Last updated: November 2022
North Devon is packed full of quality surf breaks that light up as soon as a solid swell arrives from the Atlantic. With easy access for inland surfers in cities like Bristol, it’s no wonder that surfers flock here to catch some waves.
Heading down for a surf trip? Don’t miss out on our definitive guide to surfing around Devon with all the best spots from each coast.
The coastline here boasts a wide variety of waves from beach breaks, to reefs, to epic point breaks that only work on the rarest of swells.
We’ve created the ultimate guide to surfing North Devon packed full of all the best surf spots this area has to offer.
Surf beaches in North Devon
Whether you’re new to surfing North Devon or an experienced shredder we’ve got you covered with all the best surf breaks from well-known classics to a few tucked-away spots that you might not have heard of before.
The centre of high-performance surfing in Devon, Croyde Bay is a punchy, powerful beach break well known for its quality waves.
It’s best to surf Croyde on a pushing low tide with easterly, offshore winds when the shallow sandbank can shape the incoming swell into perfect peeling peaks.
When the swell gets bigger Croyde gets serious and the user-friendly waves turn into fast barreling walls that can make for quite the paddle out.
When it’s small, Croyde’s great for all levels of ability and surf craft but as soon as a good ground swell hits it becomes an arena of barrels and shortboards. If you’re looking for a less competitive beach head to Saunton or Putsborough which we’ll cover later in our guide.
Glide over to our guide on surfing Croyde to get the full lowdown on this regional classic.
Due to its popularity, Croyde gets busy as soon as summer hits and there’s not a lot of room to spread out so you might want to head further down our list if you want to dodge other surfers and find a less crowded lineup while surfing North Devon.
Saunton Sands sits just a mile south of Croyde but the waves couldn’t be any more different, instead of barrels and steep sections, Saunton Sands is the home of stylish cross-stepping and long cruisey rides.
Offering miles of golden sand and plenty of room to spread out Saunton is a great option if you’re just learning to surf in North Devon or want to catch some waves on your mini mal, longboard or stand-up paddleboard.
The large cliffs/headland at the north of the beach can offer some protection from light northerly winds which is a rare find when you’re surfing North Devon.
On good ground swells, a long peeling right-hander breaks close to the rocks before peeling all the way into the beach.
Due to Saunton’s popularity, it can get busy with other surfers and beachgoers when summer hits but you can normally find some quieter waves if you don’t mind walking down the beach.
Cruise over to our guide on surfing at Saunton Sands for more helpful tips on when to go and what the waves are like at different stages of the tide.
Putsborough is the perfect surfing escape when southerly winds start ruffling the waves further down the coast. The large headland at Baggy Point provides towering cliffs south of the beach that acts as the perfect protection from onshore or cross-shore winds.
The wave quality here is very changeable based on the banks and the conditions. Typically Putsborough can handle some good size waves up to 6-8 ft and the cliffs on the left of the bay can provide a helpful channel when you paddle out.
Overlooked by a large grassy car park you can check the waves while you pull your wetsuit on but parking here isn’t cheap so make sure to bring some change!
Find out more about surfing at Putsborough in our helpful spot guide.
If you head far enough down Saunton Beach you’ll cross the River Taw and end up at Westward Ho. Very similar to Saunton in terms of waves it’s best suited to long boards with lots of volume to help you glide across the mellow waves.
Just a short drive from Bideford this surf spot has a relaxed vibe that’s great when you’re just starting out on your surfing journey. The beach is relatively flat so the waves break and roll for long distances here making for some epic rides.
For experienced surfers looking for a bit more of a challenge, there are some quality reef breaks in the area for those willing to look.
Head over to our detailed guide on surfing at Westward Ho for the low down on tides, waves and more.
The only point break on this list, Lynmouth is better suited to more experienced surfers. The waves here break along a long cobblestone point offering left-handers that can peel for a good distance.
The main breaks need to be too large to surf before Lynmouth starts to break. Due to its sheltered position within the Bristol Channel, it’s a great place to get away from the wind during large south-westerly storms.
Surfable at all stages of the tide and offshore in southerly winds you’re best chance of good waves here will be through the late autumn and winter.
Don’t miss our guide to surfing at Lynmouth for a breakdown of all the different peaks at different tides and what to look out for in the lineup.
Woolacombe is one of North Devon’s prettiest beach breaks. From the expanses of sand to the south of the beach to the rocky Combesgate located at the north there’s a wide variety of peaks for visiting surfers and well with a visit if you’re surfing North Devon.
Best surfed from low to mid tide with a light easterly breeze, Woolacombe is great in any waves from 2-6ft. It’s a bit more exposed to swell than Putsborough so it’s well worth a check if you’re trying to squeeze the most out of a small summer swell.
Heading here for a surf trip? We’ve created the Woolacombe Surfing Guide with way more info on what it’s like to surf here.
Is North or South Devon better for surfing?
Even though South Devon has some great surf spots, North Devon gets more consistent waves year-round. Making it a much better option if you want to maximise your chance of surfable waves, especially in the summertime.
Head over to our guide on surfing in South Devon to find out about the less surfed side of the county.
Where is the best surf in North Deon?
Croyde Bay is the best surf spot in North Devon when a westerly ground swell arrives alongside easterly winds. From low to mid tide Croyde is famed for producing powerful, barreling waves that can match any other beach break in the UK.
What’s the best time of year for surfing North Devon?
North Devon gets swell all year round but the best waves normally occur from September to December.