Learn To Surf In The UK: The How, When & Where?

The popularity of surfing in the UK has only increased since it first made its way to the shores in 1929. Every year people get into the water for the first time but knowing where to start can be tricky.

So, where do you start? When is the best time to surf? And what is the best way to get into surfing in the UK?

  • You will need a surfboard, a wetsuit, and a few training sessions.
  • The UK has waves all year round.
  • Winter offers bigger and more consistent waves, but summer is also good.
  • Cornwall is the most popular surfing spot.
  • You can find waves anywhere on the coast, from the South, all the way to Scotland.

I want to expand on my answer. To start, we will discuss what you need to learn to surf in the UK. After that, I want to look at how much you can expect to pay for surfing lessons. Finally, I will also be answering a few essential questions that you need to know.

Let’s get into it.

Learn To Surf In The UK: The How, When & Where?

How Do I Start Surfing In The UK?

To start surfing in the UK is similar to surfing anywhere globally. You are going to need a few things. However, because of the cold conditions of the water, you will need a proper wetsuit.

The ocean conditions are not always going to favour your schedule. So, you will need time and patience as a new surfer. Perhaps you only get two days off a week; there will be times when there are no waves in your area on those days. That’s where having the ability to travel can be very helpful.

Remember, if you plan on taking a few surfing lessons first, most of the surf schools in the UK do provide all the equipment you need for the duration of your classes. With that said, let’s look at the equipment you will be using.

A Surfboard

This section will refer to any bigger board as a longboard, including Mini-Mal boards. A Mini-Mal is a smaller version of a longboard and is often my preferred choice for beginners as it provides similar benefits while being slightly easier to handle.

You want to use a big surfboard like a Mini-Mal or a longboard. Yes, you can get a regular surfboard, also known as a shortboard, but that makes learning how to surf a little more complicated.

To understand why I recommend going for a bigger surfboard, I must highlight most of the benefits that come with learning how to surf on one of these bigger boards:

  • First, longboards float easier, making it easier to paddle.
  • Second, because you don’t yet know how to duck dive, a longboard will help you get over waves and Foamies.
  • Third, getting momentum to catch a wave is easier on a longboard.
  • Finally, standing up on a longboard is far easier than on a shortboard.

To learn more about the different sizes of surfboards, I recommend reading this recent article.

A Wetsuit

When surfing in the UK, you will be surfing in the Atlantic Ocean or the North Sea. So you can expect the water to be pretty cold. This isn’t a massive problem if you have the right equipment and a wetsuit will probably be your best friend, but you cannot use any wet suit.

You will want a long suit, one that fully covers your arms and legs. You may also need a hoodie, booties, and gloves if surfing in Scotland. If you go to a surf school, they will provide the right equipment for your surf lessons.

Should wetsuits be tight?

Surf Wax

Surf wax gets overlooked when people buy their first boards and then wonder why they slip off while in the water. Waxing your surfboard will help keep you stable while paddling, but most importantly, it gives you a grip in the middle of your board for standing.

why-do-surfers-wax-their-boards

How Much Are Surfing Lessons In The UK?

Surf schools in the UK can charge from £20 to £40 per lesson. Although most surf lessons are similarly priced, the fine print sets these surf schools apart. It would help if you looked out for a few phrases in the fine print. These include:

  • Per person: Most surf schools do group lessons. You might pay £10 or £20 more per lesson if you want private lessons.
  • Per hour: Learning how to surf in an hour will be challenging. For that reason, most surf lessons should be two hours at least.
  • Per lesson: Most surf schools will say “per lesson,” and those surf lessons will last around two hours. Out of all the phrases in this list, the per lesson is my favourite.

The great news is that the UK has a lot of surf schools and you should have no problem finding a surf school that suits you.

When Can You Surf In The UK?

I know you are likely expecting me to say that the best time to surf is in the summer; it makes sense, right? Well, so many factors come into play regarding this question.

Winter will always provide more consistent waves if you are not worried about the cold. However, that does not mean surfing in the summer is terrible; you might have to wait sometimes because the ocean can get relatively flat depending on where you are.

My point is there is no wrong or right time to surf in the UK. There are waves throughout the year.

Where Can You Surf In The UK?

The UK has just over 11,000 miles of coastline. As long as you live near the ocean, chances are you could find a spot to start surfing. Remember, always do your research because you don’t want to end up in a place with conditions that are too much for you.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of my favourite locations to surf in the UK.

Cornwall

Surfing in Cornwall is extremely popular, especially in the summer months. Of course, the waves are better in the winter, but I recommend trying it out in the summer when you are starting.

Cornwall has some of the best surf schools in the country. They are reasonably priced and offer everything you need to start surfing.

Cornwall surf spots & surf schools:

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives (Beginner friendly)St Ives surf school
Bude (Beginner friendly)Big Blue surf school
Watergate Bay, NewquayExtreme Academy
Fistral Beach, NewquayQuiksilver surf school
Praa Sands Beach, HelstonGlobal Boarders surf school

There are many more surfing spots than that. However, those are the best spots you want to look at as a beginner.

Surfing-Lessons-Courses-in-Cornwall

Devon

In the right conditions, it is one of the most picturesque locations in the country, at least in my experience. It has massive coastlines with wide beaches, and the weather that is pretty good in the summer months.

Devon isn’t the spot for you if you’re looking for big waves, but it is almost too perfect if you are a beginner. Surfing in Devon can be one of the best overall experiences for UK surfing.

Surf spots & surf schools:

North DevonSouth Devon
Woolacombe Hunter surf school Bigbury-On-Sea Discovery surf school
Westward Ho North Devon surf school
Croyde Bay Croyde Bay Surf Academy

Wales

Porthcawl is the best spot for surfers based in South Wales. Its proximity to Cardiff makes it a great holiday destination for so many people, including those that want to learn how to surf.

During the summer months, the waves are relatively small, but they are still there, which means there are rideable waves for you to learn how to surf at any time of the year.

Elsewhere in West Wales, the Pembrokeshire coastline has various spots for surfers. If you are looking for a surf school/surf lesson, look no further than Outer Reef surf school.

experienced-surfer-in-porthcawl-rest-bay

Scotland

Thurso Scotland is considered the best right-hand wave in Europe. Some would argue that it is the best wave overall, but it becomes tricky to choose between the two when you have spots like Mundaka, Northern Spain.

With that said, Scotland does have a variety of breaks. Scotland appeals to the more advanced surfer because the waves tend to be heavier than they are further South.

Final Thoughts

If you have any more surfing-related questions, I have a section dedicated to the sport, so feel free to look through some of those articles. But, hopefully, this article about surfing in the UK has answered all your questions.

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