The prediction of the formation, spacing and location of rip currents is a scientific challenge that can be achieved by means of different complementary methods. In this paper the analysis of numerical and experimental data, including RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft systems) observations, allowed us to detect the presence of rip currents and rip channels at the mouth of Sele River, in the Gulf of Salerno, southern Italy. The dataset used to analyze these phenomena consisted of two different bathymetric surveys, a detailed sediment analysis and a set of high-resolution wave numerical simulations, completed with Google EarthTM images and RPAS observations. The grain size trend analysis and the numerical simulations allowed us to identify the rip current occurrence, forced by topographically constrained channels incised on the seabed, which were compared with observations. © Author(s) 2017.