Discover the Best Canoeing and Kayaking Experiences in Plymouth (2023)


Welcome to the ultimate guide for Canoeing and Kayaking in Plymouth, where adventure meets the picturesque landscapes of Cornwall and Devon. Situated on the stunning coastline with easy access to the dramatic Dartmoor National Park, Plymouth offers a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, especially for those passionate about canoeing and kayaking.

Plymouth's Prime Locations

Plymouth Sound

Undoubtedly one of the world’s most stunning natural harbors, Plymouth Sound beckons paddlers with its fantastic opportunities. Be cautious of tides and currents, but the inlet around Wembury, just beyond Plymouth, offers breathtaking views, while the Mew Stone in the estuary provides an excellent destination for a paddle.

River Dart

A true gem for white water kayaking, the River Dart is split into three main sections: the Loop, Upper Dart, and Lower Dart. The Loop, named for its meander shape, is considered the most popular white water section in England. From thrilling rapids to a gentle winding route through woodlands, the River Dart promises an unforgettable kayaking experience.

Dart Estuary

For a more relaxed paddle, explore the Dart Estuary, offering scenic canoeing opportunities. Ideal for beginners, groups, and families, this tidal section of the river provides a perfect blend of tranquility and picturesque surroundings. Consider combining your paddle with a wine tour, pub visit, or a wild camping trip for a unique experience.

Tamar Valley

Dividing Cornwall and Devon, the Tamar River showcases the beauty of both counties. Launching from Cotehele, explore the historic quay at Cotehele, paddle past the charming village of Calstock, and immerse yourself in the stunning Tamar Valley scenery.

Bigbury/Burgh Island

Experience the iconic coastline at Bigbury-on-Sea, a short drive from Plymouth, with Burgh Island as a stunning backdrop. This location offers a fantastic setting for a memorable paddle.

Best Trips for Beginners, Groups, and Families

The Dart

Embark on a delightful paddle to the pub and back, exploring villages like Stoke Gabriel, Dittisham, and Tuckenhay. Consider a stop at the Sharpham Estate for wine tasting or venture into wild camping for a family adventure.

The Tamar

Discover the beauty and wildlife of the Tamar Valley through a canoe or kayak journey. Launching from Cotehele Quay, paddle past landmarks like the Calstock viaduct and immerse yourself in the region's rich history.

Best Canoeing and Kayaking Locations on the River Dart

The Loop

Considered the prime location on the Dart, the Loop section from Newbridge to Holne Bridge offers thrilling grade 2-3 rapids, making it a favorite among advanced paddlers.

Upper Dart

With grade 3-4 rapids depending on water levels, the Upper Dart provides ample white water opportunities for experienced paddlers.

Lower Dart

Ideal for beginners, the Lower Dart offers grade 2 rapids, providing a more approachable experience for those new to white water kayaking.

Estuary Section

For a more gentle paddle, explore the estuary section, suitable for canoeing and leisurely paddling.

Safety Tips for Canoeing and Kayaking

Ensure a safe and enjoyable experience with these essential tips:

  • Weather, Flow, Tides, and Visibility: Stay informed about river flow, weather conditions, and visibility before heading out.
  • Conditions within Your Capability: Always choose waters that match your skill level.
  • Tell Someone Your Plans: Inform others about your route and expected return time.
  • Get Training: Consider canoeing or kayaking courses to enhance your skills.
  • Practice Falling In Drills: Prepare for unexpected situations by practicing falling in and recovery.
  • Wear Safety Equipment: Use buoyancy aids and appropriate clothing for added safety.
  • Be Aware of Waterway Restrictions: Understand and adhere to boating lanes, military operations, and other restrictions.

Where to Canoe and Kayak in Plymouth

Navigating the waters in and around Plymouth comes with certain restrictions. While licenses may not be required for paddling in the sea, estuaries, or tidal waters, it's crucial to possess the skill and experience for these areas. Inland rivers and canals offer excellent options, but be mindful of private and licensing restrictions. Check Canoe Wales for information on permitted rivers and licensing requirements.

Canoe and Kayak Clubs, Hire, and Lessons in Plymouth

Explore our map of canoe and kayak clubs, rental locations, and lessons. Whether you're a seasoned paddler or a beginner, our comprehensive listings ensure you find the right resources for an enriching experience.

Canoeing and Kayaking for Families and Kids in Plymouth

Discover the family-friendly side of canoeing and kayaking. Canoes offer stability and space for a relaxed paddling experience, while two-seater kayaks provide an opportunity for bonding. Opt for calmer waters in local lakes or canals for a safer and enjoyable paddle with kids.


Embark on an unforgettable canoeing and kayaking journey in Plymouth, exploring its diverse waterways and picturesque landscapes. Whether you're an experienced paddler seeking white water thrills or a family looking for a serene adventure, Plymouth offers a myriad of options to cater to every enthusiast. Explore, paddle, and create lasting memories in this coastal haven.

For an extensive range of canoeing and kayaking experiences in Plymouth, visit .


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