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Guide to Cornwall surfing holiday cottages

Guide to Cornwall surfing

Cath Coad 08 March 2023

Whether surfing is about as familiar to you as balancing on an oversized ironing board in the sea or you are a salty-skinned professional cutting whippet-fast shapes on the rollers, there is plenty of excellent surfing in Cornwall to suit all abilities. 

Framed by glorious beaches merging sandy shores with translucent seas and manned by teams of lifeguards and tutors offering surf lessons in Cornwall throughout the summer, you can take your pick of some of the best breaks in the world ready to release your inner John John Florence.

To get you started, here are some of the best surf spots in Cornwall that should definitely be on your list, whether you are just beginning or you’re truly ensconced in your wave journey.

Even if you prefer to just watch on from Cornwall’s best beaches, you’re going to need a Cornish cottage to stay in and wash the sand from your toes. Tap the button below to find your perfect Cornwall escape.


Surfing at Constantine Bay

Sunset and waves at Constantine Bay

One of the best surf beaches in Cornwall, Constantine is a west-facing beach in North Cornwall and is very popular amongst experienced surfers. Not so suitable for learners, it has a reef break at the southern end of the beach and good waves in the middle of the bay, both excellent when the conditions are right.

Constantine is a great spot when the tide is mid to high, and if the wind is up, Trevose Head offers the beach plenty of protection. If you arrive when the tide is mid to low, the excellently named Boobys will offer another great spot. Both beaches welcome four-legged friends all year round, making these a pair of great dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall.


Surfing at Fistral Beach

Perfect sets coming in at Fistral Beach

Globally renowned as one of the finest surfing beaches in the world and the centre for Cornwall surfing as well as for surfing in the UK, Fistral Beach regularly hosts major surfing tournaments and is also home to Cornwall’s big wave, the Cribbar. Great for beginners on calm days and a mecca for pros when sets are pumping.

Fistral in Newquay is always going to have a lot to live up to when you consider that it is the birthplace of surfing in Britain, but fear not, it delivers in (buckets and) spades. As it faces west-north-west, it picks up the north coast swells and holds them exceptionally well. This break works well through all stages of the tide but be aware, it’s going to get busy!


Surfing at Gwithian

Beautiful lines at Gwithian

A long sandy beach that often offers surfable waves even in summer, Gwithian is a hit with green-water junkies of all abilities. Get in touch with Gwithian Academy of Surfing if you are popping up for the first time and would like to hone your skills, or grab your board and paddle on out!

Found just up the coast from St Ives, Gwithian is best known for having good-quality waves throughout the year. This 3-mile stretch of golden sand is popular with kite surfers and windsurfers too so it could be a great option for that kid-friendly beach in Cornwall you’re looking for as the children will adore watching the big airs all the different surfers get.


Surfing at Harlyn Bay     

Surfing Harlyn Bay during winter

Only 3 miles from Padstow, Harlyn Bay is a beautiful beach not to mention a great surf spot in Cornwall, especially if you are a newbie. Home to Harlyn Bay Surf School, one of the leading surf schools in Cornwall (as well as the UK) with over 24 years’ experience, surfers of all ages can have fun playing in the white water under the watchful eye of expert tutors.

The great thing about this water sports activity in Cornwall is that you don’t need to have tried it before to have a great time, plus you’re never too old to give it a go. So don that wetsuit, wax your board and surf Cornwall until the sun creeps under the horizon.


Surfing at Polzeath

The crowds at Polzeath

Surfable at all stages of the tide and good for both groms and pros, Polzeath in North Cornwall is an exposed sandy beach with a decent point break that churns out consistent surf throughout the year. Regularly visited by local and mobile surf schools, there are plenty of options for a little extra guidance in the water should you need it.

It’s a great spot if you’re on holiday and you’re just starting your surfing adventure, as many others have the same idea and head here due to the smaller, more dependable waves. Of course, the summer will bring an influx of water sports enthusiasts, so it’s great to visit in the autumn when the water is still warm, the crowds have gone and the conditions are more cooperative.


Surfing at Porthtowan

Surfing at Porthtowan

Another of North Cornwall’s exposed beaches hit by the almighty power of the Atlantic, Porthtowan regularly produces serious waves for serious surfers. Watch the locals riding the rip to get to the meaty waves out back or join up with one of the local surf operators for tuition in the white waters closer to shore; a day in the waves here is sure to delight.

Due to the aforementioned rip tide, this is not a break that we’d recommend to the more inexperienced surfer. However, for those more accomplished riders, the peeling right from the north side of the bay is worth the trip. Access is easy and there’s a car park right by the beach, so come for smaller waves at high tide or heavier, more hollow rollers at low tide.


Surfing at Porthleven

Surfing at Porthleven

Arguably one of the best breaks in the whole of the UK, Porthleven’s reef break calls to experienced surfers looking for somewhere with a kick. Providing heavy surf full of power, it attracts hardy water lovers looking to make the most of the elements. As well as surfing, it is also very popular for bodyboarding.

This South Cornwall exposed reef break tends to be best outside of the summer months, not only due to the lessening crowds but also because the waves are quite flat during the hottest season. The wave is both a left and a right, with both offering barrel capabilities but with the left being slightly faster.


Self-catering cottages in Cornwall

Once you’ve had your fill of the Cornwall surf, ride the wave back to shore and head to your self-catering cottage to wash off your wetsuit before settling in and reminiscing about the gnarly day you’ve just had. Whether your ideal holiday home is a cottage with a sea view so you can keep an eye on the swell, a family-friendly cottage or a retreat where dogs are welcome, we’ve got the perfect Cornish escape for you.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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