Surfing in the south west of England is a year round affair. Winter brings massive almost continuous swells from the North Atlantic, whilst spring and summer has smaller waves but much much better weather.
The best times though can be split into two. September and October benefit from the water being still warm, and some early winter swells. If you’re a serious surfer then it’s the time to go for the best chance of decent offshore waves.
For more mellow but still good waves, then spring is a great time to hit the south west. May and June often have great weather and surf, but without the intense crowds of the summer. July and August are not the best times, the crowds descend and it all gets a bit hectic. However if you want to party as well, then it is most definitely the time to be there.
Most spots in Cornwall don’t handle a lot of size, so it’s ideal for the inexperienced and intermediate surfer to hone their skills. When the swell does get massive the main spots get maxed out easily but there are plenty of sheltered beaches you can head to.
In the main part you will only be surfing beachbreaks, these vary in quality from sucky hollow waves at spots like Fistral,which is a world renowned beach break. To mellower waves at spots like Widemouth and Gwithian so there is something for everyone.
If you are looking for something a little more exciting, Cornwall does have a couple of reefs. The most famous of these is at Porthleven on the south coast. Breaking in front of a small harbour, it is an incredible spot but rarely works.
If you’re serious about surfing in Cornwall then you need multiple wetsuits. In the summer, on a warm day a shortie will be fine, on very rare occasions and just for a couple of hours boardies.
Most of the time you’ll need a full suit though, in the summer a 3/2 long or short arm will be perfect. Suits are now so flexible that wearing a 3/2 isn’t really an issue, in fact it helps to keep your muscles warm.
In the autumn and winter though things have to get thicker and depending how hardy you are depends on how thick that gets. For some winter is just a 5/3 mm wetsut but others you have to go the full hooded 6mm!.
The waves vary so much in Cornwall, one day it could be fun for longboarding, the next you need a short board, then a fish. It really is that changeable, so it is wise to have a bit of a quiver if can afford it.
Boards are easily available, places like Newquay have loads of shapers and surf shops so getting a new or second hand one is easy. They are not particularly cheap though and it pays to shop around for a deal, but it’s always good to try and support local shapers.
Simply put, no, not really. There’s no dangerous animals, the waves are all pretty mellow and localism is minor to non existant as long as you are polite in the water.
However it does get busy in the summer, shear volume of people in the water, surfing and learning to surf as well as swimming makes it all a little mental and the chance of collisions is high