Surf's Up: The Best Surf Spots in the United Kingdom

The UK has its share of great places to catch a wave
The UK has its share of great places to catch a wave | © Susan Walker / Getty Images

The UK might not have the same surf as Hawaii, South Africa or California, but it certainly does have a scene. For beginners and experienced surfers alike, here are some of the top places to catch a decent wave – from Devon to Cromer.

Once you’ve exhausted wild swimming in London, swot up on the surfer’s code and take to some of the UK’s best spots.

Remember: check conditions, never surf alone, ensure your gear is in tip-top condition and respect the right of way for the surfer closest to the peak. Surf’s up!

Croyde Bay, Devon

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Surfer riding the waves close to the rocks at Croyde Bay, Devon.
© Susan Walker / Getty Images
North Devon’s Croyde Bay is a popular spot, about four hours from London. Being the surfing capital of the area, by no means is this bay a hidden spot – but, indeed, it is a great place to catch a wave. Before heading out on the water, book a lesson at the Croyde Surf Academy, which offers lessons for both total beginners and advanced surfers who want to sharpen up. Meanwhile, there are a number of places where you can hire all the equipment you need.

Saunton Sands, Devon

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Surfers take to the surf at Saunton Sands, near Croyde, North Devon, England UK
© Gary Blake / Alamy Stock Photo

Another North Devon favourite, Saunton Sands is particularly good for beginners with its promise of regular waves. It’s also a big hit with longboard surfing, for which you can hire the gear from Saunton Surf Hire, after taking a lesson or two with the Walking on Waves Surf School.

Rest Bay, Wales

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Surfers Rest Bay Sker House Port Talbot Steelworks Porthcawl South Wales
© The Photolibrary Wales / Alamy Stock Photo
Rest Bay in Porthcawl, Wales, is favoured by the surf community for its all-year-round reliable waves. Before heading out, advanced surfers should check out the bay’s surf report and forecast if you’re serious about getting a day of quality surfing in. Beginners should look out for waves in the range of 0.4m to 0.6m (1.5ft to 2ft) and plan to visit the Porthcawl Surf School.

Polzeath Beach, Cornwall

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The popular surfing beach at Polzeath, North Cornwall.
© ian woolcock / Alamy Stock Photo

Polzeath Beach, north of Wadebridge in Cornwall, is a tourist-friendly surf spot. It’s not the first port of call for seasoned surfers, as its waves are known for being relatively weak, but it does make for a great spot for learners. You can book private surf lessons or immersive courses with George’s Surf School.

Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

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Surfer on the waves at Bournemouth
© Richard Brown / Alamy Stock Photo

In Dorset, Bournemouth Beach has the best rep for surfing; the east side of its pier is where you’ll find those in the know. Take a cue from the pros and check the surf report and forecast before heading out. As for surf lessons, Surf Steps, about 500m (1,640ft) from Boscombe Pier, has got you covered.

Cromer, Norfolk

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Group of surfers having tuition and safety instructions in Cromer beach in Norfolk
© MkEngland / Alamy Stock Photo

Driving 30 minutes from Norfolk city centre will take you to the seaside town of Cromer. Here, you’ll get the best surf in East Anglia, with the surf breaks around its Victorian pier worth catching. Glide Surf School is your one-stop shop for renting all the gear you’ll need and getting a lesson under your belt.

Reconnect with your essential nature through exploring our local UK paradise.

These recommendations were updated on August 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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