The ‘windsurfing beach’ at Chalkwell offers a sandy shore to launch from, and is a pleasant place to hang out: escape the crowds by getting out on the water on a sunny day, paddle up to the pubs in Old Leigh, or this is definitely the spot for windsurfing on your SUP (aka: SUPsailing or windSUPing)
Tides: Best conditions at Chalkwell are the 5 hours around high tide. Flooding tide brings a little cross-shore current drawing west towards Old Leigh, although this is also often when the water is at its choppiest. The water tends to flatten off as the tide ebbs, although this does produce a much stronger current drawing east, towards Southend Pier. (Up to 6 knots at mid-tide.)
Wind: Easterly breeze tends to produce big rolling chop. This beach is fully exposed to southerlies, prevailing south-westerlies, and westerly winds too, so isn’t ideal if there’s much breeze about. Chalkwell is at its best for paddling with little or no wind whatsoever, although under the shelter of the cliffs, light northerlies will mean dead-flat water and zero wind close inshore.
Facilities: Paid parking (£1 per hour until 6pm), but that does mean facilities are good – there are two cafés, toilets, even cold water showers available within 100m.
Location: Off the London Road (A13), drive south down Chalkwell Avenue, under the railway bridge, turn right down Chalkwell Esplanade where the road meets the coast, then park 200m on the left… Nearest postcode – SS0 8JJ