The Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural beauty is one of Britain's most beautiful harbours. Situated a short drive, walk, cycle or narrowboat ride south west of Chichester city centre, Chichester Harbour is a haven not only for wildlife including waders and migratory birds but also for watersports including sailing and yachting, windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing and boat trips. West Wittering Blue Flag beach is a family favourite beach offering a choice of watersports.
Try windsurfing at West Wittering or take the walk from West Wittering to the East Head spit managed by the National Trust. Chichester Harbour is beautifully unspoilt yet offers a choice of watersports, nature trails and activities in and around its sheltered clean waters.
The Chichester Harbour area incorporating the picturesque villages of East and West Wittering (surfing & watersports hotspots) and Itchenor, Bosham, Emsworth, Childham, Birdham, Nutbourne and pushing into Hampshire's Hayling Island area are all part of this designated Area of Outstanding Beauty. The terrain consists of shallow lagoons and sandy flats, perfect for watersports, walking and cycling. Both beginner and experienced sailors will feel at home in the area and a choice of sailing training and courses are available from the many sailing and yacht clubs. Thorney Island, the Island of Thorns, which jutts out into Chichester Harbour is today an army base but limited access is available to the public on foot and only on the island's perimeter footpath. Ancient Thorney Church sits on the edge of the island.
Sailing and yacht clubs in the area, including Chichester Yacht Club based at Birdham, Emsworth Sailing Club and Bosham Sailing Club are all listed in full on the Chichester Harbour AONB weblink right. Chichester Harbour boasts 17 sailing clubs in all. Both walking and cycling are also on the menu in the area which has over 90km of public rights of way with many running right along the magnificent shoreline with views across to Hayling. Suggested walking guides are also listed on the Chichester Harbour website in detail.
The Salterns Way is an 18km cycle route commencing from the Cross near the Cathedral in Chichester city centre which pushes all the way to the stunning sand dunes of East Head. The walk is broken down into sections via the Chichester Harbour website and on warm Summer days you can bypass all the busy traffic heading to West Wittering Beach and cycle the rural roads instead on the Salterns Way. The estuary area of Chichester Harbour is a haven for wildlife and a popular area with birdwatchers. Wading birds like Curlew, Godwits, Redshank and Dunlin are numerous on the tidal mudflats and the area has many birds which are Passage Migrants. The Conservancy which manages Chichester Harbour AONB offers a choice of birdwatching walks, activities and boat trips.
Chichester Marina is a mere 10 minute drive from Chichester city centre. One of the South's premier award winning marinas with the 17 miles of safe and sheltered channels of Chichester Harbour as backdrop, Chichester Marina boasts superb facilities including restaurants, bars, convenience store, laundrette state-of-the-art lock control, CCTV and round the clock security patrol and modern showers, toilet blocks and marina reception. The marina has the highest Five Gold Anchors award from the Yacht Harbour Association! With the Isle of Wight within easy sailing distance, and other premier marinas located along the Solent at Southsea, Gosport and Port Solent, Chichester Marina is a popular and busy place.