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From the Blog

Secluded inlets and calm waters: where to kayak in Cornwall

Posted by Sophie Hesp on Aug 03, 2022
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Wildlife watching, pretty coves and miles of sparkling seas

Once the busy summer season begins to wind down, the late summer rays are set to shine a tranquil light over Cornwall and its rippling tides. There’s something magical about exploring this southernmost county by kayak in the quieter months. Whether you’re seeking lively ocean swells or a relaxing paddle across calmer currents, these are the best places to kayak in Cornwall.


Fowey Estuary

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This flat and mellow body of water is ideal for beginners, or those who haven’t taken to the water in a while. Starting slowly at Golant, a secluded Cornish village, you can paddle out towards the mouth of the River Fowey. One of Cornwall's 12 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the estuary is rich in wildlife, and the vibrant kingfishers and striking cormorants are well worth keeping an eye out for.
 
A family-run business, Fowey River Hire cater for all outdoor adventurers looking to explore Cornwall by kayak, and also offer stand up paddle boards and self-drive boats to hire. With the option to enjoy the river as part of a guided tour, or embark on your own estuary exploration, you may be lucky enough to spot a curious seal or dolphin playing beneath the shallow waters. If you’re planning a pit-stop, Polruan is a historic fishing village with a handful of pubs and cafés, as well as a quaint sandy beach with beautiful views out to Fowey.

Mevagissey to Gorran Haven

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The south coast of Cornwall, dotted with fishing villages and unique secluded inlets, is a keen kayaker’s dream. A popular spot for sea kayaking, Mevagissey’s calm open waters are particularly inviting in the late summer sunshine, when there’s a good chance of spotting seal pups.
 
Paddling two miles south of Mevagissey, you’ll discover the wonderful sheltered harbour of Gorran Haven. A popular spot with swimmers, Gorran Haven is a family-friendly corner of Cornwall, and with links to the South West Coast Path, it’s an ideal place to stretch your legs and explore the local area.

Looe Beach

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Described as one of the best kayaking spots in Cornwall, Looe presents a completely unique experience out on the water, with rocky outcrops and craggy cliffs providing the perfect backdrop come rain or shine.
 
Heading out of the Looe estuary will steer you towards Millendreath – a sandy south facing beach with rock pools galore, while the coast towards Portwrinkle soon becomes much more striking, with jagged rocks and high sloping cliffs. The views across Whitsand Bay from the small stone harbour at Portwrinkle are extraordinary, while the village itself exudes coastal charm.
 
Accessible by kayak, quiet coastal towns like Seaton and Downderry are also nearby if you’re planning a longer adventure and a stop for lunch. If you’re jumping aboard in Looe, sit-on kayaks are available to rent from the beach, on the eastern side of the town, or from Talland Bay Beach Café – a pastel-hued beach-side spot situated right on the water. 

Port Gaverne

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A relatively unknown cove on the North Coast, Port Gaverne sits just around the headland from Port Isaac. With sparkling turquoise waters and hidden caves, Port Gaverne is perfect for an afternoon of sea kayaking.

Occupying one of the old pilchard cellars, Cornish Rock Tors are happy to help with kayak rental and guided group trips. Don your wetsuits and head out onto the water with friends as the instructors share their tales of the ocean, all while keeping your eyes peeled for local wildlife. Spot seals, dolphins and even sunfish as you paddle over the crystal-clear waters.

Refuel with a traditional Cornish pasty from Nicky B’s Pasty Shop in Port Isaac on your return to shore, before wandering back up the hill to your holiday home, Gwel Arvor. Relax on the sofa and watch the sun dance over the water in Port Isaac and Port Gaverne below.

Harlyn Bay

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Make the most of your kayaking experience and take to the water with a tour. The experienced guides at Harlyn Surf School will get you kitted out with wetsuits and kayaks, before you head out onto the open water. You’ll discover unspoilt sandy beaches and rocky lagoons in and around Harlyn Bay, and learn about the area with fascinating local knowledge from the team.
 
Situated on the north coast of Cornwall, Harlyn Bay is popular amongst locals and holidaymakers alike for its large, sheltered beach. Harlyn Surf School also offer lessons and equipment hire for stand up paddling boarding, surfing and coasteering – perfect if you’re planning an action-packed week of activities.
 
Sitting just footsteps from the beach, our Hideaways properties are in a prime location for a long weekend of water sports adventures in Harlyn, you can be out of the front door and booking in with Harlyn Surf School in moments.

Marazion to Mousehole

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Marazion is home to one of the county’s most iconic landmarks – the beautiful St Michael’s Mount. Not only does the tidal island sit pretty in photographs of the Cornish coastline, it’s a spectacular starting point for a day’s kayaking.
 
Specialising in kayak rental, Ocean High offer hourly, half-day and full-day rental of single and double kayaks, which can be picked up from the beach at Marazion. From here, you can set off and navigate the circumference of the island at high tide, observing the fascinating sea life including octopuses and sunfish. You can of course, plan your own route and navigate the Cornish coast from the comfort of your own kayak, and while away the hours out on the water.

Basking sharks have been spotted swimming in the turquoise waters around Mount’s Bay, and paddling alongside them at a safe distance is a magical and surreal experience. For experienced kayakers, steering right out towards Long Rock is a thrilling ride that’ll see you into Penzance, as small swells and coastal breezes guide your boat towards the harbour.
 
A week’s stay in The Mouse House is an idyllic accompaniment to a Cornish kayaking excursion, and its nearby location within the quaint harbour town of Mousehole makes it a fantastic place to call home.

If you feel inspired to explore Cornwall by kayak during your next stay, our concierge team are happy to help – from organising boat rentals from our selection of wonderful local companies, to recommending the best local beaches. 

Posted by Sophie Hesp

When she's not out for brunch, Sophie loves exploring the coast path with her partner and their golden retriever pup, Obi. She writes about all things Cornwall and is a strong believer that there’s no such thing as too many house plants.