If you're a beginner surfer looking to catch your first wave or a seasoned pro searching for the perfect break, Cornwall has it all. From the popular beaches of Newquay to the hidden coves of the southwest coast, there's a surf spot for everyone.
In this post, I've compiled a list of the 19+ best surfing beaches in Cornwall for beginners. So grab your board and wetsuit and get ready to hit the waves!
Whether you're looking for a peaceful, secluded beach or a lively atmosphere with plenty of surf schools and rental shops, you'll find what you're looking for in this comprehensive Cornwall surf guide.
You might also like the 19 best bodyboarding beaches in Cornwall!
Safety Tips For Surfing in Cornwall
Surfing is a fun and exhilarating activity, but it's important to prioritise safety when out on the water. Here are some safety tips for surfing in Cornwall:
- Check the surf forecast and tide times before heading out. This will give you an idea of the conditions and help you plan your session accordingly.
- Surf with a buddy or in a group. This is especially important for inexperienced surfers who may not be familiar with the local conditions.
- Always wear a leash. This will keep you connected to your surfboard and prevent it from drifting away if you fall off.
- Wear appropriate safety gear such as a wetsuit and a rash vest. This will protect your skin from the sun and from abrasions caused by the surfboard.
- Be aware of your surroundings and follow proper surf etiquette. This includes respecting other surfers' right of way, avoiding crowded surf spots, and being mindful of submerged rocks and other hazards.
- Stay within the designated surfing area and avoid swimming in the surf zone. This will help you avoid collisions with other surfers and reduce the risk of injury.
- If you're a beginner, take lessons from a qualified surf instructor. They can teach you the basics of surfing and help you improve your skills in a safe and controlled environment.
By following these safety tips, you can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries while surfing in Cornwall and enjoy the waves in a safe and responsible manner.
North Coast Beaches
Summerleaze Beach is a popular surfing spot located in my home town of Bude on the north coast of Cornwall. It's a great spot for beginner surfers, with gentle waves and a sandy bottom. The beach is also patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months, making it a safe place to learn to surf.
There are several surf schools located on Summerleaze Beach that offer lessons for beginners, as well as board and wetsuit rentals. These schools have experienced instructors who can teach you the basics of surfing and help you improve your skills. I used Bude Surfing Experience for my own children, and I can confidently recommend this surf school based on my personal experience. Group lessons start from £40 per person, with indiviidual 2 and a half hour lessons starting at £120.
📍Summerleaze Beach, Bude, EX23 8HJ
Crooklets Beach, home to Bude Surf Life Saving Club, offers a variety of surf conditions depending on the tide and weather. During low tide, the beach offers smaller, gentler waves that are suitable for beginner surfers. During high tide, the waves can get bigger and more challenging, making it a great spot for intermediate and advanced surfers.
MLH Surf Coaching operates from Crooklets offering beginner and advanced lessons. The owner, Miles, is a professional British Surf Champion with over 10 years competitive experience across the world as well as English Junior Surfing Team Coach.
There are also two great beach cafe's at Crooklets, Rosie's and Crooklets Beach Cafe, to refuel after your surf. I can thoroughly recommend Rosies's wood fired pizzas, or Crooklets cafe's American pancakes!
Crooklets is my son's favourite surfing beach in North Cornwall, and you can find him down there most weekends catching a wave!
📍Crooklets Beach, Bude, EX23 8NE
Widemouth Beach is a popular surfing spot located just a few miles south of Bude on the north coast of Cornwall. It's a great spot for beginner surfers, with a variety of peaks breaking on sand or reef, producing spilling or heavy barrelling waves. The beach is also patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months, making it a safe place to learn to surf.
This beach is our top choice when we're seeking a perfect blend of surfing and rock pooling adventures (and it's just a 5-minute drive from our house!).
Several surf schools operate from Widemouth beach including Free Wave Surf Academy, who also offer coasteering adventures.
📍 Widemouth Beach, Widemouth Bay, Bude, EX23 0AW
Polzeath Beach is a popular and well-known spot for surfing and bodyboarding in Cornwall. With its consistent and powerful waves, it offers a great experience for both beginner and experienced surfers.
The beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards during the peak season, and it has several surf schools that offer lessons and equipment rentals for those who are new to the sport.
📍Polzeath Beach, Polzeath, Wadebridge PL27 6TB
Mawgan Porth Beach is a popular surfing spot located on the north coast of Cornwall, just a few miles from Newquay. It's a great spot for beginner surfers, with consistent surf conditions throughout the tide. The large cliffs on both sides create a dramatic natural amphitheatre that frames the wide expanse of golden sands.
The beach is easily accessible and has a large car park, making it convenient for families with young children. The nearby village offers a range of facilities, including cafes, surf shops, and public toilets.
📍Mawgan Porth, Newquay TR8 4BL
Watergate Bay is a popular surfing spot located on the north coast of Cornwall, just a few miles from Newquay. It's a great spot for beginner surfers, with a wide expanse of sand and several different peaks, which means there's plenty of room for everyone to spread out and catch waves. The beach is also patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months, making it a safe place to learn to surf.
The beach has a Blue Flag award and is known for its natural beauty, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
📍Watergate Bay, Newquay, TR8 4AD
Fistral Beach is one of the most popular surfing beaches in Cornwall, located in the town of Newquay on the north coast. It's a great spot for beginners to catch their first waves (try Fistral Beach Surf School if you would like lessons), as well as for more experienced surfers to practice their skills.
The best time to surf at Fistral Beach for beginners is during the summer months, when the waves are smaller and more manageable. However, there are also opportunities to surf in the winter when the waves are bigger, but this is recommended for more experienced surfers.
It's important to note that Fistral Beach can get crowded during peak season, especially on the weekends, so it's important to be aware of your surroundings and follow proper surf etiquette. Additionally, there are lifeguards on duty during the summer months, but it's still important to exercise caution and only surf within your abilities.
📍Fistral Beach, Newquay, TR7 1HY
Crantock Beach has several surf schools that offer surfing lessons and equipment rentals for those who are new to the sport. It's a sheltered river break that has pretty consitent surf throughout the year. The beach is also surrounded by stunning scenery, including sand dunes, rocky outcrops, and the Gannel Estuary, making it a great destination for a day out with family or friends.
📍 Crantock Beach, Newquay TR8 5RN
Porthtowan is a small village located on the north coast of Cornwall, just a few miles from St Agnes and Redruth. The village is known for its beautiful sandy beach, which is popular with surfers, swimmers, and sunbathers alike. The beach is backed by large dunes and dramatic cliffs, making it a picturesque spot for a day out.
📍Porthtowan, Truro TR4 8AW
Portreath Beach is a popular surfing destination located on the north coast of Cornwall near Redruth, and there are several surf schools in the area that offer lessons for surfers of all levels.
Portreath Surfing School is located right on the beach and offers surf lessons for beginners, intermediate, and advanced surfers. They have experienced instructors who will teach you everything you need to know to catch your first wave or improve your surfing skills. They offer both group and private lessons, so you can choose the option that best suits your needs.
📍Portreath Beach, 1 Battery Hill, Portreath, Redruth TR16 4NR
Gwithian Beach is a stunning beach located near Hayle. The beach is part of the longest beach in Cornwall, with a total length of around 4 miles of golden sand. It's a popular destination for families and surfers, with its consistent swell providing good surfing conditions year-round.
Gwithian Beach can get crowded during peak season, especially on the weekends, so it's important to be aware of your surroundings and follow proper surf etiquette.
📍Gwithian Beach, Hayle TR27 5BU
Porthmeor beach is one of the best surfing beaches in Cornwall for beginners. Located in the heart of St Ives, Porthmeor beach has consistent waves, making it an ideal place to learn to surf. The beach is sandy and wide, with plenty of room for surfers of all levels.
St Ives Surf School is located right on the beach and offers surf lessons for beginners. The surf school has experienced instructors who will help you learn the basics of surfing and get you up on your board in no time. They offer both group and private lessons, so you can choose the option that best suits your needs.
If you're a beginner surfer, it's important to know that Porthmeor beach can have strong rip currents, especially during high tide. It's important to follow the advice of your instructor and stay within the designated safe areas. Always check the tide times and surf conditions before heading out.
📍Porthmeor Beach, Porthmeor Hill, Saint Ives TR26 1JU
South Coast Beaches
Sennen Beach, near Land's End, is a great place for surfing with its white sand, crystal clear water, and great waves. The beach is a short walk from the car park and offers a beautiful setting for a day of fun in the water. The best time to visit is during the summer months when the beach is lifeguarded.
It's important to note that Sennen Cove can have strong rip currents, especially during high tide. It's important to follow the advice of your instructor and stay within the designated safe areas. Always check the tide times and surf conditions before heading out.
📍 Sennen Cove, Sennen, TR19 7DG
Praa Sands is a beautiful beach located on the south-west coast of Cornwall near Penzance, boasting a mile of golden sand and clear turquoise waters. It's a popular surfing spot and great for beginner surfers, with gentle waves and a sandy bottom.
The best surfing conditions are on south west swells with north westerly winds.
📍Praa Sands, Penzance TR20 9TB
Poldhu Cove is a popular surfing spot located on the south coast of Cornwall, near the town of Helston. The best time of year for surfing Poldhu Cove with consistent clean waves (rideable swell with light / offshore winds) is during Spring.
The beach also offers stunning views of the surrounding cliffs and coastline, making it a great place to spend a day in the sun.
📍Poldhu Cove, Poldhu Rd, Mullion, Helston TR12 7JB
Beaches with Great Surf Schools
Harlyn Bay is a popular surfing spot located on the north coast of Cornwall, near the town of Padstow. It's a great spot for beginner surfers, with consistent surf conditions throughout the tide.
The most popular and well known surf school in the area is the Harlyn Surf School, which has been described by the Sunday Times as the "best surf school on the North Cornish Coast".
📍Harlyn Bay Beach, St Merryn PL28 8SB
During the summer months, the waves at Constantine Bay can be smaller and less consistent, making it a good spot for beginner surfers. The beach is sandy and wide, with plenty of room for surfers of all levels.
The most popular surf school is the Constantine Bay Surf School, which was founded by a local surfer with years of experience in the area. They offer lessons for all ages and abilities, with experienced instructors who can help you progress quickly. They also provide all the necessary equipment, including wetsuits and surfboards.
📍Constantine Bay Beach, Padstow PL28 8JJ
Holywell Bay is a popular surfing spot located on the north coast of Cornwall, near the town of Newquay. It's a great spot for beginner surfers, with consistent surf conditions throughout the tide.
One popular surf school in the area is the Holywell Bay School of Surf. They offer lessons for all ages and abilities, with experienced instructors who can help you progress quickly. They also provide all the necessary equipment, including wetsuits and surfboards.
📍Holywell Bay Beach, Holywell, Newquay TR8 5PG
Perranporth Beach is a popular surfing beach and has a variety of surf spots suitable for surfers of all levels. The beach is sandy and wide, with plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the surf. The best conditions reported for surf at Perranporth occur when a West swell combines with an offshore wind direction from the East-southeast.
The Perranporth Surf School on Perranporth Beach offers lessons and board hire for all skill levels of surfers and the beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards during peak season.
📍Perranporth Beach, Beach Rd, Perranporth TR6 0JN
Frequently Asked Questions
The best time of year for beginners to surf in Cornwall is during the summer months when the waves are smaller and less challenging. However, it's still important to check the surf conditions and follow the advice of your surf instructor to ensure a safe and enjoyable surfing experience.
Yes, most surf schools and surf shops in Cornwall offer equipment rental for surfboards and wetsuits. This can be a great option for beginner surfers who are just starting out and don't yet own their own equipment. Surfboard + wetsuit hire starts from around £20 a day.
When surfing in Cornwall, it's important to wear a wetsuit to keep warm in the cold water. It's also a good idea to wear a rash vest to protect your skin further. Additionally, you should wear appropriate footwear, such as surf booties, to protect your feet from rocks and reef formations.
A group surfing lesson costs in the region of £40-50 in Cornwall and will last between 2-3 hours. Private lessons generally start from £100.
Zuma Jays in Bude is considered by many to be the best surf shop in Cornwall. It's one of the longest established surf shops in Europe and is run by surfers who pride themselves on their surf knowledge and advice. They offer a wide range of surfboards, wetsuits, and other surfing gear, as well as surfboard repairs and rentals.
Surfing in Cornwall can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced surfers who are not familiar with the local conditions. Some of the hazards that surfers should be aware of include strong currents, large waves, submerged rocks, and crowded surf spots. It's important to check the local surf forecast and tide times before heading out, and to follow proper surf etiquette to avoid accidents and injuries. Additionally, it's recommended to surf with a buddy or in a group, and to wear appropriate safety gear such as a leash and a wetsuit. With proper preparation and caution, surfing in Cornwall can be a safe and enjoyable experience.
Best Surfing Beaches in Cornwall for Beginners: A Recap
Cornwall is a fantastic destination for beginner surfers looking to catch their first waves. With its beautiful beaches, consistent surf conditions, and experienced surf schools, there are plenty of opportunities to learn and improve your skills.
However, it's important to be aware of the potential hazards and to follow proper surf etiquette to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Whether you're a seasoned surfer or a complete beginner, Cornwall has something to offer for everyone. So grab your board and wetsuit, and head to one of Cornwall's many surf spots for an unforgettable surfing adventure!
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