Here’s a few of the spots I have experienced over the past couple of years around the UK.
Rest Bay, Porthcawl
This is my closest surf spot, and is still nearly two hours away! (I know right!) I try and get over as much as I can even when the conditions don’t look great.
Porthcawl is located between Cardiff and Swansea, just further east to Port Talbot. On a clear day you can see all the factories and smoke plumes right along the beach in the distance which kind of gives you an industrial feel to it all and is pretty cool. Rest Bay is Atlantic Facing and is oriented well so it can receive a really good swell but is quite exposed. For me it provided an excellent learning ground, as the waves had some good power and consistent rides, as well as a good local community of surfers and cheap parking! The real testing points are the winds (often nicknamed ‘mess bay’) and it can get quite rippy at times. This was actually the first (and hopefully last!) time I got caught in a really powerful rip and had to take a few waves on the head to get out of it. I’d recommend beginners not to surf at high tide as the water comes right up to the rocks, and there are quite a few submerged hazards. I aim to get in about 2 hours after high tide and/or get out about the same before the high mark whilst theres still beach. Also, to avoid my rippy mistake- when you are facing on to the beach make sure you keep to the left of the lifeguard station!
I recently spoke to an old welsh surfer who has advised me of a particular rocky spot there which is really good but you don’t want to wipe out at (he showed me the battle scars!) I will keep you updated on my progress….
Woolacombe & Croyde, North Devon
North Devon is an area I really would like to know better. It is one of my favourite parts of England, with stunning beaches, small warm pubs and unbelievable coastal walks. I have been down about three or four times and can’t wait to go again, I can’t recommend it enough!
Woolacombe is a very small town right on a huge long beach. It has great surf vibes and a good number of surf shops & hire, as well as a really good coastal trail. When I refer to Woolacombe surfing here I mean the beach break in front of the town, as opposed to some of the alternative breaks around the corner (have yet to explore these, although saw some surfers out there whilst on a walk when I thought the surf was flat- how wrong was I!).
Croyde is another very small town south of Woolacombe, and is equally as cool but a slightly different set up. The town is a little bit away from the beach but there are coastal paths leading to and from the beach. One of the paths at the south end of the beach takes you to the Thatch pub which is great.
Ordinarily these two places deserve their own mention as they offer different shaped waves and rides, however unfortunately the times I’ve been down the forecasts have been slightly over estimated and I’ve had 1-2ft waves. I have seen pictures and heard Croyde in particular gets a great wave, and big wave surfer Andrew Cotton hails from the area so can’t be too bad right!
My next main target in the area is Saunton which is the next beach along from Croyde. This is supposed to be great for longboarding and offers longer rides, so when I secure myself a decent longboard I am hoping to drive down and give it a go. It’s not too far from Bideford which has some good pubs (Crabbie Dicks!) so perfect for a weekender!
Towan & Great Western, Newquay
I’ve been heading down to Newquay for a couple of years now both on my own and with friends and family, and it’s a great little town which loads of different beaches. Some are more sheltered than others and work under varying conditions, but what I really like is that the majority of them are within walking distance of each other- so if one isn’t working you can hop out and head over to another.
It has surf shops galore, and more pubs than you can shake a stick at. It does however get rather hectic in town especially through the summer with, you guessed it, stag and hen do’s. People travel from far and wide though to surf in Newquay and you meet a whole host of people in the lineup from different parts of the UK and abroad.
Towan and Great Western beaches are located next to each other- at low tide you can walk between the two but at high tide they are separated by a rocky outcrop. On small to medium days the waves are fun to get in and amongst and the view up the coast towards the north is amazing. Recently, I went down with friends to surf and have a few beers. I had a great session towards low tide but struggled a bit at high. The spot seems to have quite a bit of personality and I think this would suit me down to the ground as my local break.
I recently saw a few videos on youtube of people surfing off the harbour wall on Towan Beach, would love to try this at some point soon!
Boscombe Pier, Dorset
Boscombe was my closest surf spot for a year whilst I was living on the south coast and was where I really started to learn the basics. I enjoyed going down to Boscombe as the waterfront has cool vibes and I love the houses and buildings fronting on to the beach. It can get quite busy in the summer, but come winter time there’s only a few hardened souls out there. Quite often the best waves come in around the two piers (Boscombe and Bournemouth main pier) and, whilst not as consistent as the other spots above, they do offer some good waves if you catch it right. Much like my experiences in North Devon, I have never seen over 2-3ft here, although, I have seen videos on youtube where there has been some massive surf!