Where to surf in England (UK)
British surfing has a bit more history than one would expect. In 1890 visiting Hawaiian princes put on a surfing display in East Yorkshire, and in 1920 King Edward the VII enjoyed some sliders in Waikiki.
The visiting Hawaiians performed an amazing feat considering the British winters get so cold, with water temps in the mid-40s (Fahrenheit) and air temps between 40-60 degrees. The onslaught of wind and rain keeps this area constantly wet and drying out can be an issue. Summertime weather is less rainy (but still wet) as air temps get up into the 60s with the rare 80 degree day.
Most of the surfing in England is focused on the Cornish Coast in the country’s southwest. Croyde, Perranporth and Fistral are the main breaks in this area once the centre of British mining.
Devon is a beach break with a river mouth that can form good sandbanks but gets back washed at high tide. Fistral is the centre of British surfing, with professional comps and a real surf town vibe with surf-themed restaurants and shops. Croyde is a very crowded star-attraction wave when it’s on. Low-tide offers barrels that rival some of the better beachbreaks around the world.
England surf schools and lessons
In Croyde, the Surf Southwest school offers a half day surf lesson for 40€. Lessons need to be booked in advance and run from 10:30 to 1:30. It’s a great idea, as the intensive training allows you to learn the basics then go and practice for the rest of the afternoon. The personable staff here don’t mind answering all of your questions.
Perrenporth Surf School is a no-nonsense facility with private lessons charged by the hour. One-on-one instruction will set you back 36€ per hour September through June while the same lesson during peak times is 48€ per hour. Two-hour group lessons start at 110€.
Fistral Beach Surf School is the only business licensed on the beach at Fistral. They are a core group of instructors and offer lessons year round. Yes, that means in freezing winter. Private, hands-on lessons from ISA certified trainers are custom tailored to your ability. Contact Fistral for an interview and pricing.
Hotels for surfers in England
At Fistral you can also “Surf and Stay” at the Surfside Hotel, a family run 16 room establishment with heaps of charm. This place has the best views in Fistral and a private car park for those crowded holiday weekends. Prices start at 75€ for a basic room with shared bathroom and go up to 175€ for sea view suite with ocean view. They work in conjunction with the High Five Surf School. Enquire for bundle discounts.
In Perranporth the Red Fox Barn is a quaint bed and breakfast on a farm-side estate. Just up the hill from the surf at he main beach, and it’s got great views. They offer in-room breakfast and a really cool British countryside vibe. Especially popular with travelling couples. Rooms start at 125€
The Cornish Wave offers adventure weekends, a great way to combine exploring, camping, surfing and, well, ax throwing. It works like this: Guides take you camping in remote corners of the Cornish coastline. Then, you can spend the day learning to surf at nearby Fistral. Other activities on offer for your adventure include deepwater cliff jumps, bushcraft skills and learning to throw an ax. Prices start at 170€ for surf lessons and camping adventures. Yoga is available as well.
England is a great vacation place for water sports activities.
England surfing guide and tips prepared by Bryan Dickerson (wavepoolmag.com) for Dailystoke.com’s surf guides.
Photo by George Hiles