How to surf in the UK

20 April 2017 by
First published: 1 May 2016

Got the surfer dream? Here’s how to surf in the UK…

When you think of surfing in the UK, what is the first thing that springs to mind?  Running down the beach in your swimwear (board under arm) or slipping into your wetsuit in the warm sunshine? Probably not! But don’t let that stop you. Surfing in the UK is not for the faint-hearted. Yes, the winter months are bitterly cold and require a great deal of patience and motivation to cover yourself in neoprene from head to toe, but it is worth it… every single time.  Here’s how to surf in the UK.

When the sun is shining, the UK is one of the most beautiful places I have surfed in. For those looking to experience surfing for the first time there is no shortage of opportunity and depending on your geographical location, there are a few ways to get your surf fix or nearest equivalent and here’s how…

The entire UK coastline receives swell/waves, with some coastlines being more consistent (and prettier) than others. I personally think the west/south west of the UK wins every time. With pretty consistent conditions, a breathtaking coastline and not to mention, amazing Cornish pasties… what’s not to love?

Here are my top places for catching the surfing bug in the UK…

Croyde, North Devon

Be sure to get in touch with the brilliant team from Croyde Surf Academy, who will have you on your feet in no time (as well as give guaranteed laughs!).

Perranporth, Cornwall

Perranporth Surf School are the people you want to pay a visit to if you are in this area. They are located right on the beach, so you can’t miss them. They are truly a fantastic crew who will make sure you leave totally hooked on surfing.

Snowdonia Wave Garden, Wales

Picture this. A perfect lozenge-shaped freshwater lagoon, roughly the size of six football pitches, set in the lush, green Conwy Valley in the lee of the Snowdonia mountains. Breathe it in. It’s clean, it’s fresh, it’s wild and it’s beautiful. At the push of a button the Wavegarden generates perfectly-formed, consistently-powerful waves that interact with contours on the lagoon bed to produce different wave profiles at different points in the lagoon.

From the expert central area of the lagoon, two identical overhead waves break simultaneously left and right with point-break type rides up to 20 seconds long. A waist-high wave pushes out at an angle to the overhead, towards the outer edges of the lagoon. Once the waves reach the beginners’ area at each end of the lagoon, the left and right hand waves will become smaller, more playful whitewater waves: the perfect size for all ages to learn and improve their skills.

And if you get bored of surfing, here are a few other activities to try:

Stand Up Paddle Boarding ‘SUP’

This is a great alternative to surfing or for those flat days. Basically, SUP uses a surf-style board and a long paddle. In that regard it is a cross between canoeing and surfing. SUP is not only for surfing, standup paddling can be done in a variety of forms, such as on flat water or protected lakes.

Body boarding

Another fun and easy way to get your sea fix! In short, body boarding is a sport very similar to stand up surfing, but in body boarding, the rider lies on his/her stomach or kneels on a smaller soft board. The board is more flexible and allows more radical changes in speed and more vertical drops. So if you can’t get your hands on surfboard then this is a great alternative.


For those of you who are unsure, a kayak is a boat with a covered deck and a small hole for someone to sit in. The legs of the sitter are concealed, warm and dry, inside the boat. You can take kayaking trips on the ocean, up rivers, in surf zones, and along white water courses. One of the benefits is that minimal skills are required for maximum fun. Sounds ideal, right?

There is something quite magical about being out on the water in a kayak… whether you are on flat water, white water, in a lake or in the sea. They’re great for building confidence in the water and exploring, although it’s easy to get carried away. Remember to always take care in the sea (listen to your lifeguards) and in other open water areas… Mother Nature is very changeable. Happy surfing!