May 04, 2022 8 min read

Everything You Need To Know For The Best Watersport Getaway In The UK

Man and his dog on a gili manta inflatable paddle board

Dreaming of a paddle boarding getaway but not excited about traveling? A SUP staycation may just be the answer for you! The UK is full of some beautiful destinations that are perfect to explore by paddle board

From mountain lakes and dramatic coastlines to historic city rivers and secret coves, Great Britain really does have a lot to offer outdoor lovers. We guarantee there will be somewhere incredible to SUP not too far from you. Or why not take on some of the greats and tick off some UK paddle boarding bucket list, like the Lake District or the Pembrokeshire coastline?

To have the best water sport getaway at home, there is a selection of aspects that you should consider first. Lucky for you, we have pulled together an ultimate stand up paddle board staycation guide, UK edition, made especially for our friends over the pond. 

Why Have A Paddle Boarding Staycation?

Man and his kid with a life jacket paddle boarding on a lake

Paddle board “staycations” have so much to offer. From saving money to supporting local tourism, staying within the UK this upcoming summer is worth serious consideration. Traveling with a paddle board is so much easier than you think, and it is even easier when you are going for a staycation.

You can gather your mates, share the driving, and head to the lakes with all your gear loaded in the back. No weight limitations. No time wasted in airline check-in queues. Simply get on the road and find your next favorite destination closer to home.

Sure, you won’t find tropical warm waters and coral reefs. But what you will find is a rich heritage of the British landscape and dramatic vistas. By paddle boarding in these places, you will strengthen your connection to home and have the chance to properly support local business. 

Top 8 Things You Need To Consider For The Best SUP Staycation

Paddle boarding in the UK is just the same as it is everywhere else in the world, just with a few specifics. Taking the time to think about these eight things will help make your stand up paddle board staycation the best it possibly can be:

  1. Weather
  2. Sun Protection
  3. PFDs and Safety
  4. Other Water Lovers
  5. SUP Accessories
  6. Clothing and Wetsuits
  7. Changing Towels
  8. Transport

Weather

People on a sunny beach

The UK is renowned for its unpredictable weather. So make sure you are prepared for this when heading out with your SUP. You do not want to have to cut your day out on the water short because you didn’t pack the best paddle board clothing for your staycation. 

  • Summer – the UK can get some balmy days that get very hot. Pack loose-fitting clothing, shorts, rash guards, and swimwear. You may find you want to fall in to have a cooldown. Equally, prepare sun-protective measures and wear a hat and sun lotion when out on the water.
  • Winter– crisp, cold, and potentially stormy. That being said, you can discover some truly beautiful views across the UK with snow-capped mountain backdrops. Just prepare some warmer clothes, maybe even a wetsuit. 

Be sure to check weather forecasts before you set off on your trip. Rain and wind can blow through at the switch of a button in the UK. This can be dangerous if you are paddling offshore or on open waters. Remember, SUP preparation is always best!

Sun Protection

Yes, believe it or not, the UK does see the sun every now and then. It is extremely common to see a bright red Brit on a Monday morning heading to the office because they misjudged the sun over the weekend and did not bother with sun lotion. Don’t be that person!

When you are paddle boarding in the spring and summer months, you should use plenty of sun lotion on any exposed skin. We also recommend wearing a hat to keep the sun off the back of your neck and head. Sun safety while paddle boarding is really important.

Some paddlers like to wear rash guards or leggings to cover up. This is a good way to keep the UV rays off if you have sensitive skin. Generally, the material used in this type of clothing is super breathable and moisture-wicking, great for most watersports!

PFDs and Safety

Woman wearing a life jacket

Personal floatation devices (PFDs) quite simply save lives. While wearing one is not a legal requirement in the UK, it is highly advised by most rental stores, instructors, and paddling associations. Especially if you are exploring somewhere new; you will not know how strong the currents are until you begin to paddle. 

Need help choosing the best PFD? Check out our awesome detailed guide on the best life jackets for paddle boarding, complete with everything you need to know about PFDs.

Even though a staycation means you are closer to home, this does not mean you should ignore normal safety rules.

  1. Wear a PFD and know how to inflate it if needed.
  2. Use a SUP leash to keep your board close to you if you fall in.
  3. Do not use a SUP leash when paddle boarding on shallow rivers known to have tree roots and rocks at the bottom.
  4. Wear the appropriate clothing for the water and air temperature.
  5. Never paddle alone. Paddle boarding with friends is always so much more fun anyway!
  6. Check weather, wind, and swell forecasts, and do not go out of your comfort zone if conditions are deemed dangerous.
  7. Research where you plan to paddle board and know about any potential hazards.
  8. Be aware of others around you.

Other Water Lovers

Being aware of others around you is a key point to staying safe when paddle boarding. There are so many water sports to enjoy around the UK, which means there are a lot of people that could be sharing where you are paddling. 

From sailing to yachting, kayaking to windsurfing, the UK really does have it all. Being an island nation, there is a huge amount of coastline to enjoy, as well as the vast amount of lakes and rivers inland. 

Even though you are on a “staycation”, you may have had to travel to find this new epic SUP spot that will be someone else's local. Respect and kindness should always be shared across all walks of life, and even more so with those who share the same love for the water. 

SUP Accessories

Woman converts her paddle board into a kayak with fishing accessories

Level up your paddle boarding days on your UK staycation by adding some accessories to your kit bag. A simple kayak conversion kit or floating dock will bring a whole new element to your holiday and keep it super fun!

Adding in any of these accessory suggestions will keep your time spent on the water fun and exciting. The beauty of staycations is chances are you are not traveling far, and if you are, you will have your own car and no weight limits to think about. So packing in all the extra bits could not be any easier!

Clothing and Wetsuits

You need to pack your bags according to the weather, as we have previously mentioned. Make sure you put in clothes that will warm you up in the evenings after a long day enjoying the outdoors. Occasionally the UK has warm nights, but more often than not there is a chill to the air after the sun goes down. 

As for wetsuits, yes, this is something a paddle board staycation in the UK may require. While you do spend most of your time above the water, you could fall in so wearing a wetsuit is more of a precaution than a necessity. Check out this guide to judge what thickness of wetsuit you need to pack:

Water Temperature (ºC) Thickness (mm) Hood Gloves Boots
>22º None – you can go in your swimmers! - - -
19º 2mm – shortie/spring suit. - - -
15º 3mm – full suit or short, your choice! - - -
12º 4mm – full suit. - - Optional
5mm – full suit. Optional Optional Yes
<6º 6mm – full suit. Yes Yes Yes

Changing Towels

Join the Dryrobe tribe that swoops down upon many of the British beaches year round. These changing robes have revolutionized beachside activities by providing a warm and private personal space so you can not only dry off but also easily get changed underneath.

Trust us, once you introduce a changing towel into your paddle boarding routine there is no going back!

Transport

Komodo inflatable paddle board lean on a car

Part of your paddle boarding staycation will require transport planning. How far away are you going to be traveling to get to the water? Can you walk or do you have to drive? 

If you are making the trip with some friends, do your best to share cars. This means you can get in the holiday mood right from the get-go, as well as being a more sustainable paddle boarder doing your bit for the environment.

Adding an inflatable SUP to your quiver has obvious perks for traveling. There is no need for roof bars and you can even get away with driving a tiny car. Simply deflate, roll up, and stow your iSUP neatly in the bag. It takes up no more space than a standard-sized suitcase. 

Recommended Paddle Boards For A Staycation

To have the best UK paddle board staycation, you are going to need the best paddle board under your feet. Our GILI Inflatable SUP collection is now available for international shipping! Yes, that is right, you can get your hands on our epic boards in the UK. Pretty great right? 

Need some help deciding which GILI board is best for you? Here are some epic recommendations for every type of paddle boarder:

GILI Air Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

GILI Air inflatable paddle board package

  • Great for beginners
  • Choose between 10’6 or 11’6
  • Versatile and adaptable to your needs

GILI Mako Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

GILI Mako inflatable paddle board package

  • Great for smaller paddlers (under 5’4”) and kids 
  • Shape is versatile and good for speed
  • Lightweight and super easy to travel with

GILI Meno Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

GILI Meno inflatable paddle board package

  • Great for intermediate/advanced paddlers
  • Pointed nose and length perfect for expeditions and touring
  • Excellent tracking and speed

How To Keep Paddle Boarding At Home Fun

Don’t let your paddle boarding staycation get stale. If you have beautiful flat waters to explore, why not give SUP yoga a spin? Or get hold of a hook and rod to try your hand at SUP fishing. If you are by the coast and there is a little wave, test your balance skills and try SUP surfing and riding the waves. 

You can also work on your technique, perfect that stroke of yours and reach a new top speed. And while you are going fast, challenge your mates to a little friendly competition and race from A to B.

And of course, do your best to catch a sunset from the water on your SUP. The golden hour is a magical moment of every day. Watching it on your paddle board is a simply glorious way to spend your UK paddle board staycation.

FAQ’S

🏆 Can you stand up paddle boards anywhere in the UK?

There are a huge amount of places across the UK that you can paddle board. Scotland’s “right to roam” means you can access pretty much anywhere across the country. England, Scotland and Northern Ireland work slightly differently; some canals and rivers require pre-registration before you paddle, and not all reservoirs and lakes are open to public use for safety reasons. 


👍 Do I need a license to paddle board in the UK?

Some waters across the UK, in particular England and Wales, require paddlers to obtain a license. Most of the license required areas are inland waterways. The license costs £45 for the year when you purchase through British Canoeing. This covers around 4,500km of waterways.


🏝️ Do I always need to wear a PFD when paddle boarding in the UK?

PFDs are not an enforced requirement in the UK for paddle boarding. However, it is always advisable to wear a flotation device as a precaution. Many rental places and lesson operators will have their own requirements for participants to wear PFDs.

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.


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