The Best UK Beaches for Learning to Surf

There are a few beaches perfect for surfing beginners in the U.K. If you’re planning a surf trip, keep in mind that October through mid-November is considered prime surfing time. Beaches are less crowded yet the air is still mild enough to take advantage of some great autumn swells.

Fistral Beach

Cornwall is well-known as the surfing epicentre of the UK, and particularly Fistral Beach in Newquay. Although Fistral Beach is widely touted among advanced surfers as having the best surf in Europe, it also boasts plenty of small waves perfect for beginners. Fistral Beach is also home to one of the premier surf schools in the U.K., Quiksilver Surf School. Fistral comprises three main beaches:

North Fistral is the main portion of the beach, straight down the middle. The waves last a decent amount of time (called holding a swell), with the low tide offering plenty of hollow waves (one’s you can surf inside) that break on the right side (rights). South Fistral is more sheltered from the south winds, leading to ample left-breaking waves (lefts). Little Fistral can only be surfed at low tide due to the rockiness of the northern beach. Both lefts and rights are found in abundance. Fistral Beach is extremely popular and crowded during the summer with both surfers and non-surfers. Beginners may be more at ease coming in fall when they’ll have more waves to themselves.

Watergate Bay

Also in Cornwall, Watergate Bay may be a less crowded option than Newquay (although high tide brings higher popularity). The beach itself is about three miles long, so you should be able to claim yourself a nice swell. Another well-known surf school, Xtreme Academy, hosts lessons on this beach. The Watergate Bay Hotel is touted as very surfer-friendly, which is a nice benefit for anyone coming in from out of town to enjoy the surf.

Saltburn-on-the-Sea

Up in north-east England is Saltburn in Cleveland. The north-east surf scene blossomed here, and the locals are friendly to surfers. The Saltburn Surf Shop located just above the beach offers everything from surfing lessons to boards. Although smaller than other beaches in the area, it is also cleaner and less crowded, and the swells hold well.

The Gower, Wales

The Gower Peninsula is the heart of the surfing activity in Wales, with a lot of surf history to boot.

Llangennith is one of the most popular surfing beaches in all Wales, yet its three-mile length spreads the traffic out enough to still find a good swell. The Welsh Surfing Federation Surf School is available for lessons, as well as Llangennith Surf School.

Caswell Bay is known for its soft, sandy beaches. Only a 15-minute drive away from Swansea, the bay is a popular destination known for its small and safe waves. Gower Surfing Development offers lessons for beginners.

Surf’s Up

This selection of beginners’ beaches should be enough for any beginner surfer to get started.

Whether in Cornwall, Wales or somewhere in between, good surfing is all across the U.K.

 

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