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Surfing in South Devon is fantastic and although this popular watersport may not be as renowned as the local sailing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding scene, you shouldn’t be deceived! When conditions prevail, the pumping heart of South Devon is found in its waves. The region boasts a variety of surfing beaches, so you are certain to find a rideable wave to suit all abilities, from gentle beach breaks perfect for beginners, to punchy hollow waves in river mouths that are best navigated by those more experienced. With a mild climate, wealth of great beaches and welcoming environment, it comes as no surprise that the area is extremely popular amongst those in the know – our guide to surfing in South Devon will give you a full rundown on where to head for a swell day out on the water.
Looking for a particular surfing beach? Use our quick links below, or read on for our comprehensive guide to surfing in South Devon
– Bantham surfing
– Bantham Surf Academy
– Bigbury-on-Sea surfing
– Discovery Surf School Bigbury
– Thurlestone Beach
– Challaborough Beach
– Mothecombe Beach
– North Sands Salcombe
Some of the most popular surfing beaches in South Devon are found within a few miles of each other, between South Milton Sands and Challaborough Beach, but there are several more for those hungry to explore a little further. This beautiful stretch of coastline is easily reachable from popular holiday destinations like Thurlestone and Bigbury, and most of the beaches have excellent facilities including fantastic beachside cafés, equipment hire centres and well respected surfing schools. The beaches we have listed below are some of the most consistent and accessible when it comes to surfing in South Devon, and are listed in no particular order!
For live updates and forecasts on surfing in South Devon check the Magicseaweed website. You will also find webcams showcasing some of the most popular surfing beaches should you want to check conditions ahead of your visit.
Bantham is undoubtedly the home of surfing in South Devon. Perfectly positioned, the beach sits on the Atlantic facing coast, between Salcombe and Plymouth, and as such, the beach offers a popular beginner-friendly beach break. For those more experienced, there is also another break at the mouth of the River Avon where you can surf at low tide. The fast flowing river water produces some speedy rip currents, so make sure you’re confident in your abilities. Popular year round, Bantham has all the facilities you would expect, including The Gastrobus serving sumptuous breakfasts and barista coffee, the ultimate post surf pick up! RNLI lifeguards patrol the beach from May through to October, so try to stay within the red flags to ensure your safety. Read our comprehensive guide to Bantham Beach for more information.
If you’d like to learn to surf or develop your skills, you may wish to consider taking some lessons with the Bantham Surfing Academy. Their instructors recommend a minimum of two-to-four lessons for those quick to learn, and approximately four-to-six lessons for a typical novice- lessons are open to children from eight years old and adults, with no upper age limit! You can also hire equipment at Bantham Surfing Academy, including wetsuits to practise in the bay in your own time.
Bigbury-On-Sea is nestled in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Linked at low tide to Burgh Island, it’s an exposed beach, with fairly consistent waves year round. One of the more family friendly surfing spots, the environment is safe, fun and suitable for all ages and abilities – a great spot for beginners. What’s more, the facilities are second to none with a popular café and beach shop available, ample parking and public toilets. For those spectating surfers, you can walk or take the famous sea tractor from Bigbury-on-Sea to Burgh Island, where you can look out over the water to see surfers as far as Bantham in the distance.
Learn to surf at Bigbury-On-Sea with an experienced tutor at Discovery Surf School. The emphasis is on small group tuition, with private lessons also available. You can also hire equipment too, either for surfing or for other watersports like stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
Thurlestone Beach is a hidden South Devon surfing gem, the waves of which are surfed by those looking to escape the crowds during the peak season at Bantham. Be warned, this is a spot for experienced surfers! The sandy beach has a few submerged rocks and the shifting sand bars produce some fast right-hand waves, which are among some of the best on the entire coastline when the conditions are right. If it does look a little too heavy then not to worry, head to The Beachouse instead, which is the perfect viewing spot to watch the surf with a tipple or two.
Known as a more challenging surfing beach, Challaborough Beach sits just to the north of Bigbury-On-Sea. The powerful waves can be a draw, particularly for experienced surfers, but combined with the rocky seabed it can be quite a hazardous spot. Being a fairly exposed beach and point break, the surf is relatively inconsistent, with winter being the optimum time of year for surfing here. That being said, when the conditions are right it delivers a powerful and playful wave that’s popular amongst both local residents and visitors alike.
At the mouth of the River Erme you will find Mothecombe Beach, and this unspoilt, sandy spot is a popular lesser known surfing bolthole. The waves are fun and gentle, breaking on both the left and right hand side, providing plenty of space for those learning and needing a slightly wider berth! There are no lifeguards however, so do be careful and always surf within your abilities. Another factor worth noting is that it is around a 10-15 minute walk from the carpark, so leave a little strength in your arms to carry your board back post surf. Our guide to Mothecombe Beach covers everything you need to know should you want to visit.
When the weather is stormy and the sea is wild, then be sure to head to North Sands in Salcombe for a surf check. On a large south-westerly swell, waves come up the estuary to the beach, which is conveniently sheltered by the headland and as such, produces some sizeable peaks. In the right conditions you can take your pick from either the left or right-hand side, which form best at mid-tide. For a sumptuous post surf feast, head to The Winking Prawn, situated adjacent to the beach.
At Coast & Country Cottages we boast a variety of holiday cottages near the best surfing beaches in South Devon. From traditional coastal cottages with sea views located just a stone’s throw from the ocean, perfect for drinking your morning coffee on the balcony whilst checking the surf, to luxury properties with an outdoor shower to wash off sandy wetsuits, and not to mention properties with a roaring open fire to warm up after a refreshing dip – you’re bound to find a cottage close to some of the best surfing in South Devon.