Choosing your favourite beach is a personal thing and everyone will tell you that you’re wrong if you claim to know the best one. When it comes to learning to surf, the best known surf spots aren’t necessarily the ‘best’ for the beginner.

Surf hot spots can mean crowds, which mean little room to practice your pop-ups and you could get in other people’s way, which can lead to you getting shouted at, or even hurt. The well known beaches for surfing do get more reliable swells and bigger, hollower waves, excellent for advanced surfers who can make the most of them. But for learning strong waves can make it hard to get past the white water to a depth where you can actually catch a wave. And who wants to spend all morning wading around with a 9’ board, being thrashed in the face by fierce waves every minute for little reward? Then there’s dangers like rip tides and even localism. If in doubt speak to the lifeguards they’re usually happy to explain the beach conditions and what to look out for.

So here are my favourite 5 friendly beaches that still pack enough punch to get you on your feet. {Obviously the perfect beach on Saturday may be flat on Sunday – see my previous post ‘10 top tips for learning to surf’ for help}.


1. Watergate Bay, Near Newquay
Newquay out of season offers fabulous waves at the infamous Fistral and town beaches – in my opinion the best for beginners being Towan or Tolcarne. But visit in the summer and a rather Blackpool-ish, surf ghetto feeling prevails. Add to the mix a bunch of stag and hen parties, who all want to have a go at surfing the day after the night before… It makes Fistral a packed place with unforgiving waves for the beginner. So, if you have a car, try heading 3 miles out of town to Watergate Bay. With over 2 miles of beach you’ll have lots of room to find your own peak. The waves are good for beginners and intermediates here. {Boardmasters stage heats here in early August too.} Lifeguards will be there May-September and there’s a surf school. If you work up an appetite, try a nibble at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen {after you’ve scrubbed up}.

2. Saunton Sands, Nr Croyde, Devon
Nearby Croye Bay has a reputation of having some of the best waves inDevon if not the UK, but like Fistral it can be a bit fierce with waves that dump right on shore. Take a saunter around the corner to Saunton Sands though, and suddenly things feel a little calmer. It’s a big open beach, backed by dunes where you can escape the crowds. The sea gently slopes deeper and the waves here tend to fall into neat sets with gaps in between giving you more chances to get on your feet. There are also lifeguards through the summer season.

3. Llangennith, The Gower, Wales
Rhossili is reckoned to be one of the prettiest beaches in the UK, and it gets pretty consistent waves too. At the top end is Llangennith beach, the surf capital of the Gower Peninsular. A 3 mile stretch of beach reached by a short walk up and over the sand dunes. It’s big enough to avoid overcrowding and the locals are friendly, pop into the Kings Head Inn on your way home.

4. Perranporth, Cornwall
It may be really busy at the town end of this 3 mile stretch of sand but it’s big enough to find your own peak and with there’s a variety of breaks to suit all levels. Lifeguards and surf schools are on hand and there are plenty of hire shops here too.

5. Gwithian, St Ives area, Cornwall
All the serious experts and locals hit Godrevy, which leaves Gwithian to the beginners so no localism problems on this beach to shout about, there’s plenty of room and tamer waves making it just right for beginners.

Image of Watergate Bay from