Cornwall: set off on a surfing road trip

Cornwall’s northern coastline is the perfect destination for a summer road trip full of surfing adventures and exploring picturesque towns.

When the sun’s shining and you have a few days to spare, there’s no better time to throw all your kit in a van, grab your nearest friends or family, and set off to Cornwall for a mini surf safari. From hotspots like Newquay to quieter coves, you can discover an array of beautiful surf beaches along Cornwall’s north coast.

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Surfing road trips are not just a thing of summer fantasy. All you need is some wanderlust, the right vehicle, and a good group of people sat beside you. In terms of transport, hiring a van, if none of your group has access to one, is a great starting point for your adventure. All that’s left to do is throw in your beach essentials, including surfboards, and head straight for the Cornish countryside.

Once you’re there, you’ll be immersed in salty air and breath-taking views, with surf breaking on the shore. Here are our favourite stops to try during your trip.

Porthtowan beach

Set amid towering cliffs, Porthtowan’s beach is protected from the wind and stretches for around a mile and a half when the tide is right. Its Blue Flag status makes the beach great for families, with a lifeguard on watch and places to eat in and around the village. The waves can come thick and fast, though, so it’s a great stop for beginner to intermediate surfers, throughout the year.

The surrounding coastal countryside provides beautiful views that include the early 19th century Wheal Coates engine house, one of Cornwall’s most iconic historical mines, perched on the edge of a richly coloured cliff. Follow the Wheal Coates Tin Mining Walk to make the most of the vistas.

Porthtowan beach. Image credit:

Fistral beach

Located in Newquay, Fistral Beach is one of Britain’s most popular surf beaches and is home to the world-famous Boardmasters surf contest and festival in August. It attracts a lively crowd during the summer months so expect to share your waves with a few others.

A wide stretch of sandy beach sits alongside the sizeable waves that come rolling in. Facilities at the northern end and a large car park make it an easy spot to drive to and enjoy a day of sea, sun and surf.

There’s plenty of entertainment to be found in Newquay when you want to dry off, including museums, adventure parks, restaurants, and a buzzing nightlife.

Fistral beach. Image credit:

Polzeath beach

This deep, Blue Flag beach is covered in golden sand and backs onto a sprinkling of small shops and cafés.

Surf conditions are usually suitable for beginners, and there are plenty of surf schools on the beach and in the village. Parking is available on part of the beach itself, so striding straight into the sea should be on your agenda – longboard under arm.

After a long day’s surf, take a quick trip over to Rock with its fine dining options. You could also head to nearby Port Isaac, a picturesque fishing village with narrow winding streets teeming with art galleries and craft shops.

Summerleaze beach

Sitting right on Bude’s doorstep and at the mouth of the Bude canal, Summerleaze is a popular beach destination. An historic tower watches over the harbour cove, which is filled with fishing boats bobbing on the sea.

Like Polzeath, Summerleaze is home to several surf schools so it’s a great place to learn the ropes if you’re a beginner. There’s also scope here for kayaking or paddle-boarding. Carved into the rocky cliff-side is a saltwater swimming pool, offering beautiful views as you relax after another day on the water.

Widemouth bay

Three miles south of Bude lies Widemouth bay and its soft golden sand. It’s a popular spot with seasoned surfers, but also caters for those just starting out with surf schools available. Due to the length of the beach, there’s enough space to keep everyone happy.

The direct area surrounding Widemouth is relatively untouched, except for a small café. It’s a little livelier in summer, but lifeguards are on hand to keep things safe in the water – watching over the flagged area. Rock pools can be explored around the south end of the bay by adults and kids alike.

Widemouth bay. Image credit:

Sandymouth beach

Protected by the National Trust, tranquil Sandymouth Beach is a hidden gem just along the coast from Bude.

Leave your van in the car park, which has stunning scenic views, and follow the winding footpath along a short ravine to the beach. Dramatic rock formations and rolling green hills frame the pebble beach – where you can find a small waterfall cascading down the cliff-side.

The best time to surf here is during mid to low tide, although the breaks are rocky so it’s best suited to more advanced surfers.

North Cornwall’s coastline is a haven for surfers from the UK and abroad, welcoming all abilities throughout the year. There’s a fantastic mix of breaks which cater for all surfing needs – from the family-friendly Summerleaze beach to the rocky Sandymouth fit for the advanced surfer. With the possibility of having a hire-van delivered, and these great surfing opportunities on our doorstep, now is the time to get out and explore.

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