Kick back on a paddleboard
Stand-up paddleboarding is ideal for those looking for a gentle watersports and wellbeing experience.
For a relaxing lesson on calm, wildlife-rich waters, book a session with TJ Boardhire on the beautiful Chichester Ship Canal. You could spot kingfishers, herons and moorhens as you paddle towards the spire of Chichester Cathedral. If you’re an experienced paddler, try 2XS’s full-day SUP safari of Chichester Harbour, a nature reserve with its own colony of seals.
Paddleboarding on the sea is more challenging but brings a raft of extra rewards. “Whether you’re in it, on it or just near it, the ocean has a very soothing and humbling effect,” says Sasha, who runs Moxie Unleashed. “It’s huge and powerful and it helps you put things into perspective.” Even paddleboarding choppy waters has its benefits: “That’s when you really feel in partnership with the ocean. There’s less time for worrying about life when you’re busy reading the waves. And the extra balancing required works wonders on your core!”
Sasha can arrange SUP sessions across various locations in West Sussex, to include beaches, rivers and bodies of inland water. If you’re in the Worthing area for a visit, why not head down to the beach and take up a taster session with K66 Boardriders?
Blow away the cobwebs with a kitesurfing session
The fresh air, sunny climate, gently shelving coastline and prevailing sea breeze – affectionately known by locals as The Worthing Effect – make this stretch of coast one of the country’s most reliable kitesurfing spots.
Throw in West Sussex’s welcoming kiting community and a host of expert-led schools and you’ve got a potent wellbeing break. You’ll pick up a new skill, get fit, learn to live in the moment and make new friends. Plus, you could say it’s a far more interesting way to work on your wellbeing than a spa break!
You’ll need a lesson or two before you can confidently tackle a decent kick-up, but it won’t take long to feel the mental benefits of the sport:
“Kitesurfing is amazing for clearing your head. You have to concentrate so hard on the kite that it’s almost impossible to think about anything other than what you are doing in that moment,” says Christine of The Kite, Surf & SUP Co. in Lancing.
Surf to connect with nature – and new friends
The wellbeing benefits of surfing are similar.
“You get a buzz from being in raw nature, from learning something, being out on the ocean, which is raw nature – the final area of real wilderness,” says Simon of 2XS, which offers board hire and surfing tuition.
If you fall in love with the wellbeing effects of watersports, consider an annual membership of the 2XS Club to maximise the fitness and social benefits. Windsurfing, kitesurfing, paddleboarding and club socials are also on the menu from their club house, between West Wittering’s sandy Blue Flag beach, Chichester Harbour and the South Downs.
Get your glow on
For an experience that’s guaranteed to lift your spirits, join a group event that combines watersports with land-based activities such as yoga and running.
Glo Wellbeing runs regular events on Goring beach that are easy to join at the last minute. Gloathlons involve a 5k run – or fast walk, there’s no pressure – followed by yoga on the Green and stand-up paddleboarding. Rabble Paddles blend old-school games such as British Bulldog with full-on physical cardio, swimming and SUP.
“It’s all about the fun! And what better place to immerse yourself in these amazing, positive watersports than in West Sussex, a stunning area to play about in the water!” says Andi of Glo Wellbeing, which also offers paddleboard hire and lessons on Goring beach. There’s also a giant SUP board for up to eight adults. Panoramic coastal views and a right laugh guaranteed!
Yoga is the perfect partner to watersports
As well as giving a boost to your posture, flexibility, strength and mental wellbeing, yoga is an excellent companion to watersports.
Niki Perry, a Sweaty Betty global ambassador and Kate Winslet’s yoga instructor, has experienced the benefits of blending the two first-hand: “I windsurf and I do yoga and since I’ve practiced yoga I can sail for longer and more proficiently. One of my clients, a semi-pro windsurfer, can’t believe how it has helped him with his sailing, especially his aerial maneuvers such as double loops.” Niki runs yoga and meditation classes and workshops at her Cowshed Studio in Sidlesham Common.
Depending on where your trip takes you, you could also visit the serene countryside surroundings of The Yoga Garden or drop into the peaceful Echo Yoga studio in Lancing (note: yoga practices are currently held virtually).
SUP yoga is a flawless fusion of watersports and wellbeing. As well as working your core strength, practicing yoga on a wide paddleboard in a body of water can be “emotionally powerful,” says Sasha of Moxie Unleashed. “It brings a sense of calm. You don’t even have to talk. You just get in the flow and a lot of people find that really powerful.” Join Sasha for SUP yoga sessions at Kingsdown Beach and on the River Adur.
Re-fuel with nourishing soul food
All this requires proper sustenance, and West Sussex has plenty of nourishing food options, from vegan cafes and paddle-friendly pubs to … chocolate-making workshops. Yes really! Chocolate is better for your wellbeing than you might expect.
Owned by Dawn Shrives, Le Salon du Chocolate runs tutored tastings, cocoa-based experiences and workshops in Chichester. If you’re eating the right sort in the right quantities, chocolate is full of antioxidants and it helps the release of endorphins, which make you feel good. Dawn’s sessions help participants understand what part of the chocolate is good for you and how to bring it into your daily life in a healthful way. And most importantly, it’s “fun and delicious” – and if that’s not good for the soul we don’t know what is!