Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight
Open water, tidal reef spot with two very distinct faces depending on wave conditions.
When there’s zero to little ground swell (or low winds) Freshwater Bay offers a dramatic flat water SUP location where paddlers can get lost looking down into clear water’s at the rocky bottom below. The bay’s iconic rock stack to the left, makes Freshwater instantly recognisable. With solid swell in the mix Fresh turns into one of the best right hand point breaks on the south coast – but not for the inexperienced. The high tide shore dump alone is pretty hefty!
Rocks, reef and sharp bits generally epitomise the Freshwater Bay paddling experience. When it’s calm and still there’s no issue, however. Just be aware if attempting to surf here. Know where juts of hard lumps are as you’ll be taking waves in close proximity. Rips can be a hassle as can a packed line up when there’s surf, with a small take off, which only add to the fun. Waves do also break off the foot of Freshy’s stack but it’s even shallower here at certain states of tide with some rock heads sucking dry. Boats also command access so watch out.
Parking is directly across the road from the beach and is pretty standard fayre. It’s then an easy hop and skip until you end up on the fine shingle.
As a general beach Freshwater Bay isn’t that popular as it goes. It does get visitors but even during high season the main bulk of those on the sand/shingle are locals. If there’s surf the water can get busy.
Back into Freshwater village you’ll find a supermarket and other assorted shops, restaurants and pubs. There’s plenty within striking distance as this is a small island after all. In fact, heading back to the Isle of Wight’s capital Newport is fairly rapid. Toilet facilities, a hotel and a selection of other accommodations are available at Freshwater Bay itself.
Freshwater Bay really is a chameleon spot. When a solid ground swell pulses up the English Channel Freshy’s geography means it’s a spot that picks up a large helping of all that juice. Usually in winter you’ll get some days which are pretty serious. Overhead waves reel down the reef quick smart making for an exhilarating ride and/or some decent beatings. If riding reef isn’t your bag then steer clear. The shore pound at the very least will make entry and exits ‘fun’. During calmer periods Freshwater Bay is an excellent touring spot that gives some dramatic vistas from the water. The cliffs to the right, which if you continue along will lead you to The Needles, or Freshy’s iconic stack, leading to the ever popular Compton beach further along the coast make Freshwater Bay a good place to begin your journey – know the lie of the land, tide times and weathr conditions if you plan on long distance paddling though. An abundance of put in options are to be found all along the Isle of Wight’s coastline, depending what you’re after and your skill level.