Category: Beach Holidays

The Best 9 Surfing Spots In Cornwall

Famous for its stunning shorelines and powerful waves, the coast of Cornwall is full of amazing spots for surfing the waves. Almost entirely bordered by the sea, the county sits at the far west of England on a peninsula that leads right into the Atlantic Ocean and is famous for its turquoise waters and dramatic cliffscape.  

So, why are Cornwall’s beaches so good for surfing?

With a coast spreading for almost 300 miles, Cornwall is home to the largest amount of shoreline of all the English counties. Its beaches cater to surfers of all abilities, with gentle rolling waters for budding newbies as well as forceful, crashing waves for the pros; easily making surfing one of the best things to do in the area.

If you’re planning a trip to the Cornwall coast, be sure to check out this list of the 9 Best Surfing Spots in Cornwall.

1. Praa Sands Beach, Helston

One of the most famous surfing spots on the south coast is Praa Sands Beach, and for good reason. Situated between Penzance and Helston, Praa Sands is known for having fast, heavy waves that get particularly steep during high tide.

While this is great news for experienced surfers, it also shouldn’t be an issue for newbies as you can grab a few lessons at Global Boarders to build up your confidence before going solo. Although Praa Sands is a very popular beach and attracts surfers from all over the world, it is also very big so there is more than enough room for everyone to spread out and ride the waves comfortably. 

Nothing short of dazzling, this beach has gorgeous white sand and is dotted with small dunes that meet flawless, clear waters. Feel free to make the most of your seaside getaway by paying a visit to the beachfront pub and replenishing yourself in between riding the waves.

2. Gwithian Beach, near Hayle

Located near the Cornish town of Hayle, Gwithian Beach is another fabulous spot for surfing. Stretching for miles, the length of this beach means that it rarely gets overcrowded even during the summer months, making it a great choice for exploring the waters during peak season.

Offering waves for all skill levels, Gwithian is a perfect spot for advanced surfers as well as novices. The gentle slope of the beach causes the surf to form and break steadily, making this an ideal beach for beginners who will have plenty of time to mount the board before and catch the surf at the right time. 

If you are a complete newbie or simply want to brush up on some skills, the Gwithian Academy of Surfing offers lessons for those of all abilities with beginner, intermediate and experienced classes. Gwithian is also lifeguarded during the summer months, so you can rest assured that you will be able to surf safely even when the beach is at its busiest.

3. Sennen Beach, Sennen

Sennen Beach is the most westerly beach in Cornwall and sits close to the sleepy fishing village of Sennen. With heavenly white sand, beautiful blue waters and a backdrop of rolling hills, this cove is definitely one of the most picturesque in Cornwall.

Being close to Land’s End, Sennen Beach receives the brunt of the swell from the Atlantic and consistently enjoys good waves throughout the summer season. These top-quality waves make this shore a favourite amongst advanced and adventurous surfers.

However, the beach also caters for beginners; the other end of the coast is sheltered by a breakwater which makes the waves nice and gentle, perfect for those who are newer to the sport. After working up an appetite on the waves, you can hit the beach cafe and restaurant to refuel with some delicious food.

4. Fistral Beach, Newquay

Despite several other beaches being closer to the centre of Newquay, Fistral Beach is always the most popular spot on this part of the coast, especially amongst beginners. As well as offering spots with gentle conditions for those who are new to the sport, Fistral tends to produce the biggest waves in the area, picking up swells that are up to 8 feet high.

In fact, Fistral hosts the famous ‘Rip Curl Boardmasters’ competition and a number of other national and international surf competitions every year. This claim to fame makes this spot a fantastic place for catching sight of some of the best surfers in the world, and maybe even picking up some tips. 

Being three-quarters of a mile long, there is also plenty of space to spread out from the pros and take the time to focus on your own adventures. While ‘Little Fistral’ and ‘Big Fistral’ are best suited to intermediate and advanced surfers, the middle section of the bay is known for having smaller waves that are perfect for beginners.

5. Perranporth Beach, Perranporth

A huge beach west of Newquay, Perranporth’s golden shoreline stretches 3 miles and is very popular amongst beginners and pros alike. This spot is never short of swell, with the best waves tending to come in towards the Penhale end of the bay. 

As the tide level drops you’ll be able to see Perran Sands, which is a long stretch of beach to the east that offers a calm surf for those seeking some gentle waves. However, for those who are new to the area or sport, it might be best to stick to the lifeguarded regions in order to stay safe during your time in the water. 

This beach can get extremely busy during the summer months, so be sure to arrive early to be in with a chance of securing a spot on this coveted coastline. If you happen to forget anything in the excitement or simply want to splurge on some new equipment, there are lots of great surf shops in Perranporth where you will be able to pick up anything you need.

Don’t fret if you’d rather stick to renting; there are also plenty of places where you can hire equipment in the town. For those seeking some lessons, there are lots of surf schools on the beach including Perranporth Surf School, Watering Hole Surf School and Ticket to Ride Surf School.

6. Polzeath Beach, Padstow

A relatively undiscovered choice, Polzeath Beach has gentle shelling and is quite sheltered, which results in the waves being rather gentle and lacking in power. While this makes the bay rather unpopular amongst the more advanced surfers, it also makes the beach an ideal spot for newbies. 

As well as testing the waters without the pressure of any pros beside you, there are lots of surf schools dotted about the beach such as Surf’s Up Surf School, George’s Surf School and Polzeath Surf School, so you won’t be short of support. This also means that the bay is likely to be buzzing with fellow novices so be sure to arrive relatively early in the summer months to secure a spot.

Sitting just 2 miles from the famous town of Padstow, you can head into the centre to recover after riding the waves. A foodie favourite, you will have lots of bustling bistros and pubs to choose from where you can grab a quick drink or a full meal before heading home.

7. Porthtowan Beach, St Agnes

A fantastic spot along the coast by St Agnes, the waves at Porthtowan are known for packing an extra bit of punch and power. Lying west of Perranporth in a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, expect stunning views of a dramatic cliffscape surrounding cobalt blue waters when visiting this beach.

The sandbanks at this beach cause the waves to be particularly steep, making this a perfect spot for experienced surfers. If you are not quite a pro just yet, don’t let the waves put you off. You can always book a lesson with the Porthtowan Surf School where instructors will be more than happy to show you how to brave the waves safely. 

8. Widemouth Bay Beach, Bude

Aptly named, Widemouth Bay is renowned for having a long stretch of golden sand which offers an abundance of space for visitors. Sitting just off of the A39 close to the surfing town of Bude, Widemouth Bay’s popularity is owed to the magnificent shape of its waves, which break softly due to the slight gradient of the beach. 

You will have everything you need at a stone’s throw away during your visit with plenty of handy facilities by the beach including a car park, toilets and a surf shop. There are also several cafes where you can stop in for a quick bite between hitting the waves.

The town of Bude would be an ideal place to stay when visiting Widemouth Bay as it is around a 5-minute drive away and makes a perfect base for visiting some of the other beaches in the area including Crooklets Beach and Sandymouth Beach. For surfing lessons, you can hit up the Freewave Surf Academy which offers a fantastic range of different surfing experiences from taster sessions to surf safaris, there is something for everyone.

9. Porthmeor Beach, St Ives

One of five beaches around St Ives, Porthmeor provides a unique combination of idyllic coastline and cultural sights, with its beautiful turquoise waters being overlooked by the famous Tate Gallery. Slightly more sheltered than the other beaches on the north coast, these waves do not tend to pick up as much swell and are unlikely to blow you away. 

Saying that, even on a calm day there is usually enough momentum in the waters for those wanting to dip a toe into the surfing experience. You may also be lucky enough to catch the waves at their best; they can be pretty powerful on a good day!

You can grab a lesson or two at the nearby St Ives Surf School any day of the week. With the beach only being a 10-15 minute walk from the town of St Ives, it is easiest to park there and then make your way over while taking in the charm of this quintessentially Cornish town.


With so much stunning coastline in Cornwall, the region is the perfect place to go for a surfing adventure. Offering clear waters that cater to all abilities as well as swell to die for and milder temperatures than the rest of England, it truly does earn the title of the UK’s surf capital. 

Whichever beach you choose to shred some waves, you are sure to be spoiled with turquoise waters, golden sand and a thriving surf scene. Even if you fancy giving the board a miss, you will be surrounded by stunning scenery and have plenty of rockpools to explore.

If you’re planning a holiday to a town in Cornwall and are looking for somewhere to stay, why not check out our range of self-catering properties in the region.

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