Surfing Challaborough Bay

Nestled away in the depths of South Devon lies the small seaside beach of Challaborough. At high tide, it’s a small horseshoe cove flanked by rocky cliffs but as the tide drops it pushes back to reveal a large expanse of sand that can connect with the walkway at Burgh Island on spring tides.

In or around Plymouth? Don’t miss our guide to surfing Plymouth for some of the best spots the local coastline has to offer.

Located within an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty it offers beautiful sea views with rocky coves sprawling down the coast for as far as the eye can see.

But what about surfing Challaborough, does it get waves what are they like? Let’s take a look at when to go if you want to surf Challaborough and some local tips to help you out.

Can you surf at Challaborough Bay?

Yes, Chalaborough Bay is an excellent surfing beach offering waves through all stages of the tide. The best conditions arrive with offshore winds from the northeast and any swell from a southerly direction.

Heading here to surf’s fairly easy, once you’ve arrived there is a car park directly next to the beach making access easy so you won’t have to walk far to get to the waves.

Are the waves good at Challaborough?

While it’s not as well known as Bantam just around the headland Challaborough often referred to as ‘Chally’ by the locals, is a quality beach break on its day rivalling any other along this stretch of coast.

At high tide, the beach closes up right into the horseshoe cove. On good days swell breaks close to the shore with funnelling lefts and rights spitting onto shallow banks before erupting in ankle-deep water on the shore. Surfing here at high tide requires a quick take-off and a solid stance if you want to try and make it out of any tubes.

Occasionally a left-hand reef can start to break on the left of the bay from mid to high. When this works it can offer a more user-friendly chip-in to some of the waves before they start to unload on the shallow inner banks.

As the tide drops out the waves tend to get more user-friendly being more suited to longboards and foamies. There tends to be a large deep spot in the centre of the bay that can kill a lot of the waves after a few turns.

On the right side of the bay, there’s a rocky patch that can offer some sharp quick take-offs and the occasional barrel if you’re lucky. Strictly right-handers this fickle wave can be quite fun as an alternative to the weaker waves offered across the rest of the bay, just watch out for the shallow rocks sticking out on the inside.

Tips for surfing Challaborough

It can get very crowded here over summer, with a combination of locals and travelling surfers filling the lineup things can get a bit tightly packed. Try to surf early or late to avoid the worst of the crowds or surf when it’s onshore and other surfers don’t fancy it.

Challaborough has been known as one of the few locations in South Devon where localism has raised its ugly head. If you surf here make sure to stay respectful to the other surfers in the lineup and avoid confrontation whenever possible.

Other surf spots close to Challaborough

If Challaborough’s not doing its thing then there are a few other options to consider close by.

Bantham and Bigbury

Just round the headland, you’ll find Bigbury on Sea. This small beach is quite sheltered by Burgh Island but can be a great location if you’re just learning to surf. Head over to our guide on surfing Bigbury to find out more.

On the other side of the estuary lies Bantham, this quality beach break offers long walling right-handers breaking along banks formed at the river mouth or an Aframe peak to the right of the bay. The jewel of surfing in South Devon this iconic surf spot is well with a look if Challaborough’s a little small.

Check out our guide to surfing at Bantham for some tips on when to go to score this quality wave.

Paignton and Torquay

When large south westerly storms swep up the channel spots like Challaborough and Bantham get too large and blown out to surf. When this happens you can head to the sheletered peninsula of Torbay to get some rare gems that rarely break.

Paignton has a few beaches that can provide surfable waves under the right conditions, our guide to surfing in Paignton breaks down all the spots and when they work for your next winter surf trip.

Facing the same way as Paignton, Torquay is host to a few novelty waves and a rare right hand point break. Find out more in guide to surfing in Torquay.