1. Bigbury-on-Sea beach
For novelty factor (an island you can visit by sea-tractor), watersports and ‘get-away-from-it-all’ tranquillity, this beach scores highly – 4.5 in fact on TripAdvisor. It’s also a favourite with geological and earth sciences graduate, Will Batho. “Bigbury-on-Sea is just half an hour’s drive away from Plymouth, and is really popular with surfers,” says Will. “However on a paddleboard you can get away from other surfers and get your own break.”
You can hire stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and surfboards on the beach, which is lifeguarded over the summer, eat at the café or walk/tractor out to Burgh Island at low tide.
2. Open water swimming
You might think ‘wild swimming’ is a recent craze, but locals have been bathing among Plymouth’s lidos since the 1930s. With Plymouth’s Art Deco lido ranked as one of the best in Europe, and a dozen other spots to get your bathers wet, the city is leading the way in open water swimming. University Vice President of Sport, Matthew Dark, is a big fan of Tinside Lido.
“It’s a fantastic little place to swim. The water temperature is exactly the same as the sea but it’s nice and refreshing on a lovely summer’s day, and a great place for family and friends, even where only some want to swim.”
3. The Barbican
Feeling peckish? If you’re after Italian, Greek, Himalayan, Mexican… in fact pretty much any ethnic cuisine, head for the historic Barbican and Sutton Harbour, where in the summer you’ll find plenty of places to sit outside and watch the world go by. Spend a few hours browsing the quirky independent shops on the narrow, cobbled streets of the Barbican, where you’ll find everything from vintage clothes to Plymouth Rock.
Stroll around the harbour and check out the aquarium. Then stop for a latté and a piece of homemade cake at one of the local coffee shops.
4. Kayaking on the River Dart
The River Dart is the most famous kayaking river in Devon, and with boulder fields, slide-type rapids and reassuringly named stretches such as ‘Euthanasia Falls’ and the ‘Mad Mile’, it’s no wonder. Actually, though, the Dart is suitable for beginners, too, and in the summer only the gentle lower reaches are open to the public. You can explore the tidal section between Dartmouth and Totnes, and depending on the tide moor up at one of the riverside pubs such as the Ferryboat Inn at Dittisham or the Maltsters at Stoke Gabriel.
“The roads can get really congested at this time of the year,” says Tom Morris of Totnes Kayaks, “but the river is the perfect way to get around. It’s peaceful with stunning scenery and plenty of picnic spots.”
5. Boat trips
If you haven’t got sea-legs before starting at University of Plymouth, you sure will by the time you graduate. Computer systems student Joel Figov is a member of the Sailing and Powerboating club and loves taking students out on the water.
“You can head up the River Plym towards Saltram House or you can go the opposite way towards the Tamar bridge where you can see the dockyards,” he says. “However, if you just fancy a blast around the Sound, once you get outside of the Mountbatten area you can go as fast as your boat can take you.”
Experience the Sound for yourself on a skippered RIB charter starting at £300 for a half-day. Or, for an extra adrenaline hit, try catching a 70lb conger eel, porbeagle or blue shark when deep-sea fishing with Plymouth Fishing Charters.