Where to surf the big waves in Devon this Autumn/Winter

While the Cornish coast is home to surfing festivals and competitions galore, many people are not aware that Devon has some of the best surfing spots and sandy stretches of beach up to three miles long.

Surfing in Devon is a fun-filled activitiy throughout the year – in both summer and winter – but there’s something extra special about surfing once the summer season has passed.

For one, it’s a lot quieter on beaches when the kids have gone back to school. Then there’s the factor of less people in the water, meaning you can ride out that wave in peace.

Plus, you get some superb surfing conditions when the winds pick up.

We’ve compiled a list of our top surfing spots in Devon. Have we missed one? Let us know by emailing ellie.kendall@reachplc.com.

1. Croyde Bay

Australian surfer Matthew Hayden takes a tumble while surfing in Croyde Bay in 2017
(Image: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT)

Quite possibly Devon’s version of Newquay’s Fistral Beach, Croyde offers low-tide barrels and a perfect break if the conditions are just right.

During the summer, Croyde can see a lot of visitors so it’s a great place to go in the Autumn and Winter months.

But it’s also a great spot for surfers of all abilities – it even boasts its own surf academy in addition to glamping holidays and other amenities.

2. Woolacombe Beach

A surfer crosses the beach under cloudless skies at Woolacombe, North Devon.
A surfer crosses the beach under cloudless skies at Woolacombe, North Devon.
(Image: Ben Birchall)

Some five miles up from Croyde Bay sits Woolacombe Beach – a three-mile-long stretch of sandy beach and another of North Devon’s most famous surf spots.

Though more of a spot for beginners, intermediates and longboarders alike, if you venture out to Combesgate (found about 600 metres north of the main beach) you’ll find some more epic barrels, along with more rocks and a stronger riptide – so best leave that to the more experienced surfers out there.

Woolacombe Surf Centre provide year-round surf lessons, too.

3. Saunton Sands

Celebrating during the surf session
Celebrating during the surf session
(Image: Rob Tibbles)

A huge stretch of sandy beach and a firm favourite among surfers in Devon, Saunton Sands makes you feel like you have much of the beach to yourself – even when it’s busy.

The slow walls of water here make for good starting ground for beginners to get a feel for riding the waves, but there is also a known rip current along the side of the cliffs – a great place for a long board at low tide.

All in all, Saunton is widely regarded as the best place to learn to surf in North Devon, helped by the Surf School located beachside.

4. Bantham Beach

Bantham Beach in South Devon
Bantham Beach in South Devon

One of the best in South Devon, Bantham boasts a swell range of about 2-12 feet, meaning it attracts a wide range of levels and abilities each year.

There are the more mellow waves for beginners and then there are the rips and breaks that come from the mouth of the River Avon – ideal for the more experienced of surfers.

Those starting out can join a lesson or two at Bantham Surfing Academy.

What’s more, once you’re in need of a break, the beach boasts views out to Bigbury Bay and Burgh Island.

5. Putsborough

Steve surfing at Putsborough in North Devon
Steve surfing at Putsborough in North Devon
(Image: SunLife)

Another three-mile-long stretch of sandy beach, not far from Woolacombe, Putsborough can sometimes showcase some pretty big waves – ideal for experienced surfers.

Then, when surf is a bit smaller, it is the perfect place for beginners to learn the ropes.

Near the cliffs to the south end of the beach, there is a strong rip current which should only be tackled by those more experienced riders.

There are a number of local surf schools to choose from, too, so you know you’ll be in safe hands while riding the waves.

Devon Live