Located far west of Great Britain in a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall is almost surrounded by the sea, wrapped by a magnificent coastline of 300 miles. With a reputation for being a great place to take up water sports, you will find numerous great beaches to ride the waves in Cornwall, whether you’re an experienced surfer or a beginner.
Here are some of the best places to surf in Cornwall.
- Polzeath Beach, Padstow
Polzeath Beach attracts surfers of all levels since it’s easily accessible in Cornwall and has long and slow-breaking consistent waves. It’s also an ideal spot for beginners to learn surfing since it produces slow breaking and relatively weak waves. Throughout the summer, thousands of surfers will flock to this beach. If you don’t intend to surf, it’s a great spot to people-watch, where you’ll find pro surfers on their stand-up boards and beginners taking surf lessons.
Polzeath is well-suited for surfing and bodyboarding. There are lifeguards to keep everyone safe and a range of surf schools to help beginners get into the waves. These include the Surf’s Up Surf School, a famous surfing school that is said to have taught the most number of surfers than any other UK surfing school. Another popular spot for surfers in Polzeath is the Ann’s Cottage Surf Shop, where surfers can buy all surf-related stuff, from beachwear to surfing boards.
It is the quality of the waves that make Polzeath a popular surfing destination in Cornwall. It breaks on all tides and offers peaks in the middle of the bay.
- Porthmeor Beach, St Ives
Porthmeor Beach in St Ives is one of Cornwall’s most popular beaches for surfing. It’s home to St Ives Surf School, highly regarded as one of the best schools to learn surfing in Cornwall. Situated close to the Tate St Ives gallery, the sandy beach is popular for surfers and swimmers. Plus, it’s in a great location, just a stone’s throw from the centre of St Ives where there are plenty of the most surf accessible places to stay in Cornwall for surfers looking for something different.
Given its easy access, it’s not a surprise that it’s a favourite place for families to spend summers in Cornwall. In winter, the beach is crowded with surfers and dog walkers making the most of the long stretch of sand while battling the waves and the strong winds. You will find many surfing schools operating in Porthmeor Beach, but the most popular is the St Ives Surf School. The school runs fantastic surfing lessons for surfers of all levels and abilities.
The Southwest Coast Path in Porthmeor Beach starts from the western section of the beach and gives access to the Carrick Du and Clodgy Point headlands, which are also a great spot to enjoy a picnic on a warm, sunny day in Cornwall.
- Fistral Beach, Newquay
When it comes to the top surfing destinations in Cornwall, Newquay’s Fistral Beach will come up on the list. It lies on the north Cornish coast between the beaches of Crantock and Towan. At about half a mile long, Fistral means “cove of the foul water”, but don’t let this put you off.
Fistral is a gorgeous beach with a breathtaking coastline. Both sides have headlands – the Pentire Point East to the south and Towan Head to the north. The beach is also overlooked by Headland Hotel, dominating the Towan Head. In between the headlands are steep dunes serving as a beautiful backdrop for this lovely beach. While the view of Fistral Beach is good, its waves are even more spectacular, which explains its reputation for being one of the best surfing beaches in Cornwall.
Fistral Beach is ideal for both beginners and advanced surfers. Since it faces the west, it benefited from the reliable Atlantic swell offering consistent waves all year round, making it excellent for surfing. Because of this, Fistral Beach has hosted many surfing competitions, drawing thousands of visitors to Newquay. Even though Fistral is long, it’s divided into several parts, which is ideal for surfing. Experienced surfers can stay at the Towan end, while beginners can stay at the adjacent area, which is also home to local surf schools offering all kinds of surfing lessons.
- Millook Haven Beach, Bude
Located in North Cornwall, about four miles from Bude and two miles from Widemouth Bay, Millook Haven Beach is a northwest-facing beach that lies underneath the imposing Penhalt Cliff. It consists mainly of coarse shingles and large pebbles and is not ideal for swimming but more suited for surfing.
Millook Haven is a classic surfing spot in Cornwall, mainly due to having one of the country’s best shallow reef breaks, producing some of the best waves on the bigger swells. It is a famous spot for the hardcore local surfers in Cornwall. It’s not ideal for beginners, but it’s great for experienced surfers who know how to hold their own.
When visiting Millook Haven, consider booking a beautiful Cornish cottage in Bude and spend a few days exploring the other attractions in the area, which include the Bude Tunnel and Widemouth Bay Beach. Avid walkers should try the Millook Circular, a scenic path to explore the valley, ancient woodland, and the countryside.
- Loe Bar Beach, Porthleven
Loe Bar is a vast sand and shingle beach in the middle of Porthleven Sands and serves as a sandbank between the Loe freshwater lake and the sea. Loe Bar Beach is relatively secluded, with limited parking and no facilities. Nevertheless, it’s a great beach to surf in Cornwall.
Loe Bar Beach has grassy areas with steep sand shelves. Given its fierce currents, it’s not safe for swimming. But experienced surfers looking for a bit of a challenge will love riding its waves. Aside from surfers, the beach is also a popular spot for walkers.
The Penrose Circular Walk, which starts through the parkland surrounding Penrose House, will take you into the woodland along the edge of Loe Pool and towards the coast. The path is a mixture of wetland and beach walks ideal for walkers of all ages and abilities.