Plunge into the crystal-clear ocean, ride the Atlantic waves or glide across the water on a kayak – you can immerse yourself in the saltwater lifestyle with a plethora of water sports in Cornwall. Littered with blue flag, lifeguarded beaches, St Ives boasts surf-lashed bays, sheltered coves and miles of craggy coastline begging to be explored from the ocean. With so many water activities to float your boat, you can harness the power of kite surfing, try the latest craze of stand-up paddle boarding, dive into a wild swimming adventure, make a splash in the surf and explore the coastline on a coasteering adventure or on a glass-bottomed Hawaiian canoe.
If you’re into active pursuits of any kind, it would be foolhardy to come to St Ives and not try one of the most popular water sports in Cornwall – surfing. The sandy-bottomed Porthmeor beach is the perfect place for beginners to hit the waves, and on its day can be one of the best surf spots in Cornwall. When the swell is too small to wrap around into Porthmeor you can usually find a wave along the 3-mile St Ives Bay between Godrevy and Hayle rivermouth. There are plenty of local surf schools and surf hire outlets.
If you want to try something a little different, why not cast off from Carbis Bay aboard a Hawaiian canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard? All ages can explore the nooks and crannies of the coastline on a stable paddleboard or sit-on-top kayak, and from a Hawaiian canoe you can come to face-to-face with marine life through underwater viewers.
With countless shipwrecks and an abundance of marine species from seals and dolphins to sunfish and starfish, there’s only one way to experience a really close encounter with the underwater world – on a diving adventure. Don a mask and snorkel and skirt the beaches at low tide, or head off on a full-blown scuba diving adventure with experienced guides that will take you to a number of wrecks including the famous St Chamond.
Or course, you don’t have to dive to great depths to appreciate the invigorating beauty of an ocean dip. Wild swimming has become hugely popular in Cornwall and across the nation, and the coastline around St Ives is a mecca for sea swimmers who plunge into the tidal pools, secret coves and wide-open bays.
Prefer to keep your hair dry? You don’t even need to dip a toe in the ocean to enjoy the thriving water sports scene in Cornwall. Why not hire a motorboat and putter out of the harbour on your own water-bound adventure, or hop aboard for a family-friendly fishing trip and see if you can catch your own mackerel for tea. Landlubbers can kickback and watch the surfers, swimmers and sailors set the scene, or bag a front-row seat to witness the action of the St Ives Biathlon or the annual raft race.
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