Where to surf in Cornwall

Posted on 23rd June 2017

While there are so many great attractions in Cornwall like the Eden Project, it’s the county’s beaches that really lure in the crowds. Ranging from the iconic golden strips of sand to secluded coves, there is a beach for dog owners, families, rock-pooling and definitely surfers.

Where to surf in Cornwall

Cornwall is subject to some of the best swell and surfing conditions in the country which, paired with the warmer climate, makes it the UK’s surf capital.

So if you are looking to book one of the many stunning coastal cottages in Cornwall for a break and fancy taking your board with you or even heading out for some lessons, we’re here to tell you exactly where to surf in Cornwall.

Where to surf in Cornwall

A trip to Cornwall isn’t complete if you don’t head to the beach. With over 290 miles of coastline boasting intimate coves, golden beaches and prime surf spots, it isn’t hard to see why it is one of the most popular choices for a staycation.

While you can spend your time topping up the tan or embracing your inner David Attenborough in the many rock pools teeming with marine life, surfing is the go-to beach activity.

Fistral Beach, Newquay

In a place with so many stunning beaches it takes a lot to stand out, but Fistral Beach does that with ease. Hailed as one of the most consistent and best surfing beaches in not only the UK but Europe, hundreds flock to the beach for their fix of big waves and golden sand.

Fistral Beach in Newquay

Fistral Beach has a special place in the heart of every avid surfer. Home to the biggest surfing competitions in the UK including Boardmasters, Quicksilver Skins, UK Pro Surf Tour and BUSA Championships, it is perfect for hardened pros or even those who just want to see the spectacle. Newquay also has a big wave spot called The Cribbar, just off the Towan Headland. People go out to watch surfers there as the waves get up to around 30ft.

Perranporth Beach, Perranporth 

Perranporth Beach is another that is known by many as one of the best for everything from surfing to sailing, swimming and snorkelling. The brilliant mixture of clear waters and sand dunes makes the scenery here spectacular. At low tide you are spoilt with miles and miles of beach, making what is one of the most popular spots in Cornwall feel tranquil rather than overcrowded.

While anyone can enjoy the rock pools, caves and streams, Perranporth is also a must-visit beach for surfers. You aren’t short of supplies if you need to hire a board or suit, with plenty of facilities towards the town-end of the beach.

The beach itself is one of the longest you’re likely to come across and that means you are sure to find a good swell and bit of offshore wind for some quality surfing. If before you head to the beach you are in search of equipment, it is worth asking the locals for their favourite spot. Many will have their own personal favourite, but most will suggest heading around the corner. Otherwise, the Penhale end of the beach often provides the most consistent surf.

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives

Cornwall is blessed with so many gorgeous towns and villages and few more so than St Ives. Renowned for its artistic influence, the area has a number of beaches waiting to be explored, but Porthmeor is by far the best.

Overlooked by a number of artists’ studios and the Tate Gallery, the beach is a long stretch of soft sand flanked by rugged headlands and facing the Atlantic Ocean head on. These conditions contribute to a prime surfing spot, with strong hollow waves served up on occasion.

A regular winner of the coveted Blue Flag award – of which there are seven in Cornwall – it is just a short distance from the trendy cafés, independent shops and old pubs.

Holywell Bay, Newquay

Don’t be put off by the massive sand dunes, as they are only hiding the jewel that is Holywell Bay. You can either go over or around the dunes to reach the massive expanse of golden sand lining the coastline.

Holywell Bay

The unspoilt rural backdrop makes Holywell feel like a hidden natural sanctum in the early morning and late evening when the beach is quieter. With a flat, wide and long beach and grassy dunes, there is enough space and variety available for everyone to enjoy their own thing.

Some eagle-eyed visitors may recognise Holywell as one of the iconic locations used during the filming of the popular BBC period drama, Poldark. The famous Gull Rock, along with the tufted dunes are used as the backdrop for some scenes in series two.

Mawgan Porth, Newquay

Nestled below beautiful rugged cliffs is the west facing Mawgan Porth surrounded by stunning landscape and dynamic coastline perfect for walks and cycling. Voted by The Times in their top 10 beaches list, there are plenty of rock pools and caves for curious minds, while the local surf school is one of the best in the county and will help you get up on the board in no time.

Quiet, sheltered and teeming with bird life, there is an almost constant supply of quality waves thanks to its exposure to the Atlantic swell providing ample opportunities for surfers of all abilities.

Widemouth Bay, Bude

Popular with families and surfers alike, Widemouth Bay in Bude offers a little bit of everything for a perfect day at the beach. Awarded a Blue Flag status in 2017, the Bay is perfect for any beginner looking to step onto a board for the first time.

The open sandy beach stretches for around two miles, with the exposed coastline producing a variety of peaks that break on the reef just offshore which serves up some heavy barrelling waves.

There is such a great range of water sports at Widemouth. You can choose to take part in a surf school, try bodyboarding and kayaking or for a more relaxed time, you can take your bucket and nets to the rock pools.

Surfing in Cornwall

Image Credit: Thomas Tolkien