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McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Pagham, West Sussex.


Pagham, Arun, West Sussex.

Spot type:

Open water, tidal location that can feature flat water, choppy seas or waves at times.


Pagham is, for many local SUP surfers, a wave venue that can be offshore when winter south westerlies blow. The offshore sand/shingle bank does move about but on its day the surf can be super fun.

At other times is mostly a flat/choppy water venue that gives access to a few different adventure SUP routes.


At the mouth of Pagham Harbour there’s serious tidal flow that goes in and out. Pagham has also been battling vast amounts of coastal erosion in recent years. Much of the beach has disappeared or reshaped, which is a continuing situation. At any given tidal state the beach – especially the part next to Pagham Yacht Club – will have changed considerably. There’s been coastal defence work carried out with some of this still ongoing.

Pagham beach is also a steeply shelving shingle beach. Not as steep as some but enough to throw up chunky shore break at high tide with swell in the mix.

And you should give boat traffic a wide birth. The yacht club features a winch system that hauls boats up and down the beach. This is pretty easy to spot. But still, keep clear when boats are being launched and recovered.


You used to be able to park in a car park directly behind the beach. But these roads have all been designated private access only in recent years. You’ll now have to park in the car park adjacent to Pagham’s village CoOp and walk your gear down to the beach. This can get quite busy in summer as it’s also right next to a few amusement arcades, a café and a few beach bars.

Popularity (1-10):

Pagham is pretty busy during high season. The yacht club has a relatively high membership. This in itself can make this part of the beach bustling. Add to the mix tourists and sunny, warm days will often see much footfall. During a July visit in 2021 there were 23 stand up paddle boarders on the water.


Pagham’s village centre is a stone’s throw away from the beach (2 minute walk). As you head down to the access gulley there are amusement arcades, a café and a couple of bars. Plus, Pagham Yacht Club. Although this is a members only establishment.

Pagham has a lot of beachfront housing, some of which is available for holiday letting. Church Farm Holiday Park is a few miles back inland and offers another accommodation alternative. There are also pubs and shops in the village. Plus, Chichester isn’t too far away. Nor is Bognor Regis, which lies east along the coast.


On its day Pagham has a sweet wave that breaks on an offshore sand/shingle bank. Decent days have been recited in hushed tones over the years as scoring an epic Pagham day is a bit like finding pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. Pagham’s bank is forever moving with each tide and swell. And of late the coastal erosion has reached a significant point. Work has been ongoing to replenish the main beach and halt the seas encroachment. And all this effects how waves break. This all said Pagham is still worth a look – especially in SW winds which are offshore. When surrounding spots on onshore and blowy Pagham may save your bacon…

Mostly, through high season, Pagham offers a recreation SUP playground for riders to practise their skills. Whilst it can certainly get choppy, again, Wly sea breezes can mean Pagham offers some shelter.

High tide can be a shorebreak dance to enter and/or exit the water whilst lower tide is flat. There’s a lot of tide and current that flows out Pagham Harbour to the right. So make sure you’re aware of tide times. And also be courteous and keep clear of boat and yacht traffic. Pagham Yacht Club launches and recovers craft via electric winches up and down the beach. Don’t get in the way.

For the adventure paddler Pagham has routes towards Selsey or up into the harbour – at high tide. This is a protected marine reserve, however, so keep away from local wildlife. You may be better off paddling left and heading towards Bognor Regis in the distance. This can be a pleasant touring leg with a stop off in Bognor for refreshments before heading back.

Downwind lovers will find favour with the above route in NE winds. You’ll need to put in at Bognor before huffing back on the breeze and rolling swell towards Pagham. As always with open water just be aware of tides and tide times.

If Pagham isn’t happening you have a few other close by locations on The Manhood Peninsula to check out. Seek and ye shall find.

Check out more McConks bitesize travel guides here.

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