Our surfing escape properties are all located within easy reach of the beach. Some also have facilities for you to store your board and a tap to wash off your wetsuit. See our guide that has information on surf schools and beaches
Surfing, what’s the big deal, and why are the Cornish – and visitors to Cornwall – so obsessed by it?
On any sunny day with good conditions, surfboards are strapped to cars and camper vans, making their way to what we think is the U.K.’s top surfing spot, Cornwall.
If you have never surfed, you may not (at first) get the attraction, but once you try it, you will be hooked. Even non-surfers are equally mesmerised watching competent surfers in action, riding the waves. There is something incredibly graceful and beautiful about seeing a surfer at one with the ocean. Surfers are truly ambassadors of the sea. They make it look so easy.
Could it be you out there? Will you become a passionate wave chaser?
Here are just some reasons to give it a go – and where else to start but in the surfing mecca of Cornwall, with some of the best surfing beaches in the UK?
*Any keen surfer will tell you that being in the water is therapeutic as you have to focus on catching the wave, leaving any troubles behind you.
*Surfing is mindfulness in action. You have to live in the moment to catch a wave, and to keep safe in the water.
*It can also be a frustrating sport, as waves can be erratic or hard to catch, but in that way, surfing prepares you for life.
*Surfers also form amazing communities who look out for each other – and it keeps you fit. What more do you need?
What kit do I need?
Well, for a start, you need to get used to the language, from wipeouts (falling off your board when riding a wave) to feeling stoked (ecstatically happy and hyped up, and we all want some of that, surely).
Then you need to get used to the gear (which comes included in surf lessons, wearing an appropriate wetsuit for the time of year, and having the right board for you, depending on your height/weight, fitness and skill level).
Thirdly, if you are just beginning, it is advisable to have a lesson or two to learn the basics and how to stay safe. Surfing, like any other sport, involves practice, so most surf schools also offer equipment hire once you feel confident to go it alone. Beginners will be in the whitewater for a while, but more experienced surfers like to go out back (farther out). It makes a lot of sense to go to RNLI lifeguarded beaches, so you know you have a professional back-up out there on the waves.
Newquay is the surfing capital of the UK, with 12 beaches to choose from and plenty of surf schools and surf hire centres. Fistral at Newquay is probably the best known and one of the most consistent surfing beaches where the waves hold a big swell. It was 1929 when a man first surfed at Newquay. The man was self-taught Lewis Rosenberg who used a new invention, a wooden bodyboard. Once the Australians arrived in the 1960s, however, with their fabulous fibreglass boards, surfing was here to stay.
Why is Fistal surfing perfection, and home to the Boardmasters Pro surfing event (and many others) for elite surfers from around the globe?
Keen surfers will know exactly which beaches to check out while on holiday but if you haven’t tried it before and fancy a go, then these are the places for you: Bude, Newquay, Polzeath and St Ives. Generally, the north coast is known for its surfing waves.
Remember, if surfing outside an organised group, to always stay in between the lifeguards’ black and white flags.
Cornish beaches for pros
If you already consider yourself something of a pro, try the challenging waves of Porthleven which has high-quality power reef breaks. Nearby Praa Sands can also pack a punch. Porthtowan is worth a look, and there is a load of swell at Sennen, near Land’s End, though up towards Gwynver beach is better left to experienced waveriders. Porthcurno is gorgeous but limited to low tide and there is plenty of barrelling.
Cornish beaches for beginners/intermediates
If you are a beginner, Polzeath is well worth considering, as the waves tend to be on the gentler side. Intermediates will be fine when waves are bigger, so it might be worth checking surfing forecasts before deciding where to go. Godrevy is also reasonably good for beginners, and sheltered from westerly winds. Perranporth is usually a hive of activity but reassuringly busy for novice surfers.
When not everyone wants to surf …
If not all the family wants to surf, then Harlyn Bay, around the coast from Padstow, is perfect, with a large sandy beach for sunbathing, rock pools for exploring and a surf school. Another option is Bude. Try Widemouth Bay, which is a huge sandy swathe of beach, plus facilities like toilets and cafes. There are jagged rocks to avoid but the beach is lifeguarded during the summer months. Of course, at St Ives, non-surfers can instead explore history and culture.
Portreath is more for bodyboarders
If you surf, you might choose to avoid Portreath, known for its Vortex, which is popular with bodyboarders, and for experienced ones at that, as it is a reef break, with air drops common.
Everyone should be able to surf – adaptive lessons
Less well known, but brilliant for surfing is Bude with excellent surfing tuition and safe, accessible beaches. Surfing should be inclusive and at Big Blue Surf School it most certainly is. Additional adaptive one-to-one coaching for children and adults with autism, Down syndrome, physical disabilities, speech, sight and hearing impairment is available in a fun, safe environment. Tandem riding with an instructor and extra wide surfboards for additional stability are available, along with buoyancy aids.