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Paddleboarding Popularity and Safety


Paddleboarding has seen a massive boom in its popularity over recent years. The ease of picking up a paddleboard alongside your weekly shop in Tesco has led to most households owning their own boards. They’re a great addition to any beach/lake holiday. The perfect pontoon for kids to jump on and off, the ability to explore a little further and discover new and exciting secluded beaches. It has to be our favourite way of navigating around the coast, paddling in and out of gullies and discovering new sea caves, allowing people to see the beauty of the English coast - you don’t need to go abroad to reach those idyllic beaches you see on instagram! 


It is great that so many people have found paddleboarding and are now delving into the sport along with getting their own equipment; however, what is often lost with the accessibility of purchasing a paddleboard now is the knowledge and expertise that is shared by smaller traders. The hints and tips on how to get started that are naturally shared at the checkout from individuals who have paddleboarded for years. Giving you the low down of some of the best paddle spots in the area (or even areas to avoid!), it’s these things that we often miss out on when picking a paddleboard up from the local supermarket or online. 


With the rise of paddleboarding popularity over recent years, the RNLI have also seen a massive increase in the number of paddleboard rescues. The figures also show that:


  • The RNLI saved the lives of 59 paddleboarders in the last 10 years with 75% (44) of those coming since 2020

  • Lifeboat launches to paddleboard incidents went up 64% in 2021 (144) from the previous year (88) while RNLI lifeguards responded to 132% more paddleboard incidents in 2021 (504) than the previous year (217)

  • In the 10 years from 2012-2021, the RNLI has saved the lives of 300 paddleboarders, kayakers or canoers and helped 6,361 people


So, while it is incredible that more people are getting out on the water and on their boards, the lack of personal touch while purchasing boards, has contributed to a lack of knowledge, resulting in a decline in safe paddling. Paddleboarding is a great activity, appealing to everyone and it can be done by anyone however, we all need to make sure that we know what we are doing and are able to ensure our own safety while out on the water.





At Active Escape, we have been offering paddleboarding activities for many years, sharing our experience and favourite paddleboard tips with people as we explore some of the most stunning parts of the North Devon coastline. We have been lucky enough to paddle around Broadsands beach (little Thailand), Lee Bay (a quaint little seaside village, tucked between Woolacombe and Ilfracombe) as well as some of the main beaches around North Devon. We are constantly finding new and exciting areas of our coast that we haven’t previously explored. We are lucky enough to have such an incredible expanse of coastline however our coastline is not without its challenges. Being part of the Bristol Channel, we are home to the second biggest tidal range in the world (beaten only by the Bay of Fundy, Canada) and with that comes some strong currents and other dangers. It is therefore of utmost importance that people who paddle around this area are able to identify potential hazards and know how to navigate their way around them.


One of our exciting new projects we have been putting together this autumn and winter is a session that focuses on this. A paddleboard lesson that equips people not only with the skills to paddle and manoeuvre their board but also the skills of self-rescue and assisting others with a rescue. Our ‘Paddleboard Skills’ sessions will start off with a short lesson on the beach on how to get themselves on the board, paddle technique and turning, we’ll also highlight some potential hazards and things to look out for when planning a paddle on your own. We have years of experience as qualified SLSGB beach lifeguards and have even trained up some of the lifeguards that are now operating on some of the North Devon beaches. 


After a short lesson on the beach, we’ll move onto the water where we put the theory into practice. Our base at the new watersports centre in Ilfracombe provides the perfect location to practise paddleboarding while also providing us the opportunity to explore some secluded beaches that North Devon has to offer. These sessions are ideal for families who are looking to get started with paddleboarding or for those who have recently picked up a board for themselves and want to learn a few different techniques on how to use their new paddleboard whilst ensuring they have the necessary knowledge to be a safe paddler.


Over our years of paddling, we have amassed a number of different games and challenges we like to encompass in our paddleboard sessions to help embed these new skills. There’s no better way to put to practise what you have learnt than through games and challenges to help you get that bit further on your exploration of the stunning North Devon coastline. 


The aim of our Paddleboard skill sessions are to teach people how to paddleboard, with a focus on fun and sharing our expertise on how to be a safe paddler. Teaching them what to look for when selecting their own paddle spot along with hopefully equipping them with the skills and confidence to recover themselves and assist others in recovery when needed.


So, if you are looking for where to start in paddleboarding or have recently bought a paddleboard and don’t know what to do with it, then our PADDLEBOARD SKILLS sessions are the perfect thing for you. A Paddleboard lesson but so much more!