There are a variety of water based activities available to visitors and locals on the Exe Estuary. The Exe Water Users Code has been published by the EEMP to promote safe and considerate use of the estuary by all water users, from large commercial boats to small kayaks. All users are asked to avoid disturbing wildlife on the Exe Estuary, particularly within two areas known as wildlife refuges which have been introduced to protect important feeding and roosting grounds. For more information please visit our wildlife designations page.
Boating activities on the Exe generally happen 2-3 hours around high tide, when the estuary offers great opportunities for sailing. Be aware of the strong currents around the entrance to the estuary, and the shifting sand banks within.
Several companies offer fantastic cruises both within the estuary and out into the surrounding bay, some throughout the year. There are scenic river cruises, summer coastal cruises, bird watching cruises during the winter months and even Santa cruises! Some of the cruise companies double as ferry operators, enabling day trips to towns and villages across the estuary.
The Exe Estuary and Lyme Bay provide a wide ranging variety of dive sites, from pretty shore dives full of sea life to wrecks almost a hundred years old. The Exeter – British Sub-Aqua Club provide diving opportunities for members and visitors.
A variety of species can be targeted from both boat and shore. Charter boats are available for hire, and there are also scheduled fishing trips. The estuary is a Bass Conservation Area between 30th April and 1st November. For more information on byelaws and other restrictions please visit the Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority website or contact them on 01803 854648.
Kayaking, Canoeing and Rowing
From Exeter you can take a leisurely route down the canal via a set of traditional locks. The canal joins the Exe at Turf Hotel, where the more experienced can encounter tidal waters. A series of 4 self-guided circular Canoe loops linking the River Exe and Canal have been developed. A route guide leaflet is available to download.
Details of local Kayaking, Canoeing, Rowing and Dragon Boating organisations, as well as lots of other ways to enjoy the Exe can be found in our Exe Activities leaflet.
A combination of kite flying and surfing, this activity is very popular off Exmouth with several local shops available to give advice and hire out equipment. Exe Kiteboarders are a Kitesurfing club based in Exmouth.
(Stand up) Paddleboarding
A fun relaxing way to work out at your own speed whilst enjoying great views of the estuary and taking in the tranquillity. All it takes is a large board and a long paddle – no waves or wind required! Several local shops can provide all you need to get going.
Wakeboarding, water skiing and tow inflatables
Within the estuary is a designated area for world class water skiing and wakeboarding. Ringo rides and banana rides are also available, suitable for all levels and most ages.
Codes of Conduct
The Exe Estuary Management Partnership has produced a series of codes of conduct guides for the Exe Estuary to help promote a safe and responsible approach to carrying out activities in the area. The Exe Water Users Code provides information on safety, wildlife and byelaws as well as a map showing the byelaw areas and wildlife refuges.