Surfing Holywell Bay (Your Local Surf Guide)

surfing at holywell bay

Heading for a wave at Holywell Bay? We’ve knocked our heads together to make the definitive local guide to surfing at Holywell.

What the waves are like, when to surf and some local knowledge to help make sure you score on your next surf trip.

Let’s paddle straight out with what you can expect from the waves and the spot.

surfing at holywell bay

The Essentials

Wave type – Sand bottom beach break
Direction – Lefts and rights
Ability level – Beginner to advanced
Crowds – Relatively quiet but a consistent crew at the weekend
Swell direction – Any swell from the west
Offshore wind – Any winds from an easterly direction

How to get there

Take the A3075 road and follow signs for Holywell Bay, which is located about 5 miles southwest of Newquay. Once you’re close, you’ll find local signage that will guide you to the beach parking.

The Waves

Wave height
Best tide
Suitable for
Suitable for

Can You Surf Here?

Yes, 110%, Holywell Bay is open to swells coming in from the Atlantic and gets consistent surfable waves all year round.

It’s a long sandy beach that spreads out at low tide. Large cliffs flank either side and offer a bit of protection from the wind as the tide pushes up.

Drive down through the village until you reach the small car park right at the end of the road and pay at the small hut at the entrance (the free parking on the road is sadly a thing of the past).

What Are The Waves Like At Holywell Bay?

When it all comes together, it can produce really good waves but the rest of the time it’s just average.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what you’ll need to know:

The sand banks can be pretty fickle, and a quick-moving tide means that scoring a quality bank may only last an hour.

It favours swell up to the 6ft range, much larger and it can start to close out and paddling out gets testing.

Offshore winds are from the East and the best swell direction is from the West. Best surfed in the 2 – 4ft range, anything bigger and Holywell Bay has a habit of closing out (the waves break in one spot along the whole face without peeling making them unsurfable).

Is Holywell Bay good for surfing?

When it all comes together Holywell Bay can produce really good waves but the rest of the time it’s normally just average here. Banks here can be quite fickle, and a quick moving tide means that surfing here requires a bit of luck as well as skill.

Best surfed from low to mid tide the waves here back off a little bit at high making them harder to surf and inconsistent.

Large cliffs at either end of the beach offer some protection from cross-shore winds so Holywell Bay is it great place to check if other places are looking a bit onshore messy.

The two large rock islands at the far south of the beach offer some great protection from south-westerly winds but the swell does get considerably smaller down at that end of the beach. If the main beaches around the area are looking too big to surf you can always head here to escape some of the size.

Heading up to the north end of the beach the waves get considerably larger getting hit by the full force of swells coming in from the Atlantic.

Learning to surf at Holywell Bay

If you’re looking to get your first taste of surfing Holywell Bay is a stunning location to start. There are two quality surf schools to choose from in the area.

Holywell Bay School of Surf

As its name suggests Holywell Bay Surf School is an integral part of the surfing community here. Offering a range of group and private lessons with ISA-qualified instructors you’re all set to start riding waves.

If you’re more of a DIY approach they also provide surfboard and wetsuit hire so you can take to the waves yourself.

Cornwall Surf Academy

Cornwall Surf Academy was established in 2003 and since then they’ve grown from strength to strength offering lessons at Holywell and Fistral Beach.

Catering to hen and stag does and offering a range of fun activities alongside their surf lessons these guys are the perfect option if you’re looking to let off some steam as a group.

Other surf spots around Holywell Bay

If you’re looking for other waves around Holywell you’re in luck, the area is littered with high-quality breaks.

If you haven’t tried surfing around Newquay it’s only a short drive up the road and offers a range of beach breaks facing slightly different directions and offering shelter from south westerly winds.

Further up the coast, you can find the quality surf at Mawgan Porth which can deliver solid waves much more consistently than Holywell.

Can you surf Holywell at high tide?

Yes, but the waves really aren’t great. The best conditions for surfing Holywell Bay are from low to mid tide with a small ground swell in the waist to head high range.

What else is there to do at Holywell Bay?

If you’re feeling like an adventure after your surf you can take the coast path up either side of Holywell, why not head north until you find the picturesque Polly Joke Beach?