Surfing in St Ives

Best Beaches for Surfing in and around St Ives

If you’re visiting St Ives in Cornwall this summer, you really should try surfing. The sport of surfing is a vibrant part of the culture and lifestyle of Cornwall, and St Ives is a hotspot for surfing activity. To leave Cornwall without having tried surfing, is like visiting Cornwall without ever tasting a Cornish pasty. It’s simply something you should do to get under the skin of this holiday destination and immerse yourself in the Cornish vibe.


Of course you wouldn’t just try surfing because of its connection with Cornwall. It is also a fabulous activity which allows you to have fun in the sea and experience the power of nature as you ride waves along the shore. It is also a healthy exercise and is great fun for all ages and abilities, especially families who are staying locally in St Ives holiday accommodation.

Surfing at Porthmeor Beach, St Ives
The best place to start your surfing adventure in St Ives is Porthmeor Beach. This half-mile stretch of sand is located right in the heart of town, overlooked by the prestigious Tate Gallery. The beach faces north west, so it is slightly sheltered from the biggest swells and strongest winds. This means the waves are often cleaner and gentler here than west facing beaches, so Porthmeor Beach is perfect for learning to surf most of the time. St Ives Surf School runs surf lessons here (see discount information below). A surfing lesson at Porthmeor Beach is a superb activity to experience while you are on holiday in the St Ives area.

Surfing at Sennen Beach

Just a short drive away from St Ives and Carbis Bay, at the far end of West Penwith is the pretty fishing village of Sennen with its crescent of golden sand renowned for its quality surf conditions. As this beach is located right at the tip of Cornwall, near Land’s End, Sennen Beach does pick up most Atlantic Ocean swells. On big wave days, the surfing is best left to the local pros. But when the conditions are calm, Sennen is one of the few places where you can pick up some beginner size waves. There is also the very good Sennen Surf School here, with professional surf instructors eager to teach you in the ways of wave riding.

Surfing at Gwithian Beach
Located just the other side of Carbis Bay, at the other end of the Hayle Towans, Gwithian is one of the hottest surf destinations in the area. This beach is also exposed to the best swells rolling in from the Atlantic, which can deliver big barreling waves for experienced surfers some days. But on other days, beginner surfers can enjoy calmer waves and surf conditions suitable for learning how to surf. If you check the surf forecast and choose your visit correctly, you will be rewarded with some awesome waves in the shadow of Godrevy Lighthouse. Gwithian Academy of Surfing runs surfing lessons here for beginners and progressing surfers.

Surfing at Praa Sands
Praa Sands is only a 20 minute drive away from St Ives, but has a very different outlook and atmosphere to the rugged beaches of the north coast. When you pass Penzance you’ve turned the corner onto the south coast of West Cornwall, with generally gentler, greener coastal scenery. Surf conditions on the south coast can be world class, especially at nearby Porthleven with its renowned rocky reef break. The waves can also be big and hollow at Praa Sands, but generally in the summer months, the waves break gently onto a soft sandy beach. This makes it a good location for families with small children to try surfing and master core board skills without battling it out through big breakers. Stones Reef Surf Shop, located right on the beach, provides surfboard hire and surfing lessons.

Let’s Go Surfing!

So there you have it. A round-up of the best places to learn to surf and enjoy surfing while you are on holiday in St Ives or Carbis Bay. But your surfing adventure needn’t end there. There are surfing beaches, coves and more advanced surf spots to explore along the entire coastline of Cornwall. Once you’ve had your initial surf lessons and feel comfortable in the water, you can just pick up a board and explore. You’ll be assured a true Cornish adventure.

For more information on surfing in St Ives or to book surfing lessons at Porthmeor Beach, please visit the St Ives Surf School website. Remember that if you’re on holiday in St Ives with Carbis Bay Holidays, you can get 20% off the price of surf lessons with this surf school.

If you’re a keen surfer or want to try surfing while on holiday in St Ives, please check out the range of holiday cottages, houses and apartments near Porthmeor Beach on the Carbis Bay Holidays website.

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