Best places in the UK for surfing

Top 10 Places for Surfing in the UK

No longer a hidden gem for those simply seeking to catch a break, the UK can now count itself among the most famous surfing holiday settings in Europe.

Whether you’re a pro, a novice with the hunger to learn, or just want to incorporate a fun activity for all the family into your luxury stay, there’ll be a beach that suits your needs. So, here are our top 10 places for surfing in the UK…

A person carrying a surfboard along the beach at sunset

Croyde, Devon

Considered the surfing capital in this part of town – which is no mean feat considering the competition – the village of Croyde has enough rolling waves to please both beginners and the more discerning surfer.

Woolacombe and Saunton Sands are the area’s most beautiful and beloved beaches, with the latter in particular an accessible surf for all. With a sheltered bay, a family-friendly and relaxed seaside village vibe, lifeguards, and of course top surf schools to suit all ages, Croyde is hard to beat.

A beach in Newquay

Fistral Beach, Cornwall

Another all-rounder in Newquay – one of north Cornwall and the UK’s best known surfing spots and enduringly popular holiday locations – is the famous Fistral Beach.

Even if you’re new to surfing, you’ll surely have heard of Fistral’s cliffs, crashing waves, golden dunes and abundance of facilities. The local tourist infrastructure makes it a popular pick for UK surfing competitions, which again means there’s lifeguard cover, too many surf schools to choose from, and a great history of hitting the waves – which can regularly hit the heights of up to eight feet.

Three Cliffs Bay Gower Peninsula Wales Great Britain Aerial View

Gower Peninsula, Wales

Wales has seen itself emerge as an exciting watersports destination over recent years, and the Gower Peninsula – a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – is among the best places to rent a surfboard and experience life out on the waves.

Langland and Crab Island are the hangouts of choice for those seeking the most thrilling and challenging adventures but the area’s diversity also mean there are spots – such as Caswell Bay and Llangennith – that better suit the whole family. Paddleboarding is also popular around these parts, for those that fancy a different approach.

Kimmeridge Bay

Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset

If you’d rather avoid the sometimes busy beaches of Cornwall and Devon, Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is an equally beautiful place to pitch up at for a luxury holiday and some quality surf time.

Kimmeridge Bay is the centre of the surf scene here – with waves in ‘The Bench’ area that can reach up to 12 feet, which makes it a choice for the most experienced surfers only. ‘The Bay’ is a more accessible area but you’ll still be pinning your hopes of catching the perfect wave on unpredictable conditions.

Pier over the beach at Saltburn

Saltburn, North Yorkshire

Away from the South West, Yorkshire may not seem the most obvious choice for a surfing excursion, but visitors will love the peaceful beach and almost old school seaside atmosphere of Saltburn-by-the-sea.

On a sunny day, the scenery at the former Victorian resort matches any across the UK and there are a handful of surf schools and shops to make this worth the trip – as well as plenty of fish and chip shops to refuel and warm up at. As for surfing conditions, waves around the pier are perfect for practice and there’s opportunities for surfers of all ages and aptitudes.

Gwithian Towans Beach

Gwithian Towans Beach, Cornwall

Another of the jewels in Cornwall’s crown, Gwithian Beach is part of the St Ives Bay area – so expect gold sand and great waves in this idyllic part of the UK, which often has conditions for all abilities.

Yet again, there are surf lessons for all the family and an ideal infrastructure for visitors. An Atlantic breeze means you’ll be joined out on the waves by an array of windsurfers and kite-flyers, too. It’s also considered to have good year-round conditions, which can make it busy, and there’s lifeguard cover for peak visitor season.

A person running into the sea with a surfboard

Thurso East, Scotland

From the family-friendly to another pick that’s purely for the professionals. Thurso East in Scotland is the nation’s surfing hotspot. One for experienced surfers only, it is widely regarded as having some of the best waves in the UK and potentially Europe.

With the prospect of waves of up to 15 feet, a shallow reef, and icy waters, it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted. Thrill-seekers will love surfing close to castle ruins, so if you’re an expert with a board, a Scottish holiday is the ideal time to squeeze in a side-trip here.

Newgale Beach

Newgale, Pembrokeshire, Wales

A trip to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park makes for a rewarding trip at the best of times. And though there are many beaches to choose from, it’s Newgale that wins the plaudits for being best for the whole family.

A number of car parks, plenty of space and sheltered conditions make it a great choice for beginners, kids and those that simply want a spot for accessible, surfing fun. Fairly gentle waves, a lifeguard presence, a surf school and equipment hire complete the easy experience.

People playing on the beach at Perranporth Beach

Perranporth Beach, Cornwall

If you only visit Perranporth Beach to watch others take to the waves, you won’t be disappointed. Miles of scenic sand await you and, if you wish to dip your toes in the surf, there’s acres of space for you to do so and plenty of swell.

As well as surfing, it’s also a popular spot for snorkelling and sailing, too, which means you can truly indulge your desire for aquatic adventures. Cafes, bars, lifeguards, and a famous surf school, make it worth adding to your itinerary whatever your level of experience.

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