May 04, 2022 13 min read

Top Locations For Paddle Boarding In Scotland

Skye Island

Paddle boarding is hotting up to be thewatersport of the year and Scotland has some of the most beautiful destinations to explore by SUP. With mountains, rivers, and world-famous lochs, Scotland is nothing short of incredible! So, where are the best places to paddleboard in Scotland?

From popular city hotspots to the deserted islands off the coast, we have done the research and found the top 25 locations that are perfect for discovering with a paddle board. Some of the more remote places require dedication to adventure, so we highly recommend making use of inflatable paddle boards to make the trekking easier.

Scotland is a unique place for outdoor adventures with its ‘right to roam’. This gives everyone the freedom to explore, giving the public access to most land and inland water for recreational or other purposes. 

So what’s stopping you? Grab your paddle board now and get out there! 

Paddle Boarding Near Edinburgh

In between visiting the historic Edinburgh Castle and hiking up to Arthur’s Seat, you can find some awesome places to set to the water for a cruise. These five spots are close to the city and perfect for a mid-city-break stand up paddle boarding experience while in the Lothians region of Scotland.

Port Edgar Marina

Beautiful bridge and reflection in the river of Port Edgar Marina

Port Edgar is a busy and popular marina on the outskirts of Edinburgh. There are a number of watersport activities available for all the family to join in with, including sailing, kayaking, and of course, paddle boarding. The marina also has plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you busy for most of the day. 

As you take to the tranquil waters of the River Forth draining into the North Sea, you will paddle under the shadows of Edinburgh's Forth Bridges. Be sure to pack your camera to snap some epic shots of this impressive bridge.

​​Belhaven Bay

The bridge to Nowhere that crosses biel water

If bridges are your thing, then you are going to want to check out Belhaven Bay and paddle around the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’. At low tide, this small bridge provides a crossing over the Biel Water stream, providing access to Belhaven Beach. However, at high tide, the water comes rushing in and fills the surrounding land, isolating the bridge – hence, the Bridge to Nowhere.

Join passionate local water lovers to get the most out of visiting the rugged east coast of Scotland. Both Ocean Vertical and C2C Surf School offer guided tours and experiences to paddle board Scotland in these beautiful parts.

Threipmuir Reservoir, Pentland Hills

Landscape panoramic view of green valley river, Pentland hills, Scotland

Nestled within the Pentland Hills and within easy access of Edinburgh is Threipmuir Reservoir. This is a brilliant beginner paddle boarding location and is also super popular with wild swimmers. Due to high peat levels in the water, temperatures are generally higher than other nearby locations – summer months have been known to reach 22C/71F in the water! 

From the parking lot, there is a tarmacked road that leads directly to the Reservoir’s edge. Just be warned, in peak season parking is extremely limited. Early morning paddles are a good way to get your SUP fix and beat the crowds.

Portobello Beach

Edinburgh's Portobello beach and promanade

Portobello Beach is a perfect day out for all of the family just three miles away from the center of Edinburgh. This safe and calm beach has long sandy stretches and an old-fashioned promenade along the length of the beach.

This spot can get busy on sunny days as it is so close to the city. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants, and watersport rental stores along the beachfront. 

Wardie Bay

Wardie Bay may not be as idyllic as Portobello Beach, but it is still a fantastic place for paddle boarders to get wet! This is a quaint and much smaller beach. The long harbor wall provides excellent shelter, so you can guarantee calm waters most of the time. 

Paddle Boarding Near Perth 

Museums, galleries, and yet more impressive castles. Perth is classed as inland Scotland, but that does not mean there are not some cracking places to paddleboard in the area. 

River Tay

St Matthew's Church on River Tay

The River Tay is Scotland’s longest river and most sections around Perth are safe and suitable for stand up paddle boarding. More experienced paddle boarders can take on the challenge of the whitewater rapids section between Stanley and Thistlebrig.

Willowgate Activity Centre offers fantastic guided tours along the iconic banks of the River Tay. They are located just 5 miles out of Perth’s center.

Loch Tay

Scottish cranog center of Loch Tay

The spectacular Loch Tay is one of the largest and deepest lochs in Scotland. Flanked by the impressive bulk of the Ben Lawers mountain range, this is a breathtaking place to head out on a paddle board.

Head to the small shingle beach near Kenmore for the best place to launch your SUP. This is also a great place to relax and sunbathe on those special sunny days! 

St Andrews

Old castle of St Andrews and beautiful architecture

Besides golf, a buzzing cafe scene, and beautiful architecture, St Andrews is also a great place to head out with a paddle board. There are two incredible beaches which pick up some great waves for the surfers amongst us!

West Sands is the larger of the two beaches and offers free parking. The 2 km stretch means you won’t get crowded by other beach users, however, it is exposed and the waters can get choppy. East Sands is a smaller and more sheltered bay. 

On a calm day, be sure to paddle around St Andrew's cliffs. It is a 1 km paddle between the two beaches. Expect to see seabirds and seals, stop off on the castle beach, and navigate around the small protruding reefs.

Lochore, Fife

Sunset over lochore meadows country park

Lochore is a safe and fun place to learn how to paddle board. There is a good beach on the eastern shore that is perfect for launching your SUP. Amenities are basic, but there is free parking, picnic tables, and a boat ramp – everything you need for a good day out. 

Paddle Boarding Near The Isles

Scotland has over 900 offshore islands. These beautiful islands promise stunning scenery, spectacular views, and remote paddling perfect for the most adventurous souls. You may want to bring your inflatable board for these trips to make for easier exploring.

Oban

Boat dock on a port near Cumbrae Island Scotland

​​Oban is best known as the 'Gateway to the Isles' and is just an hour south of Fort William. The horseshoe shaped bay is a perfect spot to catch a sunset melting into the west coast horizon from your SUP board. Generally, the waters around Oban are calm, perfect for beginners to give it a go, or maybe even try out SUP yoga for something different.

If you need to hire equipment or want to join a group tour, head straight to Puffin Dive Centre for competitive prices and great local guides.

Skye

Aerial view of Portree, Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is idyllic and guaranteed to take your breath away. Best known for rugged landscapes and medieval castles, this picturesque destination is connected to Scotland's northwest coast by a beautiful bridge that you will definitely want to stop to grab a photo of.

Skye offers stunning paddle boarding around the rugged coastline with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Portree is the largest town on Skye, the harbor and picture-perfect seafront provide an excellent backdrop to a relaxing paddle.

For something extra special, take your SUP to Loch Duich to paddle with views of Eilean Donan Castle. This spot is unbeatable at sunset!

The Outer Hebrides

Made up flag on sandy beach of Luskentyre in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland

If remote and wild is your thing, then you are going to love Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. These Western Isles are a chain of inter-connected islands on the edge of the great Atlantic Ocean. With powder-white beaches and dramatic scenery, it is hard to believe you are still in the UK. 

Take on your very own SUP expedition around these isles and discover one of Scotland’s most beautiful destinations:

  • Lewis
  • Harris
  • North Uist
  • Benbecula
  • South Uist
  • Eriskay 
  • Barra

Winter offers the best stargazing opportunities. Just be sure to wrap up warm and pack your thickest wetsuit for days spent out on the water paddle boarding.

Arran

Rainbow in the sky of Isle of Arran

Arran is a fantastic place where you can find a little bit of everything. This Scottish Isle has an ever-changing coastline, dramatic mountainous peaks, vibrant forests, and most importantly, quiet and sheltered beaches. 

When paddle boarding, keep your eyes open for the local seals swimming beneath you, curiously popping up to watch you from the rocks. You may even catch a glimpse of a basking shark in these waters if you are lucky!

SUP Arran is the place to go if you are after rental equipment, a starter lesson, or a guided tour of the bays and coastline. 

Loch Linnhe

Aerial view of the sunset at Loch linnhe

Paddling on Loch Linnhe gives you a unique viewpoint of one of Scotland’s most impressive castles. Castle Stalker is privately owned and recently renovated, sitting on the shoreline of the Loch. When visiting, always be respectful of the family and enjoy the castle from a distance.

The best way to access Loch Linnhe is to park up at the Castle Stalker View Cafe or the Old Inn. From the car park, you will then need to continue on foot a short distance – again, this is where inflatable paddle boards come into their own. Walk towards the cycle path and then turn right to find the boathouse. This is an ideal launch site at both low and high tide.

Paddle Boarding Near Aberdeen

Despite being nicknamed ‘Granite City’, there are some beautiful places to paddleboard near Aberdeen. As well as paddle boarding, you can explore the rich Scottish whiskey distillery scene and thriving fishing heritage on the eastern coast.

Stonehaven

Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland

Secluded caves, sheltered bays and yet another castle backdrop – Stonehaven beach is a stone’s throw away from Aberdeen with some breathtaking paddle boarding available. The quiet cove and calm waters of Stonehaven is perfect for beginner paddle boarders to master the basics.

Paddleboarding Stonehaven is Stonehaven’s only SUP provider. They offer guided experiences, equipment hire, and superb lessons from professional instructors.

River Dee

Man paddle boarding in river Dee

The River Dee rises in the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands and flows through southern Aberdeenshire to reach the North Sea at Aberdeen. 

This river offers a variety of conditions. Some sections are calm, suitable for beginners and anyone wanting a peaceful paddle through nature. Other sections are ideal for the more experienced paddler wanting to try out navigating rapids

Paddle Boarding Near Glasgow

Glasgow is Scotland’s national cultural hub; from the Scottish Opera to the Scottish Ballet and National Theatre of Scotland. Nonetheless, get out of the city and you will discover some stunning views to be had from a SUP.

The Clyde Valley

Clyde valley

The Clyde Valley has a lot to offer to an outdoor lover. From Glasgow, follow the path of the River Clyde west through Paisley and out to Greenock on the coast. Or take it south deep into the Clyde Valley through charming towns, such as Lanark. Along the way, you will discover the lush countryside, great family days out packed with adventure, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Pinkston Watersports is located in the heart of Glasgow. Head here if you want to take a SUP lesson or even a specially dedicated SUP safety and rescue course.  

Loch Lomond

Boat at Loch Lomond, Scotland

Loch Lomond is an iconic body of water in Scotland. This spot is mesmerizing and inspirational. There are charming villages surrounding the Loch in between the rolling countryside. With a shoreline of 153 km, you are bound to keep finding new paddle routes to keep you busy. But here are some good places to start you off on your paddling journey:

  • Luss – stone beach, large car park, calm waters, and ideal SUP launch site for beginners
  • Inveruglas – quiet spot with a pontoon launch site for boats and paddle boards
  • Loch Lomond Shores– sheltered bay with a large and free car park for a shopping complex with plenty of restaurants to head to post-paddle

Paddle Boarding Near Inverness

Inverness is the heart of the Scottish Highlands. It is home to the famous Loch Ness and some of the best landscapes in Scotland. Grab your paddle board and get exploring!

Loch Ness

Boats at Loch ness in Scotland

Loch Ness is a firm favorite for visitors to Scotland. Most come in the hope to catch a sighting of the iconic friendly “Nessie”, a monster fabled to swim the waters. So why not take to the water yourself on a SUP to get up close and personal with the environment!

If you want a guided tour on Loch Ness, head to Explore Highland for the best experience. The teams local knowledge and experience will ensure you get the most out of your paddling adventure here.

Nairn

Aerial view of Nairn beach in Scotland

Nairn is a relaxing and friendly seaside resort best known for its fishing roots in Scotland. This Highland beach has miles upon miles of sandy shores to paddle along. You will have views across Moray Firth to the Black Isle and the Caithness coast, and you can expect to see pods of dolphins close to shore. 

The harbor is a great place for beginner paddle boarders to find their balance before heading further afield. Even when the ocean gets wild in testing conditions, the harbor provides a sheltered place to paddle. 

Moray

Sandy beach of Findhorn bay, Moray Scotland

Moray is often said to be the sunniest place in Scotland and one of the best places to go paddle boarding. This spot has a lot to offer an outdoor enthusiast. 

Head to Lossiemouth to give SUP surfing a go, just check the forecast and conditions before paddling out. Explore the harbors of Findochty or head out to the shallow and friendly beaches, like Roseisle. The possibilities are endless! 

Other Top Places To Paddle board In Scotland

It does not stop there. Scotland continues to give more and more beauty to explore by paddle board. Make sure you check out these incredible places. 

Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park is the UK’s largest national park. This majestic area of natural beauty comprises mountains, forest paths, rivers, lochs, wildlife hotspots, friendly villages, and more distilleries than you can imagine. 

So when in the largest National Park in Scotland, why not take the biggest stand up paddle board to match? Loch Insh and Loch Morlich are the two main places to head to with your SUP. Both places have rental stores nearby.

Dumfries and Galloway

Boats dock at Port Patrick, Dumfries and Galloway

The Dumfries and Galloway area is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site of natural beauty. You can spend hours exploring the waters of Loch Ken. Visit Galloway Activity Centre for SUP equipment rental, lessons and courses, and guided tours of the area. 

Or why not explore further yourself. Dumfries and Galloway have so many waterways and inland lochs making this region a paddlers’ paradise.

Loch Tulla

Paddle boarders at Loch Tulla

Be prepared for one of the most spectacular views when driving between the small towns of Bridge of Orchy and Glencoe. Loch Tulla is nestled in between parting mountains, right next to the road. This is a super remote and secluded place to stop and enjoy a peaceful paddle.

There are a couple of local pubs further down the road in Bridge of Orchy. Be sure to prepare your wetsuit and towel to dry off after your paddle.

Loch Eil

Reflection of a snowy cap mountain at Loch Eil

Just outside Fort William is a small town with the most amazing loch. Corpach’s Loch Eil promises the best view of the high snow covered peaks of Ben Nevis. If you are after the best background to your Scotland paddle boarding photos, then this is the place to go!

There is also the Corpach Shipwreck (also known as the Old Boat of Caol) to check out. You can paddle right up to this old shipping boat on a high tide. 

Paddle Boarding On Scotland’s Canals

Kayakers at Scotland Canal

Scotland’s canals are another fantastic place to take a stand up paddle board. On a warm summer’s day, you can enjoy a peaceful cruise across the water, waving to boaters and walkers passing by. 

Whether you want to take on a long-distance paddle challenge or simply just enjoy Scotland’s breathtaking scenery, the canals offer something for every experience level. Options include:

  • The Great Glen Canoe Trail on the Caledonian Canal
  • Crinan Canel
  • Glasgow to Edinburgh Canoe Trail on the Union Canal

It is important to register any planned trips with Scottish Canals. They will keep you informed of important safety advice and up-to-date information that may impact your trip, such as water quality. 

Before You Go Paddle Boarding in Scotland

Planning where to paddle is half the battle. Once you have a rough idea of where you want to explore, you then need to think about what to pack and how to stay safe. 

What To Pack For SUP Trips In Scotland

Paddle boarding in Scotland is cold. Even on a warm sunny day, the water temperatures can be chilly for most people. Make sure you prepare your gear accordingly! Lucky for you we have pulled together a packing checklist for paddle boarding in Scotland:

  • Inflatable paddle board – lightweight and more convenient to explore with, meaning you can reach the most remote places to paddle.
  • Paddle, SUP leash, fins, and all the essential gear – think, everything you need to get paddling.
  • PFDlife jackets save lives and some even have pockets, what’s not cool about that?
  • Wetsuit – thickness depends on the season.
  • Boots and gloves – again, depending on when you paddle, these may be a blessing to have on.
  • Wooly hat – nice to keep your head warm (and hopefully dry).
  • Changing robe – a towel changing robe will be your best friend when you get out of the water. 
  • Bug spray – trust us, mosquito season in Scotland is miserable, spray up when going anywhere near water.
  • Camera– you are going to want to snap some photos for the memory bank.

SUP Safety Top-Tips For Scotland

Safety is also a main concern when exploring new places. Use these top tips to stay safe when exploring Scotland by SUP.

  1. Paddle with friends. It is always more fun anyway!
  2. Check the weather forecast before heading out. Winds can pick up extremely quickly and play havoc on the larger lochs.
  3. Avoid paddling with offshore winds. These can take you out to sea and away from the shore, making your session much harder than it needs to be.
  4. Always wear a life jacket. We love the Type III or V to give you maximum movement without compromising buoyancy. 
  5. Take a lesson. A quick introduction to paddle boarding with a good instructor will save you a lot of time and frustration.

SUP Rental In Scotland

Haven’t got your own SUP gear yet? No problem. Here are some great paddle board rental stores in Scotland that are located at some of the best locations to paddle. 

Interactive Map

FAQ’S

🏆 Can you paddle board anywhere in Scotland?

Scotland’s “right to roam” means you can paddle board just about everywhere. The expansive lochs are perfect for taking a stand up paddle board out for a cruise. But for a more adventurous paddle, check out the islands and rugged coastline to the west.


👍 Do you need a license to paddle board in Scotland?

You are not required to have a license to paddle board in Scotland since the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and the 'right to roam'. If you intend to paddle in Scotland regularly, it may be good to join the Scottish Canoe Association. This includes a whole realm of benefits including liability insurance when out on the water.


🏝️ Where can I paddle board in the Scottish Highlands?

River Dee, Loch Ness, and Nairn are just a few of the many places you can paddle board in the Scottish Highlands. Getting out there and exploring new destinations is one of the best things you can do with a paddle board. So why not head out and find some more incredible places to paddleboard in Scotland?

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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