Cornwall Surf Camps & Surf Spot Guide

The center of UK surfing for nearly five decades, Cornwall maintains its relevancy by merit of consistent swells and relatively palatable weather and temperatures. Although Britain suffers from a less-than-stellar reputation for surf, this is a legitimate surf scene with legitimate waves, well worth a visit for both beginners and experts.

The Surf: With wide, sandy bays harboring plentiful sandbars and the occasional reef, Cornwall ranges from a beginner to advanced surf destination (depending on the day and what break you are surfing).

Five Waves Worth Surfing:

  1. Porthleven: England’s best wave? Many seem to think so. If nothing else, this heavy reef barrel (predominantly rights with occasional lefts) qualifies as one of the most competitive lineups in the UK.
  2. Newquay: A city in northern Cornwall, Newquay is the center of UK surfing, with numerous quality breaks and a thriving surf scene.
  3. Porthtowan: A heavy series of sandbars at the base of a cliff, Porthtowan is one of the better beach break options in the UK.
  4. Sennen: Located on the far western corner of Cornwall, this beach break setup receives more swell than most breaks in the region.
  5. Fistral Beach: If Newquay is the capital of British surfing, then Fistral is the House of Parliament. Ground zero for wave riding in the UK since the ’60s, the beach breaks of Fistral are some of the best in the country, and host the National Surfing Centre.

The Water: The UK has a reputation for cold, ugly water, and there is certainly some truth to this. But although it may not be Caribbean blue, the water in Cornwall isn’t actually that polluted. It is cold though, ranging from 48 to 63 F (9 to 17 C) seasonally.

The Season: Fall (September through November) is best, although winter and spring (December through February and March through May respectively) can also deliver. Spring is particularly noteworthy in Cornwall, as breaks that pick up southwest swells will be your best option for UK surf during this season.

The Vibe: Newquay is crowded, and those crowds are starting to spread out and infest other areas as well, but gnarly winters filled with angry storms and cold water tend to keep the vibes at a minimal.

Things To Do: London is a classic tourist destination, with any number of cultural and architectural highlights.

Where To Stay: Newquay is a great place to base yourself, with its central location and multitude of quality waves.

What To Bring: A shortboard and either a fish/hybrid or a longboard (for the days that are less than stellar). Thick wetsuits, booties, gloves and a hood—particularly if you are coming in winter. Patience and a tolerance for crappy weather. A stomach for British specialties (like bangers and mash).

Getting There: Newquay has an international airport fielding frequent direct flights from London (which is your main gateway into the country). You can also choose from a number of different driving routes. Nationals of many countries do not require a visa. Airport codes: LHR (London Heathrow) and NQY (Newquay).