Sea kayaking in North Cornwall near Tintagel

Trebarwith Strand
Trebarwith Strand
Pentargon near Boscastle
Clear water in Spring
Sunfish near Port Gaverne

Sea kayaking is an ideal way to explore the coastline of North Cornwall. There are lots of caves and beaches that can only be reached by sea and it's one of the best ways to see marine animals such as dolphins and sunfish, and to get a good view of seabird colonies. For each stretch of coastline we've included links to a corresponding circular walk which has information about that area.

Places to hire kayaks in North Cornwall

Kayaks at Port Quin
Kayak Tour at Port Quin
Please note we don't hire out kayaks ourselves!

Places to launch kayaks on the North Cornwall coast

Kayaking at Trebarwith Strand
Trebarwith Strand
Daymer Bay
Camel Estuary at Daymer Bay

If the sea is really flat then you can launch a kayak from Trebarwith Strand which is not only nearby but a great bit of coastline.

If there is a swell, the surf on many west-facing Atlantic beaches can be a pain for launching and landing kayaks. Luckily there are some sheltered places nearby you can launch from that don't have this problem:

  • Port Quin is ideal with a very short walk from the carpark to the slipway. The car park is small so get there early at busy times of the year.
  • Port Gaverne is also ideal though you might need to drop your stuff off and then park up at the top of the hill in Port Isaac as there's very little parking at Port Gaverne unless you arrive extremely early.
  • Boscastle is very good at high tide and when it's not too crowded. You'll need to carry your kayak along the harbour to the slipways, but there's plenty of parking on the other side of the road.
  • Tintagel Haven (Castle Beach) - there is hardly any parking near the castle and there is a landrover service going up and down you might meet on the single track road so it's only really viable after about 6pm and there are also quite a few steep steps down to the beach to carry your gear down... but it is a great bit of coastline.
  • Crackington Haven is good when there isn't too much surf. At high tide the beach is steeper so quicker to get behind the waves.
  • Rock or Daymer Bay are good places to explore the Camel estuary from and both have plenty of parking.

Other areas in North Cornwall you might also want to explore by kayak are the Bude Canal and the river Camel (you can kayak from Wadebridge down to Rock if you have a patient partner who is willing to drive to collect you!)

Things to see kayaking around Tintagel

Caves opposite Tintagel Castle
Caves opposite Tintagel Castle
Coastline around Bossiney
Coastline around Bossiney

You can explore this stretch of coastline from either Trebarwith Strand or Tintagel Haven (Castle Beach). Our Boscastle to Trebarwith walk has some information on this stretch of coastline.

If you head right from Trebarwith Strand past Penhallick point it's about an hour's leisurely paddle to Tintagel castle. In between Penhallic point and the castle is a HUGE sea cave which you can paddle inside at high tide (NB only attempt this if there is no swell) - take a torch.

There are also some sea caves in the side of Barras Nose, just out from Tintagel Haven. Grey seals may have pups in these caves in the Autumn - don't get to close if they do as you might get chased off by a protective mother. From Tintagel Haven, in about an hour you can paddle round Barras Nose and Willapark to Bossiney Haven and Benoath Cove and where Rocky Valley meets the sea and in about another half an hour to the rock stacks at Trevalga.

From Trebarwith Stand you can paddle out to Gull Rock in 5-10 min or left past Dennis Point to Backways Cove and Tregardock. See our Port Isaac to Trebarwith walk for more info on that stretch of coastline.

Things to see kayaking around Boscastle

Coastline around Boscastle
Boscastle coastline
Razorbills near Pentargon next to Boscastle
Razorbills near Pentargon

From Boscastle there is an island directly out from the harbour with seabird colonies. If you paddle to the left you can reach the rock stacks at Trevalga in about an hour. If you want to go further, see the section above on Tintagel.

To the right from Boscastle you can reach Pentargon in about three-quarters an hour. On the way there are lots of razorbill colonies and a sea cave that goes in a LONG way (see the video below and note the razorbills flying past at the start).

In about another half an hour you can reach the tiny beaches at Beeny and seal colony at Buckator. See our Boscastle to Beeny walk for more about this area of the coast.

In about another three quarters of an hour from there you can reach The Strangles. Don't even think about attempting this unless the sea is completely calm - The Strangles got its name for a good reason! There's some info about that stretch of coast in our High Cliff and The Strangles walk.

Things to see kayaking around Port Isaac

Kayaking at Port Quin
Port Quin
Port Isaac Bay at dusk
Port Isaac Bay at dusk

If you launch your kayak from either Port Gaverne or Port Quin you can explore this stretch of coastline. To the right of Port Gaverne are some small coves the can only be reached by sea. To the left of Port Gaverne it's a couple of hours paddle past Port Isaac around Varley and Kellan head to Port Quin. See our Port Isaac to Port Quin walk for more info about this stretch of coastline.

From Port Quin it's about 15 min paddle to the left to Lundy Bay, which is only accessible by sea once the tide has cut off Ephaven Cove on the left side. See our Port Quin to Lundy Bay walk for more info the coastline here. From Lundy Bay it's about half an hour's paddle to Pentire Point and the Rumps, and about another half an hour to Polzeath. Our Pentire Point walk covers that stretch of coast.

Kayak fishing near Tintagel

Bass at Hole Beach near Tintagel
Bass at Hole Beach
Kayak fishing near Port Isaac
Fishing near Port Isaac
Catching mackerel
A catch of mackerel and pollock
Pollock and mackerel

Fishing from a sea kayak with a handline is very effective - we often pop out for a few fresh mackerel for a family barbeque. A tandem kayak is ideal so one person can paddle/unhook fish whilst the other fishes, but as long as you can stow your paddle easily it's perfectly possible in a one-man kayak (we have friends that do). Handlines with just 2 or 3 feathers are best (a string of 6 is a nightmare to unhook). Many kayaks have rod holders and these work really well. Spinning rods or boat roads both work really well - we've used both.

Trolling with a lure for bass can be effective as the video below shows:

Over the reefs you can catch pollock, and also cod in the early spring.

A practical consideration is that you'll need somewhere to stow your catch. Some kayaks have compartments with hatches which are ideal. Those without will need some form of container with a lid so fish can't leap out (extended negotiations may be required to redeploy your wife's largest clip-top container normally used for cakes). You should also make sure you have knife and something to hold slippery fish whilst you unhook them.

If you are bait fishing then consider carefully what you might have to deal with:

  • We do get fairly large sharks following mackerel shoals so if you are fishing with e.g. half a mackerel as bait you may be about to invent the kayak submarine or auditioning for the Darwin awards. Don't be silly.
  • There are less drastic forms of family planning available than landing an angry conger eel between your legs; fishing over rocks at dawn/dusk/night is unwise.
  • Fishing over sand you are reasonably likely to catch dogfish which are no fun when they are sandpapering their way around your bare arm. Make sure you have a suitable cloth or glove in case you need to unhook one.

Kayak fishing is only effective when the sea is calm: if it's very choppy or there is a swell running you'll have hooks bouncing around all over the place, plus you won't be in full control of your paddles which is dangerous on anything other than a calm sea. Check the conditions from a clifftop before you launch and be prepared to abort if the sea turns out to be rougher than you were expecting once you leave the shelter of the harbour. There is often a rock platform that makes a good Plan B if the sea is too choppy for safe kayak fishing - see our Fishing page for some suggestions for backup rock platforms.