- Best Practice
- News & Events
- About Pembrokeshire
- Contact Us
The 185 miles of the Pembrokeshire Coast is a mecca for ‘open boaters, ‘sea kayakers’ and ‘play boaters’. The numerous small bays, estuaries and inlets provide sheltered areas for families and the rugged coastline and islands with their strong tidal races provide challenging kayaking for experts. To find a POCG business that offers guided trips or courses for experts and novices Click here, and then on the Kayaking logo.
Sea Kayaking – The Pembrokeshire coast is a serious place when the weather turns, but when it is good you can tour the entire coastline and islands, dropping in at small coastal villages for a bite to eat or rest.
Surf Kayaking – The westerly facing beaches provide excellent surf kayaking, but many e.g. Freshwater West, Newgale and Broadhaven are also popular surfing spots. Whitesands is often too busy in the summer to allow you to enjoy riding waves safely in kayaks. Beginners and groups are better off on larger beaches like Newgale.
Play boaters – ’The Bitches’ is a rocky outcrop situated in the narrow channel between Ramsey Island and St David’s Head. The fast tidal races create large standing waves and it is a world class site for kayaking acrobatics and playing on waves. The ‘Bitches’ are a long way from help and with some of the fastest tidal races in the world it is a serious place to go. If you are new to the area get local guidance/advice before venturing out www.the-bitches.co.uk . There are also landing restrictions on Ramsey.
River boating – There are some wonderful gentle rivers to paddle in Pembrokeshire but they do need the right water levels. Check Canoe Wales for information on access to welsh rivers and tidal streams and be sure to follow the country side code.
Sea Kayaking and wildlife
To see a gannet diving or seal pups on a distant beach or sometimes seals, dolphins or even whales popping up by your kayak is what makes Pembrokeshire a magical venue. Seals and sea birds are just some of the protected wildlife you may encounter and it is only by our continued vigilance that future generations will be able to enjoy the same experiences. Local sea kayakers and conservationists have contributed to the Pembrokeshire Marine Code and have produced a short film on sea kayak best practice for Wales: Sea Kayaking in Wales from Adventures in Pembs on Vimeo.
If seals are surfacing and splashing close to the boats move further away it means they are distressed by your prescence. Do not approach seals that are hauled out on the rocks they can damage themselves by suddenly launching themselves from the rocks. Seal pups will be found on remote beaches from August till the end of November. Please do not land on beaches where there are seals or pups except in an emergency.
Sea Birds are also very sensitive to disturbance especially during the March to August nesting season. To avoid the potential damage to eggs and young stay clear of cliffs where seabirds are nesting. Sea birds may ‘bob’ their heads as a sign that they are feeling nervous of your presence, if in doubt, move further away. Avoid flashing your paddles and avoid creeping up on wildlife or sudeenly appearing around a headland or into a sea cave.
Do you struggle to identify wildlife or want to learn more?
Fact Sheets on the wildlife and geology of Pembrokeshire have been produced to help you to interpret the natural environments of Pembrokeshire, and pass on information about the plants animals and goelogy of the area to others. You can download and print out your own paper copy of these fact sheets for free here: Fact Sheets
Or you can order a set of the waterproof fact sheets for £11.50 + p&p by clicking ‘add to cart’ button below:
A reminder about statutory legislation
Much of the county and its coastline are nationally and internationally important conservation areas with numerous designations from Heritage Coast, SSSI’s, AONB’s, Ramsar sites as well as a Marine Nature Reserve and a Marine Special Area of Conservation. Many of the species are protected by statutory legislation with a max fine for causing disturbance of £5000 and up to six months in prison. The good news is that it is actually easy to avoid disturbing wildlife, just check where these areas are to avoid unnecessary disturbance and take note of the Marine Code for Kayakers and follow the countryside code when paddling inland
The sea conditions can change rapidly so make sure you plan carefully. There are also local codes of conduct available from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority specifically for kayaking and canoeing activities. Alternatively check out the local activity operators committed to the Outdoor Charter as they can often have guided activities that will suit your needs.
Inform the Coastguard of your plans and get a local weather forecast: 01646 690909
- PLAN your venue and route with consideration for conditions and ability level of paddlers. Many coastal trips involve paddling in fast-moving tidal streams and some surf beaches can have powerful rip currents and rock hazards. Always consider other water users, especially when surfing.
- ASK about any local codes of conduct, byelaws and restrictions as well as general good practices and safety guidelines and follow them. These are particularly relevant when surf kayaking or paddling to the offshore islands.
- AVOID disturbing nesting birds in the Spring and Seals in the Autumn. Guillemots balance eggs on their feet and can be spooked by paddlers getting too close. Seals may not be able to feed their pups if you paddle too close to some shingle beaches and caves in late August to November.
- CHECK OUT THE ACCESS situation before planning inland paddling trips. www.welsh-canoeing.org.uk is the WCA website that includes information on access to Welsh Rivers.
- LEAVE the area as you found it or better.
If you see: Wildlife which you believe to be injured or in distress contact the RSPCA on 08705 555 999 or the Natural Resources Wales Hotline 0800 807060