If you’re looking at surfing in the UK, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll end up at Woolacombe.
The Devon town has four beaches, is quieter than the Cornish surfing capital Newquay, and has several surf schools for all levels of surfer. It’s also part of the north Devon coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so there’ll be plenty to see and do once you’re out of the wetsuit.
Here are some top surfing spots to consider for a Woolacombe trip:
- The main beach at Woolacombe is an ideal choice for surfers from beginner to expert. The beach is three miles long, stretching from the Morte Point cliffs to sheltered Putsborough, and has a Blue Flag award for the quality of its water and facilities. It’s been a top surfing spot since the 1960s and there are surfing competitions and events throughout the year. Beach huts, children’s activities and lifeguards are all there over the summer season.
- Barricane Beach is a bit more secluded and is known for its shells and rock-pooling as well as surfing. Like Woolacombe, it faces west to the Atlantic so can get some good waves. Surfing here should be at low or mid tide only as the beach becomes a natural pool at high tide.
- Woolacombe’s ‘secret beach’, Gruntna, is only accessible by going down a steep cliff path so is a good option if you want to be sure of some peaceful surfing. It’s a rugged habitat and gets some strong winds and waves. The beach itself is sheltered so a good spot for some sunbathing after your surf.
- If you want to surf outside Woolacombe, the best option is probably Croyde Bay, known as one of Britain’s best surfing beaches. It also faces west to get the best swells, though the strong rips here mean it’s not usually suitable for surfing beginners. There are full facilities, equipment hire and sales, and companies offering surfing coaching and lessons.
- Another good option near Woolacombe is Saunton Sands. The best surfing spot here is at its south end and the beach is known for its slightly gentler waves more suitable for beginners. Like Woolacombe and Croyde Bay, there are plenty of facilities, equipment and surfing lessons available.
- Finally, try nearby Ilfracombe, where the waves off the main harbour are especially good in winter.