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  • Writer's pictureAnna Browne

How to choose kayak hire or paddle board hire on the Isles of Scilly

A holiday on the Isles of Scilly is all about enjoying the stunning natural beauty of the islands. Seeing the islands from the water adds a different perspective to your visit to this beautiful archipelago. You can connect with nature and see amazing marine life, even in the shallows close to the shore.

Our customers at St Martin’s Watersports often ask for advice about what equipment to hire. So, in this blog, we give our thoughts about what equipment will give you the right paddling experience. All the things you might think about when considering a watersports hire.

For any kayak or paddle board hire, you must be able to swim. This is a non-negotiable condition of hiring from us.

A kayaker and paddle boarder are paddling on calm blue clear water

The benefits of a kayak hire

We hire sit-on-top kayaks. These are very stable and easy to manoeuvre. So, you don’t need to have had any previous kayaking experience. There are four hire zones you can explore. We will advise you on the best zone for your level of experience considering the weather conditions and state of the tide.

A woman is paddling away from a beach in a single kayak

You have the potential to explore four uninhabited islands, or even head over to Tresco if you’re hiring for the day. At certain states of the tide, you can visit the magical Ganilly sandbar. When you explore in a kayak, you travel at your own pace, stopping when and where you want, to soak up the tranquillity and beauty of the islands. 

A woman is on a single kayak close to a beautiful sandy beach with low lying islands behind her

Our kayaks have adjustable seats so you can be as comfortable as possible. You may get a slightly soggy bottom when kayaking so it’s best to wear clothes you don’t mind getting a little damp. You can wear shoes or go barefoot. If you want to explore an uninhabited island, bring shoes. Our advice would be to take them off when getting in and out of the kayak to keep them dry.

There’s plenty of storage space on the kayaks so you can easily take out anything you may need, extra layers, lunch, water or snacks. We also hire 15L dry bags.

The benefits of a paddle board hire 

Par Beach is the perfect location for a stand up paddle board (or SUP) hire.

Paddle boarding is a lot of fun. It’s the fastest growing sport in the UK. You don’t need to have paddle boarded before to hire from us. We’ve written a blog on our top tips for the first time paddleboarder.

A woman is on a paddle board on clear calm water off St Martin's

When you’re standing on a paddle board, because you’re physically higher than if you’re sitting in a kayak, you get even better views looking down into the water. The marine life you can see in the shallows includes crabs, fish, anemones, prawns and sea grass.

A paddle board can be see on crystal-clear water  seaweed and other marine life can be seen in the water

A paddle board hire can be more challenging and a certain degree of balance is needed to stand up. Although they’re stable and easy to use, there’s a much higher chance of falling into the water on a paddle board than from a kayak, but that’s all part of the experience! If you’ve not done it before, you will use your muscles differently and so it’s easier to get tired.

You don’t have to stand up on a paddle board. You can stay kneeling down and still have just as much fun.

A man is kneeling on a paddle board with his dog in front of him

You are more windblown on a paddleboard than on a kayak as your body acts like a sail. Our hiring zone for paddle boards includes the bay off Par Beach and all along the front of St Martin’s. We have created a paddle board tour of St Martin’s so you get the most out of your paddleboarding adventure.

It’s best to wear a swimming costume for paddle boarding. A t-shirt can be useful in the summer to prevent sunburn. Ideally, you want to be barefoot when paddle boarding as you get a better grip with your feet than if you are in shoes.

Other things to consider

  • How long should you hire? This depends on how long you have. A one-hour hire will ensure that you have fun out on the water and give you a great paddling experience. You need two to three hours if you want to kayak out to, and land on, another island. A day hire allows you the freedom to explore at your leisure. We also offer 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 day hires!

  • Do you have a specific destination in mind?  If you want to go to uninhabited islands or Tresco then you would have to rent a kayak. If you want to mess around off Par Beach or head along the front of St Martin’s either a kayak or paddle board hire would suit. 

A woman is in a kayak off the island of Little Arthur on the Isles of Scilly

  • What’s your level of experience? This can impact where you can go. However, St Martin’s is a great place to try out a new sport for the first time and there’s lots of marine life to see close to the shore. We’re always happy to advise on the best option for you.

  • What are the weather conditions? This could impact your hire depending on wind speed and direction. But don’t worry, we always keep a close eye on the forecast and will use our local knowledge to ensure you get the best experience

  • What is the state of the tide? Scilly has one of the largest tidal ranges in the UK. On a big spring tide at low water the flats along the front of St Martin’s will dry out, transforming the extent of the beaches. This would be a great time to visit the Ganilly sandbar. We can advise you on your best options depending on the state of the tide during your hire.

Three kayaks are pulled up on a sandbar on a sunny day with St Martin's in the distance

A kayak or a paddle board hire will give you a fabulous holiday experience. Both are fun activities and you will see stunning scenery and interesting wildlife. A kayak will allow you to explore further afield. St Martin’s is a great place to try out a paddle board hire.

We have lots of experience and local knowledge and are always happy to help you plan your paddling adventure. We hope we’ve given you some things to consider when deciding what to choose, and that hiring from us will be a highlight of your holiday.

St Martin’s Watersports hires kayaks and paddleboards from Par Beach on St Martin’s.


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