If you or your family want to learn to surf – something that's highly likely given the number of surf-friendly beaches in Wales – the best place to start is at an approved surf school. There, you'll learn the basics about boarding and how to stay safe in the sea before giving it a go.
Surfing breaks in Gower
Simon Jayham has taught surfing all around the UK. He chose to house his surf school at Gower Surf Development, not just because the Gower Peninsula was Britain’s first area of outstanding natural beauty but also because of the lack of crowds. He believes that the typical surf locations like Cornwall are a rough-and-tumble of experts and learners, which can make tempers flare and beaches busy. The Gower receives the same swell, better shelter from wind and has breaks for all surfers – old and young, beginner and pro – so everyone is more laidback.
- Caswell Bay is perfect for juniors: the car park is close, there are lifeguards and the water’s clean.
- Go south for sheltered dribbly beginners’ waves at Rhossili Bay. Shift towards Llangennith if the surf’s small.
- Rest Bay, Porthcawl is great for a really quick session from Bristol or Cardiff.
Surfing breaks in Pembrokeshire
It pays dividends to travel that bit further to get to Pembrokeshire, argues Dean Gough of Outer Reef Surf School. Because of the way that Britain’s only coastal national park wraps around the peninsula, it guarantees clean gentle waves whatever the weather. Also, because it’s an extra hour beyond Swansea, the beautiful beaches are quieter – ideal for beginners. Another bonus: Pembrokeshire tops the UK rankings for Blue Flag beaches.
- Freshwater West is an unspoilt beach that picks up all the swell, though its large waves are dangerous for beginners
- Manorbier is amazing – it has a fantastic castle as the backdrop and suits everyone from beginners to advanced surfers
- Newgale is good for children, and there is fantastic shelter in St Bride’s Bay
Surfing breaks in North Wales
'Mellow'. That’s how Jonathan Waterfield, owner of West Coast Surf surf school and shop, describes the surf in North Wales. He's spent over 30 years riding the waves of the Llŷn Peninsula. At the northern end of the country, the Atlantic swells are more forgiving and the beaches are quieter than those further south. With only a dozen local surfers (plus visitors from Liverpool and Manchester), the vibe is mellow too.
If you're up this part of the woods, pop over to Adventure Parc Snowdonia for a one-of-a-kind surfing experience. It has the world's first inland surfing lagoon that creates perfect waves every time, so it's ideal for beginners finding their feet and pros wanting to practice tricks.
- Porth Neigwl is consistent, clean, spacious and has a sandy bottom, all of which are good for learners
- Traeth Penllech (Porth Colmon) is a great sheltered beach when Porth Neigwl is too wild