If you’re looking for some tips and insights on surfing in Cornwall for beginners, this post is for you!
Cornwall is famed for its stunning beaches and its location by the Atlantic Ocean, making it one of the leading surf capitals of the UK.
Combined with the mild climate and a host of excellent beaches, you will never run out of places to surf here – theoretically, you could probably surf at almost every beach in Cornwall, so if you’re a beginner, you’re in for a treat!
There are different types of waves that you can find here too. From gnarly ones at Fistral Beach to sandy bays with logger waves beyond the sea in Towan, you will not get bored of the variety of waves you’ll find in Cornwall.
In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about surfing in Cornwall, especially for beginners.
Surfing in Cornwall for Beginners: Everything You Need To Know
- Best time to go surfing in Cornwall
- Water temperature in Cornwall
- Surf equipment you’ll need and where to find them in Cornwall
- Do you need lessons to learn how to surf?
- Best places for surf lessons in Cornwall
- Best surfing beaches in Cornwall for beginners
- Which beach is best for surfing in Cornwall?
- Why is Cornwall so good for surfing?
- Can you surf all year round in Cornwall?
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Best Time To Go Surfing In Cornwall
Ideally, the best time to go surfing for beginners in Cornwall is in September and October because the water would’ve had a lot of time to warm up in the summer. There will also be lesser crowds, so you’ll have lots of space and time to practice.
Summer is also a great time to learn surfing in Cornwall, in July and August – which is also the time most people will be visiting this county, so you should know that the waters can get pretty crowded on sunny days.
Plus, if you’re participating in a group surfing lesson, you’ll have to share your teacher with a lot more students than in springtime or during autumn when there are fewer people.
If you’re a beginner, we don’t recommend surfing in Cornwall during winter because the currents tend to be more unpredictable and robust, and the waves can become unruly because of the winds.
There won’t be any lifeguards around either, and fewer people around to help you in an emergency.
Cornwall’s Water Temperature
Cornwall’s water temperature varies substantially from area to area. In the summer, the water temperature hovers around 16°C, which is relatively mild, whereas, in winter, it drops to 10°C – 8°C.
This differs depending on the areas – the waters St.Ives is always cold, so you probably won’t feel much warmth, but regions like Perranporth and Newquay always seem to feel a lot warmer – perfect for those who are just learning how to surf in Cornwall.
Surf Equipment For Beginners In Cornwall
As a beginner, there are several things that you would require to begin your surfing journey – a surfboard, fins, wax, leash, and a wetsuit. Naturally, as you progress and improve your surfing skills, you’ll want more than just your essentials, but that’s for another day.
Here’s all you need to start your surfing adventure in Cornwall:
This is the magic carpet that allows you to ride waves.
The volume of foam in a surfboard is measured in liters. Here’s a good rule of thumb:
- 7’0″ beginner’s board if your weight is below 70 kgs,
- 7’6″ if you weigh 70-90kg and,
- If you weigh over 90 kg, opt for an 8’0″ board.
This is key because when you start surfing, the more foam you have, the better. For example, a typical 7’0″ board will have a volume of about 65 liters. Alternatively, you can also opt to use a paddleboard for surfing.
You can surf on any paddle board, but some may perform better than the rest. A paddleboard is not typically used for surfing, but if it is something you want to dabble in or try when the opportunity arises, a board with varied uses will be more sensible to own.
Your leash is a lot like your lifeline when you’re on the board. Its role is to keep you connected to your surfboard – preventing the surfboard from being whisked away by waves, keeping it from being smashed on rocks, and stopping runaway boards from hitting other swimmers or surfers.
Surf fins are like the wheels of a surfboard – providing performance, stability, and drive. It is usually mounted at the tail of a surfboard to improve directional stability and control with foot-steering.
The most common fin setups that you can find on a surfboard are single-fin, twin-fin, quad, thruster, and five-fin configurations.
A wetsuit is a neoprene outfit crucial for every beginner surfer to have. It allows you to stay warm in cold or calm waters for a prolonged time. There are two commonly used types, a spring suit and a full suit with three varying thickness levels – 2 mm, 3/2 mm, and 4/3 mm.
5. Surf Wax
Surf wax is a formulation of synthetic or natural wax used to apply to the deck of a surfboard, skimboard, or bodyboard to prevent the surfer from slipping off the board when riding on a wave or paddling out. It is also used to increase the grip on the paddle of a dragon boat or a surf kayak.
Do You Need Lessons To Learn How To Surf?
Not necessarily, but it would help to get lessons before you try surfing on your own for the first time.
Surfing lessons in Cornwall will help you learn the basic techniques of surfing and how to prevent injuries and ensure that you do not develop bad surfing habits.
They will also give you one-on-one corrections and feedback from your surf teacher.
You would also learn how to fall off your board safely so that you don’t injure yourself or other surfers. This is crucial, as falling off wrongly can make you a hazard at the beach!
Unless you have someone to teach you how to surf, we highly recommend that you take surf lessons in Cornwall for beginners to learn the basics of surfing. And, at the very least, learn how to fall off the board safely without injuring yourself or others.
All in all, we suggest taking surf lessons in Cornwall before you head into the waters on your own. Some surf lessons offer discounts if you purchase lessons in a bundle, and some others provide multi-day classes if you want to make fast progress.
Best Places For Surf Lessons In Cornwall
Almost every beach and surf town center in Cornwall has a surf school. Most are excellent and will assist you with lessons or equipment rental.
If you’re in Cornwall for a few days, spend some time by the beach, where you’ll find surf schools heading out for lessons.
Take your time and weigh up the size of the class, teaching style, and how long each session is. This approach is best made outside of peak season to find the best surf school in Cornwall for you.
However, it’s essential to book in advance during summer as many people tend to head to the beach to surf on sunny days. If you do your research beforehand, it’ll be easier for you to book a spot before it gets taken up.
Here are some of the best surf schools in Cornwall:
This surf school is one of the best spots to have surf lessons in St. Ives because of its terrific location. Located by the well-known Porthmeor Beach, this beach is ideal for beginners learning to surf as the waves here usually are clean and easy to ride.
St. Ives Surf School offers complete beginner, improver, advanced and private lessons for every type of surfer – new or advanced.
Cost: 2 hours for £40 (USD 53)
For any activity you plan to do In Cornwall, Cornish Wave probably has a class for it, including surfing.
Their surf classes are all approved by the World Surf League, so you know you’ll be in good hands. They also monitor the conditions, so they’ll be sure to move your classes if there won’t be a surf during the time that you’re booked for a class.
Cost: 2.5 hours for £35 (USD 53)
Located in Fistral, the home of British surfing in Cornwall, there is no better place to learn surfing in Cornwall. The Fistral Surf School has the largest selection of surf hires open all year in the UK, and they have a dedicated team that aims to make the best of everyone’s time in the water.
Cost: Half-day lesson for £22 (USD 29.20)
This surf school is located on the top of Widemouth Bay‘s cliffs and serves as a residential activity center in Bude. They deliver high-quality surf lessons suitable for all walks of life – individuals, groups, and families, with a 30-year track record to prove it.
The coaches are also excellent; being surfers themselves, they are highly experienced and qualified. They will tailor-make their lessons to the different levels within the group and ensure that everyone receives one-to-one coaching at all times.
Cost: 2.5 hours for £40 (USD 53)
They are situated on the Newquay Cliff Top overlooking the fabulous Towan Beach. One of the best places to learn how to surf in Newquay, Escape Surf School has over 15 years of experience in teaching people how to surf.
They also have changing rooms, showers, a bar, and a restaurant, so you won’t have to go far to grab a bite anytime you like.
The whole team is dedicated to ensuring that everyone who takes a lesson with them has a good time achieved by their innovative teaching methods for beginners, including holding the board’s tail while you get on your feet.
This is crucial to ensure that the board is stable until you are standing on your board, after which they’ll release it, and you’ll get to experience the wave all on your own.
Cost: 2 hours for £30 (USD 39.80) – with six lessons or more
Best Surfing Beaches In Cornwall For Beginners
After you’ve had a lesson or two and are ready to improve your skills, it’s time to get your board to try it out for yourself! It can be a little daunting to find the best beaches for surf beginners in Cornwall but fret not; we’re here to help find the best ones for you.
There are lifeguards present at most beaches in Cornwall, so you can be sure that you’ll be looked after when you’re there.
Keep in mind that you should always surf between the white and black flags that the lifeguards set out so that you know you’re not surfing in a riptide, a powerful current resulting from the tide pulling water through the barrier beach inlet.
1. Lusty Glaze, Newquay
Just around the corner of Fistral beach, you’ll find Lusty Glaze Beach, where there are smaller crowds and the waves are more forgiving for surfing in Cornwall for beginners. You can find gentle sloping waves here, perfect for mastering the basics of surfing and moving on to improver-level skills.
There aren’t any surf-for-hire places otherwise known as surf rental shops here, so we suggest you hire before you arrive or collect your gear from just around the headland at Blue Surf in Porth beach.
2. Widemouth Bay, Bude
The waves near and around Bude are a favourite among surfers of all abilities due to their consistency, and you can find the best conditions in Widemouth Bay. Here, you’ll find that the beach is perfect for beginners at low tide and mid-tide, whereas the high tides are perfect for more advanced surfers.
Equipment rental is available at Widemouth Surf Co.
3. Watergate Bay, Newquay
Watergate Bay is a great surfing beach for beginners – it has clean, consistent waves and rare occurrences of vast walls of waves crashing onto you when you’re surfing. Generally, the best time to surf here is during low tide because as the tides get higher, the waves become more prominent which means it’ll be easier to catch the good waves.
You can hire your surf equipment at the Blue Surf School.
4. Polzeath Beach
This is a rare beach mainly because it’s pretty much only for beginner surfers. This beach has relatively weak, slow-breaking waves and is a fantastic location for you to practice your surfing skills, build your confidence, and get used to standing up on the board on your own.
You can hire your board and equipment from Wavehunters.
Which Beach Is Best For Surfing In Cornwall?
The best beaches for surfing in Cornwall are:
- Fistral Beach, Newquay – known as the mecca for surfers in the UK
- Perranporth Beach, Perranporth – known for its exclusivity and extensive beaches
- Porthmeor Beach, St. Ives – known for its big hollow waves
- Gwithian Beach, Hayle – known for its consistent but varying waves along the beach
- Praa Sands Beach, Helston – known as the south coast’s best surfing spot
Why Is Cornwall So Good For Surfing?
Cornwall is the UK’s surf capital due to its unique location that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean – making it a magnet for swell. It has a milder climate and a host of excellent beaches, perfect for beginners. More importantly, Cornwall is also the prime location for one of the biggest pro-surf competitions in Europe.
Can You Surf All Year Round In Cornwall?
Yes, you can surf all year round in Cornwall. Safety should always be a priority, and it is not recommended for you to go surfing alone without any lifeguards on duty. The best beach to surf all year round by the RNLI is Fistral Beach in Newquay.
Alternatively, we suggest taking surf lessons at a surf school with certified instructors who are also lifeguards.
That’s basically everything you need to know about surfing in Cornwall for beginners, especially if it’s your first time. There are wonderful beaches and plenty of surf schools around the county that you can take surf lessons from in Cornwall.
Cornwall offers stunning beauty and spectacular beaches that will surely enthrall you, and we guarantee that it will be one of the best surfing experiences you will have in the UK.
We hope you’ve found this guide helpful – from surf schools to surf beaches, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect combination that suits you and the kind of surfing you intend to do while you’re in Cornwall.