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Surfing in South Devon

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! 

The region boasts a variety of surfing beaches and when conditions prevail, the pumping heart of South Devon is found in its waves. From gentle beach breaks perfect for beginners to punchy hollow waves in river mouths that are best navigated by those more experienced, you’re certain to find a rideable wave to suit all abilities.

With a mild climate, a wealth of great beaches and a 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.

Surfing at Bantham

Looking for a particular surfing beach? Use our quick links below, or read on for our comprehensive guide to surfing in South Devon

Surfing in South Devon – the best surfing beaches


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. However, 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 and equipment hire centres as well as 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 Surfing

Surfing in south Devon - Bantham beach

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.

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! For those more experienced surfers, the mouth of the River Avon provides another break that can be surfed even at low tides. The fast flowing river water produces some speedy rip currents, so make sure you’re confident in your abilities.

You’ll find RNLI lifeguards patrolling the beach from May through to October, so try to stay within the red flags to ensure your safety. For more information, you can ead our comprehensive guide to Bantham Beach.

Bantham Surf Academy

For those looking to develop their skills, or even learn to surf,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 who learn quickly, 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! Equipment hire, including wetsuits, are also available at Bantham Surfing Academy,so you can practise in the bay in your own time.

Bigbury-On-Sea Surfing

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. It’s one of the more family-friendly surfing spots, with a  safe, fun and suitable environment for all ages and abilities making it the perfect spot for beginners.

What’s more, the facilities here are second to none with a popular café and beach shop available as well as 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.

Discovery Surf School Bigbury

Discovery surf school

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

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!

This sandy beach has a few submerged rocks and the shifting sand bars produce some fast right-hand waves.  These are among some of the best on the entire coastline when the conditions are right. If it does look a little too heavy don’t worry, you can head to The Beachhouse instead, which is the perfect viewing spot to watch the surf with a tipple or two.

Challaborough Beach

Challaborough Beach

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. A perfect excuse for a winter short break!

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.

Mothecombe Beach

At the mouth of the River Erme, you will find Mothecombe Beach. 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, 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 car park, so leave a little strength in your arms and legs to carry you and your board back post-surf.

Our guide on Mothecombe Beach covers everything you need to know should you want to visit.

North Sands Salcombe

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.

Wembury Beach

Wembury beach

If you’re looking for surfing beaches near Plymouth, then Wembury beach is a good choice. This family-friendly beach makes for a great day out and the award-winning clean waters allow your kids to have a great splash about.

During spring and the month of February, you’ll find the waves here are clean and consistent. And when conditions are right, the swells here can reach up to 10 feet making them fairly easy to surf, no matter your abilities. Waters here can be shallow and overcrowding can occur when surfs up, so it’s worth keeping your wits about you.

Holiday cottages near the best surfing beaches in South Devon

25 Burgh Causeway - Devon holiday cottage

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 that are morning coffee on the balcony whilst checking the surf, to luxury properties with an outdoor shower to wash off sandy wetsuits you’re bound to find a cottage close to some of the best surfing in South Devon.

Book your South Devon surfing holiday