Surf’s Up! The Best Places to Learn to Surf in the UK

STORY BY Megan Hughes 4th March 2021

It’s undeniable that surfing is one of the coolest sports around. Just the word conjures up images of tanned athletes effortlessly cruising across the white crested waves, sun bouncing off their shoulders. Idyllic right?!

However, beginning your surfing journey often won’t look quite as glamorous! It may seem effortless when the pros do it, but surfing is a pretty challenging sport and takes a lot of practice to master.

So, if you’re thinking about taking to the British beaches this summer in lieu of a surf soiree to the sands of Sri Lanka or California, it’s definitely a good idea to get some lessons in to ensure you start off on the right foot (literally).

We’ve rounded up the best spots to learn to surf in the UK so you can get your surf on in style this summer!

Quiksilver Surf School, Newquay

Often heralded as the home of British surfing, Newquay is a true surfer’s paradise and there’s no better place to start your surf journey here than the iconic Fistral Beach.

The site of many a UK surf competition, Fistral Beach is a favourite of pros and beginners alike thanks to its reliable waves and fantastic, friendly community feel.

It’s also the location of the highly recommended Quiksilver Surf School. This family-owned surf school is run by local surfers in association with surf brands Quiksilver and Roxy, so you know you’re in some seriously good hands!

Their two-hour beginner lessons are just £35 and take place in groups, with a maximum instructor/surfer ratio of 1:8. Alternatively, you can opt for a private lesson if you’re willing to shell out a little more.

It’s worth noting though that Newquay is a popular summer destination at the best of times – so this year when most of us are planning to keep our summer holidays to the UK, it may get pretty busy!

How much? Lessons from £35

Croyde Surf Academy, Devon

One of Devon’s most truly beautiful spots, Croyde Bay’s sandy shores draw surfers from far and wide. There are few better places to get a feel for the sport and experience your first few waves!

If you want the best tuition in the area, you can’t go wrong with Croyde Surf Academy, who offer courses for improvers as well as beginners.

Their highly experienced staff all have a true can-do attitude that is sure to get you riding the waves in no time, regardless of your ability level.

Beginner lessons are approximately 2.5 hours long and host 6-8 people per instructor. For a more personal experience, Croyde Surf Academy also offer a range of private lessons, from one-on-one tuition to whole family options.

Plus, they’ve even got an entire section of their website dedicated to finding you the perfect accommodation nearby, with a wide variety of options to choose from.

How much? Lessons from £35 for kids, £40 for adults

Saunton Sands

Located just around the corner from Croyde Bay, many find Saunton Sands to be a better option for beginners thanks to the gentler waves and sloping beach landscape.

With two miles of sandy beach to enjoy and a number of high quality ski schools, beginners will be in their element here.

Croyde certainly has more of a reputation as a surfing hotspot, but if you’re searching for a more relaxed option or simply want to try a different beach for the day, Saunton is certainly worth visiting.


Saltburn Surf School

If your British summer holiday is taking you up to the North East, Saltburn is a great spot to learn to surf in the UK.

This beach has long been a staple for British surfers in the area, with a lovely long stretch of beach for you to hone your skills.

Saltburn Surf School have been operating on this beach since 1983 and have helped countless newbies catch their first wave over the years!

Beginner lessons last two hours and include 20-30 minutes’ ‘dry land’ instruction, followed by at least a full hour in the sea. You can also book private lessons for any number of people, perfect for those who want to learn together!

Lessons here can be booked any time but only take place from April to October.

How much? Lessons from £35

where to learn to surf in the UK

Portrush Surf School, County Antrim

Suggested by many to be the best Surf School on the North Coast of Ireland, Portrush Surf School enjoys a stunning position on Ireland’s famous Causeway Coast.

The school is run by Head Coach Martin “TK” Kelly, 11 Times Irish National Champion and the longest established Surfing Coach in Northern Ireland. If there’s anyone that will get you up on a wave, it’s TK!

Portrush Surf School offers group lessons, family lessons and even hen and stag do lessons, so all your bases are well and truly covered.

Plus – surfing aside – Portrush is a great spot for a UK summer holiday, with the neighbouring Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim Glens providing endless entertainment and friendly locals keen to share their love for the outdoors.

How much? £40 for a three hour lesson

where to learn to surf in the UK

The Wave

If you want to guarantee the best conditions to learn to surf in the UK, you can’t go wrong with The Wave!

This pioneering project brings the waves inland, allowing more and more people to experience surfing, whether it’s your first or fiftieth time on a board.

A 180m-long surfing lake with the capacity to manually generate up to 1000 waves per hour, The Wave is the perfect place to ensure your budding surf career gets off to the best possible start.

The Wave offer a range of surf lessons, delivered by some of the most passionate and experienced coaches we’ve come across.

Beginner surf lessons are a mixture of lakeside training and in-wave action, educating you in water safety, surf equipment, body positioning and how to surf.

The beginner lessons take place in small white water waves in groups of 8. Or, if you want to get a group of friends or family together, you can book a private group lesson.

You can even stay at The Camp at the Wave – a quirky spot with 25 tents sleeping up to 8 people each. Think comfy beds, a kitchenette, private toilet and a large balcony to enjoy the sunshine!

How much? Children’s lesson – £40, Adult – £50

Surf Snowdonia

Similarly, those looking for a summer getaway to the Welsh mountains can enjoy the same expertly crafted conditions at Surf Snowdonia.

These manufactured surfing spots are ideal for those that want to learn to surf in the UK, especially if you’re not totally comfortable about heading out onto the sea straight away.

Surf Snowdonia’s man-made waves roll every 90 seconds in beginner, intermediate and advanced zones, meaning you can get a huge amount of surfing in one session, but will never feel out of your depth.

Lessons are available for all abilities, as well as one day courses and school holiday packages.

where to learn to surf in the UK surf snowdonia

Beginner lessons consist of group coaching, including 30 minutes in the surf academy where you’ll learn about water safety, body positioning and how to pop up and wipe out. Once you’re in the water you’re guided out to the beginner bay to catch your first waves.

However, we’d recommend the more intense one-day beginner course if you really want to get to grips with your surfboard. This course is split into two 90-minute sessions, each including 30 minutes dry-side instruction followed by an hour in the water.

Once your lesson is finished, Snowdonia is a fantastic destination for adventure-loving families to explore, with a huge amount of activities on offer to keep all ages entertained!

How much? Lessons from £50

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