Helford Passage - River Helford SUP Explore

Stand Up Paddleboard - Helford River

Suitable for novice (in calm conditions) and advanced paddlers, the River Helford offers both easy access to the stunning coastline of Falmouth Bay and to the tree lined river and it's creeks.  The River is home to many wading birds including herons and oyster catchers and there are vast swathes of oysters visible at low tide.  The water is clear particularly to the east making a firm favourite for wild swimming and paddle sports.     

Helford Passage is a private beach on the North Shore and is a firm favourite with 'boaties' with many moorings and a busy beach, you can launch, hire equipment or jump on the Ferry (seasonal) to Helford Village. The beach is accessible in all tides.

Favourite Journeys

Mouth of the River (River & Coastal SUP)

(a circular paddle with lots of variations to suit you and the conditions)

Head East towards the River's mouth, cling to the Northern shore which is a sun trap and sheltered in a northerly breeze.  You pass the private Trebah Beach, quaint National Trust owned Durgan and Grebe beach.  You may choose to cross the River but be careful to observe the conditions as the north shore can be exceptionally sheltered in a northerly wind and the channel can be busy particularly in the summer.  

On the south side there are secluded sandy beaches perfect for a picnic.  It is possible for the committed paddler to head into Gillan Creek on the Lizard or stay on the north side and paddle to Meanporth (which is likely a one way trip).  The recommended trip is to creep along the southern shore heading west, looking  out for seals popping up who are feeding in the many rocky outcrops.  In mid to high tide you can head into the picturesque Helford village and pull up for refreshments at Shipwrights Arms.     

Heading Up the River

There is an amazing one way trip to Gweek if you catch the wind and tides right.  Otherwise an explore has so many options.  Frenchman's Creek and Port Navas have a lot to see.  Heading up the river Tremayne Quay makes an amazing picnic spot. Look out in Spring low tides there is very little water in the river.  

Launch & Parking

Link to Google Maps

There is a small fee to launch in the summer months payable at the kiosk by the slipway.   You can drop off your kit at the slipway, but be aware that it gets very busy in the summer and so be ready.  The Car Park is 100 m back up the hill and is reasonably priced. Like all locations in Cornwall get there in the morning to find a place. There is no other car park locally as over spill.

Other great locations include

Durgan - run by the National Trust and nearer to the entrance to the River the parking is a distance up the hill and there is a charge in summer for launching. 

Helford Village - on the south side giving access to the Lizard. There is a 100 m walk from the car park to the village.  Launching is possible from the ford in the upper tides, be aware that the creek dries out.  The slipway at the pub is available from approximately mid tide and in most low tides access is possible from a rocky outcrop on the west headland (a bit of a walk into the village).  

Local conditions 

The Helford is not great if there is an easterly swell and any easterly or westerly wind should be considered as the river funnels it.   Shelter can be sought on either bank but be aware if you leave the shelter you need to make sure that you have enough paddle power to return (or money in your pocket for the ferry).


There are many moorings and the area is busy with recreational boats.  Be very careful crossing the river especially if the tide is racing.  If heading to the mouth of the River consider the changing conditions, wind against tide can be an issue.  For further safety advice

Whatever the forecast and advice you seek only you can make a judgement to if the paddle is suitable for you.  If in doubt seek further advice or Join a SUP Tour


The well known Ferry Boat Inn is beautifully placed to reflect on your paddle.  Shipwrights Arms allows you to moor up on its pontoon and sit overlooking the River.  Trebah is a private beach which is part of Trebah Gardens (don't tell anyone but I have been known to stop there for an ice cream!).  At busy times the National Trust open a small ice cream shop at Durgan.

Why not read our Guide on How to Plan a Coastal SUP or join one of our Journey Planning Camping Weekends ?

Join one of SUP in a Bag's Guided Tours 

For information on multi-day SUP hire packages delivered to your door.

Find other Places to Paddle in Cornwall

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