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 best for surfing in the UK. 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 this article down into North Cornwall and South Cornwall, so you can find the best local beaches depending on where you’re staying.
Top surfing spots in North Cornwall
Cornwall’s north coast beaches are visited by more people 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 surf spots along the north coast of Cornwall.
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, more experienced surfers might prefer Crooklets Beach, which is rockier and more of a daring spot. At this north facing surf beach, 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. The Widemouth Bay waves will be more mellow in summer, so come at a different time of year to see a more dramatic surf.
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 get surfing lessons and 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 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 surfing in Cornwall, with amazing swells that come from both the Northwest and Southwest winds. Even in summer, you’ll find that the surf at Fistral Beach 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.
Much like Newquay, Perranporth is an incredibly popular surfing 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 more advanced 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.
Porthmeor is a really consistent break in St Ives Bay in West Cornwall. The wave breaks to the left and right and gets hollow so you’ll be in for a fun ride.
During the winter the waves can get big and when the swell wraps around the point it makes for an interesting cold water English surfing session!
Top surfing spots in South Cornwall
As we mentioned before, the South Coast of Cornwall is less of a tourist attraction, despite the number of great beaches along this stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. 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 beach 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 beach during the coldest months.
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. Which can also be an interesting challenge to a seasoned surfer. However, you might prefer a northern coastline beach if you’re just wanting some impressive waves on your holiday.
Map of the Cornwall surf spots
With so many beaches in one county, you are never too far away from finding some solid waves and great surfing spots all year round. And it is no wonder the surfing world knows all about surfing in Cornwall.
Are there any other popular surfing beaches in either North Cornwall or South Cornwall that we missed? Feel free to comment below and tell us about your favourite places to go surfing in Cornwall.
Surfing in Cornwall: The ULTIMATE Guide