Chasing the perfect wave in Devon

Surfing is experiencing a major comeback, especially in Devon, where Britain’s best waves pound the shores of its long sandy beaches. Devon offers so many blue flag surf beaches that you’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing your ideal wave. Below is a brief guide for those looking for the perfect surf conditions depending on your level of expertise. If you are planning on booking a self-catering break by the seafront in Devon check out the beach cottages listed on Beachlets which advertises a great selection of beach houses and apartments for rent direct with the owner or agent. Plenty of the beaches listed below have nearby surf shops which offer both equipment hire, surf lessons and of course plenty of advice on where and when to take to the water.

Woolacombe, North Devon UK
Devon SurfingIMP1 / Beach Photos / CC BY-NC-ND

North Devon

North Devon enjoys the direct Atlantic swell so it naturally offers bigger waves no matter what the weather conditions throw up. The surfing meca centres around Croyde where there have been both spectacular world grade waves and wave riders for over 30 years. Croyde Bay attracts quite advanced level surfers due to its famous big hollow tubes. That shouldn’t stop the learners as varying tides always allow a window of opportunity for the beginners. Also neighbouring beaches offer plenty of back up if the surf channels are clogged up.

North of Croyde there are another couple of great surf beaches, namely Woolacoombe and Puttsborough. Whilst Woolacombe has more consistent good quality surf, Puttsborough offers faster rides. Further North there is Lynmouth, which provides more advanced surfers a perfect slow break and longer rides.

Moving south of Croyde to Saunton Sands, where the beaches are more sloped, lies the ideal location for beginners to have some fun and notch up plenty of successful rides to relive over dinner that night. Further South past the Torridge Estuary is another ideal beach for beginners, Westward Ho! Then there are the smaller bays that offer sandy beaches for beginners, such as Bideford and Appledore.

South Devon

The South coast of Devon extends East to West from Lyme Bay to Plymouth Sound and offers quite a few stunning surfing spots. That said, because the Atlantic swell has to curve around Lands End the quality of waves is not as consistent during the summer as it is in North Devon. Bantham has quite a following with experienced surfers looking for a scenic location. There are some rips at times but these are always flagged up. Neighbouring Challaborough and Wembury beaches are also very popular. Torbay seems to be attracting beginners, whilst the experts seem to drift down to Paignton Pier and Torquay when the swells allow. Finally the last strip that South Devon offers begins at Dawlish Warren and Sidmouth with the odd gem of a bay hidden along the coast leading to Lyme Regis.

Be sure to check conditions before embarking on your surfing expedition, there are plenty of websites that list a forecast of wave conditions up to seven days in advance and some that even include webcams of favourite surfing spots. Take note of which beaches attract large numbers of experienced surfers as if you are a beginner you may be better served learning on one of the quieter beaches, or better still book a few lessons with an experienced instructor at one of the many surf schools to be found in Devon.

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