Hawaii might have a certain glamour and you can almost
guarantee sun-kissed shores in Portugal, but you needn’t hop on a plane or cross
oceans to catch a good surf. The UK is blessed with rugged but
beautiful coastlines and more than enough curling tides to satisfy
surf-hunters. Traipsing across the UK, from obvious favourites such
as Croyde in North Devon to
Bristol‘s Wavegarden to hidden coves in Yorkshire and beyond,
we’ve pulled together a list of must-visit surf spots. Boards at
Our 10 favourite surfing beaches (and a Wavegarden) in the
Surfers flock to North Devon for its agreeable climate. The
darling town of Croyde is not only blessed with strangely temperate
weather conditions but a year-long swell with stretches that suit
all levels from beginners to experts, as well as left- and
right-handed waves. Not feeling the surf? Grab a SUP (stand-up
paddleboard) and head into the surrounding coves to get up close
with nature. If you’re a complete beginner – and averse to the
taste of seaweed mulch – we suggest booking in a couple of lessons
This place is not for the faint of heart. It has a right-hand
reef break (so lefties might want to give this one a miss) and, on
a good day, six-foot, Hollywood-style barrel waves which look like
something out of The Endless Summer, minus the sun. Yes, this is
Scotland, so don’t expect verdant coastlines dusted with golden
sands. Between October and April, an icy stream flows down the
River Thurso from the Flow Country. Despite the temperatures, it’s
regularly ranked among the 20 best surfing spots in the world.
Thurso East is gritty and chilly but good: consider this your
The UK’s surf community went cock-a-hoop when this place opened
back in 2019. This artificial lagoon – which was nine years in the
making and cost £25million to build – is the only one of its kind
in the UK and the second of its kind in the world, after Melbourne.
Simply rock up and The Wave will kit you out with everything you
need – a board, wetsuit, boots, the lot – though, of course,
experienced surfers can bring their own. Surf sessions with an
instructor range from beginner to advanced, though you can head out
on the lake solo too. Check its website for more details.
County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Portrush is known as the surf capital of Northern Ireland.
Sitting pretty on the famously dramatic Causeway Coast, this cove
offers opportunities for both left- and right-handed surfers to
perfect their skills. It’s a fickle spot which requires a decent
north-westerly wind to churn up some serious waves. When there’s a
decent swell, surfers score the foam with wild abandon so be
prepared to wait your turn.
You might be surprised to learn that Yorkshire – home to
countless doily-clad tearooms and more rickety old pubs than you
can shake a surfboard at – is also home to one of the UK’s most
revered surf spots. Ask one of the local surfers and they’ll tell
you the cold North Sea isn’t kind to those who run hot. In January,
the sun slips behind the horizon as early as 4pm so you’ll want to
be fairly confident if heading here in winter, but beginner waves
can be found on either side of Saltburn’s 200m pier. Grab an
espresso from Camfields Espresso Bar before diving in, and refill
with a salty fresh seafood platter from The Seaview Restaurant
Sandwiched between Land’s End and Cape Cornwall, this 2.5km
stretch of golden sand is popular among surfers of all abilities.
Visit on a blue-sky day and you’ll catch huge, hollow rollers
spinning into the coast. If you’re one of the vertically challenged
surfers among us, take time to pootle about Sennen Cove’s harbour
which is speckled with art galleries and pocket-sized cafés. From
April to September there is a full RNLI Lifeguard service.
Windsurfers, kayakers, divers, you name it: you’ll find all
types of watersports enthusiasts at Pease Bay, just an hour’s drive
east of Edinburgh. Let it be known that this portion of coastline
is wild in winter. On some days you can expect to find 60mph winds
and 40ft waves, so beginners should pick their time wisely.
Alternatively, the less intimidating Belhaven Beach is just a
scooch along the coast and perfect for those still getting to grips
with the board.
Gower Peninsula, Wales
Most people hit up Hillend near Llangennith, but we’re more
interested in catching the surf at Rhossili where there are fewer
people and the surf is delightfully consistent year-round. The
waves might be a foot or so smaller than those in Hillend (no bad
thing, necessarily) but they generally hold up for longer. Rhossili
village is nice enough but it’s the surrounding countryside – the
UK’s first-ever Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, don’t you know
– that will really make you fall hook, line and sinker.
The first port of call for surfers heading out to the Llŷn
Peninsula should be the deceptively named Hell’s Mouth. With
consistently friendly waves year-round which attract everyone from
kayakers to bodyboarders, it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds.
For a change of scene try Porthor, Trefor or Porth Ceiriad – the
latter is known for churning out Llŷn’s best barrel in the right
If you’re new to surfing, head out on low-tide and stick to the
right-hand side of this Porthcawl beach which is less rocky and
generally has smaller, less-challenging waves. Experts will have a
field day battling the rip at high-tide when barrel waves chase
surfers across the shoreline. It’s home to the Welsh Coast
Surf Club, one of the oldest surf clubs in Britain, but don’t
be put off by the experts that call this place home. Rest Bay is
known for hosting spectacular contests – plan your visit in time to
soak up the atmosphere.