SUP backyards this time round focuses on a little sand, shingle and mudflat island that sits in the leigh of its bigger sibling the Isle of Wight. An small stretch of land Hayling Island’s claim to watersports fame is none the less extensive. The birthplace of windsurfing – invented in 1958 by a young Peter Chilvers – Hayling is still noted a cracking for wind related sports, including kitesurfing and now wing foiling. It’s a training ground for Team GB sailors and has many a visit through the season by yachties from all over.
During recent times there’s been an explosion within stand up paddling and Hayling sees its fair share of visiting SUPers – either there to experience West Beach’s SUP friendly waves, get some recreational paddling in the bag or circumnavigate the island. All in, Hayling offers something for everyone, depending on time of year and the weather.
West Beach, Hayling seafront.
Hayling’s West Beach is where you find the most watersports action these days. If it’s blowin’ then there’ll be plenty of wind driven antics going down. Calmer days and/or wave days featuring stand up paddlers, either choosing to mooch along parallel to the shingle beach or heading out to the fabled sand bar for a spot of SUP surfing action.
This part of the island can also be the start point for anyone looking to paddle round the island. In recent years there’s been a healthy number of SUPers looking to smash timings. Get it right with the tides, and who knows, you could be on for the record!
Chichester Harbour (HISC).
The eastern end of Hayling Island is where you’ll find the entrance to Chichcester Harbour. You’ll also find Hayling Island Sailing Club here – a private member only sailing club. access can be a tad tricky, because of parking restrictions. Although there’s usually a way. The paddling here can be a real mix with plenty of routes open for discovery.
Head north towards Emsowth, checking out the many nooks and crannies along the way. Or paddle across to West Witter and beyond towards Selsey. Watch out for the fast flowing tide at peak periods. And keep well clear of other marine craft.
Northney used to be where all the windsurfers would congregate back in the day. This super tidal part of the harbour dries out (mostly) at low tide so is only really usable two hours either side. Access is fairly good from either Hayling side or in front of the Ship or Royal Oka pubs across on the Langstone side.
There’s shelter from SW winds to be found here and waters are usually much calmer and less choppy than off eth seafront. Plus, with the two pubs just across the way, and a cafe to found in Nortney Marina (plus other amenities) it’s a nice spot for a paddle sesh and pint.
Around two thirds of the way up Hayling, on the western side, you’ll find Esso Beach. So called because of its location behind an Esso petrol station. This is where Hayling’s oyster beds are to be found. And the actual launch itself features a sheltered lagoon at high tide, that although relatively exposed to winds (hence the congregation of windsurfers on blowy days) can be quite flat.
Paddling out of the lagoon takes SUPers into Langstone Harbour where you’ll be free to navigate north round to Langstone, head south towards the seafront or cut across towards Portsmouth. Esso Beach is also a convenient rest stop for any paddling round the island. Parking can be tricky and there’s a question mark regarding water quality. That said it can be a good place for beginner paddlers.
Hayling offers plenty more paddling options if you fancy doing a bit of digging. The versatility of conditions is part of the attraction. Although as much as the island can be an idyllic SUP location it can also have its fair share of not so good days. If Mother Nature isn’t playing ball then the extremely sheltered, non-tidal waters of Chichester SHipping Canal are a short drive away.
Don’t forget to check out more SUP backyards articles and bitesize SUP travel guides here.