Whether you prefer navigating your own yacht or adventuring out with your own single-handed dinghy, the West Sussex coast is an ideal sailor’s playground.
We’ve put together a guide for beginner and advanced sailors looking for the best locations and expert knowledge for sailing in West Sussex.
Locations in this guide: Chichester, Littlehampton, Shoreham-by-Sea and Arundel
Days: One to two
Ideal for: Couples, solo travellers, families and groups
Travel: 90 minutes – two hours drive or 60 – 90 minute train. Please check traffic and travel updates before departure
If you are already a keen yachtsman wanting a more challenging experience without venturing across the English Channel, try the journey from Chichester Harbour to Shoreham via Littlehampton. This inspiring route is sure to test your sailing skills and knowledge.
Hop on a direct 90-minute train from London to Chichester. From the train station you can catch the West Witterings bus (no 52) to Chichester Marina which takes 20 minutes, then its a short 15-minute walk to the Marina itself. For those who would like to explore the area with a yacht charter or want to try a local sailing operation, you will find plenty of options with the Sail Boat Project. Registered as a community interest company, the Sail Boat Project provide a range of learning activities for beginners and sailing enthusiasts, helping to widen access to the sea. RYA competent crew and day skipper courses are also available. Additionally, the yachts have been painted with environmentally friendly silicone-based hull paint and the team guarantee no toxic biocide on their boats.
The long stretch of coastline to the east of the Solent offers all the excitement of open-sea yacht sailing without having to cross the Channel. Whilst sailing, soak up the scenery with the picturesque South Downs National Park rising behind the unspoilt beaches and coast.
The waters of Chichester’s natural harbour are also home to a range of berthing options with Itchenor Sailing Club and Chichester Yacht Club offering temporary berths. Chichester’s proximity to beautiful beaches, harbours and countryside means there are also a range of unique places to rest and relax. Pirates Point is a charming 18th century coastguard cottage situated next to the beach front with unrivalled views across the sea to the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. It’s dog-friendly and makes the perfect base to explore the local towns.
Locations: Littlehampton and Arundel
The next stop on your journey will be the historic harbour of Littlehampton which is the gateway to Arundel. Enjoy the views as you make your way past the natural beauty of Pagham and the striking regency town of Bognor Regis. It should be plain sailing to your natural stopping point at the bustling Littlehampton harbour, which offers sheltered water on the River Arun.
Littlehampton is an award-winning beach town with visitor moorings with access to facilities available on Town Quay and the Arun Yacht Club. If you’d like to take a break from sailing, then book a night’s stay at Driftwood Beach House – a great seaside retreat perfect for visitors.
From here you can take a stroll to the unique East Beach Café with its contemporary architecture and locally sourced menu, it’s somewhere you can enjoy a glass of bubbly or a Mr Whippy.
Alternatively, the town centre is a short walk where you can find a range of eateries. You can also book a river trip inland on the River Arun and with its tranquil surroundings it will not disappoint. Next you can glide under the quaint low bridges and be rewarded with the stunning view of Arundel’s medieval castle. Arundel Castle is a treasure trove of historic delight and hosts a range of events so is well worth exploring. With so much to see in Arundel, you could extend your trip and stay an extra night and if you need inspiration of what to do, you can discover what’s on here.
Location: Chichester and Shoreham
If you are new to the world of sailing, Chichester has great establishments to teach you everything you need to know. The excellent Royal Yachting Association (RYA) sail training scheme is recognised worldwide and provides a perfect pathway for sailing enthusiasts. There are plenty of RYA recognised businesses that provide sailing experiences including Cobnor Activities Centre Trust – an independent charity based in Chichester Harbour. Cobnor offers a range of RYA sailing training and if the wind isn’t too strong, you can swap your dinghy for a canoe and safari around the sheltered waters of the harbour. Other RYA recognised operators in the area include Chichester Yacht Club and Portsmouth and Chichester Marine Training.
For avid dinghy sailors, you will be impressed with the sailing possibilities that West Sussex has to offer. In Shoreham you will find the Shoreham Sailing Club which offers temporary membership to visitors from other RYA affiliated clubs and the opportunity to participate in local races.
If you’re feeling peckish after your day’s training, Into the Blue Restaurant on Shoreham harbour is a true hidden gem and a paradise for seafood lovers! And sticking with your sea-based theme, the fresh fish served at the restaurant comes from the boats from Shoreham harbour.
Looking to extend your mini break? Visit our places to stay page where you will find accommodation to suit all tastes in West Sussex. You can also find other watersports across the county by visiting our watersports page.