Man in wetsuit on a surfboard catching a wave
Man in wetsuit on a surfboard catching a wave

4 top surfing spots in the UK that you really should check out

Here's our pick of some of the best surfing spots in the UK that you should definitely take your board to - there's a beach for every experience level. And no, they're not all in Cornwall!

For intermediate and advanced surfers: Porthtowan, Cornwall

Move over Fistral, Watergate and Perranporth, there’s a new dude in town. Porthtowan beach nestles underneath picturesque cliffs and quintessential Cornish countryside that drops dramatically into the sea, and is one of the most consistent surfing spots on the North coast. When a good swell hits, this is the place to go for fun, punchy waves and some steep, hollow A-frames. Thanks to the sand banks, the waves at Porthtowan are often a bit steeper than at other Cornish beaches and they seem to pack extra power, so it’s ideal if you’re a more confident surfer.

Although this beach is well known amongst locals, it’s not likely to get as busy as the better-known surfing beaches. The beach itself is large, family friendly and patrolled by lifeguards during peak season. And, if all that isn’t enough of a draw, it’s also been consistently awarded the blue flag for water quality and cleanliness every year since the early 2000s.

Toilets and car parking are both available.

For beginner and intermediate surfers: Scarborough, Yorkshire

Ok, so Yorkshire might not be the first place that springs to mind when you’re considering your next surfing holiday, but maybe it’s time to reconsider. The water may be chillier but with modern wetsuits, temperature is less of an issue. It’s an up-and-coming surfing area for sure. In fact, the town of Scarborough even holds an annual surf festival.

Scarborough’s North Bay is a fairly exposed reef and point break that has quite consistent surf. The optimum wind direction is from the west when the combination of sand and flat reef creates some fun, long walls and wedgy peaks. At high tide the waves rebound off the huge seawall and rocky sea defences, so it’s safer to head out during lower tides unless. It’s an easy beach to learn on when waves are small but provides a decent challenge when the swell picks up. Watch out for rocks in the middle and at the edges of the bay, RIPs and tidal movements.

The South Bay faces easterly and is very sheltered and safe; the waves are gentle, there are very few rocks, minimal RIPs and no tidal dangers. It’s basically custom built for learners.

If you’re a more experienced surfer, try Cayton Bay. It faces northeast, picks up any swell going, and works through all stages of tide. Rumour has it that the barrel rolls here can be big enough to fit a van inside. It’s also quite an exposed beach, so can have bad RIPs and heavy dumping waves.

All three beaches have lifeguards but only in the summer months and there are a couple of good surf schools in Scarborough where you can hire equipment or book lessons.

For intermediate and advanced surfers: Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset

More usually known as a haunt of windsurfers, pretty Kimmeridge Bay has plenty to offer surfers, too. Unlike many Jurassic Coast beaches, the bay does not have shingle or sand. Instead, limestone ledges extend out into the water. The bay is split into three different waves, Ledges, the Bay and Broadbench.

Arguably one of the best waves in the country and Dorset’s premier reef break, Broadbench can hold waves of up to 15 feet along with other waves in the “K-Bay” area and should only be tackled by surfers with tip-top skills who are used to big conditions and long rides. Particularly as there are no lifeguards here.

Ledges is the easiest of the three and is mostly a longboard wave. It's a fair paddle out to the line-up on a good swell and it breaks in deep water, so it's the best wave for less experienced surfers.

All the waves at K-Bay work on a groundswell from the channel, and a light offshore northerly will give ideal conditions. It can get busy in the summer months but the best time of year for consistent clean waves (rideable swell with light offshore winds) is in winter when tourists are a rarer sight.

It’s also worth mentioning that the bay is adjacent to a Ministry of Defence firing range, so access is sometimes restricted - check before you go.

For intermediate and advanced surfers: Putsborough Sands, Devon

A 3m (5km) stretch of gorgeous sand, Putsborough beach can sometimes see some pretty big waves that break both left and right and will provide a decent challenge to skilled surfers.

This quality beachbreak, at the southern end of Woolacombe Sands, can throw up some decent banks and, in a solid swell, can deliver hollow rides almost on par with its better-known and more-crowded neighbour, Croyde.

There's a strong rip current near the south end of the beach near the cliffs, which will appeal to adrenaline junkies but should be avoided by the less experienced. Especially as there’s no lifeguard station here. However, on days when the surf is small, it’s not a bad spot for nervous surfers to get in some practice.

There's ample parking overlooking the beach behind the café and surfboard hire is available on the beach.

Hopefully we’ve given you some food for thought when you’re considering holiday locations where you can pursue your passion for riding the waves. Happy surfing!