Our Guide to Surfing in Newquay

Newquay is the UK’s surf capital thanks to its consistent waves, fantastic beaches and great weather. Whether you want to start learning or you’re looking to improve your skills, Newquay is filled with surf schools and the best beaches to catch a wave.

Where to surf

Surfing in Fistral Bay, Newquay

Surfing in Fistral Bay image by Steve Daniels is licensed under CC2.0

Newquay has a huge selection of beaches for you to ride some great waves but if you’re serious about surfing, you won’t want to miss our pick of the best:

Fistral Beach – Newquay’s main surfing beach is home to the huge annual Boardmasters surf festival. Fistral has consistent waves and is a ‘swell magnet’; meaning that it’s likely to have a wave even if it’s flat at some of the other beaches. North Fistral is great at all tides but at low tide the peaks can be better. South Fistral is best from mid to high tide and the waves are more sheltered from an onshore south-westerly wind. Be careful of the dangerous riptides when the surf is bigger – check with the Lifeguards if in doubt (the RNLI lifeguards are on patrol from 28 March to 1 November).

Tolcarne – This family-owned beach is located just outside of Newquay. Tolcarne has a unique surf due to its famous wedge break at high tide, which attracts lots of bodyboarders. It’s a great beach for surfers but can be overlooked by those wanting to experience mighty Fistral Beach. It faces a different direction, therefore offers cleaner waves when the winds are onshore at Fistral. 

Watergate Bay – With two miles of beach at low tide, this stretch of sand is an amazing place to learn how to surf. The surf conditions make it great for novices and the surf schools dotted around make it too easy to book a lesson.

Lusty Glaze – Located next to Tolcarne beach, Lusty Glaze can generate some big swells. It is considered a good place to earn your surfing stripes due to its left and right breaks, plus it is home to the National Beach Lifeguard Training Centre.

Beach bums are spoilt for choice in Newquay. Read our guide to find out more about the other fantastic beaches in Newquay.

Surf schools

Learning to surf on Towan Beach, Newquay

Learning to surf on Towan Beach image by Tony Atkin is licensed under CC2.0

Surf schools can teach you a whole lot more than simply learning to stand up on the board. Depending on your ability, you can learn how to control the board, turn, and catch bigger and better waves.

Fistral Beach Surf School – The only school located beside the most popular beach in Newquay, this surf school offers lessons for all types of surfer. It’s managed by Jenny Briant, who held the English National Longboard Champion title in 2014. It also boasts year-round lessons, making it great if you want to catch those big winter waves.

Quiksilver – This school specialises in teaching beginners how to stand on their board with confidence. Brand new intermediate classes have just been launched to help you learn to catch green waves and turn. Advanced courses are also available, with all courses taking place at Fistral Beach.

Ticket to Ride – Improve your surfing skills on the stunning sands of Great Western and Towan Beach, two of the best beaches for beginners. This passionate team of experts have surfed all over the world and, for anyone new to surfing, they are determined to make you fall in love with the sport too.

The Escape – It’s one of the longest-running surf schools in the UK and you will get invaluable tuition from pro surfer and head coach Mike Young, who has trained the GB Surf team. It has a great reputation for its expertise and friendly and fun style.

Surf competitions and festivals


Boardmasters festival by Callum Morse and Boardmasters Festival

If you’re looking for some serious surf inspiration, go and watch or even take part in some of the competitions in the area. Here are the ones you need to see:

Boardmasters Festival – August. It’s the festival every UK surfer has in their calendar. Boardmasters has grown from a small surf competition to a huge international tournament hosting world champions alongside a star-studded music festival. It’s a celebration of the surfing lifestyle where festival goers can buy any equipment they need, enjoy the surf, watch the skate and BMX competitions, or just soak up the sun.

Night Surf – May. The only competition of its kind in Europe, Night Surf is a music festival and a nocturnal surf competition combined. Spectators can cheer on international pro surfers under the glow of special floodlights on Fistral Beach.

English National Surfing Championships – April to May. Established and young new surfers battle it out at Watergate Bay to keep their status on the championship table. The competition has 14 divisions, including Open, Longboard, Masters, Veterans, Ladies and Juniors.

Newquay is a fantastic place to surf but you might want to explore other surfer beaches in the county. Check out our guide to surfing in Cornwall for more information.

If surfing is not for you, there are lots of different activities to try during your stay, such as paddle boarding, or kite surfing.


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