Two surfers get ready to surf on Polzeath beach Cornwall

Chris Duffield, Paralegal in the Family Team, has been sharing his tips for surfing in Devon and Cornwall. Chris grew up surfing in Zimbabwe and since moving to Exeter 4 years ago he has been exploring the best surfing beaches in the Southwest.

Surfing is an amazing way to enjoy the fantastic scenery of the southwest coast and to have an adventure outdoors. It may feel like an intense hobby to begin out of the blue, it could be easier to get involved than you think.

Benefits to surfing

Surfing is a great way to stay fit because it works many muscle groups. You will use your arms for paddling, your legs for ‘popping up’ on the board and your core for stability to stay on the board.

Surfing has also been used successfully as a form of therapy for people suffering PTSD and other mental health conditions. This is often called ‘Ocean Therapy’ and The Wave Project are well known in the UK to use this form of therapy.

Finally, surfing is a good way to meet people and get involved in a community. Surf clubs such as the all-women’s surfing group, Wave Wahines who meet at Croyde Beach are fantastic. Another well-known surf club is the Woolacombe Board Riders. People are friendly and surfers of any level are always welcome. There is usually an instructor present too who helps people to surf, so don’t feel embarrassed to go along, everyone is trying to improve!


Although sea conditions can be confusing to grasp at first, here are some easy things to keep in mind for the best surf conditions for beginners:

  • Offshore winds – there should be offshore winds because these create the waves with a ‘barrel’ necessary for surfing. However, choose conditions where the winds are not too strong if you are a beginner.
  • Uncrowded – when you are learning, it may be easier when there are less people to avoid!
  • Sunny – let’s face it, surfing is much better in the warm, especially when starting out.
  • It doesn’t matter for beginners whether you learn to surf at low or high tide. My advice would be to get out and start! Just be careful of rocks hiding under the waves.

Top tips

All the best surfing beaches will have surfboards and wet suits to hire and usually at affordable prices. This means that you do not need to commit and buy a surfboard straight away! My advice is to start with an 8- or 9- foot foam board if you have never surfed before as this will give you more stability to stand up on your first wave.

Personal recommendations:

For some of the best surfing conditions in Devon and Cornwall, I recommend the following locations:-

  • Saunton Beach, Devon
  • Croyde Beach, Devon
  • Polzeath Beach, Cornwall
  • Newquay Beach, Cornwall

Remember, the best way to start surfing is to get to a beach and try it out!

Always be responsible, particularly when surfing alone.