Spring tide, sharp broken pottery & channel ferry
≈ Location Guide:
Where to park & launch a SUP for Brownsea Island?
Straight forward access, park on the road along side the East Dorset Yacht Club, where Sandbanks road meets Shore road on Evening Hill. There is a public slipway here and grass area to place down your SUP. It’s safer to launch from here than the other end of shore road where the huge Sandbanks car park is located. The reason for this is that you will be crossing the main ferry channel, paddle boarding from this end will give you more visual warning of any large ships coming up the channel such as the huge cross channel ferries. It is advisable to contact the Poole harbour master to confirm the ship in and out times before heading down to the water.
What is there to see?
After launching it will take you about 20 minutes to paddle out to Brownsea Island at a leisurely pace. You will need to weave your way through moored up yachts, followed by crossing two boat channels. The first is only used by pleasure boats and smaller vessels and the second can be a bit more hectic, used by massive freight ships plus more pleasure boats. You’re dicing with death if you choose to cross these at mid day in the height of Summer. On a sunny Summers day it seems like EVERY boat owner in Poole is heading out for the day. You are better advised to make this trip off peak at the weekend, at either end of the day. Alternatively SUP on a week day when it’s a lot quieter!
Eventually you will arrive at the bird sanctuary at the north east of the Island. At this point you will see signs dotted along the shore telling you to “KEEP OFF!” this is a nature reserve. Whatever you do don’t hop off your SUP here, you’ll have the Poole Harbour police & Brownsea Island park wardens all over you like a rash!
The beach next to the bird sanctuary is one of the prettiest on the island, mainly sand, the other beaches are quite stony. You get a good view from this point right across to Sandbanks with all the multi million pound houses dotted along the waterfront.
From here you can paddle the Brownsea Island circuit either way round, depends on the wind direction. For example I paddle along the North side heading West when there’s a South Westerly wind blowing (ideally no stronger than force 1). As you paddle this section you will see dozens of trees that have fallen in to the sea due to land erosion, there must be over 50 down in total! It doesn’t make the beach very inviting.
In Spring this section is bursting with colour when hundreds of Rhododendron bushes are in full bloom. About three quarters of the way along this stretch you will come across the retired Sandbanks chain ferry that was towed and dumped here when the new bigger one came in to service. Bizarrely it has been retro-fitted with an industrial processing plant for a local oyster company. After this continue to SUP along the shoreline until you come to a point of land a few hundred metres before Pottery Pier. You are permitted to land here. This is the best place on the island to stop for a picnic / drink break or on a hot day maybe sit in the shade under the trees. From here you have an excellent view across to Isle of Arne, Poole town centre and the ferry
After here you SUP past a few landslides and on to the abandoned Pottery Pier, which is in a bad state of repair, not recommended to walk on it. It gets its name from the days when a fully operational pottery used to be located here in the mid 1800’s. There’s pottery fragments scattered everywhere in this area so be very careful when landing here, the pieces of pottery are very sharp, they could do real damage to your feet and precious board.
After this point you SUP straight towards Furzey Island, continue to follow the shore as it bears off 45 degrees to the left, keeping Furzey to your right and Brownsea to your left. It’s much greener on this side, it reminds me of the Whitsunday Islands in Australia, the lush green islands look very similar but without the parrots.
From this side you get expansive views across the harbour waters to the Purbeck ridges and Bramblebush bay.
You also get a good view of Furzey Island Jetty from here. There is a constant stream of packed harbour tour boats with the sound of the guide’s P.A. system echoing across the water.
There was hardly a soul on the beaches of Brownsea the last time I SUP’d here I only saw one man and a dog on the entire island!
From the Furzey viewpoint you then paddleboard dead East keeping parallel to the beach until you turn the corner at the other end and where Brownsea Castle comes into view.
This is a great spot to stop and take in the view across to the millionaire’s paradise on Sandbanks peninsular, you can also see the chain ferry and Haven Hotel from here.
The last time I SUP’d here I had no idea when the next freight ship was coming through. I paddled up to the castle jetty where the Poole to Brownsea water taxi had stopped and asked the skipper, luckily there wasn’t any due for a couple of hours, I’d got away with it thank gawd. Be warned, you will not be able to out run one of those monsters and they will not and cannot stop if you’re in their path!
From here you SUP past the castle and jetty followed by a row of pretty terraced cottages, don’t be tempted to land here unless you like having rocks thrown at you, this area is totally off limits!
After this point your next destination is the bird sanctuary again in another few 100 metres. From here you make the return paddle back to Evening Hill, having lots of fun playing chicken with the boat traffic cruising along the shipping channels. The quickest time recorded for this entire paddle was 58 minutes by one of the super fit staff at a local windsurf shop, it took me three hours! But in my defence I did stop at EVERY single beach on the way round!