Best surfing beaches in north Cornwall
With the world class Fistral Beach in Newquay at its heart, the north Cornwall coastline is a world renown surfing hotspot. With so many beaches to choose from it can be hard to know where to begin, so we have complied a list of the top surfing spots in north Cornwall. With some being perfect for families and beginners, and others more suited to the seasoned surfer looking for a challenge, we are sure you will find your ideal choice.
Widemouth Bay is a very wide, sandy beach a few miles south of Bude. It ticks all the boxes as it usable, to some extent, at all tides.
Widemouth also has the advantage of some good rock reefs at either end of the beach. This means that the more experienced surfers can get away from the beginners.
In addition to the surf, there are rock-pools to play in and a café, making it a very family-friendly beach.
Polzeath is a go-to beach for surfing. It’s great for beginners as the wannabe pro’s can move away from the learners and find their own space, and the expert long-boarders and SUPers enjoy its outside, uncrowded peaks.
It offers a nice soft and slow wave at all states of tide, although at high water the beach is narrow so it can get a little cramped. Low to medium tide is best.
Polzeath is one of the most visited surfing beaches in Cornwall. It’s well served with cafés, restaurants and pubs, and there is also parking on the beach.
Watergate is Newquay‘s least hardcore beach. This wide, sandy beach is replete with bars and restaurants perfect for a post-surf snack. It is a good choice for beginners who are learning the ropes.
However, it is used a lot by different types of surfers including kiters, windsurfers and SUPers.
The privately-owned Lustyglaze beach is less well-known than Great Western, Toclarne and Towan that are immediately adjacent. You can walk onto the beach from Tolcarne at very low tide, but the primary access is down twisting stairs that bring you down the tall cliffs.
Despite the steep access, it is a super family friendly beach, with a café and restaurant, toilets, and a watersports shop. This beach has lifeguard cover and is popular with all kinds of surfers, but usually not overcrowded because the beach is so wide at low to mid tide.
The adventure centre at Lusty Glaze provides surfing lessons as well as many other exciting activities such as abseiling, jet skiing and banana boat rides.
Bude has several excellent beaches. To the north you’ll find Sandymouth, a mile of sand enjoying excellent surf, although caution should be considered in bigger swell conditions. It’s more usable at low to mid tide. You also have Crooklets, a west facing beach with consistently surfable waves, but best avoided at high water.
Harlyn is the best north-facing surf beach in the county. If the swell’s from the west then either Polzeath or Watergate will catch more of it, but with a northerly wave (or westerly winds blowing out the other locations) Harlyn is the place to be.
Harlyn is often blessed with solid waves, favoured by the shortboard elite. Beginners are well catered for here, with a fantastic surf school which The Sunday Times named as the best on Cornwall’s north coast. The school also runs stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and coasteering activities.
Millook, semi-hidden halfway between Bude and Crackington Haven, is a classic Cornish surf spot. Partly, due to having one of the country’s best shallow reef breaks which produces its best waves on the bigger swells.
This is a proper locals beach with no designated parking nearby, and all the hardcore local surfers in the lineup, so make sure you know how to play nicely. This beach is not for the faint-hearted beginner, but it is great for for the seasoned surfer who knows how to hold their own.
Stangles beach is situated between Bude and Boscastle. This is a relatively unknown and quiet beach, in part because it is reached by a narrow path, winding 140 metes down a rocky hillside.
Strong currents and undertow make this beach unsafe for swimming unless it’s very calm making it unsuitable for beginners. For a competent surfer, however, it can be navigated with ease and is a good place on the north coast to avoid the usual crowds.