The sea has been part of our lives for thousands of years. For many here in Cornwall it was our main source of transportation and communication until the railway arrived in the 1850s. It provides our food and our livelihoods. In recent years it has become a place of recreation, and also a source of renewable energy.
Many of you who come to Cornwall on holiday do so because of the coast. We have nearly 400 miles of coastline and hundreds of beaches dotted along it. Whether you find solace in a serene moment on the sand or prefer to plunge into the depths to explore hidden wrecks, your connection with the sea is rooted in pure enjoyment.
And then of course there’s surfing. The ultimate distraction as you surge into the beach on the wave that you have been dreaming about for days. It’s just you and the power of the ocean. There’s a reason why the most chilled out guys in town are surfers, all they’re worried about is when they can next get in the water.
With an abundance of beaches each offering different waves to suit every preference, Cornwall is a surfer’s paradises. From the iconic Fistral Beach in Newquay to the hidden gems along the rugged coastline, each spot offer a perfect blend of natural beauty and thrilling surf. Here's some of our favourite Cornish surf spots, where you can experience the exhilaration of riding the waves.
For those dipping their toes into the world of surfing for the first time, Polzeath is a great beach to start with. With gentle, slow breaking waves and soft shores, Polzeath offers the perfect playground for beginners and is always a great place to fall back on when the waves at other surf spots may be too big.
With its expansive stretch of beach, Perranporth provides plenty of room for surfers to spread along its wide shores. Conveniently located right next to a car park and surrounded by surf and wetsuit hire shops, you’re always just a few steps away from the sea. This means you won’t have to lug your surfboard far, saving your energy for tackling waves.
Fistral, a name synonymous with Cornish surf culture, stand’s as one of the most popular surf spots. Ask any local surfer and they’ll name it has one of the best surfing beaches in the UK. Host to the UK’s biggest surf competition, The Boardmasters Open, Fistral is also the top spot for watching seasoned experts hit the waves as much as it is for surfing yourself. If it’s good enough for the best of the best, it’s certainly a must for anyone seeking challenging waves.
With impressive swells, Porthleven is not for the faint of heart. Featuring a deep channel and colossal waves backed with the formidable power that can only come from the Atlantic winds, this spot is tailored to seasoned surfers. Porthleven attracts a community of top surfers unafraid to face the raw force of the ocean, even if it means enduring a few wipe outs, in return for thrilling rides, including almost perfect barrel waves.
As the most exposed stretch of St Ives Bay, Godrevy Beach benefits by picking up the most swell, with sizes reaching up to 8ft. However, this privilege comes at a cost, as this part of the coast is particularly susceptible to the wind. For some it’s worth it, because in the right conditions Godrevy offers some epic waves. With an extensive shoreline, there's room for everyone at Godrevy while the shifting peak ensures every surfer has a chance to ride the waves.
Neighbouring Godrevy Beach, Gwithian offers a slightly more sheltered spot compared to Godrevy. Here, the waves are a little more forgiving making it the ideal choice for those seeking a less intense surfing experience while still relishing in the coastal charm of St Ives Bay. With waves varying in size along the beach, Gwithian’s spacious shores accommodate every level of surfer. However, it’s important to note that Gwithian still suffers from the same cross-shore winds as Godrevy.
Whether you choose to challenge Fistral’s legendary waves or find solace in Polzeath’s gentle breaks, Cornwall offers a diverse set of shores suitable for diverse surfing experience. No matter where you decide to go, it’s important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Equip yourself with an appropriate wetsuit, select a beach that aligns with your skill level and always check the weather and sea conditions before you set out. Always share your plans by telling someone where you're heading and when you will be returning. If possible, bring along a friend or consider joining a surf school – a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and benefit from professional guidance.
Your weekly dose of Cornish cheer!
When you can’t be in your favourite place all the time, catch up on the latest stories, upcoming events, holiday ideas, and offers with a newsletter straight to your inbox. Terms and Conditions / GDPR compliance: by providing personally identifiable information Visit Cornwall will use it to provide you with ongoing information about their products and services. No one from Visit Cornwall will rent, sell or lease this personally identifiable information to other companies or individuals.
Find us on socials and stay connected with the Cornwall you love.