Best Surfing Beaches in Cornwall for Beginners

September 25th, 2023

Cornwall, a coastal county on the tip of southwest England, is renowned for some of the best surf in the UK. Cornwall’s Atlantic-facing beaches offer excellent conditions for catching impressive swells at many fantastic surf spots along the coast. Because of this exposure, Cornwall is a top European destination for surfers searching for exceptional waves, without the hassle of travelling too far. But, if you’re not looking for big, challenging waves, keep reading.

Cornwall surfing isn’t just for those advanced surfers looking to score some decent barrels – which does happen! If you’re entirely new to surfing or have already had a few surf lessons and are looking to gain confidence whilst progressing comfortably, the Cornish coast can help!

Our Cornish holiday cottages provide the ideal place to stay for those wanting to learn to surf as we’re only a short distance from a range of beaches offering beginner-friendly waves.

That said, you should always remember only to go out when conditions are safe and comfortable. Do not try and paddle out in a raging 6ft storm, for example, as that’s a recipe for disaster! No matter how good a beach can be for beginner waves, the conditions must be ideal and safe for your ability. You can always seek the advice of the RNLI Lifeguards, and many of the surf spots we’re about to mention have surf schools that you can take a lesson with, too. If in doubt, don’t go out!

Without further delay, let’s get into it. Here are some of our top picks renowned for being the best surfing beaches in Cornwall for beginners:

Porthtowan Beach

Only a 20-25 minute drive from The Valley, Porthtowan is situated in St Agnes, an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty. With a sandy beach backed by majestic cliffs, Porthtowan is a great place to visit for scenic views and an excellent spot to surf.

The beach becomes narrow and rocky at high tide, so we’d advise surfing here at low tide when the beach joins up with its neighbour, Lushingtons, exposing the lovely golden sands.

Porthtown can produce seriously good waves; locals often come here for some decent barrels. If the conditions are too big and heavy, it may be worth coming here to watch some local rippers shred!

With easy parking, a fantastic selection of cafes and restaurants overlooking the beach, such as Blue Bar and Porthtowan Beach Cafè, numerous surf schools, and RNLI lifeguard coverage during peak season from 10 am-6 pm, Porthtowan is a great place for a fun day out.

Fistral Beach, Newquay

Newquay is the surf capital of Cornwall. With an abundance of incredible restaurants, cafes and pubs, surf shops, and a range of beaches, Newquay radiates the hustle and bustle of a popular coastal hotspot, combined with the perfect balance of nature.

Best surf shops in Cornwall

Fistral Beach, another RNLI patrolled break, is about a 30-minute drive from our hotel in Cornwall and is one of the most popular beaches on the Cornish coast. Like most Cornish breaks, Fistral is also west-facing, laying open to the Atlantic swell, allowing it to provide consistent swell with wind protection from two headlands on either side of this stunning beach. This shelter allows the waves to keep their form without being flattened.

The summer months offer the best conditions for beginners, as the waves are smaller and friendlier. Fristal is also home to many excellent surf schools and is a beautiful place to catch your first wave.

Perranporth Beach

Perranporth is another one of Cornwall’s gems. This two-mile sandy beach features a long, gentle slope, and with the combination of the North Atlantic swell, it’s the perfect recipe for generating soft, mellow waves. Stocked Surf School and Perranporth Surf School, amongst many others, offer an excellent opportunity to hone your skills with qualified instructors.

Perranporth offers all the needed facilities alongside easy access. We’d recommend surfing between mid-high tide for friendly rolling waves.

Gwithian Beach (Upton Towans Beach)

Gwithian Beach is situated further down the coast in mid-Cornwall and is another brilliant spot for beginners. Only a 30-minute car ride from our five-star hotel, Gwithian showcases beautiful golden sand that stretches and joins multiple beaches along the Cornish coast, forming a three-mile-long beach named The Towans.

Gwithian’s vast and expansive sandy beach makes it an ideal spot for beginners to learn without crowded waters. Similarly to Perranporth, this stunning break is characterised by a gentle slope, making it easier for novice surfers to drop into waves more leisurely.

A group of people surfing a wave in the sea

Porthmeor, St Ives

Nestled further down the scenic coast of Cornwall is St Ives, a picturesque town with white sand kissed by aquamarine water – and again, only thirty minutes from us!

St Ives’ surf break, Porthmeor, is a delicate sandy beach sheltered by two gorgeous headlands. Acknowledged for being West Cornwall’s best surf spot, it features many surf schools for beginners who want to learn from the best. However, the waves produced here may not last as long as on other beaches like Perranporth and Fistral. But, the colour of the water will blow you away. Porthmeor is also a great beach for intermediates looking to sharpen their manoeuvres.

St Ives presents an array of creative art from Tate St Ives Gallery and an excellent choice of delicious eateries overlooking the dazzling water. You’ll feel like you’re abroad!

St Ives beach

We’re lucky to be blessed with an abundance of beautiful beaches and turquoise waters within close proximity to The Valley. If you’re not too bothered about surfing and are looking for other beaches perfect for some family time, our guide, Best Beaches For Families to Visit, can help.

Now you know the best beaches to learn to surf in Cornwall, why not book a surf holiday and experience it for yourself?

Book your perfect cornwall holiday today