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By Parkdean Resorts on 12/04/2024

Despite being an island, surfing probably isn't the first thing that you'd associate with Britain. However, with almost 20,000 miles of beautiful coastline, the UK boasts some of the best surfing beaches in the world - just one of the many draws of the great British beach holiday.

With an estimated 500,000 regular surfers in Britain, the sport has become increasingly popular in recent years - and, with warmer weather on the horizon, thousands more are expected to hit the waves this summer.

For those looking to catch their first break, we've unearthed some of the best surfing beaches in the UK - all within easy reach of our holiday parks.

Top Surfing Beaches in Cornwall

Cornwall is a veritable smorgasbord of surfing hotspots. From the rolling waves of Porthcurno Beach near Land's End to the turquoise waters of Porthmeor in St Ives (pictured above), you don't have to venture far to stumble across some fine surfing conditions. That being said, the majority of the action is centred in and around Newquay - and with very good reason!

Home to no less than 12 beaches and several world-class surfing coves – all reachable within minutes of the town centre - Newquay has earned its reputation as the surfing capital of the UK. We've picked out just a couple of our favourites below.

Watergate Bay, Newquay

Gentle waves rolling into Watergate Bay in Cornwall on a sunny summer day

  • Lifeguard cover: May to September
  • Dog friendly: Dogs welcome year-round

Under 10 minutes from Newquay Holiday Park, you'll find the stunning shores of Watergate Bay. This large, open bay picks up swells from the Atlantic - so if you're looking for a great place to surf, it's a must-visit destination. Unlike many other beaches in the region, you can surf here on most tides. However, you'll find the best waves during mid to high tide.

If you've left your surfboard at home you can hire one from Wavehunters, which is located right on the passageway to the beach. Or if surfing's not your thing, you'll find plenty of caves and rock pools to explore, guaranteed to keep the kids captivated. After playing in the sea, explore the clifftops and see how many dolphins you can spot splashing around in the turquoise water.

Fistral Beach, Newquay

Waves rolling into Fistral Beach in Cornwall

  • Lifeguard cover: April to October - with busy winter weekends patrolled
  • Dog friendly: Dogs welcome year-round

Another of Newquay's top surfing beaches, and perhaps the most popular of all, is Fistral Beach. Walking distance from Newquay's town centre, Fistral Beach has earned a reputation around the world as one of the best surfing destinations in Europe. The wide, sandy, dune-backed bay offers sharper swells at its north end, popular with experienced surfers and professionals, while the less crowded south side is ideal for beginners. And thanks to an abundance of local surf schools, it's the perfect place to learn to surf.

With world class waves rolling in from the Atlantic, Fistral Beach provides consistent ideal surfing conditions - making it popular with competitive surfers and amateurs alike. Such is Fistral Beach's reputation, it's also home to some of the UK's biggest surfing competitions including Boardmasters Festival - with music and entertainment at Watergate Bay and surfing action held at Fistral Beach.

Surf like a local in Cornwall

We've teamed up with a surf school to get the low-down on where the local's surf in Cornwall

Top surfing beaches in Devon

Devon may not hold the international accolade that its neighbouring county does, but any surfer worth their (sea) salt, knows that Devon is home to some of the best surfing beaches in Britain. Catering to everyone from first timers to hardened veterans, Devon offers up the some seriously world-class beaches.

From Woolacombe Beach on the north coast to Challaborough Bay in the south, you’ll find a wide range of beaches to choose from on your next surfing holiday in Devon, however, if you're really looking for serious surf action - check out our favourites below.

Croyde Bay, Croyde

A family carrying surfboards on Croyde Bay Beach in Devon

  • Lifeguard cover: May to September - as well as busy school holidays and weekends
  • Dog friendly: Dogs welcome October to April

On Devon's glittering north coast, you'll find one of the UK's favourite surfing beaches. Just steps from the charming seaside village of Croyde sits Croyde Bay Beach - a sweeping stretch of fine golden sand. Croyde Bay's west facing orientation gives it uninterrupted views of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as its accompanying swells. Croyde's picturesque setting and consistent waves make it one of the most popular surfing spots in the UK outside of Cornwall. Beginners and professionals alike are well catered to, with a number of local surfing schools offering lessons and equipment hire. And if you're staying at Ruda Holiday Park overlooking the bay, there's even a handy surf shop on site.

For the best hollow rides, head down at low tide - just watch out for the reefs in the shallow water. High tide suits beginners or those just after a leisurely surf, with smoother waves lapping the soft sandy beach.

Bantham Beach, Kingsbridge

Surfers in the bay at Bantham Beach in Devon

  • Lifeguard cover: May to September - as well as busy school holidays and weekends
  • Dog friendly: Dogs welcome October to April

Located deep in the South Hams at the opening of the beautiful river Avon, Bantham Beach is one of Devon's most spectacular beaches. The sandy shore sits on the Atlantic facing coast and is renowned for being one of the best surf beaches in the region.

Only 20 minutes from Challaborough Bay Holiday Park, the beach picks up more swell than other beaches in Devon, meaning you can get some long rides on the waves. If you're new to surfing, ask the resident surfers for a few tips before heading out on the open water.

Bigbury Bay itself is a shallow sandy bay and is the perfect destination for families. When the tide is out, the gentle tidal pools are ideal play areas for young children. After a day at the beach, explore the nearby estuary which is a natural haven for wildlife - and is enjoyed by walkers and cyclists.

Surfing outside the South West

While the South West Coast may hold the monopoly on surfing in the UK, that's not to say you won't find equally fantastic conditions elsewhere. Below, we've hand-picked some of our favourite surfing beaches off the beaten track. With so many beautiful beaches in the UK, wherever you're holidaying, you're guaranteed to find some surfing fun when the conditions are right.

Rest Bay, South Wales

A surfer doing tricks on a wave in Wales

  • Lifeguard cover: May to September
  • Dog friendly: Dogs welcome October to April

Porthcawl is a charming seaside resort on the South Coast of Wales, situated amongst the picturesque towns of Port Talbot and Ogmore-by-Sea. Only 10 minutes from Trecco Bay Holiday Park, the resort has a lovely promenade and several stunning beaches to explore running from Sker Point to Ogmore.

A magnificent beach with miles of golden sands and crystal clear waters, Rest Bay is the main surfing beach in Porthcawl and can rival any surf spot in Europe. This spectacular Blue Flag beach is popular with families and boasts rideable waves on any given day, with swells up to 6ft high. Whilst the best time to surf is generally from mid to high tide, you can surf at Rest Bay anytime if there's enough swell.

With several excellent surfing schools operating in the area, including Porthcawl Surf School and Cressy's Surf Academy, Rest Bay is a must visit destination for surfing enthusiasts.

For a spot of lunch, visit Malc's Cafe which is the perfect place for a hot drink and some delicious food. Afterwards, walk along the clifftops to Pink Bay and beyond, where you will see plenty of sea birds and marine life.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire

A view over Saltburn by the Sea's pier and seafront

  • Lifeguard cover: May to September
  • Dog friendly: Dogs welcome year-round on specific stretches of the beach - see signage for details

When it comes to surfing, Saltburn-by-the-Sea is hard to beat. Just 30 minutes from Crimdon Dene Holiday Park, this exposed beach consistently comes up with the goods and in recent years has seen the development of a large surfing community.

A bustling beach with lots to see and do, the gentle waves make this is a great spot for learning to surf. The smallest and safest waves can be found on either side of the old pier, which are at their best during high tide and are perfect for beginners and intermediates. South of the pier, you can watch in awe as experienced surfers take on some of the North Sea's most powerful waves.

Surfing aside, this part of the world is famous for its fish and chips and there are plenty of places to try some, including The Seaview Restaurant - which serves some of the tastiest fish and chips in the area. After having something to eat, discover the recently renovated Victorian pier, which is the jewel in Saltburn’s crown. You can also explore a section of the Cleveland Way National Trail that runs from Helmsley all the way to Filey Brigg.

Beadnell Bay, Northumberland

Exposed rocks at low tide at Beadnell Bay in Northumberland

  • Lifeguard cover: No lifeguards
  • Dog friendly: Dogs welcome year-round

As put by the folks at Beadnell Bay, 'The first rule of surfing in Northumberland is... do not talk about surfing in Northumberland!'. The fact that Northumberland beaches remain somewhat of a hidden gem compared to the surfing Meccas of the South West is a big part of its appeal.

Sandwiched between the quaint seaside towns of Seahouses and Newton-by-the-Sea, Beadnell Bay is a sandy horseshoe shaped stretch of shoreline, channeling in some serious wave action when the weather is right. It's a favourite with adrenaline junkies looking to feel the thrill of the powerful North Sea.

With no lifeguards on duty, we wouldn't recommend this one to beginners or solo surfers. However, if you fancy trying your hand at surfing on your next Northumberland holiday, the friendly folks at Northside Surf School offer regular lessons for all ages and abilities. If you're staying at Cresswell Towers Holiday Park, it's well worth a day trip up to the coast. Even better, why not pair it with an afternoon spent exploring historic Bamburgh Castle, or strolling the pier and tucking into some fresh fish and chips at Seahouses?

There you have it, our top picks of the best places to surf in the UK. Have you got a favourite surfing beach? We'd love to hear your recommendations on our Facebook page.