Learn to surf in North Devon

Last updated 16th July 2018

Why go?

Some of the best surf in the world is on our very doorstep, lining the coasts of the south west.

Top pro competitions like the Relentless Boardmasters and the Quiksilver Skins draw incredible athletes and huge crowds of people to Newquay’s Fistral Beach in Cornwall every year, but if you’re not quite at the pro stage yet, north Devon can offer the chance to catch a wave, as well as enjoy a great family holiday.

Croyde Bay should be your starting point. One of the UK’s best surf beaches, it’s just 45 minutes from the M5, making it reachable from most parts of the country.

It also has an award-winning surf school, Surf South West, so if you’re more ‘nil points’ than Point Break, you’ll be in good hands as you learn.

Who is it good for? While this is a great option for teenagers, children from 8 years old can join the group sessions, and with consistently great swell, this is an all-abilities beach, so don’t worry if you’re a complete beginner or your younger children are nervous in the water. All that the surf school ask is that they can swim 50m confidently.


A weekend course will have you and your family standing up on your boards and riding the waves like pros from £85 – a bargain when you think of the cool points you’ll score with your teens.

And never fear, even if you don’t quite manage the holy grail of standing up, you can have hours of fun speeding into shore on a bodyboard.

There’s also a multitude of nearby animal attractions to keep you entertained on dry land.

Head to Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park with its animatronic dinos and real-life lions and wolves. Check out the birds of prey at North Devon Falconry, or more domestic concerns at The Big Sheep.

The lowdown

Travel time: London to Barnstaple by train takes 3 hours and 30 minutes, it is then 20 minutes to Croyde. Driving takes roughly 4 hours.

How to get there: Trains leave from London Paddington to Barnstaple; from £78 adult return and £39 child return.

Best time to go: From May to September.

Where to stay: There are lots of options, from the cheap and cheerful Ruda Holiday Park next to the beach to the swish Saunton Sands hotel, overlooking a beautiful open stretch of sandy beach, where you can also hire boards and take lessons.

Where To Eat

Croyde itself is a picture-perfect village, with welcoming, family-friendly pubs like the Thatch, which serves locally sourced hearty pub grub, and its younger brother Billy Bud’s (both of which have cosy B&B accommodation options).

Alternatively warm up with a steaming plate of fish and chips in a beachside café when you want a break from the water.