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Surfing in Cornwall

  • Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

Last updated: 28 April, 2024

Receiving the biggest swells in the UK and offering year-round, reliable waves at postcard-perfect golden beaches, the north and west coasts of Cornwall offers the best surfing in the UK.

While Newquay is the undisputed surf central, with some of the best beaches and a lively surfing community, there are numerous others (less crowded) options, with a slew of good surf schools on hand to offer instruction and equipment for hire for beginners.

Due to its angle to the Atlantic Ocean, the south coast doesn’t get the same swells, and surfing conditions are average at best. Falmouth bay is your best bet, but if possible, stick to the north and west coasts.

Especially for the under 12s

Plenty of surf schools in Cornwall offer lessons for kids with minimum age requirements starting at 5 (though often 7 or 8) and the ability to swim at least 25m unaided.

Recommendations

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Surf at Fistral Beach

  • Newquay, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

Aerial Photograph of Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall, England

Experience

With world-class, challenging breaks all year round, this is the recognised home of surfing in Cornwall. There are good surf schools here, but it heaves with crowds and the overspill of Newquay nightlife. Book in with the Fistral Beach Surf School.

Min age 5

Good for age: 5+

Surf at Gwithian Beach

  • St Ives, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

The beautiful golden sandy beach at Gwithian with Godrevy in the distance Cornwall England UK Europe

Experience

This spacious beach, 4 miles east of St Ives, has consistently average, slow-breaking waves (tide in or out), making it an excellent spot for a first lesson. The Gwithian Academy of Surfing claims a 92% stand-up rate for beginners.

Min age 5

Good for age: 5+

Surf at Harlyn Bay

  • Padstow, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

Harlyn Bay North Cornwall England UK near Padstow and Newquay and on the South West Coast Path in spring with blue sky and sea one of the most beautiful Cornish bays and beaches

Experience

A good choice for both intermediate and novice surfers to further their skills. This scenic beach has plenty of space, consistent but manageable swell, and expertise on hand at the Harlyn Surf School.

Min age 5

Good for age: 5+

Surf at Lusty Glaze Beach

  • Newquay, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

Stunning blue sky above Lusty Glaze Beach Newquay Cornwall England UK Europe

Experience

Pair a surf lesson with a day of thrill activities – perhaps coasteering, jet skiing, abseiling or zip lining – at this all-action adventure beach.

Min age 5

Good for age: 5+

Surf at Sennen Cove

  • Penzance, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

Aerial view of the beach at Sennen Cove, Cornwall

Experience

If you want a more scenic surf lesson without the crowds, head to this wildly beautiful beach on the far western coast past Penzance. Sennen receives consistent breaks, with waves at the western end perfect for beginners. Book in with Smart Surf School or the Sennen Surfing Centre.

Min age 5

Good for age: 5+

Surf at Watergate Bay

  • Newquay, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

On the coast path overlooking the golden sandy beach at Watergate Bay near Newquay Cornwall England UK Europe

Experience

Watergate Bay has a consistent year-round beach break, and is good for surfers of all abilities. The two surf schools here are top drawer. Book in with Wavehunters at the Extreme Academy.

Min age 5

Good for age: 5+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 5
Age suitable: 5+
When: All year around
Duration: 1+ hours

Getting there & doing it

Many popular beaches are around north and west coast hubs such as Bude, Padstow, Newquay, St Ives and Penzance, and easy enough to get to, even without a car.

Wetsuits are essential, even in summer, as the water is (invigoratingly) cold. You can hire boards and go it alone – but better to get at least one lesson first to learn the basics.

Surf school options vary from one-off, one-hour lessons to intensive courses; some also offer summer camps for children and teenagers. Book ahead in peak season. For surf school listings and advice on the best beaches see the Surfing Cornwall website or see our recommendations below of who to go with.

When to do it

Surfing is a year-round activity in Cornwall. Spring and Autumn see the biggest waves, but for beginners, conditions in July and August are ideal.

Summer brings the crowds, and those close to the town hubs will be heaving. Head to one of the hundreds of lesser-known beaches, and there’s plenty of space.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • Newquay

Always wanted to try surfing, then our beginner group surf lessons are for you! Our ISA and Lifeguard qualified surf instructors will give you the basic knowledge and skills of surfing in a fun and informative way. We are the longest running surf school in Newquay based on South Fistral Beach and a Surfing England Centre of Excellence. A bucket list must for every visit to Newquay no matter what age, ability or experience. Get those essential surf skills down before hitting the waves by yourself. Suitable for complete novice surfers, those that have surfed only a couple of times before or those that need a refresher lesson. All of our lessons are 2 hours and include free equipment hire, wetsuit, surfboard (boots, gloves, hood in winter). Maximum instructor/student ratio 1:8. Minimum age for participants 7 years old, under 10's to be accompanied by an adult. All participants must be able to swim.

Price £45

Min age 7

Rating 4.99 / 5 [276 ratings]

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  • Newquay

Surfing Lessons in Newquay, Cornwall Learning to surf in Newquay is a blast a minute. Starting with fun active warm ups, beach safety and how to catch waves on your stomach you’ll be in the water in no time. Learn from the best, our experienced and passionate surf instructors will break down, demonstrate and support you through the fundamentals of catching and riding a Cornish wave. Master the coolest sport on earth and join us for a surf lesson in Newquay.  Duration: All of our activities are two hours long from once you are in a wetsuit. Typically customers will need 3 hours with us in total.  What we provide: We provide all the equipment that you need. (wetsuits, surfboards) We ask that you bring something to wear under your wetsuit and a towel. If it's sunny we recommend a bottle of water and suncream.

Price £40

Min age 8

Rating 4.92 / 5 [164 ratings]

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  • Newquay

This course is perfect for beginners looking for an introduction to surfing, or just a quick surfing fix! This is a 2 hour surfing lesson, tailored to your ability For students on a first lesson your coach will introduce all of the skills and techniques necessary to surf with control and safety. Soon enough you will be riding the waves with style! If you have already surfed, you can then use this session to build on more advanced techniques, including paddling, turning and reading the ocean. We meet at Escape Surf School, in Newquay, which is located overlooking Towan beach on the premises of Belushis / St Christophers Inn.

Price £40

Min age 8

Rating 4.97 / 5 [136 ratings]

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  • Newquay

Perfect for beginners - approx 3 hours from arrival to departure Learn all the core surfing skills and gain personal feedback Group ratio 1:8 instructor to students – great stand up rates! Equipment, changing rooms, lock box for valuables, warm showers and insurance all included Learn to surf at our Newquay Surf School in Cornwall and prepare to get highly addicted. Our Taster Surfing Lessons are aimed at total beginners and will introduce you to this super-cool and fun sport, teaching you the basics from beach safety to stand up surfing. Our Newquay Surf School is the only place to learn.

Price £45

Min age 3

Rating 4.95 / 5 [120 ratings]

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  • Newquay

Our unique location and years of experience means that you are getting the best lesson in town. We guarantee you will learn lots whilst having heaps of fun!

Price £160

Min age 5

Rating 4.94 / 5 [114 ratings]

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