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The Best Surf Schools in the UK

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The Best Surf Schools in the UK

Thinking of learning to surf this summer? You don’t have to go long-haul to learn some serious skills


Whether you’ve been inspired by the annual Boardmasters festival to, ahem, master the board, or you’re simply looking for a new family hobby this summer holidays, the UK has plenty to offer when it comes to surfing. Looking for the best surf schools in the UK? The search ends here.

Watergate Bay Surfing

© Josh Coombes

The Best Surf Schools in the UK

When it comes to learning to surf in the UK, you should head west. The best surf schools and surf hotel breaks in the country are grouped in large part in Devon and Cornwall, with a few options in Wales to boot.

Surf Schools Cornwall

The Surf Club Cornwall

Owned and managed by Nick Tiscoe, an ISA Level 2 surf coach who has been surfing for over 20 years. Overlooking Mawgan Porth beach, a beach break surf spot, with right and left-hander waves, The Surf Club has a host of fully qualified surf coaches, all of whom are qualified beach lifeguards too.

Mawgan Porth

Perfect for beginners, the sandy beach is fairly protected by two headlands, and you can opt for private, family or group lessons. Wetsuits, boots, gloves and surfboards are all included in the lesson price.

Price from £75 for a one-to-one lesson, £80 for two people, £30pp for a group of three or more.

Surf Clinic at Watergate Bay Hotel

If you’re looking for a Cornish getaway with a little extra wave-power, check in to the Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay. Lead by ex wave-ski champion Carl Coombes and open all year round, the Academy offers fully trained experts available for tuition. A great option for families – all children who are guests of Watergate Bay Hotel will receive a free surf lesson.

Watergate Bay Hotel

In addition, from Wednesday 27th September – Friday 29th September there will be an intensive two-day surfing course of in-water coaching, workshops and first-hand tuition. Alongside the usual in-water tuition, you’ll also enjoy yoga for surfing, surf fitness, handplane and body surfing classes. The Surf clinic costs from £195pp, and two-night stay at Watergate Bay Hotel from £385pp (based on two sharing). Surf clinic, a two-night stay at Watergate Bay Hotel including dinner each night from £440pp based on two sharing. 

The Surf Sanctuary at The Headland Hotel, Newquay, Cornwall

The Headland Hotel is set on a clifftop overlooking Fistral Bay and its Surf Sanctuary offers introductory surf classes, equipment hire, improver and private lessons (starting from £35), as well as coasteering, kite surfing and stand-up paddle boarding.

The Headland Hotel & Spa

Visit from autumn to spring to experience the impressive 4-12ft swells, or for a more gentle introduction, visit during a summer holiday and get to grips with the 1-4ft waves.

An overnight stay at The Headland Hotel costs from £160 per room including full English breakfast and use of the spa.

St Ives Surf School 

Backed by the Tate Gallery with a wide sandy expanse, Porthmeor is the favoured surfing location in St Ives, semi-sheltered from the south westerly winds. St Ives Surf School runs surfing lessons from Porthmeor beach for most of the year (1 Lesson: £30, 3 Lessons: £75, 5 Lessons: £100, groups of 4+: £25 per person).

Focsle Down Under, St Ives

Plan your visit: Aspects Holidays has a great selection of cottages in St Ives to choose from for a surfing trip, including Focsle Down Under (sleeps six) which has superb views over Porthmeor Beach. A week’s stay costs from £104pp (£822 total).

Cornwall for Kids: Family-Friendly Travel

Surf Schools Devon

Croyde Bay

Croyde Bay

Croyde Surf Academy

Run out of a blue double-decker bus overlooking Croyde Bay, not only does the Surf Academy teach you to hang 10 (or, at least one or two), but you can also book in for SUP lessons and tours and coast steering. Lessons start at £40 for adult lessons.

Walking on Waves

Fancy learning to surf with one of Britain’s most successful female surfers? Check in to Sarah Whiteley’s North Devon surf school Walking on Waves. You can combine your lessons with a luxury camping stay to really get stuck in, too.

Surf Schools Wales

Porthcawl Beach, Wales

Porthcawl Beach, Wales

Outer Reef Surf School

On the gorgeous Pembrokeshire coastline in West Wales, this surf school is run by professional surf coach Dean Gough, who has experience in coaching the GB team. They also run women’s surf and stand-up paddleboard weekends. From £35 for a half day lesson.

Porthcawl Surf School

Rest Bay in South Wales is one of the best spots to learn to surf in the UK, with rideable waves all year round. It’s also the closest surf beach to Cardiff, Bristol and London, making it a popular weekend retreat for city-dwelling surfer-types. As well as surf lessons, the surf school also rents boards in the car park opposite the beach. Watch out for rip currents that pull towards the rocks; opting for a lesson for your first few tries is a good idea. Lessons from £30.

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