Top 10 best places to go paddleboarding in North WalesPublished on 11 Jan 2022 by Amy Greenwood
Have you tried paddleboarding in North Wales? Paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing water sports in the UK. It has introduced so many of us to the joy of being on the water. A paddleboard was a must-have accessory last summer and it’s looking like the trend will continue into 2022!
The surge in popularity was partly fuelled by lockdown, as we searched for outdoor activities to pass the long days. Many of us developed a new love for the great outdoors. This new sport provided a relaxing yet exhilarating way to enjoy nature, socialise and get a great workout all in one.
Paddleboarding is one of the few watersports you can enjoy regardless of your age or fitness ability. Anyone from 7 to 70 can give paddleboarding a go. North Wales is the perfect place to dip your toes in. We have lakes, rivers, canals, sheltered seas and perfect waves. Challenge your skills and see our beautiful country from a different perspective.
An early morning paddle is my favourite way to begin the day. I like to head down to the water before the rest of the world wakes up and paddle out to a calm spot with a flask of coffee. You see so much more when the water is calm and the world is still. Whether that’s fish and jellyfish swimming beneath your board, dolphins surfacing on the horizon or birds swooping overhead.
If you’re new to paddleboarding then I’d suggest starting with a lesson or tour with a local activity company. You can hire paddle boards or buy your own from as little as £200. Grab yourself a life jacket and you’re good to go!
Here are 10 of the best places for paddleboarding in North Wales. Whether you’re a total beginner, paddling with kids or you’re looking to take it to the next level. Caution is needed if you’re paddling anywhere with currents and tides. If you’re unsure as to where you can SUP it’s always best to speak to an expert or begin with a guide.
Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake)
Best for: Beginners
Bala Lake Foreshore, Bala, LL23 7SR
Paddleboarding in North Wales on Llyn Tegid is a wonderful experience for those new to the sport thanks to the shallow water surrounding the shore. You can build your confidence on the gentle water without the fear of falling into deep water!
Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) is the largest natural lake in Wales at 3.7 miles long and 0.5 miles wide. Meaning there’s plenty of space and no fear of crashing into your fellow beginners. Surrounded by the Snowdonia mountains and rolling countryside, Llyn Tegid is a popular spot for paddle boards, kayaks, canoes and wild swimmers. Power boats and large boats over 5.8 metres are not permitted, making it a safe haven for paddlers.
The easiest place to enter the water is Bala Lake Foreshore. There is a large pay and display car park as well as showers and toilets. There are full time Lake Wardens available to help and ensure the safety of everyone using the lake. A small fee must be paid when taking paddle boards onto the lake. It is currently £3 for a day permit, £10 for a week or £25 for an annual permit.
There are numerous SUP schools in and around Bala where you can hire boards and equipment or take part in lessons. Taster sessions and lessons tailored to your ability are available for around £40 per person which includes your equipment hire and a two hour session.
Best for: Dolphin spotting
Abersoch, Pwllheli, LL53 7DP
There is nothing more magical than a sunrise paddle across perfectly still water. It’s like drifting across glass and the only interruption is your paddle gently dipping into the sea…and then..what’s that!? A dolphin fin slowly slices through the water and you realise a pod of dolphins are swimming alongside you!
Abersoch is one of the best places in North Wales to see dolphins. Bottlenose Dolphins are the most commonly spotted. These curious dolphins love to leap and create a beautiful display for anyone lucky enough to see them. The Harbour Porpoise is another dolphin seen around the shore of Abersoch. While there are many of them underwater, they can be more difficult to see due to their smaller size and cautious nature. This is why a paddleboard is often the perfect place to spot them as there are no noisy motors to scare them away.
The best place to enter the water in Abersoch is from the main beach. Park in the pay and display car park near the golf club where there are toilets, showers and a small cafe on the beach.
Best for: Family SUP
Traeth Crigyll, Porth Crigyll, Holyhead LL65 3NY
Most activity companies accept paddle boarders from the age of 7 upwards. There is no upper age limit provided you are fit and healthy. Children from around the age of 4 can sit on the front of a competent adult’s paddle board. So it really can be an inclusive activity for the whole family to enjoy!
Both children and adults should always wear life jackets and suitable clothing. Children in particular should wear wetsuits, gloves, boots, swimming caps and a windproof smock.
Anglesey is the perfect place for family paddleboarding in North Wales thanks to the abundance of places to launch your board. Psyched Paddleboarding provides family lessons and they’ll provide all the equipment needed, including smaller boards for kids.
Traeth Crigyll (Rhosneigr Beach) is a great place for beginners to start and the beach here has a Green Coast Award. Start in the Boat Pool where the water is calm and sheltered. Then move further around to Broad Beach as you gain some confidence. Llanddwyn Beach is a beautiful spot for a paddle and experienced riders can head over to Llanddwyn Island.
The Menai Strait is a popular place for paddle boarders but caution and experience is required due to the currents, especially around the bridge. There are bays and lagoons along the Menai Strait which provide a calm place to find your feet and test the waters with little riders!
Adventure Parc Snowdonia
Best for: Advanced surf paddle boarders
Conway Rd, Dolgarrog, Conwy LL32 8QE
If you want to take your paddle boarding to the next level and learn how to surf the waves on your SUP then head to Adventure Parc Snowdonia.
Paddle boarding takes place in their inland water lagoon where man made waves can be controlled depending on your ability. This is primarily a surfing lagoon but, due to popularity and high demand, Adventure Parc introduced SUP sessions in the summer of 2021.
If you’re new to the sport then lessons are available or you can book a session on the flat water lagoon. If you want to challenge yourself in a safe environment then book a ‘Just Surf’ advanced session.
Lots of other activities are available at Adventure Parc Snowdonia, a great day out for groups/families. There’s a huge Ninja Assault Course, extreme slides, climbing, indoor caving, soft play for the little ones and a spa for the big ones who want less adventure and more relaxation!
Best for: A relaxing paddle
15 B5103, Llangollen LL20 8BN
Let’s not forget that many of us use our paddle boards as an opportunity to relax and unwind and appreciate the stunning nature North Wales provides us with. For a truly relaxing paddle a canal where the water is extremely calm and the chances of falling in are minimal!
The gentle water of Llangollen Canal provides a peaceful escape. Whether you’re planning a 30 minute paddle or want to explore the 46 mile stretch of canal during a multi day paddle trip.
It’s worth noting that if you plan to cross the incredible Pontcysyllte Aqueduct then you might want to sit or kneel during the crossing! This might just be the most spectacularly breathtaking place you’ll ever paddle. But caution is needed due to the 125ft drop.
A popular place to enter the water in Llangollen is from the car park above the Horseshoe Falls. There is no launch fee but parking fees do apply. The Canal and River Trust has invested in launch points along the river to prevent bank erosion so paddlers are advised to use these wherever possible.
Best for: Newbies
Merioneth Yacht Club, The Quay, Barmouth LL42 1HB
Mawddach Estuary at Barmouth Harbour makes a perfect place for newbies thanks to the calm waters. Slight currents here so it’s a safe place to get to grips with tides and currents and develop your skills.
Paddle boarding in Barmouth means you’ll be surrounded by spectacular views, including the magnificent mountains and you can paddle beneath the famous Barmouth Bridge!
You can enter the estuary from the sandy beaches where the waves are minimal. A bonus for beginners as you can gain confidence in shallow water without getting dragged about by waves!
SUP Barmouth provides fantastic lessons on the estuary with qualified BSUPA school instructors. They pride themselves on being inclusive and welcome paddlers from the ages of 8 to 80. Providing thick wetsuits so you can paddle all year round! They run private or group sessions with a minimum of two people. Also happy to cater to large families, groups, schools, clubs, stag dos and hen dos.
Best for: Tranquillity
Llanbedr, Gwynedd, Wales, LL45 2PH
This beautiful, remote lake sits at the foot of the Rhinog Mountains. An area often cited as ‘Snowdonia’s best kept secret’.
The glassy mountain lake is a perfect spot for paddleboarding in North Wales, offering peace, solitude and incredible views. It wouldn’t be unusual to have the entire lake to yourself, especially during the winter months. Cwm Bychan is a wonderful place to escape from it all, but remember to always paddle in twos!
If you’re planning a full day out then combine your paddle with a hike. There are many walking routes from the lake through the mountains. A hike up to the Roman Steps is an incredible adventure!
Cwm Bychan Campsite is the best place to park and enter the water. Parking costs £3 and is paid into an honesty box at the entrance of the field. There are no facilities or toilets at this simple campsite.
Maentwrog to Pont Briwet
Best for: Cruising
Coordinates: 52.941763806886, -4.0115785226226
This stunning paddle will allow you to cruise along Afon Dwyryd (the River Dwyryd) from Maentwrog to Pont Briwet. You will start and end in different locations so you’ll need two cars or a volunteer to pick you up!
A cruise downstream is the most relaxing way to travel and is a brilliant option to avoid strenuous paddles against the currents.
Starting in Maentwrog, just below Blaenau Ffestiniog, this pretty village is a lovely place to begin your adventure. A layby along the A487 provides a convenient place to enter the water (coordinates listed above). Allow the river to carry you downstream to Pont Briwet, a road and railway bridge crossing Afon Dwyryd.
Llyn Peris and Llyn Padarn
Best for: Socialising
Quarry Hospital, Llanberis, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 4TY
Llyn Peris and Llyn Padarn are glacially formed lakes near the village of Llanberis. The two lakes are linked and are a popular spot for paddleboarders in North Wales. This is a wonderfully sociable place for paddle board meetups during the summer months thanks to the array of activities, beautiful views and easy water access.
Parking is available at Padarn Country Park and a jetty leads into the water, ideal to launch your paddle board.
Llyn Padarn is also home to the famous ‘Lonely Tree’. A simple tree that has gained celebrity stardom with online photographers! The lone tree itself isn’t particularly special but creates a perfect photography prop in the foreground of a stunning scene. The spectacular backdrop features the Snowdonia mountains reflected in the glassy lake like a perfect mirror with the Lonely Tree dispersing the rays of a setting sun. Pop a paddle boarder into the picture and you’ve got a perfect photo for your social media accounts!
Best for: Instagram
Nant Gwynant, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 4NW
Speaking of social media, if you enjoy taking paddle boarding photos to share on Instagram then you can’t miss a trip to Llyn Gwynant Lake at the foot of Snowdon. The lake is perfectly still so it’s a great spot for newbies and families to snap those all-important photos. This is a popular spot for paddling boarding and it’s famous for Elephant Rock, a spectacular diving rock.
Parking is available in laybys along the road or at Llyn Gwynant Campsite. It is possible to book a Day Visitor pass online and use the campsite facilities.
The picturesque campsite has toilets, showers, a cafe, bar, and a shop. Paddle boards can be hired by the hour and lessons are available for beginners. If you fancy trying something different, SUP Yoga sessions are available during the summer months.
GoPros are popular cameras for SUP photography. They’re robust, waterproof, can be used hands-free and have a wide angle lens to capture the scenery or take selfies. A wide variety of GoPro accessories are available, including kits to attach it to the front of your board for gorgeous low-angle shots featuring you or the scene in front. If you’re taking your paddle boarding photography seriously, consider a GoPro attachment featuring a mouthguard. It sounds weird but this allows you to hold the camera at face-height in your mouth and set it to automatically take photos. This will leave you with your hands-free and a gorgeous collection of photos!
Final tip to find the best places to paddleboard in North Wales
North Wales is full of beautiful locations to paddleboard so I highly recommend joining a local SUP group on Facebook. SUP North Wales Social Group is a friendly online group where people share their favourite paddle boarding locations, tips, kit recommendations and arrange meetups. Paddleboarding in North Wales is also a beautifully photogenic activity so you’ll find lots of visual inspiration!
Fancy trying paddleboarding in North Wales? Check out the lovely cottages you can stay in at whilst paddleboarding at the places mentioned above.