Tanned male surfer riding a wave on a white surf board
Tanned male surfer riding a wave on a white surf board

Top 3 places to catch a wave in Devon

Did you know that North Devon is the 12th location from around the world (and the first in the UK) to be picked as a World Surfing Reserve? It's an international designation that recognises and celebrates the area’s outstanding quality surfing beaches.

The entire North Devon coast falls into the surf reserve and is one of the most cherished places in the south west for surfing and water sports. The whole coastline is full of surfing beaches with waves to suit everyone, from novices to pros, and very different conditions. Many of ther beaches also have showers, toilets, equipment to rent, and food to refuel you afterwards.

Woolacombe beach

In North Devon, there's a long sandy beach called Woolacombe. It's north Devon's most well-known surfing spots and has a nice regular set that's great for beginners, intermediates, and longboarders alike. It's not surprising that so many people come to enjoy the waves here because of the stunning location and beach. The shoreline further down the beach is backed by enormous dunes, making for an impressive view while surfing.

Woolacombe Beach is offshore in all Easterly winds and works with any Westerly swell, but the best waves are at mid-tide.. Except for a rocky point at the beach's northern end, there aren't many rocks on the beach.

This place can get crowded, but the vibe is generally laid-back, and lifeguards keep an eye on the beach all summer long. The waves here are definitely fun even when they aren't big. If you venture around the rocky point to Combesgate, there are fewer people and the opportunity for some pretty epic barrels. The only drawback is that there are more rocks and a strong rip here, making it best for experienced surfers.

Croyde bay

Between Baggy Point and Down End, Croyde is 34 miles long and sits on the coast of North Devon. The surfing conditions here produce a very fast wave, so it's great for short boarder’s and and the Atlantic swell brings big waves almost every day. It's best ridden at low tide, when you'll get a great thrill ride when the waves barrel on a good day. Be warned though, this one is not for the novice surfer - there are some serious rips.

It should come as no surprise that Croyde attracts numerous annual surf competitions: The Goldcoast Oceanfest, the Jesus Surf Classic, and the Saltrock Open.

From Easter to October, RNLI lifeguards patrol the beach.

Saunton Sands

A surf trip to Saunton Sands is the perfect choice, whether you're a seasoned pro looking to improve your skills or ride your first wave. The huge beach has long, slow walls and is protected from winds from the north west and north. It's great for beginners, longboarders, and kiters.

Although it gets busy, you can sometimes find a quieter spot by taking a stroll further down the beach. Saunton's wave conditions are ideal for all levels of surfing, and it's widely considered to be a great place to learn to surf. Due to the length of the beach, which is three miles, there are fewer people on it than on other beaches in the area during peak summer.