Surfing In Cornwall: The ULTIMATE Guide

surfing-in-cornwall

Cornwall is the surfing capital of the UK as well as Europe! Located right at the bottom of Britain’s island, Cornwall points out into the cusp of the Atlantic ocean. There are breaks coming from both the North and the South coasts, offering plenty of waves for everyone to enjoy.

Throughout the summer months, people from all over Europe flock to Cornwall for some much-needed sun, sea, and surfing. While the waters can get a little hectic with bodyboarders, surfers, and sailors alike, there are so many beaches that you can always find somewhere to surf.

Over the years, Cornwall has excelled off of the income from tourism and has made the county a beautiful destination for everyone – kids, adults, and pets, even. Summertime is the best, although you can almost always find surfers in the water here, no matter what time of year it is.

There is no denying that anyone who enjoys surfing has to come and visit Cornwall at least once in their lifetime. Come sooner rather than later, though, as we guarantee that your first visit won’t be your last.

Surfers come to Cornwall for a visit and stay for much longer than they had anticipated. When they finally return home, they’re already planning their next Cornwall adventure.

Today we’re going to be looking into everything there is to know about surfing in Cornwall so that you’re completely prepared and ready for your visit. So, without further ado – let’s dive right in!

Best Surfing Beaches in Cornwall

With over 250 miles of coastline, Cornwall has one of the best and most varied coasts in the UK. And there are over 300 beaches to enjoy. Each of these has its benefits, and we certainly wouldn’t say that any are bad for surfing.

However, there are definitely some that are better than others, with them being dubbed the UK’s best surfing spots. Some have even landed themselves on lists of Europe’s best surfing beaches, so we had to talk about them.

Below is a list of the best surfing beaches in Cornwall that you can visit all year round. Some are more private than others, so you might want to factor this into which you’re going to visit.

For example, Perranporth tends to be much more hectic than Watergate Bay, so you might want to visit the latter if you’d prefer to be as undisturbed as possible.

We have broken Cornwall down into North and South, so you can find the best local beaches depending on where you’re staying.

Best-Surfing-Beaches-in-Cornwall

North Cornwall

Cornwall’s north coastline is the one that most people visit when they come for their holiday, as it is more tourist-friendly and has more award-winning attractions. Here are a few of the best places to surf along the north coast of Cornwall.

Bude

The Summerleaze Beach in Bude is gorgeous and a popular attraction, especially during the summer. However, surfers prefer it here during the winter months when the beach turns from a popular holiday destination to a fierce winter beach.

For beginners, we’d recommend visiting in the spring or autumn, both to miss the crowds while still enjoying the excellent waves. Expert surfers can also visit during these times as there’s a great reef here for larger waves.

However, experts might prefer Crooklets Beach, which is rockier and more of a daring spot. There are big swells seen here on a high tide, offering large hollow waves that are perfect for catching and riding.

While still in Bude, check out Widemouth Bay which is often the ideal place for surf schools to teach during summer. These waves will be more mellow in summer, so come at a different time of year to see a more dramatic surf.

Watergate Bay

Watergate Bay is just a few miles up from Newquay beach, which is one of the most popular beaches in the County. Watergate Bay is much calmer, with fewer people visiting and therefore better waves for surfers.

This beach is excellent for beginners and intermediate surfers, and summer will bring a number of surf schools out for beginners to enjoy the smaller waves. However, other seasons will see much bigger closeouts, sometimes reaching heights of 10 feet!

Thanks to the quietness of this beach, you’ll often be able to position yourself in a spot behind the swimmers and bodyboarders all to yourself. You won’t be competing with too many others for the waves.

Newquay

Newquay is one of the most popular places in Cornwall, both for shopping and surfing alike. The town is always buzzing with tourists and excitement, and the numerous shops are great for picking up mementos, unique handmade pieces, surf supplies, and much more.

Newquay has been self-proclaimed as the wave capital of the county, with most surfers agreeing with this. Here is where the annual Boardmasters Festival takes place and is home to a number of the most reliable surf beaches in Cornwall.

Fistral Beach is the pride of Cornwall, with amazing swells that come from both the Northwest and Southwest winds. Even in summer, you’ll find that the surf here is amazing! Yes, it might be one of the busiest beaches all year round, but it is undoubtedly one of the best.

If you’re a beginner, Towan Beach is another good option for you. It is sheltered by a promenade and more closed off than the others, making it an excellent place to learn and practice your skills. Many surf schools also teach here.

Perranporth

Much like Newquay, Perranporth is an incredibly popular beach that is always full of people and families during the summer. It is an incredibly large beach that stretches for miles, and it doesn’t fare well during the winter months as many other Cornish beaches do.

Perranporth Beach is best for beginners and intermediate surfers who want to improve their techniques. The waves will never get that high here, but that can be good for these people.

You might sometimes get lucky and experience a medium swell during the spring, creating chest-high waves in A-frames. However, these are somewhat rare. Surfers will find the best waves on the left that roll towards the southern point of the beach.

Perranporth has often been considered a better beach for bodyboarders thanks to these mellow waves, but beginner surfers can also use them when they’re not ready for larger waves just yet.

South Cornwall

As we mentioned before, the Southern coastline of Cornwall is less of a tourist attraction, despite the number of great beaches along with it. This is good news for surfers; however, as it often means that the surfers can enjoy these beaches without as many crowds as they’d have seen on the north coast. Here are a few of our favourite South Cornwall beaches to surf at.

Praa Sands

Praa Sands is our favourite southern coast beach in Cornwall for surfing, as it stretches long before you with a beach break that is best surfed in during a mid-tide environment. The rips will be low and the closeouts high, but experienced surfers will be able to make the most of it.

These conditions might even prove more fun for you than the traditional ones. We liked the variation and the ability to learn how to control different waves.

Offshore at Praa Sands are north winds, meaning that this is an excellent beach to surf at during the winter. You’ll get some amazing right-hand barrels during this time of year, so don’t let the cold weather put you off.  Enjoy surfing all year round by visiting Praa Sands during the coldest months.

Marazion

Marazion might be best known for its tidal island featuring a castle, along with its beautiful nature and locals. However, the surfing scene can also be quite good here, especially during the winter.

The surf beach is sometimes referred to as being fickle and inconsistent, but when it’s good – it’s really good. For the best results, catch the winter swells around the Lizard Head. These waves are often chest high, although they can be even larger.

The waves on this beach are also quite messy and unfamiliar to beginner surfers. Again, we enjoyed the challenge. However, you might prefer a northern coastline beach if you’re just wanting some impressive waves on your holiday.

Surfing Lessons / Courses in Cornwall

With surfing being one of the biggest attractions in Cornwall, it is unsurprising that they offer so many lessons and courses for beginners. So, don’t think that you need to be a world-class surfer to visit and make the most of the waves!

There are so many surf schools in Cornwall that you can choose from, offering classes to people of all ages and skill levels. Below we have listed a few of the best so that you can explore what they’re offering before buying the first that you see.

Surfing-Lessons-Courses-in-Cornwall

Extreme Academy – Watergate Bay 

We have personally used this surf school and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a beginner-friendly surf school. Watergate Bay offers 2 miles of coastline, so you can always be certain that you’re going to get some good waves.

Extreme Academy offers both group lessons and individual lessons, and they’ll even kit you up with the latest Gul equipment and wetsuits.

OA Surf Club – Bude

What was once known as Outdoor Adventure, OA Surf Club is an activity center positioned on a clifftop at Widemouth Bay. Having been open for over 40 years now, this surf school has racked up quite the reputation for teaching individuals and families alike to surf.

Each of the coaches has great amounts of experience and is highly qualified, so you know that you’re learning from some of the best. OA Surf Club offers lessons to people of all skill levels, with everyone in the group getting one-to-one coaching.

Escape Surf School – Newquay

Another surf school found on a clifftop, Escape Surf School has been operating and teaching people how to surf for over 15 years. This school overlooks both Towan Beach and Newquay Beach.

The instructors use innovative techniques to teach you how to surf, including stabilizing your board as you get to your feet. This allows everyone to experience surfing standing up instead of spending the entire lesson falling and feeling like you’re failing.

Surfing Accommodation in Cornwall

Travelling to Cornwall specifically for surfing can be exciting and rewarding, although it can also be stressful trying to sort out every aspect of your trip. If you were to do this all on your own, you might have to find accommodation, a surf school, food and drink, transportation, and much more.

However, Cornwall locals have strived to make this easier for you. They have even created a number of accommodation alternatives for you to choose from!

Surfing Cottages

Surfing cottages are probably the most popular accommodation for surfers in Cornwall. These are self-catered private cottages for you to enjoy, either by yourself or with your friends.

These are most popular thanks to the room you’ll have. When it comes to a surfing holiday, you’ll need to keep your surfboard, wetsuit, and all your equipment somewhere safe while you’re not using them.

A cottage will offer you the most space to keep these safe. You can also change into your wetsuit in the comfort of a private cottage instead of having to change in a small tent or hotel room.

Surfing cottages are often located very close to beaches, so you can walk down to the sea anytime you want to enjoy the waves. A quick internet search will show you hundreds of surfing cottages online for you to pick the best for you. Be quick though, some have long waiting lists!

Hotels

Paying for a hotel room could be another viable option, and it is one that many first-time visitors do. This might be because they don’t know about the number of surf cottages available, and they might even regret opting for a hotel room after their visit.

Hotel rooms tend to be cheaper than surf cottages, though, so bear this in mind if you’re on a budget. You will have less space to store all of your equipment, but this might not matter if you are hiring your equipment rather than using your own.

Hotels can be expensive in Cornwall, especially in the peak season. So, we would recommend booking early to avoid the prices getting any higher than they already are.

The nearer the hotel is to the beach, the more expensive they tend to be. This is something else to consider if you’re budgeting your holiday. While you might be saving on a cheaper hotel, you might have to factor in more transportation costs.

Campsites

Not only is Cornwall popular for surfing, but it is also incredibly popular among campers. In fact, there are over 250 campsites dotted around the county, all of which are often full during the summertime.

Camping is the cheapest surfing accommodation, although tents can be rather small and you might find it difficult to keep all of your equipment safe. It can also be difficult to put a wetsuit on inside of a tiny tent!

You should also factor in the price of equipment when camping. While a plot of land is often cheap, the tent, sleeping bag, and all other equipment can be expensive. Note that campsites are also often further away from the beaches, so you’ll need to sort transportation from the campsite to the beach every day.

Surf Forecast in Cornwall

Surf-Forecast-in-Cornwall

When coming to Cornwall for a surfing holiday, it always pays to check the surf forecast. This can help you decide which days you’re going to be surfing and which you’ll be enjoying the seaside towns instead. Otherwise, you might find that you’re wasting your time in flat water and missing the best waves on your off days.

A surf forecast predicts the best wave and wind conditions across Cornwall, helping you to determine the best days for you to go surfing. They will also show you the best swell near the shore rather than peak waves that boats see further into the ocean.

The surf forecast will tell you much more about your surfing excursion, such as where to find the best surfing conditions in Cornwall during the morning, afternoon, and night. This allows you to chase the best waves throughout the day so that you never have to stop surfing!

It will also predict the height and direction of the waves, the times between successive wave crests, and the wave energies. You’ll have a better understanding of the wind predictions, such as the speed and direction. Finally, you can also learn the maximum and minimum height of the tide.

All of this information is incredibly useful and beneficial for you to use before surfing. Make sure that you check the surf forecast before heading to the beach to ensure that you’re not just treading water for hours, wasting valuable time on your holiday.

Read Next: How to Read a Surf Forecast | Like a PRO

Surf Seasons in Cornwall

Summer is the time that most people will be traveling to Cornwall to enjoy their family holidays, swimming in the Ocean, perusing the small towns, and spending time with their loved ones. If you’re going to Cornwall, you’ll be in the sea.

However, this doesn’t just apply to surfers. It is also open to bodyboarders, swimmers, kayakers, and more. People of all ages will be paddling – even babies and young children.

As you can imagine, the coastline gets very busy during the summer. Surfers are positioned further out than the bodyboarders and swimmers, but the hectic waters can often throw you off your game and leave you with a less enjoyable experience.

For this reason, many experienced surfers will not visit Cornwall during the summer season. We will note; however, that the summer is when most lifeguards are out. During the winter, spring or autumn, some beaches are not patrolled by lifeguards and therefore are less safe for beginner surfers.

If you’re a beginner, you might want to visit during the summer, when the waves are more mellow and there are plenty of lifeguards around to keep you safe.

However, if you are confident in your abilities and don’t want to visit Cornwall during its peak season, we would suggest visiting during the spring, autumn, or winter. Spring has better weather and fewer holidaymakers to crowd the beaches, but the best waves are definitely seen during the winter and autumn.

September and October is our favourite time to visit Cornwall thanks to the warm weather still hanging over the beaches, with winter swells beginning to offer you some great offshore waves.

Alternatively, May and June are good for weather and decent waves without the summer crowds.

Waves are best in winter, but the cold weather can be dangerous. There will also be no lifeguards, so we wouldn’t recommend surfing during this season. Feel free to enjoy Cornwall’s surfing beaches all year round, but the best results will be seen during the spring or autumn.

Map of the Surfing Beaches in Cornwall

Map of the Surfing Beaches in Cornwall

Above is a map of the surfing beaches located all around Cornwall. As you can see, these beaches are both located on the north and south coasts of the county, so that you can plan your surfing holiday depending on the beaches you want to visit.

Of course, this isn’t all of the beaches in Cornwall, as there are over 300 to choose from. However, the ones pinpointed on the map tend to be considered the best for surfers. Some are much more well-known than others, such as Newquay and Perranporth.

However, there are also lesser-known beaches, such as Kennack Sands, that fewer people are aware of. Here you’ll be able to enjoy the waves without competing with other surfers.

In Cornwall, it is almost impossible to get a beach to yourself – unless you’re planning to surf in the middle of the night! Even then it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be the only surfer with that idea.

The beaches on the north coast are also more popular than those on the south coast, which might influence your decision on which beaches to visit and surf at. However, this also means that there are fewer extremities at the south coast beaches.

While you’ll find beachside cafes, restaurants, and seaside towns near the north Cornwall beaches, these are often much less common on the south coast. In fact, you might be hard-pressed to find anything other than the beaches themselves. The south coast is definitely less of a tourist destination than the north coast, so bear this in mind.

Indoor Surfing in Cornwall

Indoor surfing allows you to enjoy the experience of surfing without worrying about the potential dangers of the ocean. Plus, you’ll be able to surf without having the disappointment of poor waves, bad weather, or too many crowds to enjoy yourself.

Indoor surfing most commonly uses a FlowRider machine, which is a sloped machine that mimics the action of waves. There is a thin layer of fast-moving water over the slope, acting as the rolling waves.

Here you can practice elements of snowboarding, surfing, and skateboarding without the added pressure of being in the cold ocean. Plus, there are plenty of experienced instructors ready to help you whenever you need it.

From what we can find online, there are only two FlowRider machines in Cornwall. These are both in resorts and you can book sessions for the entire family to enjoy.

The first in Aria Resorts is a FlowRider machine, although it is outdoors. This gives you the best alternative to surfing in the ocean by mimicking the outdoor conditions. Aria Resorts has dubbed their FlowRider machine the only one in Cornwall.

Unfortunately, this is where our research of indoor surfing in Cornwall comes to a halt. There seem to be no other places offering anything like this, so the FlowRider machine is the only place where you’ll be able to learn about surfing in a controlled environment.

This is perfect for kids and nervous beginners. Once you’ve had a session or two on the FlowRider, you’ll be able to brave the Cornwall beaches and surf in the ocean with other like-minded individuals. If you’re still worried, why not befriend one in the water and get some tips?

Summary

Thanks for reading our ultimate guide for surfing in Cornwall, and we hope that you’ve learned something valuable to take on your trip. If you’re looking for a surfing holiday, Cornwall is definitely the place for you.

There are plenty of beaches to explore and enjoy, all of which are best for different people. Take advantage of the surf schools here if you’re a beginner, as well as the indoor surfing experience at Aria Resorts.

Make sure that you check out the surfing cottages available when planning your stay, and never head out without checking the surf forecast. Spring and autumn are the best times to surf in Cornwall, although summer is good for beginners and winter the best for daredevils who don’t mind the cold.

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