Surfing Croyde Bay (Beach & Surf Guide)

surfing at croyde bay

Croyde Bay is a small beachside town located in North Devon. It’s a quality surf spot with easy access for surfers living in Bristol and London and several other quality waves in the area.

Surfing Croyde Bay has been etched into the UK’s surf history since American GIs stationed here during WW2 took to the waves on their wooden surfboards, inspiring a growing local surf community.

Recently it was awarded the status of World Surfing Reserve, one of just 12 locations across the whole globe. You can learn more about Croyde’s status as a World Surfing Reserve here.

Let’s take a look at one of the UK’s most iconic surf towns and the epic beach break that made it so famous.

surfing at croyde bay

Is Croyde Bay good for surfing?

Croyde offers fantastic waves when conditions align. Famed for its fast low tide barrels, the waves here can be world-class on their day.

Offshore winds here blow from the east, and the ideal swell direction is from the west.

While Croyde does offer waves all the way through the tide, the best waves are generally found two hours on either side of low tide.

Croyde is undoubtedly one of the most famous surf spots in the UK, surpassed only by the surfing mecca Newquay and its many surrounding beaches.

Word of warning, with its relatively easy access for inland surfers, it can often get very busy in the lineup here.

Surf spots at Croyde Bay

Croyde consists of one long stretch of golden sand, but there are several different waves to choose from.

South Croyde

The south of Croyde Bay provides predominantly left-handers that can break off the rocky area to the south of the bay.

The waves break further out here, making them slightly mellower than on the rest of the beach, but paddling out can be a bit of a slog when the wave size increases.

Downend Point

Downend Point sits the far south of Croyde Bay and can be seen as you drive down the coastal road from Saunton Sands. A right-hand reef starts to awaken when waves on the main beach are 5ft+.

The point can be good when it’s on but lacks power most of the time. The right-hander breaks fairly close to rocks and is strictly for advanced surfers who risk their surfboards, bodies and fins.

Mid Beach

This is where all the magic happens. Carefully groomed sandbanks align to produce North Devon’s best waves.

You’ll be battling it out with the crowds here, so make sure to brush up on your surf etiquette before you paddle out.

Baggy Point

Baggy Point sits on the north end of Croyde Bay. The beach at the north end of Croyde can produce perfect barreling a-frame peaks on its day and is characterised by its powerful waves breaking in shallow water.

When a large ground swell hits, you can often find waves further up onto the rock point, ending at the far north of the beach.

Waves here break close to the rocks, and you’ll likely share waves with crowds.

Oyster Reef

Oyster Reef is a bit of a legend in Croyde’s surfing history.

If you go to Croyde at a full low tide during a massive swell, you may just be lucky enough to see this outer reef start to awaken.

It throws up mountains of water 20ft+ when the conditions align, but you’ll need some help in the form of a boat or jetski to survive.

Surfed by few and discussed by many, we wait eagerly for another swell big enough to light up this behemoth of a big-wave surf spot.

What’s the best time of year for surfing Croyde Bay?

Croyde can get waves all year around, but it can struggle to make the most of small swells like other surf spots further down in Cornwall.

Autumn gets the best waves when ground swells start to arrive off the Atlantic Ocean, and water temperatures are still relatively mild.


Spring tends to see lots of onshores, but you can find windows of good surf if you’re lucky.

The great thing is the chilly water keeps the crowds down, so you can find some quiet waves fairly easily.


Summer gets packed, with surfers, bodyboarders and holidaymakers all sharing the ocean.

You can get some great swells with warm weather when the conditions are on, but the UK can get some pretty lengthy flat spells over summer.


Easily the best time of year for surfing at Croyde, groomed lines arrive with easterly winds to create epic waves.

Autumn can be all-time at Croyde, but be prepared to battle out with the hundred other surfers all trying to get a slice.


Winter is perfect for those willing to peel on a winter wetsuit and get stuck in.

With offshore winds and good swell, you can have great windows to surf through the winter period.

Sadly the sandbanks don’t tend to be as good due to consistent storms, but you can still find some great waves in relative peace.

Surfers enjoying the frigid waves of Croyde in mid-winter 2022

Where to stay when you’re surfing in Croyde

Thankfully Croyde is a surfing haven, so there’s no shortage of surf-friendly accommodation in and around the town.

Make sure to check that they have suitable wetsuit washing facilities and somewhere safe to store your surfboards.

You can use our handy interactive map below to check the dates of your next surf trip!

Surf camps in Croyde

Looking for a surf camp right next to the beach at Croyde?

You’re in luck. We’ve got two perfect choices depending on your budget.

Kirsty at Neo Spirit Yoga runs a campsite just next to the beach with Yoga and surf lessons for a four-night stay. Bring your tent and make the most of the beautiful coastal walks and stunning scenery. Enquire here.

For a luxury stay, you can opt for Surf Saunton. You’ll be treated to 5-star accommodation, private surf tours in the land rovers and a private chef for your whole stay. Enquire here.

Learning to surf at Croyde

You couldn’t pick a better spot to start your surfing journey.

With the relaxed walls of Saunton just around the corner and Puts offering shelter from strong winds, it’s an ideal location.

You’ve got a whole load of surf schools to choose from, but we highly recommend any of the following:

Where else can you surf close to Croyde Bay?

Croyde is a fairly exposed beach break. When predominant south-westerly gales increase over ten mph, wave quality and ride length can quickly deteriorate.

Thankfully Pustborough sits just around the corner with a whopping great headland to protect you from winds coming from the south.

Make your way through the winding lanes at the back of Croyde before heading back down to be met with Pustborough’s groomed (hopefully) lines marching onto the sand.

Our in-depth local guide lets you get the full low down on surfing at Putsborough.

If the swell is large enough, you can head up the coast to one of North Devon’s gems and a world-class left-hand point on its day.

Check out our guide on surfing Lynmouth’s point break waves to find out when to go and what to expect when you get there.

  • Can you surf Croyde at high tide?

    While Croyde Bay is famed for its low tide barrels, it offers waves through all tide stages. Waves’ size and power will decrease as the tide pushes up, but this can be a great time to go for beginners or surfers trying to avoid crowds.

  • Is Croybe Beach busy?

    Putting a towel on Croyde Beach during the summer can be hard. As the temperature drops and you head into Autumn, the beach tends to quiet down, with most beach users in the lineup surfing.

  • What’s the best time of year to surf Croyde Bay?

    September to October offer the best chance of quality groundswell alongside warm water temperatures. Croyde can have fantastic swells through winter if you’re committed to cold water surfing.

  • Where can you park at Croyde Bay?

    Free parking is a thing of the past here, so you’ll need to park in one of the paid car parks surrounding the beach at Croyde. If you’re a National Trust member, you can get free parking on the north end of the beach with a dedicated parking area.

  • Can you learn to surf at Croyde?

    Yes, there are several surf schools at Croyde Bay alongside board and wetsuit rentals if you want to try and teach yourself to surf.