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Cornwall is a popular tourist location for many, many reasons. One of which is the county’s renowned and legendary status as a surfing mecca. While this has, of course, made it a desirable destination for surfers around the world, the industry itself creates enormous revenue for a wide range of local businesses. But we’re not here to talk about pounds and pence; we’re here to discuss the best surfing in Cornwall.

In this post, we’ll provide a range of locations renowned for being the best surfing in Cornwall from both the south and south coast.

Fistral Beach

Best Surfing in Cornwall Fistral Beach

Fistral beach is among the most famous and best surfing in Cornwall. This stretch of sandy beach is three-quarters of a mile long and well known for big swells and peaky waves. However, it’s worth noting that it does get very busy, like sharing the beach with hundreds of other people busy — especially during summer when it hosts the annual Boardmasters surf competition. But don’t let that put you off. Fistral beach is extremely popular because it suits surfers of all abilities despite being a famous big wave spot. 

‘Little Fistral’ and ‘Big Fistral’ are best suited to intermediate and advanced surfers, whereas the middle of the bay is more popular for beginners. The latter is where you’ll find a few surfing schools if you fancy a few lessons, such as the Quicksilver Surf School and Fistral Beach Surf School.


surfing in Porthleven, Cornwall

Considered by many to be the best British best right-hand reef break, Porthleven was bound to feature on the list of spots for the best surfing in Cornwall. Big southwest swells and a light north-easterly wind make this particular beach a massive draw for more advanced surfers. It can prove to be tricky for beginners as plenty of power and the uneven reef can make it daunting if you’re not a seasoned surfer.

If you’re visiting Cornwall in the summer, it’s best to plan ahead when it comes to parking as you’ll struggle to find a space in town during busier spells.


Best Surfing beaches Cornwall Polzeath

If you’re a newbie to the surfing world and are beginning to worry that every beach in Cornwall is too advanced, then don’t worry, we’ve got a good one for you. Polzeath has become somewhat of a go-to for beginners, thanks to being a bit more gentle than most. While this does mean that Polzeath isn’t every local surfer’s cup of tea, for beginners, it’s perfect for learning and improving your confidence.

With that said, when the waves are bigger, it’s also an excellent spot for intermediate surfers looking to refine their skills and maybe take a few risks in a safer environment. We did say it’s a go-to for beginners, and we weren’t exaggerating. Most find the biggest challenge of surfing at Polzeath to be the multitude of other beginners out on the water, so be careful out there!



These two beautiful Cornish beaches (Gwithian and Godrevy) are separated by the famous Red River, which gets its name from the red staining from tin mines in years gone by. Situated at the northernmost point of St Ives Bay, these beaches benefit from the Atlantic’s powerful swell and rarely goes flat. Gwithian is especially popular during summer as all levels of surfers can enjoy the waves it produces. It’s one of the best places to surf in Cornwall for beginners who require slower breaks to find their footing, and it tends to be rideable year-round.

For surf lessons at Gwithian, check out the Gwithian Academy of Surfing. They provide lessons for beginners and advanced surfers, and their instructors are fully qualified as coaches, lifeguards and first aiders.

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Porthtowan Beach

Consistent surfing conditions and beautiful scenery has made Porthtowan one of the most popular spots for locals and puts it in the conversation as one of the best surfing beaches in Cornwall. But the waves here do pack a punch. It’s always been known as a spot that possesses a bit more power than most, but not so much that you should be put off.

Porthtowan’s beautiful curling waves (provided the conditions are good) and welcoming local community make it the perfect beach to experience surfing in Cornwall, whether it’s your first surf or you’re a veteran. It’s covered by the RNLI, and you will find cafes nearby to refresh between sessions.

Praa Sands

Praa Sands Best Surfing in Cornwall

Arguably one of the most well-known surf spots on the south coast and famous beaches for tourists to visit on a sunny day, plus the name ‘Praa Sands’ just sounds cool. The luscious white sand and small dunes are more than enough for most. But for surfers, northerly winds and south coast swells can produce some hefty waves.

One issue with this particular beach is its popularity due to fantastic conditions on either side of high tide and the abundance of amenities nearby — such as a beachfront pub, surf shop and other shops.

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