Devon is renowned the world over for its excellent surf spots, whether you’re a novice or an experienced veteran. Home to huge barrels and fun-sized swells, hollow tubes and regular sets that pound the sand in perfect rhythm, here are the best beaches in Devon for catching the waves.
A three-mile (5km) stretch of sand that extends toward Woolacombe in the north and Baggy Point in the south, Putsborough can sometimes see some pretty big waves. 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. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, then this one-bed flat overlooking Putsborough Beach is perfect. This apartment complex couldn’t be closer to the waves, and there’s also a surf shop nearby in the village of Croyde. There’s even an outdoor shower, so once you’re done on the beach you can wash down your wet-suit, clear the sand from between your toes and relax on the private sun terrace.
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 it 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.Saunton Point Break was practically built for the surfing community, and this two-bed apartment is perfect for a surf holiday. Easy access to the beach is matched by surf-friendly amenities, some of the best views in all of North Devon and a state-of-the-art underfloor heating system, ideal for a winter trip.
Bantham is probably the best beach in South Devon, with a swell range between 2 to 12 feet (0.6-3.6m). 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. This four-bed cottage in West Buckland is perfect for a family trip. Just half a mile from the beach, the hosts leave a collection of old bicycles and wet-suits in the outbuilding, free for guests to use as they please.
Woolacombe, one of North Devon‘s most famous surf spots, has a nice regular set 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 the summer. Even when the waves here aren’t big, they are definitely fun. If you venture around the rocky point to Combesgate, there are fewer people and the opportunity 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. The hanging surfboards and beachy aesthetic of this two-person flat say all you need to know about its hosts. There’s even a secure space at the apartment’s entrance built specifically to store surfboards, wet-suits and any other beach equipment. What more could you need?
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 UK if conditions are just right. As is imaginable, it can get pretty busy here during the summer, so crowding can be an issue – as can rip tides and large swells – nonetheless, Croyde is a great spot for surfers of all abilities. Glamping is often the best way to get as close to the beach as possible, and this intimate two-person pod does exactly that. Small but extremely comfortable, the panoramic window looking over Croyde Bay will ensure the first thing you see when you wake up is the ocean waves waiting to be ridden.