Crantock Bay is a swell magnet and as such picks up the merest hint of a ripple. Low tide can serve up punchy steep walls that unload quickly onto the sand bank whereas higher waters deliver mellower conditions.

During ebb and flows the tide needs to be considered – the current is strong. If you’re confident the rip can help you get out back on larger days. And speaking of tide, when the bay is filling (or full) the real magic of Crantock, from a paddling point of view, shines.

The River Gannel is possibly one of the most overlooked picturesque flat water paddling locations in all of Cornwall. Completely sheltered from the force of the Atlantic, this meandering expanse of water is perfect for exploring and touring. Simply time it right with the tide and paddle up the river as the flow pushes before gliding back on the outgoing current.

Scenery along the Gannel is stunning, particularly when the sun has got his hat on. If you’re not fussed about open sea paddling then you could gorge yourself on this route for days and still not get weary of the gin clear water and picturesque vistas.

For those who fancy a spot of downwind paddling sou’westers should be watched for. Use the Gannel’s emptying current for propulsion beyond the headland then point your boat towards Fistral or Watergate. Be aware; this run is only for experienced paddlers.

Whatever branch of the kayaking tree you fall from, Crantock can provide all paddlers with decent conditions, from the complete novice to expert ‘yaker.

How to get there:

Follow signs for Newquay along the A392. Crantock is then located two miles further west and will be signposted.


Crantock Surf School offers kayak hire and guided tours along the Gannel and owner Rob Small is a wealth of knowledge. Toilets are available and safe parking (relatively cheap) is on offer.

RNLI lifeguards patrol during high summer and a funky little ice cream truck does do the rounds on sunny days.


Tides, big surf, numerous other water users and inclement weather all need to be taken note of. Be respectful to others in the waves also.

Ins and Outs:

At low tide it’s a bit of trek with your kit to waves and the open sea. If you’re hiring a boat, and the tide’s in, you can access the Gannel just behind the sand dune.


Typically Cornish beach with Atlantic surf and huge tidal range. The River Gannel, however, offers respite from open water thrashings and although paddlers need to be aware of the current, the easy conditions make for great touring and exploring.

Newquay is a short two mile hop away and offers a more hectic experience. Bars, clubs, restaurants and all of the usual trappings of a busy resort is found here. Crantock has two pubs which will be fine for most apres entertainment.


Crantock retains much of its original old world charm and the village’s history is tangible. If legend is to be believed then a Welsh saint by the name of Carantoc arrived and weighed anchor in the River Gannel. He decided to build himself an oratory after a dove flew its coup and dropped a twig thereby marking the spot. The village still stands in the same spot today.

Carantoc was corrupted over time hence us now calling the village Crantock. St Carantoc’s Church still exists and boasts some of the finest wood carving in the West Country.

Elsewhere you’ll find the ancient Albion Inn pub which was notorious for its smuggling activity. These days you’ll find a warm welcome, real ales and ciders on tap accompanied by good pub grub.

There are various accommodations in the area but the quirky Highfields @ Crantock is the pick of the bunch. Affordable and homely with a warm welcome boasting an in house café serving home cooked/baked fare. Lisa and Dave are extremely friendly hosts and he’s a kayaker to boot!


Crantock Bay, Cornwall


Fi Plavenieks
Crantock Bay Surf School
Fi Plavenieks
Rob Small


Crantock Bay Surf School
Surf, SUP and kayak hire