The Stand Up Paddle Guide to the Isle of Wight by Matthew Sephton

Isle of Wight

Last month, I decided to take my Red Paddle Co 11’3 board to the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight is a beautiful island off the south coast of England known for its beautiful sandy beaches, rolling hills, chalk cliffs, seafront promenades such as sandy Shanklin Beach and south-facing Ventnor Beach, which are dotted with vintage beach huts. Dinosaur remains and fossils can be found in areas like Compton Bay and Yaverland Beach. On the island’s western point are The Needles, 3 huge, white chalk rocks, guarded by a 33.25m 19th-century lighthouse. My host for the day for the day was local SUP expert James Metcalfe, owner and director of SUPDOG

Hello James, can you tell us what is your history/relationship with the Isle of Wight?

I’ve lived on the Isle of Wight all my life, I am a powerboat instructor and have 7 years of experience teaching various water sports including SUP. I started at Tackt-Isle Adventures teaching and guiding SUP and Kayaking. This year myself and 3 friends set up SUPDOG, a SUP hire company based in Colwell Bay.  If you’re looking for a really great location for a UK water sports vacation, you can’t go wrong with the Isle of Wight!

James took me on an amazing 13km (8 mile) paddle from Freshwater Bay around The Needles to Colwell Bay.

This paddle requires expert local knowledge of the treacherous tidal flow, the tide can rip past the Needles up to 15 knots. Do not attempt this paddle unless you have had the correct training, skills and equipment. On the day of our paddle even though the wind was light, there was still a big ocean swell and shore dump on the south side of the Island, as we paddled along, we were dwarfed by the impressive 130 metre chalk cliffs of Tennyson Down, we landed at Scratchell’s Bay for a unique photo opportunity. James and I completed this difficult SUP in just under 3 hours. I will never forget this epic paddle, it was a great experience and challenge, many thanks James.

I paddled my Red Paddle Co Sport 11’3,  James paddled his Freshwater Bay Paddleboarding Co. 10’6 All Round iSUP.

WARNING DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS PADDLE UNLESS YOU ARE AN ADVANCED SUP PADDLER. If you think this is something you might like to try, the best way to start is get some high quality SUP coaching and training from Dorset SUP or the Water Skills Academy

The Isle of Wight riders and SUP community

The SUP scene on the Isle of Wight is quite small but is experiencing phenomenal growth. The Isle of Wight has always produced world class sailors and watermen included are:

–  SAM LIGHT who is the first person to complete a solo kite foil around the Isle Of Wight, a total distance of 73 miles (120km) in 3 hours 42 minutes…

– and TOM COURT a Pro kiteboarder, British kitesurfing champion, Foiler and VLOGGER

Renting SUP boards and SUP gear on the Isle of Wight

We recommend these 3 companies, Tackt-isle Adventures in St Helen’s, SUPDog in Colwell Bay and TWO ELEMENTS in West Cowes

What SUP schools are in the area?

We recommend these 3 companies, Tackt-isle Adventures in St Helen’s , iSURF Surf School in Sandown  and Wight Waters in Ventnor

Any major SUP events?

The Isle of Wight does not have any major SUP-specific events, but it does have The Isle of Wight Festival, the first major festival in the UK summer calendar every year and the Festival’s heritage reaches back over an extraordinary 51 years. The Isle of Wight Festival began with a series of Festivals between 1968 and 1970, widely acknowledged as Europe’s equivalent of Woodstock.

The Isle of Wight also hosts Cowes Week  one of the oldest and most respected sailing regattas in the World, The event lasts for seven days and takes place each August in the Solent waters off Cowes in the United Kingdom

The best SUP spots on Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has a stunning unspoilt coastline that is approximately 57 miles (92 km) in length. There are absolutely loads of stunning SUP spots for you to discover. This is our top 3.

1: Colwell Bay, West Wight a lovely cove with SUP Rentals from SUPDOG. The perfect family beach with beach hut rentals, a fantastic  café/restaurant The Hut

2:  Bembridge Beach, a great family friendly beach where you can SUP, go rock pooling and crabbing, you can visit the impressive RNLI lifeboat Station and there is a lovely traditional English pub, The Crab and Lobster Inn

3: St Helens Beach, a great family beach with SUP rentals from Tackt Isle and Baywatch On The Beach another lovely café/ restaurant.

Where to stay?

For longer stays on the Island I always stay at the amazing  Away Resorts Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park, Bembridge. The self-catering accommodation here is second to none, we have often stayed in one of the parks Rockstar holiday homes with a hot tub and a Tribeca holiday homes with a hot tub they are among the most decadent Isle of Wight static caravans around. The hot tubs are perfect after a day’s paddle boarding. This is the perfect place to base yourself for a fantastic family holiday or short break. This park has everything you need, it has evening entertainment, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, restaurants, and bars.

How did you get to the Isle of Wight?

There are up to 200 Isle of Wight ferry crossings a day operating from Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington. I took the WIGHTLINK Isle of Wight Ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth. It takes less than an hour and prices from only £60 return for a car and up to 7 passengers. If you don’t have a car you can get to the Isle of Wight from London by train and ferry in under 3 hours.

And as a tourist ?

There is much more to the Isle of Wight than perfect SUP conditions. The Isle of Wight is a fantastic UK holiday destination. There are lots of places to visit and see, you can try Surf lessons at Eddie’s Surf Academy, The Needles Landmark Attraction, The Isle of Wight Zoo, Robin Hill, Black Gang Chine – Land of Imagination, The Isle of Wight’s many awesome beaches, Osbourne House – The palatial former holiday home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Carisbrook Castle, Dinosaur Isle – Dinosaur Museum in Sandown, Ventnor Botanic Gardens and Tapnell Farm Park.

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About the Author

Matthew Sephton

Matthew is the owner of Dorset SUP and a Firefighter with the London Fire Brigade. He's passionate about sharing his love of Stand Up Paddleboarding with as many people as possible. He loves all water sports and was a kitesurfer first, then he discovered Stand Up Paddleboarding in 2012. Today he SUP as often as possible, spend time with his family, develop his Dorset SUP Community group, and writing SUP Travel Destination Guides for TotalSUP.

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