McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Carbis Bay, St. Ives, Cornwall.


Carbis Bay, St. Ives, Cornwall

Spot type:

Open water, tidal beach offering some shelter.


Everything from smooth glassy water, to solid ground swell surfing conditions and super windy, choppy seas, depending on time of year and forecast.


Strong tides, including rip currents, are ever present. When large waves swing in from the Atlantic swell can refract round to Carbis Bay. It’s not a west facing spot so does offer some shelter but this is still open water so should be approached as such. There are also some rocks flanking either end that should be made note of. As well as other water users. Northerly winds can significantly chop up the sea state.


Easy access with a car park (paid) right next to the put in that you access down a steep, narrow hill. It gets busy as the car park also serves the beach hotel/café/bistro/restaurant: Carbis Bay Hotel Beach Club Restaurant.

Popularity (1-10):

10 during good weather and summer.


The hotel beach café/restaurant serves food and drink, including takeaway, and has an attached beach shop selling various products including water shoes, fishing nets, and other typical fayre. The Ocean Sports Centre is also located at Carbis Bay who hire stand up paddle boards and running various training courses of every level.


Lying 1 mile to the east of Cornish artist/surf town St. Ives the small beach village of Carbis Bay offers idyllic paddle boarding conditions and some shelter from prevailing SW winds and open ocean swell. That said CB can still get a wave at times and is therefore good for practising SUP surfing if this is your bag. At low tide you can paddle west towards St. Ives itself, which can be seen in the distance, or round the opposite direction to Hayle river mouth. As the tide comes in exposed sand shrinks significantly so be aware. Training for the national UK SUP team has happened in the past on this beach, hosted by onsite Ocean Sports Centre. And Carbis Bay has also been the location for a number of SUP races. With north winds the beach gets very choppy and is best avoided, unless you’re a competent windsurfer/kitesurfing/wing foiler. The amazing light and general ambience/surf vibe of this part of the world makes St. Ives in general a magnet for tourists so expect it to be busy during high season and good weather. That said it’s worth a look for any SUPer as it can be as good as anywhere else in the world when conditions line up.

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