Fife’s top watersports instructors share their favourite places in Fife to go paddleboarding.
“My first choice for paddleboarding would be Cellardyke Tidal Pool,” reveals Mike Spencer of East Neuk Outdoors. “Luckily for me, East Neuk Outdoors is based at Cellardyke Tidal Pool and is where we do all our paddleboard sessions.
“The pool is both shallow and deep, relatively sheltered and perfect for getting to grips with paddleboarding. And just along the coast are Cellardyke and Anstruther Harbours, which are also good for novice paddleboarders.”
Angus Meldrum of Elie Watersports stays close to home when selecting his pick of Fife’s paddleboarding locations – Elie. “At Elie, there’s the option of staying in the calmness of the bay, or, if you’re an experienced paddleboarding, heading further afield, perhaps to Ruby Bay, St Monans, Pittenweem or as far as Largo,” says Angus.
“Whichever direction you paddle in, there’s a very good chance you’ll see seals lounging on rocky outcrops or bobbing alongside your board. If you’re really lucky, you might see dolphins. Some weeks we see dolphins every day but at other times, we don’t see them for weeks. Sometimes the dolphins even play around our paddleboards!”
Kinghorn Loch, Kinghorn
“I have to put Kinghorn Loch at number one,” reveals Gordon Dixon of Paddleboard Fife. “I’m fortunate enough to work from the boat shed at Kinghorn Loch, which is a lovely sheltered spot surrounded by beautiful views. The jetty offers a good place to get into the water and there’s also a café and toilet facilities, which can both come in very handy after a few hours on the water.”
“When paddleboarding at sea, you have the freedom to follow the coastline, which can be a very special experience,” says Angus Meldrum of Elie Watersports. “Kingsbarns Beach is a good starting point for more experienced paddleboarders as you can follow the coast for a couple of miles whichever direction the wind is blowing.”
Lochore, which is at the heart of Lochore Meadows Country Park, is a very popular spot for all watersports, including paddleboarding. “Lochore is one of the easiest places to start paddleboarding – you can just rock up and go straight on the water,” says Mike Spencer from East Neuk Outdoors.
Sarah Thomson from Och Aye Canoe agrees. “My top paddleboarding spot is the loch at Lochore Meadows, which is where I hold most of my lessons. It’s a nice and busy place to paddleboard, there’s a handy beach and, once you’ve got the hang of balancing on your board, there’s the option of paddling to an island in the middle of the loch.”
Silver Sands Beach, Aberdour
“As an experienced paddleboarder, I really enjoy paddleboarding at Aberdour’s Silver Sands Beach,” reveals Gordon Dixon of Paddleboard Fife. “However, for safety reasons, it’s a place where you should always paddle with others. Don’t paddle here on your own or if you’re inexperienced.
“From Silver Sands, you can either head east towards Burntisland or west towards Aberdour’s Black Sands. When paddling along the coastline, you get fantastic views of the countryside and the wildlife of Fife, including the nosey seals that occasionally pop up to say hello.”
As well as being a world-famous destination, St Andrews is a popular spot for paddleboarding, ”If the weather’s favourable, there are always paddleboarders at St Andrews,” says Sarah Thomson from Och Aye Canoe. “The West Sands is good but very open, while the East Sands and the area around the harbour is more sheltered. And if some of your friends or family don’t want to join you on the water, there’s no shortage other things to do.”
Sign up for lessons. “To make the most of all these fantastic Fife paddleboarding locations, I recommend getting some basic instruction,” advises Gordon Dixon.
If you’re a novice paddleboarder, it’s worth checking there’s a rescue boat where you’re planning to paddle. “A rescue boat’s very reassuring in the early stages of paddleboarding,” adds Angus Meldrum.
Once you are able to paddleboard confidently in a sheltered bay or an inland loch, it’s a good idea to go on an instructor-led paddleboarding trip, especially if you’re keen to use your paddleboard to explore Fife’s spectacular coast. “Going on a trip with a group is a good way to increase your skills and confidence,” agrees Mike Spencer.
Respect the sea. “It’s very important to get training before paddleboarding without an instructor on open water,” explains Sarah Thomson. “Paddleboards can easily be swept out to sea, while very few people understand tides or the effects of currents. Last year, 80% of lifeboat callouts were for paddleboarders in distress – don’t add to the statistics.”
And finally – always follow the RNLI’s safety advice for paddleboarders