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Saunton Sands, Devon | © Judy Dean/Flickr
Saunton Sands, Devon | © Judy Dean/Flickr

The Best Surfing Beaches in Devon

Picture of Lauren Williams
Freelance Travel Journalist
Updated: 12 November 2017

Devon is a world-class surfing destination for everyone from beginner to the gnarled veteran. There are huge barrels and fun-sized swells, hollow tubes and regular sets which pound the sand in perfect rhythm. Here are Devon’s best beaches for catching the waves.

Putsborough

This three-mile stretch of sand which extends toward Woolacombe in the north and Baggy Point in the south, Putsborough can sometimes hold a pretty big wave. On days when the surf is small, it offers a great wave for the beginner surfer, but in bigger swells it is perfect for the experienced rider. There is a strong rip current near the south end of the beach near the cliffs, which can be useful for some but dangerous for those with little experience, so, as with any day in the water, know your limits and be careful when surfing here! Remember to talk to the locals if you’re new to the area.

Saunton Sands

This rather huge beach is a firm favourite among surfers in Devon. It can get a bit crowded at the weekends, but there is so much space that it’s hardly noticeable. Saunton has slow walls of water which can offer beginners a good stead for getting up and riding the waves. There is a known rip current along the side of the cliffs but is a great place for a long board at low tide. The car park is free if you arrive very early in the morning for a dawn surf; late in the evening or during the winter months, and through peak times in summer, there is a charge.

Bantham

Bantham is probably the best beach in South Devon and has a swell range of 2-12 feet. As such, it attracts a wide range of levels and abilities, with families flocking here during the summer holidays. There can be a strong rip due to the River Avon, but the swell is good here on all tides. Bantham is a great place to sit and while away the day too, with stunning views of the coast and Burgh Island, which you can walk to when the tide is out.

Woolacombe

Woolacombe, one of North Devon’s most famous surf spots, has a nice regular set which is perfect for beginners, intermediates and longboarders. Of course, it can get crowded here, but the atmosphere is generally relaxed and there are lifeguards patrolling the beach throughout summer. Even when the waves here aren’t big, they are definitely fun. Be aware that the occasional heavy wave with the power to knock the wind out of you is prone to Woolacombe.

If you venture around the rocky point to Combesgate, there are less people and the chance for some pretty epic barrels. The catch here is that there are more rocks and a strong rip, so best left to the experienced surfer and the best waves are at mid-tide.

Croyde Bay

Most likely the most popular surfing spot in the southwest outside of Newquay, Croyde offers perfect barrels at low tide and has one of the best breaks in the whole of the U.K. if conditions are just right. As is imaginable, it can get pretty busy here during the summer and crowding can be an issue – as can rip tides and large swells, but nonetheless Croyde is a great spot for surfers of all abilities.