If you were to ask your average non-surfer where the most popular place to catch a wave in England was, most would tell you that it’s somewhere in Cornwall. The most south-westerly county is indeed the most popular destination for surfers – whether you are a novice or a hardened pro. The North Cornwall coast has the full force of the Atlantic Ocean to thank for its power pack of briny rollers. The sea along this embattled and beautiful coast is not to be taken lightly - it also offers up optimum conditions for the surf ride of your life. Surfing is a way of life and is more than a mere sport or hobby to many. Some have been joyfully addicted to the thrill of chasing down the perfect wave ever since they first answered the call of the sea. Don't forget that all surfers have been beginners at some stage, tussling and battling to stand straight after being thrown aside again and again. Stick with it and a hard-won ride back to shore on a willing wave will get you hooked on the thrill for life.
The county is full of excellent beaches - this a guide to some of the very best beaches to surf at in Cornwall.
Newquay is the surfing equivalent of Las Vegas. There are other great places to gamble in Nevada, but everybody knows Las Vegas – Newquay is the same. Excuse the parallel, but Newquay is the biggest surfing destination in England for a reason. It's not only because it has the best PR, the surf really does ‘go-off’ here. Newquay has several excellent beaches: the wide Fistral, Harbour, Great Western and Towan Beach to name the main ones. The town has had a gradual facelift over the last 20 years with the arrival of some upmarket bars and a multiplex cinema. Newquay is an awesome spot to stock up on surfboards and apparel; it is especially worth a trip in the off-season for some mega deals.
Great for – a high number of superb surfing beaches in one town, fabulous shops, pubs, facilities all around.
Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes
A few miles to the south of Perranporth is the lesser-known surfer’s treasure, Trevaunance Cove. Found in the village of St Agnes, the surf here is impressive. Tons of sea water plough into the narrow bay and it’s a true spectacle to watch at mid and high tide. The cove used to be home to one of the few man-made harbours on the north coast, but its walls were knocked down in a storm. Today, the remains form part of an artificial bombora, which generates a good right break for those that surf here. With good facilities and a good local surf community, this beach is one for experienced surfers. The beach is also loved by children and sun worshippers. The welcoming Driftwood Spars pub is close by and always open for those that love a post-surf ale and pie. Also, head to the nearby Chapel Porth, Portreath and Porthtowan.
Great for – spectacular surfing prospects for advanced surfers, lovely pub close by, good facilities, lovely location.
Gunwalloe is another gem to seek out if you plan to stay in a holiday cottage on The Lizard. It’s situated on the west coast of the peninsula, facing down the coast to Mullion and Kynance. Even though Gunwalloe has changing facilities, it’s quite a wild beach. There is a small dune and rocky headland that divides Gunwalloe into two beaches. The place is characterised by its unusual church at the foot of the dunes. The south coast of Cornwall lives firmly in the shadow of the north coast when it comes to prime surfing spots. However, this is one southern place where you’ll regularly see hardcore surfers far out in the waves, so if you are experienced, head down to the Lizard.
Great for – avoiding crowds, a choice of beaches, a rare south coast break.
Sennen is the most westerly seaside resort on the British mainland. It’s also great for surfing and being at the brunt of the coastline, just south of Land's End and Cape Cornwall. Sennen Beach gets very busy during the summer and school holidays and there is at least one surf school based in the village if you are a beginner or fancy a refresher course. Sennen is patrolled by lifeguards during the busy periods and it’s a fantastic place to surf for board riders of all abilities. Please pay attention to the flags, because there’s potential for some strong currents at Sennen – if nobody is in the water, there’s a very good reason for it. Sennen village is geared up for visitors in the summer as you can find some superb facilities, pubs and eateries to enjoy between surfing sessions.
Great for – surfing lessons, lively crowds and good lifeguard coverage.
Watergate Bay is a few miles north of Newquay, and it’s a real draw. Many visitors to Cornwall head to this beach to learn. Long and straight beaches are to be treasured and the legions of eager novices that roll up at Watergate are a testament to this. With lifeguard cover and very good facilities for all, Watergate is one of the best popular beaches to base yourself. The small village of Watergate Bay centres around the plaza above the beach which is home to several high-profile restaurants including Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. Being so close to Newquay means that you could probably surf several breaks on the same day. It's also within easy driving distance of Wadebridge and Padstow.
Great for – surfing lessons, trying your first solo rides, very good facilities and lifeguard coverage.
There are so many other great places to surf along the Cornwall coast like Praa Sands, Portreath, Polzeath, Sandymouth, Widemouth Bay, Crackington Haven, Perranporth, Bude, and Porthtowan to name a few. If you are looking for a surfing holiday in Cornwall this season, why not stay in a holiday cottage?
Surfer-friendly cottages often feature helpful extras like storage space for surfboards and outdoor showers with space to hang wetsuits. We have cottages all along the Cornish coast, often minutes from the beach, with sea views and comfortable furnishings to relax in after a long day of wave wrangling. Visit our collection of holiday properties on the Cornwall coast today to feel inspired.