When surfing comes to mind people often think of holiday destinations and warmer climates including Hawaii, California, Australia or SE Asia. Yet, some of the best surf spots are actually on your doorstep or just a short drive away by car. The global pandemic did offer some positives when we were encouraged to stay at home. We were made to explore our surroundings in our home country and found hidden gems on the way whilst doing so. The weather in Britain is known to be notorious for treacherous rain and strong winds with the occasional storm but it is home to some of the best coastlines in the world and surf beaches that are special in so many different ways. If you’re a keen surfer or if you’re looking to start out, we have collated the top surfing spots in the UK.
In summer when the weather is warmer, the waves are gradual and smooth which are great for beginners. For experienced surfers, the best time to surf in the UK is in autumn when the beaches are quieter, the water temperatures milder and the swell is constant but consistent. High surf season is between September and May where you’ll be able to catch high quality waves during this period. “Overall, the average sea temperature ranges from 6-10 degrees in the winter and 15-20 in the summer depending on region and yearly variation” states The Beach Guide. With that in mind, we would recommend packing your wetsuit and aqua shoes regardless of what your weather app may show as the weather is changeable and impulsive. Don’t let that put you off… from the top of Scotland to the very bottom of Cornwall, there will be a surfing spot that’ll suit no matter your ability. Grab your suit, your board and your sense of adventure – it’s time to create some memories.
Surfing in England 📍
Saunton, North Devon
Saunton in North Devon is a fairly exposed beach that has consistent surf all year round. The best time to visit is during winter and in the month of February and is available to surf at all stages of the tide which provides left and right handers. The current is also perfect for all levels of surfing, from beginners to experienced surfers widely regarded as the best location in North Devon for learning to surf with Surf Saunton Surf School. 3 and a half miles long, there is no better place to spend the day with family and friends when the weather is a little warmer. People watching has never been so good. According to Osprey, the beach can get crowded at weekends and can get rippy along the side of the cliffs so we would recommend getting up early and beating the crowds.
Cornwall is hard to compete with when it comes to surfing. They have some of the most incredible coastlines across the country. Porthleven is located in South Cornwall is one for the experienced surfers. The waves break with extreme power and are often uneven which only experienced surfers will be able to handle. Some of the best waves can be found to the west of the harbour, short, right-hander barrels that are so shallow that only expert surfers can ride. The best time to visit Porthleven is during the month of April and will usually be quite busy with locals and photographers enjoying the sights.
Surfing in Ireland 📍
Runkerry Stand in Northern Ireland also known locally as Bushfoot Strand is located near the town in Portballintrae known for surfing, walking and dolphin watching. A long stretch of golden sand just under a mile long with strong currents for surf, beautiful scenery and an insight into history. According to Coast Radar, “Runkerry is one of the best surfing beaches in the UK, the Atlantic rollers hit the coast with waves between a low of 2ft in summer and a high of 12ft during stormy winter weather.”
Surfing in Scotland 📍
Thurso is situated in the historical area of Caithness and is the northernmost town of the British mainland so you can imagine the exposure in this small Scottish town. Rugged cliffs, crystal clear water and waves perfectly formed. The location of Caithness makes the coastlines hidden gems to the outside world, far from the bustling city and with character like no other. Top Trespass Tip – Your surfing kit will have to be well thought out. A good quality wetsuit, neoprene boots and gloves are a must especially surfing in colder conditions.
Isle of Tiree, Inner Hebrides
The Isle of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides produces waves from the North Atlantic and creates powerful waves suitable for surfing, longboarding and paddle boarding. The porcelain sand and transparent waters is something to treasure. You almost can’t believe you’re in Scotland! One of the best beaches on the island is Port Bharrapol which boasts consistent clean waves and is best to visit during spring, often in the month of April. The waters are also warmed by the Gulf Stream so if the sun is shining and you close your eyes, you could be anywhere in the world. The best thing? The beach rarely gets visitors and is hardly ever over crowded.
Surfing in Wales 📍
Whitesands Bay is one of the most popular in Wales and is an all year round surfing destination for locals and visitors. It is backed by a large car park so that is easily accessible for families and groups looking to spend the full day. The bay holds fairly large waves, occasionally up to ten feet in height so it’s dependent on the angle of the swell. Although you can visit all year round, the best time to visit is in winter often during February when the crowds are far less and if you book in early, surf lessons are available for beginners and people looking to have refresher classes.