The best UK surfing spot for beginners


Looking for the ideal destination for wave virgins? Naturally sporty Flora Neighbour literally takes the plunge when she tries surfing for the first time in Croyde, North Devon.

BLOG: Perched on the coast of one of North Devon’s most beautiful villages, you’ll find a bright blue double decker bus surrounded by surfboards, wet suits and super fit instructors ready to help you fall headfirst into the clear blue waters. Some parts of Croyde date back to the 17th century and the village is the epitome of a classic English seaside town. The beach is privately owned and is cleaned daily and manned by lifeguards throughout the summer season. It’s also the home of Croyde Surf Academy, where all ages and abilities are welcome and taught to surf and body board in the choppy waters.

It was my first time attempting surfing, something I have wanted to do for ages but for some reason always shied away from. Step one was squeezing myself into a skintight wetsuit… if you’ve never had the pleasure of doing this before, the exercise is quite a challenge in itself. If you didn’t grow up with a view of the sea from your bedroom window and sand in your front garden, be warned, it may take ten minutes and the help of three instructors to get you in and zipped up.

Still, once you’re suited up and looking the part you start feeling like Cameron Diaz on Malibu Beach. Filled with positivity I was excited to tackle my first nautical mile on a surf board. I had been apprehensive about the unpredictable British weather but the sun was out and the wind was warm.

Practicing on dry land

Due to its low tide barrel waves (this will all be explained when you arrive…) Croyde is often regarded as one of the best places for beginners to surf in the UK. After a short lesson on land explaining the basics, I glided out and waited patiently for the perfect set. We were told we’d picked a good day as the surf was up with large, fast waves crashing towards the shore. It’s quite daunting and despite a confident start on my first attempt, I missed the board completely and tumbled upside down straight into the sea. If nothing else, surfing for beginners certainly gets your heart racing! It took many failed attempts but I was having a blast trying to master my new skill. Then, with a little help and an extra nudge from my instructor, I pushed up, swung my legs around, jumped into position and glided off to the beach. I have to admit it felt incredible! I was hooked.

The old wives tale of not swimming on a full stomach doesn’t apply here and a hearty breakfast is required to keep your energy levels up for the day. After a good feed I was ready to do it all over again and made my way along the headland to the academy. I slipped back into my wetsuit (nailed it in half the time) and grabbed my board to push it out to sea. The best thing about surfing is it’s unpredictable and you’ll never ride the same wave twice, which makes it a great activity on which to base a holiday – either with family or friends. Kids don’t get left out either because there are lessons for under-16s and it wasn’t long before the youngsters were out-boarding the adults. Today, the waves were weaker and slower than the day before so it wasn’t as difficult but did provide the opportunity to perfect my skills. I found myself rushing back out to attempt it again, desperate to make the most of my weekend as a water baby. Overall it was a fantastic experience and I felt more relaxed than spending a weekend at a spa. If you’ve never surfed before, certainly don’t rule out a surfing holiday. It’s a great way to keep your body and mind in great shape and you don’t have to go all the way to Hawaii to catch a wave. Sea, sand and stress-free without even boarding a plane – we’re sold!

Flora perfects her skills
Flora rides her first wave in Croyde

The quick book checklist:

Surfing: Croyde Surf Academy Surf Lesson £35

Eat: Venture to the town of Georgeham, a five minute drive from Coyde and try the King’s Arms pub. Mix with the welcoming locals before tucking into a delicious plate of fresh cod from the Devonshire coast.
Full menu

Stay: Devonia Cottage is a super cute retreat with cosy rooms and personal touches. Rooms start from £120

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