Are you looking to scratch that itch for adventure? Then you can go surfing on one of the many beaches in Cornwall.
When it comes to surfing beaches, you are literally spoilt for choice in the UK’s south-western county. So, if you are planning to take a weekend surfing trip, you might have a tough time deciding between them.
However, there are certain safety guidelines that need to be considered when choosing a beach to go surfing on. After all, you would not want to get in any trouble when you’re in the water.
Keeping that in mind, we have compiled a list of the ten best beaches in Cornwall that are suitable for everyone. We hope that you have your surfing boards ready because we are about to dive in!
Surfing In Cornwall
Before we jump into the primary discussion, let us give you a brief idea about surfing in Cornwall. Protruding like a pointed finger from the southwestern part of England, Cornwall possesses a relatively long and rugged coastline. Because of that, the county has numerous sandy beaches with logger waves, making it a surfer’s paradise.
Due to its geographical position, the county separates the English Channel from the Bristol Channel. Adjacent to the Bristol channel is the North Cornwall coast, which is home to some of the most popular surfing destinations in the UK. And facing the English Channel is the South Cornwall coast, which also has a couple of good surf spots to consider.
Therefore, owing to the multitude of beaches present on the north and south coasts of Cornwall, you can satisfy your surfing desires all year long. That said, the winter months can get really cold and inhospitable. During this time, surfing on any of the north coast beaches is not advisable for inexperienced surfers since the swells can get fairly large and rough.
The conditions along the south coast beaches are comparatively better, though, which makes them worth considering during the winter. Even then, you should exercise caution or else you might get into an accident.
But hey, even if you can’t surf, there’s no need to be disappointed, for the white sandy beaches in Cornwall offer a great ambience. So, come dusk, you can just chill out with your buddies as the sun sets majestically over the horizon.
10 Best Cornwall Surfing Beaches
1. Fistral Beach, Newquay
Fistral Beach is located in the buzzing seaside town of Newquay, which is widely regarded as the surf capital of the UK. Of course, there are several other beaches in and around Newquay, but Fistral beach is the crown jewel among all of them.
The scenic sandy beach and rolling waves in Fistral attract surfers from far and wide. Thousands of tourists flock here from different parts of the world to witness the thriving Cornwall surfing scene. In fact, it plays host to the Boardmasters Festival surfing competition every year, where the top surfers from the UK and the world compete against each other.
Towards the north of the beach is the Cribbar reef, which helps to break the swelling waves. Because of that, it generates waves high enough to challenge even the most experienced surfers.
However, if you are somewhat inexperienced, then no need to worry, for Fistral offers a great surfing experience for everyone. You can stay closer to the shore, where the waves are much more gentle. Besides, the Fistral beach surf school is within walking distance from the beach, offering surfing lessons for beginners.
2. Gwithian Towans Beach, Hayle
With a length of about 3 miles, the Gwithian Towans beach runs from the Hayle river mouth in the south and up to Godrevy in the north. It stretches across the picturesque St. Ives Bay and is a popular surf spot for new and intermediate surfers.
The waves get larger the further north you go, and the beach area near the majestic Godrevy lighthouse sees pretty high waves. That provides the perfect challenge for surfers who wish to hone their skills further.
There are several surf schools near the beach, which makes it ideal for beginners looking to sharpen their surfing skills. Also, due to its length, the beach rarely becomes crowded, which provides ample space for you to practise.
Even if you are not a surfer, you will find this beach to be a great place to visit during a weekend getaway. This is all thanks to the scenic marram-backed sand dunes, dramatic cliffs and the numerous rock pools and caves that dot the length of this sandy beach.
What’s more, there are several cafes along the beach that remain open all-year-round and provide a great ambience for hanging out with friends and family.
3. Watergate Bay, Newquay
Watergate Bay is one of the most popular surfing beaches that is situated a little distance north of Newquay. This sandy beach is roughly two miles long and is backed by rugged cliffs for most of this length.
The waves here are potent enough, thanks to the peaky beach breaks along the shoreline. Despite that, the secondary swells are quite gentle in nature. Because of this, it is a great surfing location for beginners and experts alike.
There are a few surf schools along the beach, which provide lessons for inexperienced surfers. Apart from that, there are several street food eateries and fine dining establishments along the shoreline. All of this makes it an excellent destination not only for wave riders but also for regular beach lovers.
That said, the wave swells of Watergate Bay get pretty intense during the winter, making it a bit dangerous for amateurs. If you are an advanced surfer, though, you won’t have any problems surfing these waves. In fact, you might find it to be a good test of your skills. That is the reason why expert surfers throng on this beach during the winter months.
4. Sennen Cove Beach, Sennen
Situated in the idyllic Sennen parish in western Cornwall, Sennen Cove beach is a short distance away from Land’s End, which is England’s westernmost point. Due to its geographical location, it sees strong gales from the Atlantic, which makes it a swell magnet. So, you’ll get high waves here, even if the other surrounding beaches have relatively flat swells. Furthermore, a break in the middle divides the beach into two parts.
Because of that, it is a perfect spot for more experienced surfers, who may find the bigger swells to be much more challenging. If you move to the northern part of the beach, you will find the waves to be stronger and higher. On the other hand, the southern part of the beach witnesses lower waves that provide a fun surfing experience.
Although it is not very favourable for beginners, they can try to brave the smaller swells in the southern end under the supervision of experienced surfers. Also, there are a couple of surf schools near the beach that provide good guidance for promising surfers. Aside from that, the beach has a car park and surfside restaurants, which offer a great ambience for both surfers and tourists.
5. Perranporth Beach, Perranporth
Next up on our list is the magnificent Perranporth beach, which is in the beautiful coastal town of Perranporth. It runs for a long stretch of three miles and has solid waves that attract intermediate-level surfers.
The waves get even larger during the winter months, and the swells become more frequent due to the strong winds coming in from the Atlantic ocean. Such conditions are great for expert surfers, who can test their skills on these stronger waves.
That being said, the southern end of the beach has more consistent waves throughout the year. So, if you consider yourself to be a beginner, you should check it out.
In addition to surfing, you can engage in a lot of other outdoor activities, such as snorkelling, swimming and sailing. That makes it a great spot for people seeking adventure.
Besides that, the golden sand beach is rich in natural beauty, which attracts regular tourists too. You can also find a lot of seaside resorts and fine-dining restaurants in the town of Perranporth. All of these aspects have made it one of the most popular beach destinations in the country.
6. Widemouth Bay, Bude
Positioned near the northern end of Cornwall, Widemouth Bay is a few minutes’ drive away from the seaside town of Bude. It is a west-facing beach, due to which it bears the full force of the Atlantic breeze. As a result, the beach has big swells that provide a great surfing opportunity for intermediate and advanced surfers.
The swells get even bigger during the winter months, which attracts a lot of expert surfers to this beach. But during the spring and autumn months, the waves are much lower and more gentle, which makes it an ideal surfing spot for beginners.
Likewise, the long, sloping sandbanks make it even better for those looking to improve their surfing prowess. You will also find a bunch of surf schools near the beach, and with their guidance, you can get better at surfing in no time.
Widemouth Bay is a fairly popular spot among beach lovers as well, thanks to the long sandy stretch with hundreds of rock pools. Apart from that, there are several secluded coves and inlets along the beach that can be explored, which makes it even more appealing to regular tourists.
7. Praa Sands Beach, Marazion
Located near the town of Marazion, the Praa Sands is one of the best surfing beaches on the southern coast of Cornwall. During high tide, it produces fast and hollow waves that are great for advanced surfers. On the other hand, beginners should keep an eye out for the mid-tide swells that have a decent height, thereby offering a fun surfing experience.
The waves remain consistent throughout the year, so you should definitely consider it if you’re planning a Cornwall surfing trip. On top of that, it is a great tourist destination for the family, thanks to its long stretch of golden sands and aesthetic shoreline. There are numerous fine-dining restaurants and stop-off points where you can enjoy delicious food and drinks while soaking up the bright coastal sunshine.
However, due to its appeal and popularity, it can get a bit crowded at times, which can be off-putting for some. If you are looking to do some surfing, you might have to fight the crowds to get a decent spot. But if you can go a little further out, you can ride the barrel waves at high tide in peace.
8. Porthtowan Beach, Porthtowan
Porthtowan beach is a relatively secluded beach that is known for its strong swells. Set in the small seaside village of Porthtowan, it is one of the best surfing spots for intermediate to experienced surfers.
It has consistent beach breaks that produce some impressive waves during the high tide. As such, you can get a really challenging but fun surfing experience. If you are somewhat inexperienced, you can move a bit south towards Lushington beach, which has more mellow swells.
Once you are done surfing, you can take a dip in the tidal rock pools near the northern end of the beach. Besides surfing, you can sunbathe on the pearly sands or go swimming in the crystal clear waters of the beach, both of which can be enjoyable experiences. Or you could just chill out in one of the many bars and restaurants near the beach.
9. Towan Beach, Newquay
Here is another great surfing beach that is located in Newquay. The golden sands of Towan beach stretch between the Newquay harbour and the adjacent Great Western beach. Geographically, it is very close to Fistral beach and lies in a sheltered position that keeps it protected from the strong Atlantic winds. And compared to Fistral, the crowd is lesser at this beach.
It is a pretty short sandy beach compared to some of the other options on our list, but that doesn’t make it a bad surfing spot in any way. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as it is a great place for beginners to learn the sport and for intermediate surfers to sharpen their skills.
This is all thanks to the gentler swells and milder winds experienced here during the summer as well as the winter months. There are several nearby surf schools here as well, where you can get lessons from experienced surfers. And in a way, its close proximity to Fistral is advantageous for intermediate surfers. Before braving the swells over there, they can test their skills on the milder waves at Towan.
10. Polzeath Beach, Polzeath
Situated in the seaside town of Polzeath, this beach is another excellent surf destination in Cornwall. It is very popular among beginners, thanks to the moderate winds and smaller spilling waves that are observed here. Because of that, you can get on the board and master your surfing skills in relative safety.
There are several surf schools near the beach, which makes it an even more approachable destination for inexperienced wave riders. Moreover, the shallow and gentle swells lure casual surfers from all over the UK to this beach.
The Polzeath beach also attracts regular tourists, thanks to its general ambience. While the sandy beach is not as long as some of the other beaches previously discussed, it has a considerable width. There are a few secluded coves nearby, so if you feel like exploring, you can check them out too. Or, if you are feeling a tad adventurous, you could go swimming in the clear blue waters.
If nothing else, just spend the afternoon sunbathing on the sand. The width of the beach provides ample space for a thriving beach culture, which can be an enjoyable experience for the whole family. And if you want to get a drink or grab a bite, you can check out the numerous pubs, restaurants and cafes lining the beach.
For those of you who want to go surfing in the UK, Cornwall should definitely be at the top of your wishlist. After all, it is called “the home of British surfing” for a reason.
With that being said, you need to plan your surfing vacation properly to make the most out of it. Ideally, we would suggest the summer months to get the most enjoyable experience, regardless of your skill.
But if you’re looking to avoid the summer crowds, you can try surfing in the spring or autumn months. The waves during these seasons are beginner-friendly, so that’s another thing to consider. Although, if you want to really challenge yourself, you should go surfing in the winter when the swells are high.
Anyways, that’s about everything we had to say for today. We’ll be back with more guides soon, so do keep a lookout!
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