Don your swimming costume, flippers, snorkel, board or boat and and get ready for an action packed adventure in or on the water! The UK is blessed with some of the world’s best natural locations for watersports. Whether it’s windsurfing on Hayling Island, surfing in Devon, exploring the Scottish Islands by sea kayak, Coasteering the Dorset coastline or a tranquil canal boat ride along the Norfolk Broads, there is something for everyone.

The best news is, you’ll find a selection of activities as close to or far from home as you’re prepared to travel thanks to the prevalence of rivers, lakes and coastlines around the UK. To help get you started we’ve pulled together some top tips for planning what to do and where to go.

  • Be realistic about whether you can hack the cold.

Although the idea having the cold sea air whipping around your face might seem very heroic, the reality may be a lot less appealing. Consider with you and your family or group are prepared to take a dip in the cold weather or if you’re better off waiting for the summer and autumn months to roll around.

  • Figure out how far you can travel, and how you’ll get there.

Certain coastline and sea activities may not be easily accessible if you don’t own a car but never fear, there are usually plenty of public transport options in and out of big seaside destinations such as Newquay, Southampton and Cornwall. Equally, there are opportunities for sailing, kitesurfing, windsurfing etc. on lakes and reservoirs around the country that would easily rival the sea.

  • Decide if you want a solo or group activity.

Many water-based activities are better suited to individuals, but there are still opportunities for families or small groups. Sailing and white water rafting are fantastic days out or even for a stag party.

  • Is everybody involved of a similar age or ability?

Some water sports are more demanding than others, and naturally most of them require a certain degree of swimming ability. Even if you don’t start in the water, you may end up in it! To get the most out of your day, make sure that everyone will be able to get involved and enjoy it.

  • How much are you looking to spend?

Water activities vary massively in price, ranging from absolutely free to a few hundred pounds. So figure out how big or small you want to go and plan accordingly.

Now you’ve got an idea of who is coming and where you might go, you’re ready to choose an activity. Take a look at some of the below themes and get ready to hit the water.

  • Sea-based

Probably the first thing you think of when it comes to water activities are those that happen on the sea. So grab your board and head out into the waves.

Windsurfing: Windsurfing combines surfing with sailing, with riders standing on a longboard and using a movable mast to catch the wind and propel themselves forwards.
Kitesurfing: Perfect for anywhere breezy, riders use a giant kite to power themselves forwards. A good one for toning up your arms!
Bodyboarding: Easy and cheap, this just involves a small foam board, lying on your stomach and catching a wave to help take you into shore.
Surfing: Everyone knows what this involves, so grab a big foam board if you’re just starting out and get ready to spend a lot of time falling off!

  • Coastline

If you’re not someone that is keen to lose sight of shore and head out into the open blue then why not try one of these activities?

Coasteering: Navigate your way around the cliff face as you scramble along designated routes overlooking the sea.
Cliff jumping: This is a fun part of coasteering that involves jumping into the waters below.

  • Rivers

One of your best options if you’re looking for something a little bit more adrenaline-filled. Just note that some activities won’t run or may not be quite as thrilling when water levels are low – usually when it hasn’t rained in a while. So make sure to check when booking.

White water rafting: Get a group together or just go with a friend and take on the rapids as you fly downstream in a rigid inflatable boat.
River bugs: This is another type of whitewater sport where a single person navigates a given stretch of river in their own inflatable craft.
Canal boating: A little bit more laidback and a great option if you’re short on money but long on time. Turn a cruise down the river into a mini break and see a whole new world.

  • Lakes and Reservoirs

Something that the UK has plenty of is big bodies of still water, perfect for recreational activities. Without tides or flowing water to worry about, lakes and reservoirs are a great place for young participants to try out something new.

Sailing: Anyone of any age can learn to sail, and you can go solo in a smaller optibat-type boat, or tackle something bigger as a team.
Dragon boating: This fast and fun team activity involves small groups paddling to the beat of a drum in long, narrow boats. Great for team bonding or a good laugh.
Kayaking: Take to your nearest lake and get paddling. If you’re heading north just keep an eye out for the Loch Ness Monster

Feeling inspired? Check out the options below to find out your nearest location.

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