Akaw! 5 cranking Cornish surf spots
Hello! Muddy Cornwall applebottom here, just taking ma pink board for a splash! Waddaya mean that’s not me? Ok its a fair cop. So I don’t actually know the difference between a backside and a bombora; but whether you’re a seasoned pro, or just bitten by the bug at Boardmasters, we’ve got some of the best surfing beaches in the world on our doorstep, so what are you waiting for? Channel your inner Blue Crush and zip yourself into that oh so flattering wetsuit (sigh), and catch yourself the perfect wave on one of my top five.
Watergate Bay (Newquay)
Suitable for: Everyone
Postcode: TR8 4AA
Watergate’s surf is fairly reliable: sheltered by cliffs and with a light offshore wind, makes for pretty perfect conditions. Watergate also hosts The English National Surfing Competition every year in May, at which you can see some of the UK’s best surfers. Not forgetting it’s the home of Boardmasters music festival for five days of the year! With the best waves usually mid to high tide and its a popular spot with pro’s and beginners alike. The surf is still pretty good at low tides, just watch out for big swells, as the bigger the swell the messier the conditions. The waves are quite powerful and you may get an occasional barrel. A word of warning: there are powerful rips at the western and eastern side of the Bay, but reasuringly Lifeguards keep watch from the beginning of May to the end of September. Parking can be a nightmare at peak times: there are two car parks towards the middle of the beach but get there early.
Check out: There are five places to eat on the beach including; The Beach Hut, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, The Living Space, and Zacry’s for apres surf cocktails.
Suitable for: Families, beginners to intermediates
Postcode: TR27 5BT
Gwithian beach is a good all-rounder, its gentle slope means that the surf breaks very slowly, making it easier for beginners to catch their waves. The surf gets gradually bigger as you get closer to Godrevy, so there is an opportunity for intermediates testing their skills and experts alike. You may even see some seals whilst you’re at it. Reassuringly, the beach is lifeguarded from April to October.
You don’t even need your own board – hire the essentials from Sunset Surf, who have changing rooms and warm showers too – a godsend when you spent the day wiping out. Sunset Surf also doubles up as a lovely café too.
There’s two carparks a short stroll from the beach – Godrey Towans (Gwithian) and Gwithian Towans (Hayle, by the surf school and cafe)
Look out for: Godrevy Lighthouse, Seals!
Suitable for: beginners/intermediate, Prime Ministers and Muddy intern Ruth (that’s her in the pic!)
Postcode: -PL22 6TB
Polzeath is popular and it’s easy to see why, a laid back beachy town, ideal for learning to surf, what more could you want? Oh yeah, gorgeous shops, cafes and pubs too! Polzeath is good for all surfing abilities, just be aware it gets very busy in the summer, so if you want to get out there without having to dodge the crowds, try early in the morning. There’s parking on the beach, and at Tristram, but if ya snooze, ya loose and everyone in your family will moan and hate you if you don’t get there early enough (oh just mine?).
If you’d rather leave the nippers to the surf lessons, there’s a lovely walk from Polzeath along to Daymer Bay and St Enodoc Church which used to be buried by sand. Continuing on that coastal path you’ll reach Rock, aka ‘Chelsea-by-the-sea’, home to Michelin starred Restaurant Nathan Outlaw. Rock is said to be the home of more millionaires than anywhere else in the rest of Cornwall, so keep an eye out for mansions and blacked out range rovers, it could be KimK (probably not though).
Check out: Berrys & Grey (lovely homeware shop), Surfside café (apparent favourite of Mr DC), Muddy award wining Deli Lewis’ Rock.
Suitable for: Pros, adventurers
Postcode: TR13 9EA
Porthleven is one beach definitely not for beginners. Notoriously challenging, it’s a popular one with the pros and on really clean days it can produce a perfect barrel. Due to the rocky and powerful nature it’s best left to the experts and adrenaline seekers. There is a smaller reef break on the left of the pier, however still steer clear if you’re a novice. For those opting to sit back and let the professionals do their thang, Rick Stein has a restaurant in the town with harbour views. If you aren’t content with sitting back, then at low tide you can walk three miles past Loe Bar to the Penrose Estate with its beautiful open parkland formed around Cornwall’s largest freshwater lake. Alternatively Porthleven is very popular with body boarders too. Parking is really limited, but there are some spaces on the harbour.
Check out: The Twisted Current, for a jolly nice cakey tea.
Perranporth and Penhale
Suitable for: families head to Perranporth, but you’ll find the pros sneak off to Penhale.
Postcode: TR6 OJL
Bit of a cheat, this last suggestion involves two beaches: There’s a wave to suit all levels of surfer at Perranporth, you can head up to the far left to Droskyn Point which is more sheltered therefore producing good shaped and sized waves. Be careful as rips can be a problem. On the safety front, the beach has lifeguard action from April to September. Advanced surfers head to Penhale which is a quieter surf spot, due to the fact it is a bit of a trek to get there, but it’s even more sheltered so it can have even better waves. Park on Perranporth Beach or Cliff Road if you’re early enough. Slow Joe’s will end up queuing for a space at Wheal Leisure. No parking at Penhale.
Check out: Those weary from a day’s surfing can head to The Watering Hole whose claim to fame is the UK’s only bar on the beach. The ‘hole hosts the Tunes in the Dunes festival. They have a packed summer line up too, everyone from The Hoosiers to the Dorito Mariachi band.