Bantham, South Hams, Devon.
Open water, tidal wave venue that offers some shelter in the leigh of Burgh Island. Bantham also has access to the tidal, but flat water adventure route along the River Avon.
Out front Bantham serves up a SUP friendly wave when there’s swell. On moderate size wave days it can be super fun over by the river. Just be aware of strong out going tides. When it’s macking Bantham can be a testing spot. The River Avon is a must do flat water adventure paddle if you’re in the area.
Tides are a big factor at Bantham. The beach break has two distinct take off points. The most accessible break straight in front of the beach entrance is where you’ll find a thronging pack of surfers on good days. Over to the right, heading towards Bigbury you’ll find a quieter peak. It can be extremely tidal though if water’s flowing out of the River Avon.
The River Avon itself also features lots of current. Time it right and you can ferry glide up to Kingsbridge on the flood. Use the ebbing flow to ferry glide back to the beach.
Swimmers and other water users in high season need to be kept clear of. Some rocks are in the area and rips are frequent when there’s a wave over 3ft.
A narrow country lane, with limited passing points, gives way to a fairly large car park. It’s then a brief walk over the dunes to get to the put in on the sea side. For access to the River Avon launch from The Sloop slipway. Or paddle round from Bantham beach side on a flooding tide.
There’s not much on offer at Bantham beach itself. The Sloop is a little way back from the car park if you fancy refreshments. Or head into Kingsbridge. Bigbury side has a beach café. But it gets busy.
Accommodation options in the Bantham area are plentiful – especially campsites.
Bantham is an awesome spot for paddle boarding with two distinct faces. The beach itself is a noted surf break with a quality wave when all the stars align. Small to medium size swells are great for SUP surfing with the wave breaking off the sand bar to the right (next to the river channel) being the pick. Just watch out for current here. Know your tides!
The main peak in front of the car park has a rip running next to the rocks on bigger days. Experienced riders can use this to get out back effortlessly. Be aware the main peak, however, will have lots of surfers and other water users waiting for waves. Be respectful and courteous.
For the adventurous, or those looking for flat water paddling respite, SUPing along the River Avon with a flooding tide is a must do if you’re in the area. Being tidal the flow will push you towards Kingsbridge. Often times you’ll be the only ones on this route. Its idyllic scenery and mellow ambiance lend it a meditative feel. In places, you might think you’re heading along the Amazon!
Paddlers may choose to paddle round into the River Avon from Bantham’s seafront. Or alternatively put in next to The Sloop from the slipway there. Once you’ve gone with the flow towards Kingsbridge wait for the tide to turn before heading back on the ebb. Get the tides right and it’s an effortless route.
Standing on the beach at Bantham you’ll also spot Burgh Island. This iconic place has been used in many television and film productions. It’s accessible at low tide via the exposed sand bar. When the water’s full a funky tractor on stilts can whizz you across to the island. You’ll find an exclusive hotel on Burgh that serves up afternoon cream teas and such.
With the right conditions, it’s possible to circumnavigate Burgh Island. Just be aware of the ever changing weather.
Heading back to Bigbury and this can be a slightly different put in to Bantham if there’s too much of a crowd there. Bigbury side also gets a wave or two so can be worth a look.
Further afield you find paddling spots at Hope Cove, Thurlestone and round into Salcombe estuary. There’s a vibing SUP scene in this area of Devon, which is great to see.