Tired of trying to stay fit through running and subjecting yourself to endless sessions in the gym? Why not make a splash by trying water sports!
With the rising health consciousness of UK residents, more and more people are looking away from the treadmill and free weights to alternative forms of exercise and outdoor activities in order to stay fit.
Water sports – including canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, rowing, and even white water rafting and water skiing – offer a great full-body exercise, improving both strength and cardiovascular fitness. But unlike, say, football, tennis, or rugby, providers of water sports require specialised facilities and training. This makes finding “the best water sports near me” a bit more tricky…
But don’t fret!
Here at OriGym, we’ve researched hundreds of the best water sports providers in the UK, shortlisting our favourites by surveying our students, questioning industry professionals, and asking our readers who they trust most.
Want to know the best places in the country to start your new adrenaline fuelled extreme water sports obsession? Or the best locations for a relaxing paddle followed by a drink? We’ve got you covered.
We reached out to all of our gyms and asked them one question:
Why do you feel your facility was recommended based on its unique benefits to water sport enthusiasts: casual, expert, and everyone in between!
From the replies, and the opinions of our students and readers, we collated our final shortlist, which has been organised by region in the article below.
All that’s left then, is to get reading!
Featured: What are the Best Water sports Providers in the UK?
- Kayak Scotland
- Sea Kayaking Cornwall
- H2Outdoor – North Devon
- Manor Adventure – Norfolk
- Canoe Wild – Grove Ferry Picnic Site
- Active 360 – London
- Big Crazy – Chepstow
- ACE Adventures and Hideaways
Best Water sports Provider in Scotland
ACE Adventures and Hideaways – Moray & Aberfeldy
The “ACE” of ACE Adventures and Hideaways is an acronym for “Adventure, Condition & Essence.” As you can imagine, this is a water sports provider that holds their philosophy close to their heart, and that philosophy is providing fun, daring, enlightening experiences for anyone who wants to join them on their adventures.
In their own words:
“The River Findhorn is a rare river indeed, not many in the world have the potential to have a year-round season. It is a natural river with no dams, weirs or waters channelled off into hydro schemes. There are three commonly run sections, the top section is ideal in flood conditions offering grade 4 & 5 rafting, the middle section is grade 2 & 3 in any flow and the lower section is grade 4 & 5 in low to medium levels.
In short, it is a river well suited to all ages and ability.
ACE was the first activity provider to be issued with a five star quality assurance by Visit Scotland, which was primarily awarded for the quality of product and our outstanding focus on customer service. Rafting is our core business and we are the only operator in Scotland that run the more challenging sections of the Findhorn lower gorge.
I (Founder, Jim Davis) am the secretary of the International Rafting Federation guide training and education committee. I have over 24 years working in the rafting industry in numerous countries around the world, and still run ten day wilderness expedition and rafting trips in Tasmania on the Franklin River where I come from. There is no one in the UK with more experience at rafting than myself.
While other regions and rivers might have more volume in clientele due to their geographic positioning, this is without doubt the best year round rafting location in the UK.”
Arisaig Kayak Centre – West Coast Scotland
Based on the West Coast of Scotland, Arisaig Kayak Centre is a water sport provider that deals explicitly in Sea Kayaking. More specifically, their guides and experts offer multi-day trips and holidays where paddlers can experience first-hand the majestic backdrop of the Arisaig coast. Arisaig Kayak Centre are all about the small details: in addition to their inimitable surroundings, the experiences and trips offered are tailored and personalised to each customer. Therefore, every experience is different and unique.
“Arisaig is quite simply one of the most stunningly beautiful places to spend a day sea kayaking in the UK. Our white sandy beaches, azure waters and abundant wildlife make it hard to believe you are still in Scotland. And even from the roadside it is hard to imagine the beauty waiting on the islands in the bay.
But that’s the beauty of a sea kayak; it opens up a world that is otherwise inaccessible, a freedom to explore wherever you choose. Once you are out there, the horizon in every direction is a feast for the eyes with sweeping views of Skye, Knoydart, Ardnamurchan and the Small Isles to the west. And that’s out in the distance, all around you are small rocky islands populated by seals, gulls, herons, terns and eiders.
On a good day you will see an otter, on a better you might spot an eagle. Underneath you, the sandy seabed will show up a wealth of life; gently waving beds of kelp, crabs scuttling about their business, sea urchins and anemones in coloured displays.”
Otter Adventures – Strontian
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their name, Otter Adventures are a water sports provider that deals in adventures. Whether these adventures are for families, couples, or groups of eager explorers, Otter Adventures will be able to cater for their requirements. There are many pre-planned tours involving canoeing and kayaking, in addition to walking and camping, available through their website. Or, alternatively, you can customise your own adventure to include your water sport of choice, in any one of Otter Adventure’s magnificent locations.
“We have been selected because I believe that everyone would benefit from adventure in the wilderness and rediscovering a connection with nature, but recognise that everyone’s definition of ‘adventure’ is different.
This is why I only take exclusive bookings on each trip (i.e. one group at a time) so that I may tailor every trip to the abilities and aspirations of the people on it. Whether this is an older couple looking for a leisurely tour to watch wildlife, brew coffee on an island and eat home-made cake, or a family on an open canoe adventure eating a locally sourced and freshly cooked lunch on a golden beach overlooking the open sea and the Small Isles.
I have had over 35 years experience as a multi-activity leader, and this experience enables me to quickly modify the level of the activity in order to accommodate my guests, and also to adapt to the hyper-dynamic environments I operate in.
I also aim for the highest standards of hospitality throughout the whole experience – not just the trip, but at the booking phase and the post trip communications. I don’t know anyone who sends their guests high-quality edited photographs for free after their trip.”
Mountain and Sea Guides – Applecross
While they may seem a little bit of a contradiction – mountains and sea – Mountain and Sea Guides in Applecross provide an amazing wealth of outdoor activities and experiences for people looking to try something new. Led by expert guides and instructors, the sea kayaking option is particularly popular, and covers areas like Scotland and the Isle of Skye, in addition to Canada, Croatia and Arctic Norway. What’s more, all instructors are based in the location in which they offer tours and day trips, so you can guarantee you’ll see all the best bits while you’re out on the water.
“Our guides will impart local, cultural information, and have knowledge of local weather and wildlife, as well as being a good technical instructor. Our package prices not only offer you real value with quality food & accommodation but we also offer two price options for most trips – Fully Inclusive or Trip Only – allowing budgeting options for everyone.”
With a kayaking environment in the most sheltered part of the Highlands & Islands we are able to paddle on more weather days than any other location in Scotland. The enclosed nature of the Inner Sound offers protection from Atlantic swells and has tremendous variety of islands & wildlife.
Our guides and instructors all care about the environment in which they work and therefore we take a positive approach to sustainable tourism and work with the local environment – protecting it and reducing human impact through our ‘leave no trace’ policy.”
Sea Kayak Adventures – Scottish Highlands and Coast
Sea Kayaking adventures operate all over the world. As a water sports provider who has been operating for 25 years, they know exactly what they’re talking about, as can be seen in the wealth of water sports information and tips on their site. As such, many of our students flagged their name as one of the best providers around when it comes to offering industry leading water sports information, in addition to their fantastic range of holidays and adventures. But it was one tour in particular that caught the imagination of our survey participants…
“ROW Sea Kayak Adventures’ Kayaking, Walking & Whisky tour is a truly unique experience. Scotland’s Highlands & Coast is an active adventure that combines some of the best sea kayaking to be found in Europe with easy to moderate hikes and cultural exploration of the Scottish Highlands. On this exciting tour, dramatic scenery meets deep history among a lush green landscape, rugged coastline, and an array of castle ruins.”
Aquaplay Scotland – Aberlour
Aquaplay Scotland offer a bit of everything… if by everything you mean a wide range of water sports related activities in the north of Scotland. They offer day sessions for groups, schools and youth groups, in addition to overnight stays and water-based adventures. They also offer an impressive range of coaching sessions, in everything from water-based safety, to white water rafting and kayaking.
“I believe that our friendly, helpful approach to our customers will be one of the things that highlight us. We also use very good quality equipment with experienced staff who are committed to providing a quality experience whatever the activity.
We also have a wide range of adventure water activities and provide coach, safety and personal skills development across the range of activities we offer.”
Kayak Scotland offer tours and trips to explore the Scottish coastline by kayak, to discover the local landscape and culture, and to spot the abundance of wildlife that frequents the Scottish coast throughout the year. They offer day and weekend-long trips, and each experience is tailored for each group, meaning serious paddlers can spend long hours on the water, and casual paddlers can spend long hours drifting. A better description of their services would be “experiences” over “trips”: Kayak Scotland are a water sport provider who wholeheartedly believe that the best way to enjoy all Scotland has to offer, is to take to its surrounding waters.
“I don’t think that kayak Scotland needs to sell itself on its unique benefits to the water sports enthusiast, I feel that Scotland does a grand job of doing this for us. Scotland is a world class sea kayaking destination and punches well above its weight in terms of stunning coastline to explore, the numerous islands to visit and great tidal paddling to keep all levels of kayaker entertained. Yes, the weather can be challenging at times, but I suppose when you’ve experienced the wild weather that it has to offer you really appreciate it more when it is on your side.
Scotland is also a haven for both marine and birdlife, and there is something very special about experiencing wildlife in their own environment at an unthreatening pace. We are regularly seeing, otters, seals, porpoise, white tailed eagles, and, on occasion, basking sharks and minke whales; it is great to see the joy in clients faces when they spot wildlife whilst kayaking.
I’m sure as more people look to get away from the stresses and pace of modern life that time spent at a pace dictated by tides and weather can only be a good thing.”
Best Water Sports Providers in the Midlands
Peaks and Paddles – Derbyshire
Operating out of the hidden treasure that is the Peak District, Peaks and Paddles offer outdoor activities, adventure-based trips, and general water sports information and coaching options to anyone above the age of five. Particularly popular with groups, these water activity sessions, typically lasting one day, include kayaking and canoeing, as well as dryland activities like abseiling and caving. The canoe river trip was particularly popular according to our survey, offering a great mix of calm and rough water.
“I will have been chosen for my friendly small group approach, allowing those that take part in our outdoor activities of canoeing/ abseiling/ caving a more personal experience. This means no one gets lost in the crowd. It also allows us to do more, and go further, at the customers own pace.”
Best Water sports Provider in the South West
Winner of a Cornwall Tourism Award, Encounter Cornwall offers pretty much exactly what it says on the tin: that is, the best way to encounter Cornwall’s Fowey Estuary by canoe and kayak. The provider offers water sports equipment hire (kayaks and canoes), with trips being suitable for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. Indeed, their group excursions have proven popular with families for exactly this reason, while solo paddlers can also rent water sports equipment and explore by themselves, should they choose.
“At Encounter Cornwall we don’t treat kayaking as a water sport but rather as the perfect way to experience the estuary environment where we live. We paddle with our clients, patiently teaching them the basics and finer points of paddling, and focus on them enjoying the experience rather than it being an endurance test.
Our trips operate at a gentle pace and visitors can learn about the wildlife and history of our hidden corner of Cornwall which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Marine Conservation Area. We do our best to promote kayaking as an affordable recreational pastime and great exercise for all ages (2 to 82 so far) – and hope that our visitors will be inspired to paddle again, or better still take up kayaking as a hobby.”
Vertical Blue Adventures – Cornwall
Vertical Blue Adventures offer something a little bit different. Although they have a central base in Porthleven, a historic harbour village in Cornwall, the business is actually mobile, travelling to wherever it is their customers need them. This mobile arrangement allows them to conduct kayak and paddleboard tutorials from various locations in and around Cornwall, and the organisation also now offers overnight adventures in Cornwall’s stunning scenery.
“Here at Vertical Blue Adventures in Cornwall, we are ideally situated, at the head of the Lizard Peninsular to benefit from some of the best coastal environments the UK has to offer. No matter the weather, swell or surf, we can tailor trips to suit your needs. From small coastal explorations to large multi-day expeditions camping on secluded beaches, we can match the environment to your needs.
If you want to surf, tide race, or take a leisurely paddle up the historic Helford Estuary, or maybe paddle to the most Southerly Point in the UK or around Lands End, the choice is yours. SUP, kayak, or coasteer, we can immerse you in the delights of Cornwall and finish off with a pasty and a pint in the famous Ship Inn pub next to base camp in Porthleven.”
Sea Kayaking Cornwall
Even among the premium facilities in the Cornwall area, Sea Kayaking Cornwall stands out above the crowd, both for the experience of its tutors and the services it offers. Paddlers are spoilt for choice in terms of state of the art water sports equipment, beautiful locations, and the variety of learning experiences tailored for water sports enthusiasts of all abilities. Sea Kayaking Cornwall also tailors the location of their sessions for the amount of experience their paddlers have: beginners will start in sheltered bays and flat water, while more experienced paddlers can venture north to the wild waters and ocean swells. In short, regardless of your previous experience, Sea Kayaking Cornwall is well equipped to become your favourite water sports provider in the South West.
“We are popular because we are committed sea kayakers who focus on teaching and sharing the joy of sea kayaking. We have a wide range of courses catering to everyone’s needs and desires, from beginners to professional guides – our lifestyle is our life!
Our team are well known for their epic circumnavigations and adventures. Between them, they have kayaked thousands of kilometres, experiencing nearly every condition the sea could throw at them. Their in-depth knowledge and experience is what makes Sea Kayaking Cornwall unique. All of the team at Sea Kayaking Cornwall are eager to pass on their knowledge and experiences, enabling others to share the environments and places they have been.
Jeff and Shaun only use respected and experienced guides/coaches who they know will keep you safe and give you the best possible experience out on the water. Sea Kayaking Cornwall is an authorised ISKGA training and expedition centre and use ISKGA Guides to lead their expeditions, both in the U.K and abroad.”
Wye Valley Canoes
The Wye Valley Canoe centre offers complete flexibility in terms of how far you want to take your water sports fix. It doesn’t matter if you want to paddle for a few hours, or a few days; everything can be accommodated. After all, Wye Valley Canoes are famous for their comfortable accommodation packages, set amongst the amazing scenery of the River Wye. They do, however, also offer canoe and kayak hire for those who want to just get on the water for a few hours, and enjoy some food and a drink in the River Café at the end.
“Some people are very anxious about getting on the water, and some have had bad canoeing experiences as youngsters. Most have had a domestic in the car or got lost getting here, and the vast majority are feeling a bit stressed before they even get on the water.
We ensure that they are met by a young and friendly team who give them a good bit of instruction and some confidence before they set off, get on the water with them if they are having any problems, and then paddle down one of the most beautiful stretches of water in the UK. And there is a pub at the end point – what is not to like! We even have a great café on site so it is possible to have a bacon sandwich before you set off and a gin and tonic on the decking when you get back.
It could be that we offer a good service and the scenery is breath-taking, or it could be that alcohol is involved (after paddling of course!)”
Canoe Adventures – South Devon
I think Canoe Adventures say it best on their website: “we are a very small company, with some very big canoes.” Brainchild of Devon canoeist, Phil Sheardown, Canoe Adventures is more a purveyor of communal experiences and wellbeing, than they are a water sports provider. They do, however, have some serious experience providing the best canoe trips around the River Dart, and are particularly popular with locals because of their distinctive canoes (each flying a large flag at one end).
“We’re very proud of what we do. We make healthy exercise, fresh air, time in nature, and time with friends and family really accessible and fun. Exercise while sitting down! What’s not to like?
Our canoes are big, taking up to 12 people each. So we can take groups of mixed ages and abilities, and can go further and faster than a regular canoe, and you can relax and drift with the tide in perfect safety. The youngest we’ve taken is 2 weeks and the oldest is well into their 80s.
The River Dart in South Devon is one of England’s most beautiful rivers, ending in a stunning 12-mile estuary, where we offer guided river adventures between the historic towns of Totnes and Dartmouth – with pubs, secret places, campfires, shipwrecks, wildlife and stories along the way.
That’s why our strapline is ‘Beautiful River. BIG Canoes. Great Fun.”
Fowey River Expeditions
Another water sports provider based in the wonderful setting of the Fowey River, Fowey River Expeditions offers escorted river trips in open cockpit canoes. Emphasis is placed upon inclusivity, with beginners actively encouraged to give canoeing a try. As such, this water sports provider is great for those looking to get into the sport, with no lengthy commitments or membership payments required.
“We are delighted to be nominated. The Fowey Estuary has over 25 miles of pristine shoreline to be discovered, and we have routes suitable for all levels and enthusiasts. Kayaking and paddle boarding are extremely rewarding water sports for health, fitness and wellbeing. They are also highly sociable, why not gather some friends or family and discover one of Cornwall’s best kept secrets.”
EXE Adventures – South Devon
EXE adventures are about as flexible as they come when it comes to water sports providers. They pick clients up around the South Devon area in their minibus, and take them on water sports adventures encompassing a wide range of outdoor activities, regardless of previous experience kayaking or canoeing. They also offer training courses, including first aid, fire training, and pool lifeguard training, among others.
“I feel my business is rather quirky as well as being safe, fun, and family friendly. EXE ADVENTURES works as a minibus and adventure trailer: in the summer holidays, I mainly offer water sports and adventure trips but do offer services all year round. In the winter, I offer Training courses – first aid courses and the RLSS NPLQ Pool Lifeguard award, giving people skills, qualifications and jobs.
As a mobile business, we can trailer to the customer or bring the customers to the water’s edge for the adventure.
Working mainly in Dawlish Warren, South Devon, we work very well with the 10 dawlish warren holiday parks and paddle on a still water way up to Turf Lock Pub in Exminster in July and August. I take all ages and abilities, from 3 – 103 year olds, and absolute beginners to competent paddlers fancying a jolly.”
H2Outdoor – North Devon
H2Outdoor offer a great range of water sports and activity packages, and are based on the magnificent coast of North Devon. They can cater for kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, and activity packages, and they offer coached sessions as well as water sports equipment hire and group bookings for schools, stag and hen parties. The company has over 20 years of experience, and has helped to make the North Devon coast one of the best destinations for water sports and outdoor adventure.
“Your adventure will start with us as we get you surfing on the award winning Woolacombe beach, throwing yourself off rocks during a coasteering session at secret coastal locations, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding around secluded bays, caves and high cliffs, or just enjoying a relaxing wild swim with expert instructors.”
H2Outdoor specialise in offering exceptional outdoor experiences by combining expert and friendly instructors with top of the range equipment. All activities can be tailored to suit the timid novice or the crazy thrill seekers and everyone in between, and we feel that our team at H2Outdoor are the best way to get you trying something new.”
The Bude Canoe Experience – North Devon and Cornwall
Another water sports provider based in the hugely popular North Devon and Cornwall area, The Bude Canoe Experience guarantees fun alongside beautiful scenery. They offer core skills lessons to learn the basics of canoe paddling, and then customers are left to explore the local scenery. Canoe trips can also be paired with wildlife explorations, given that the local waterways of North Devon and Cornwall are home to jumping fish, kingfishers, otters, water voles, and many more.
“The Bude Canoe Experience was probably nominated because it is unique. It is innovative in its basic concept: being a mix of activity, learning, and tours. Our customers learn to paddle a canoe, learn about the waterway, history and wildlife, while also attempting canoeing challenges and practising their new skills.
“Because all experiences are for small private groups, the guide can find out / sense how to tailor the experience. For example, an older couple may want to concentrate on learning to paddle and look out for wildlife. A young family on the other hand may want to focus on fun and learning to keep children engaged. Proficient paddlers will want to concentrate on the journey and more advanced skills. Our experiences are truly dynamic and personal to ensure everyone enjoys themselves and gets as much out of their time in the canoes as possible.”
Kayakhub – Exeter
Perhaps on the smaller side when it comes to water sports providers on this list, Kayakhub nevertheless offer a great range of services for anyone looking to get started on the water. They offer water sports equipment hire (paddleboarding, canoe, and kayak) over a range of different locations, as well as guided tours and trips. Customers can also choose the exact amount of time they want to hire the water sports equipment for, with some options lasting the full day, and others tailored for a quick one hour trip. If you want a friendly, easy, and immediate start, then Kayakhub are the provider for you.
“Kayakhub Exeter is a small business run entirely by water sports enthusiasts. We just love our jobs and I think you can feel it if you book with us. We love to be on the water, by the water, in the water, under the water…you name it!
We specialise in guided canoe and kayak trips in the beautiful south of England; we love taking people on mini adventures on rivers, canals and the sea. From canoe fishing trips to overnight sea kayaking trips, white water courses and stand up paddleboard yoga classes to simple canoe and kayak hire, we offer a wide variety of water sport activity to suit all levels and budgets.
Thanks to our mobile set up we can offer one way canoe and kayak trips and you can start and finish the trip in your favourite location.
We are also fully qualified, insured and DBS checked; our staff hold a variety of qualifications from first aid trainer and diving instructor, to kayak and canoe coach and leader, Sean is also on the RNLI Lifeboat crew in Teignmouth. You can be sure that you are in safe hands and we always try our best so everybody can have a great time on the water.”
Sea Kayak Torbay – Torquay
Sea Kayak Torbay are renowned for their expert knowledge, meaning they can deliver the very best family adventurers and multi-day experiences out there. Although they are based in Torbay, the business is actually mobile, giving instructors and customers great flexibility in terms of choosing the best locations. They specialise in sea kayaking, and offer training in all of their packages, allowing beginners and younger participants to join those more experienced paddlers. Taking a great pride in their local landscape, there are no better providers of sea kayak tours in the Torquay area.
“Napoleon Bonaparte once compared Torbay to the Mediterranean: its wooded hills sweeping down to the water’s edge and its cerulean waters gently lapping the shore would have reminded him fondly of his homeland. Torbay (which comprises the towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham – each with its own unique character) owes its popularity as a seaside resort to the Napoleonic era, and tourists today still have much the same view that Bonaparte would have enjoyed. The county lent its name to the Devonian geological period and this is celebrated in the designation of The bay as a Unesco Geopark, which has cemented Torbay as a unique place to explore, and something that Torbay Sea Kayaks takes full advantage of in the packages that it offers.
In all, there are 20 beaches in the bay along 22 miles of inspirational coastline. All this magnificence is best seen from the water and, with sea kayaks under the expert care of our guides, you can get up close and personal with Torbay’s remote past and vibrant present. With our own outriggers and stabilisers available if required, Torbay Sea Kayaks is accessible to everyone from the rank beginner to the expert paddler who, if they so wish, can make use of our highly manoeuvrable guide boats and circumnavigate the whole bay in a day. We cater for everyone from the merely interested to the keen paddler and organise everything so that you can take in the entire English Riviera Geopark on our Geo Sea Safari – in what we think is England’s most beautiful bay.”
Best Water Sports Providers in the South East
Manor Adventure – Norfolk
Manor Adventures will be known by school students up and down the country. The organisation offers residential experiences, which focus on outdoor activities and pursuits as a means of widening the experience of children. While the organisation has several locations, it was their Norfolk Lakes option that caught the eye, with 37 acres dedicated for water sports, in addition to over 25 land-based outdoor pursuits.
“There are many reasons why we believe strongly in what we are doing and why we have been recommended based on our unique benefits that we offer. Some of these reasons are because of the people who work for us; because we train up our instructors and give/pay for the qualifications for our instructors, we are able to recruit people on their personality rather than their qualifications. This means that we are able to get the best personalities and best character of instructors, rather than get people who have qualification but might not be suitable to take our groups.
Also, because we are an independent company and family business, we do not have any shareholders: all our profits are reinvested back into the company, which means that each year we have massive improvement on all our facilities. We are able to reinvest into new equipment, invest in our employees and instructors, and help them gain more qualifications / spend more money on training of our staff.
We have just been able to invest in a new multi-million pound centre in Norfolk which is now our water sports flagship. This has everything from sailing to canoeing and stand up paddle boarding.
We are the biggest independent company in the outdoor residential industry, in an industry that is dominated by massive PLCs. The reason why we are able to compete with these huge companies and become the third biggest company in our sector is simply because of our quality. We offer a personalised program, fitted to the groups needs, and believe our rebooking rate of 93% speaks for itself.”
Canoe and Kayak Tours – Windsor
If you’ve seen a Canadian Canoe or Kayak gliding down the various waterways of the River Thames in Windsor, then it’s likely you’ve spotted one of the many boats in Canoe and Kayak Tours Windsor’s fleet. The water sports provider has also recently expanded into stand up paddle boards, in addition to their usual services which include guided tours, water sports equipment hire, canoe camping, and day trips from the popular Ferry Pub.
“We are a Family based business situated on the Banks of the River Thames in Royal Windsor. We specialise in Guided Canoe Tours of the River in Windsor. However, we also love to involve ourselves in Charity Camping events paddling the Whole length of the Thames or part thereof.
We also Hire out Canadian canoes or single and double kayaks, in addition to stand up paddle boards. We love to be on the Water and love to take people out with us, be it a Party or a Team Building event, or just a one hour teaching session. We love to arrange one or two day Canoe Camping escapes for Londoners, to get them out of the City and enjoy the Countryside on the River. In fact, if it has got water attached to it we want to be involved. We go with the flow.”
Canoe Wild – Grove Ferry Picnic Site
Canoe Wild host a great range of guided tours and training sessions, while also having the facilities to rent out water sports equipment. They deal mainly in canoes and kayaks, as you may have gathered from the name, but also offer paddleboard hire. They also have some really fun options for casual paddlers, including a range of adventure trips, and their hugely popular paddle & pint sessions.
“We’re a small business set up 5 years ago by Andrew and Fiona, and we employ 10-12 part-time seasonal staff. We operate from Grove Ferry Picnic Site with a base at Fordwich that serves as a starting point for those hiring canoes (the ‘Canadian style’ open canoes), double kayaks, and paddleboards. We also take groups out on the water for wildlife watching, school activities, or corporate days out, and provide games for hen, stag or birthday parties.
When the tides and weather permit, we also offer seal watching trips to Pegwell Bay. We operate all year round, taking the kayaks into a local swimming pool during the winter, with our outdoor season operating from the beginning of March to the end of October, every day from 9am-6pm.
The Great Stour River meanders through stunning scenery, alongside Stodmarsh Nature Reserve, with lots of opportunity for wildlife watching, taking pictures, or just relaxing!”
Brighton Explorers Club – Brighton
It would be wrong to simply call Brighton Explorers Club a water sports provider. In truth, they offer a wide range of adventure-based activities including rock climbing, mountain biking, and coasteering. They do, however, also run hugely popular sea kayaking sessions that operate regularly through the summer months. They also offer surfing options with full kit hire, as the sport is gaining increasing popularity in the local Brighton area.
“We welcome all levels including beginners, but generally we don’t offer instruction. We are an over 18s only club, so unfortunately can’t accept minors on any of our activities or events. BEC is keen to encourage and support all members and especially younger members (18-30) to get into the outdoors.
Climbing, cycling, mountain biking and walking happen every week all year round. Kayaking, tennis & windsurfing happen every week during the summer months and badminton during the winter. We also have white water kayaking trips in the winter.
We have regular weekend trips throughout the year, both locally, nationally, and overseas.
BEC also runs regular social activities, be it a Bar-B-Que on the beach or a night at a local pub. We have strong links with the local water sailing club and have use of their bar/clubhouse/changing facilities on the sea front.”
Best Water sports Providers in London
Active360 – London
While there are many water sports providers that deal explicitly in canoeing and kayaking, traditionally it has been rare to see one that deals solely in stand up paddleboarding. However, due to the soaring popularity of the water sport, companies like Active 360 have flourished. Offering coaching, equipment hire, parties, holidays, and even Stand up Paddleboad Yoga classes, Active 360 offers Londoners everything they need to get fit in an interesting and exciting way.
“We teach and guide people at all levels and our team includes people with extensive expedition, race and touring experience. We have a wide range of boards available to hire and use on our trips including the board we helped to develop – the Billboard SUP expedition board. Our local bases on the Thames and canals are wonderful places to learn the sport with varied conditions and sometimes challenging waters.
Our aim is to engage people through paddle boarding to understand and appreciate marine environments and the threats to them. We also try to engage them in projects which reduce the amount of single use plastic in circulation, and therefore reduce the amount finding its way into our waterways and oceans. We also like to give people fun and rewarding experiences on water through coaching, trips, events, equipment hire and courses.
Last weekend we piloted our coaching and river guiding course so we can start training up SUP coaches in London rather than sending people away to take expensive courses. The course has REPS approval so it’s the first ever SUP course to offer points for the national sport and fitness industry scheme. It’s also helped to focus us on what we really need from a coach and river guide on the Tideway. We have included some of our own unique teaching methods and ideas we have picked up from around the world. We also include the Thames Skills and knowledge training which we developed in partnership with the Port of London Authority to increase safety on the Tidal Thames.
We also offer SUPyoga, SUPilates and SUPfitness sessions. These sessions are performed on a large anchored paddleboard floating on water. The buoyancy of the water challenges the core and is a great workout. It’s also lots of fun too!”
Back of Beyond – London (and various locations)
Back of Beyond offer what they coin “micro-adventures” to Londoners who have grown tired of the city life. Whether you want a kayaking or canoe trip into the countryside, or SUP lessons on a secluded canal, Back of Beyond can take you away from the toils of the office. Trips range from a couple of hours, to a couple of days, and are all geared around providing adventure in a fun and relaxing way.
“You don’t have to travel far to tap into your wild side. Swap city life for Swallows and Amazons when you hop on board for one of our micro-adventures.
Cast away to secret islands. Spot kingfishers, otters and water snakes. Pause for a pint with friends by the river side. Socialise around the crackling campfire and sleep under the stars. Whether you’ve got two hours or two days, leave the grind of the nine-to-five behind as you stretch your limbs and your mind on a kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding trip. Discover adventure on your doorstep.”
Secret Adventures – South Hackney
Secret Adventures are another organisation whom it would be wrong to coin as simply a water sports provider. True, a lot of their events involve swimming, kayaking, or canoeing, but these are just elements of the wider picture. Secret Adventures want to provide that sense of wonder and trepidation many people feel when setting out on their outdoor adventures. In truth, they can probably describe their events best…
“The beauty of Secret Adventures is you don’t have to be a sports enthusiast to join one of our events, but you almost certainly will be by the end of the evening – whether it’s kayaking along the Thames as the sun sets over Tower Bridge, enjoying the stillness of Hackney’s oldest canal from a kayak while the city lights dance on the water, or going for a dip among the swans in a vast reservoir… Our events are a relaxed and social way to gain a new hobby (or indulge a current one) while meeting like-minded strangers, and crucially, it’s time spent away from the desk!
Secret Adventures offers the perfect antidote to the frenetic pace of city life and they tend to sell out so we must be doing something right! Another thing to mention is we are able to welcome all abilities because we work with professional guides and experienced kayak suppliers. We put a lot of time into researching the locations for our events to ensure there is that element of anticipation and surprise while ensuring safety is prioritised.
If it’s also of relevance, our adventure film night showcases ordinary people doing extraordinary things on the water (sea swimming to battle depression, a surfing trip which turns into a mass beach clean-up and sailing across the Indian Ocean unaided). We hope these films inspire people from all walks of life to go on an adventure and our events make it that little bit easier for them to do so.”
Moo Canoes – London
If you’re looking to inject a little bit of fun into your water sports obsession, then you can’t go wrong with moo canoes. Their distinctive canoes and kayaks (if I say cow patterned, I’m sure you’ll get the picture..) are put to water for one reason and one reason only: to make the most of London’s various waterways. They also actively help clean up the canals and waterways, so you can paddle with a clean conscience.
“I’d like to hope that people recommended us because they appreciated our enthusiastic staff team and user-friendly equipment, as well as our commitment to fun. We aim to make all our clients feel like part of the family, and it’s obviously paid off!”
Big Crazy – London and Chepstow
You may be shocked to find a water sports provider like Big Crazy in the heart of the busy capital. However, this provider is full of surprises…Offering a massive range of water sports – varying in eccentricity from action water sports to extreme water sports – Big Crazy are particularly known for their Flyboard coaching, their kayaking, and their Super SUP (which is like a normal paddleboard, but one that can hold eight people at a time). As you may have gathered, Big Crazy don’t do things in half measures, which is part of their appeal.
“Big Crazy provides a unique exhilarating blast of energised fun, putting smiles on so many faces whilst being thrilling and a little scary at the same time!
Our unique crystal clear blue water lagoon at NDAC Chepstow astonishes all participants because of its stunning beauty, often likened to being in the Mediterranean (but without the salty taste).
We have flown over 15,000 clients in the last 5 years and are incident free, making Big Crazy not only a spectacularly enjoyable experience but also a safe one.
There is no other flyboard venue in the UK to compare to ours. Our team of professional instructors have been with us since our inception, and we regularly offer public shows, performing stunts at The Bristol Harbour Festival and Gloucester Tall Ships Festival and undertaking film work at Liverpool Docks.
Why Big Crazy? Because we Are!”
Best Outdoor Water sports in Wales
TNR Coaching – Chirk
I think it’s fair to say that TNR Coaching has a wider remit than many of the other water sports providers on this list, offering training and recreational sessions in a wide range of water activities. They cover in depth coaching in first aid and BCU skills, in addition to a massive range of on site activities (climbing, kayaking, canoeing, air rifles, axe throwing) and off site activities (white water canoeing, kayaking and rafting, gorge walking, canoe camping expeditions). Basically, if it’s outdoors and adventure based, TNR Coaching probably have it covered. They also offer a range of hugely popular holidays, and paddlers have the option to customise their own trip, alongside the eager and friendly staff and instructors.
“We are paddlers ourselves, we run our business the way that we think would be cool if we were the clients! We run the trips and expeditions that we want to do ourselves, whether this is a casual flat water cruise over the world famous aqueduct just an hours paddle from our centre, basking in the sun as we journey through the Ardeche gorges in the South of France, or getting technical breaking strokes and moves down at the side of a river in North Wales.
Our philosophy is simple, we want to provide the best experience possible, taking people physically and mentally to new, undiscovered and beautiful places. Embracing nature as we explore some truly spectacular corners of our world.”
Best Water sports Providers in Northern Ireland
Far and Wild – Derry Londonderry
Far and Wild offer a massive range of outdoor experiences, holidays, and trips all over the world. However, it’s their water sports trips in the North West of Ireland that really caught the eye. Offering different options, including kayaking and paddle boarding, each trip is tailored to the client in order to fulfil the company’s ethos of providing the best experiences possible in beautiful locations.
“Far and Wild offers a range of mobile and site-based tours in the North West of Ireland. Our water sports range from kayaking to SUPing, coasteering, and moonlight paddling, to mention a few. We tend to include a high degree of local heritage information as part of each and every tour.
This makes our tours unique and special to our location and the rich and diverse history of the natural environments we are privileged to use. We aim to educate our clients on the importance of sustaining and looking after our environmental heritage and we hope that this inspires them in their future outdoor activities and planning holiday breaks.”
Best Water sports Providers in UK Islands
As Guernsey’s official tourist board, there’s perhaps a little too much to squeeze into a short paragraph description. Guernsey in general is, however, hugely popular with a large variety of water sports enthusiasts, both for its warm weather, its sheltered coastline, and its natural beauty. There is an abundance of water sports available on the island, the most popular currently being sea kayaking and paddle boarding, in addition to regular coasteering expeditions down some of Guernsey’s 300ft high cliffs.
“Guernsey’s calm waters are a great place to take that first step into outdoor water sports – the coastline is stunning, the waters are crystal clear and the sweeping bays are naturally protected from the open seas by reefs. The south coast offers natural steps and ledges to clamber over and jump from – perfect for Coasteering.
With some of the best sunsets in Europe, our west coast is the perfect place for a spot of kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding whilst enjoying spectacular scenery.”
Sea Kayaking Isle of Man
Set up by dynamic team of George and Andrew, Sea Kayaking Isle of Man does exactly what you would expect from its name. With over 25 years of experience between them, the founders of Sea Kayaking Isle of Man are more than prepared to guide keen paddlers around the most idyllic spots of their beautiful island. The company as a whole prides itself on its relaxed and friendly approach, making every experience as fun as possible for a wide range of beginners.
“Sea Kayaking Isle of Man offers a sea kayaking experience like no other – stunning scenery, sandy beaches, incredible wildlife and vast wilderness areas.
The Isle of Man is simply one of the premiere destinations for sea kayaking in the world. Everything comes together here. There’s an extensive range of wildlife including dolphins, whales, seals, puffins, birds of prey and much, much more. Our sea kayak tours offer something for everyone. Fun times for family’s, excitement for experienced kayakers and adventures for others.
Let our experienced and highly qualified instructors get to work and introduce you to the world of sea kayaking. We will be right there by your side on the water giving you lots of help and encouragement. You will be amazed at what you can achieve with the right direction.”
There you have it!
Now it’s over to you: we can point you in the right direction, but the best way to discover what is the best water sports provider near you is to get out on the water and give it a go yourself.
Of course, once you’ve braved the elements, we’d love to hear from you!
Is there any provider we’ve overlooked, or did our suggestions lead you to discover a new passion for action water sports? Let us know in the comments of this post!
There are also a whole host of other articles on all areas of fitness, health, and nutrition, which can be found over on the OriGym Blog.
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