The Best Surfing Beaches in Devon, UK

Devon's beaches offer the best waves for every level of surfer
Devon's beaches offer the best waves for every level of surfer | © Anna Cardy / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lauren Williams
Freelance Travel Journalist1 April 2021

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.

Putsborough

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Putsborough beach in North Devon, England UK
© Adrian Seal / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Saunton Sands

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© lleerogers / Getty Images
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.

Bantham

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A kite surfer makes the most of the conditions at Bantham beach in South Devon as Storm Ellen brings strong winds across the United Kingdom.
© Andrew Lloyd / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Woolacombe

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Surf school, Woolacombe, Devon, UK
© Nik Taylor Sport / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Croyde Bay

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Baggy point Croyde bay devon england. Image shot 05/2010. Exact date unknown.
© Dave Ashwin / Alamy Stock Photo
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.
These recommendations were updated on April 1, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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