Last updated on July 27th, 2023 at 09:30 am
North Devon is packed with quality surf breaks that light up when 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 beach breaks, reefs, and epic point breaks that only work on the rarest of swells.
We’ve created the ultimate guide to surfing all over North Devon, packed full of all the best surf spots this area has on offer.
Surf Spots In North Devon
Whether you’re new to surfing North Devon or an experienced shredder, we’ve covered you with all the best surf breaks, from well-known classics to a few tucked-away spots you might not have heard of.
Let’s jump straight in with North Devon’s best beach break and a world-class wave on its day.
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.
In small summer conditions, 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.
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 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 protection from light northerly winds, which is a rare find when 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 tide stages.
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 protect perfectly from cross-shore winds from the south.
The wave quality here is 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.
Similar to Saunton in 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 on your surfing journey.
The beach is relatively flat, so the waves break and roll for long distances here, making for epic rides.
For experienced surfers looking for a bit more challenge, there are some quality reef breaks in the area for those willing to look.
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 escape the wind during large south-westerly storms.
Surfable at all stages of the tide and offshore in southerly winds, your 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 most idyllic beach breaks.
With expanses of sand to the south of the beach and Combesgate to the north, there’s a wide variety of peaks for visiting surfers and well worth 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 2-6ft waves.
It’s a bit more exposed to swell than Putsborough, so it’s worth checking 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.
What’s The Best Time Of Year For Surfing North Devon?
You can surf around North Devon all year round when the conditions allow.
Autumn is generally the best time of year for surfing here, with consistent ground swell and long runs off light offshore breezes.
Spring tends to see lots of north-westerly onshore winds, you can get some windows of good surf, but it’s very hit-and-miss.
One advantage of the cold water is that popular North Devon spots like Croyde Bay and Saunton are normally much quieter.
Summers can offer a mixture of small ground swells and prolonged flat spells that feel like they never end.
You can get some great swells with warm weather when the conditions are on, but you’ll be battling with hordes of other surfers and holidaymakers.
My favourite time of year for surfing in North Devon, groomed lines arrive with easterly winds to create epic waves.
Autumn can be all-time. Large ground swells arrive off the Atlantic and start to wake up the slumbering reef and points along the coastline.
Southwesterly gales tend to be an issue through winter, but it’s a perfect time to take advantage of Lynmouth’s sheltered waves.
Beach breaks tend to suffer in the winter when large storms push the sandbank further out to sea, making for longer paddle outs and lower wave quality.
Surf-Friendly Accommodation In North Devon
Thankfully North Devon is a very surf-friendly destination, so theirs no shortage of places to rest between surf sessions.
The Surfside apartments in Westward Ho offer stunning views across the bay for anyone who wants a sea view. Better yet, you’re just metres from the sand, making it perfect for anyone who wants to surf regularly.
If you’ve got your sights set on the powerful waves at Croyde, then I can definitely recommend 10 Ocean Point. It’s just round the headland, and you’ll be treated to a balcony with exceptional views across Saunton Sands.
Make sure to check that they have suitable wetsuit washing facilities and somewhere safe to store your surfboards.
Want some more options? You can use our handy interactive map below to check the dates of your next surf trip!
Surf Camps Around North Devon
We’ve found the best surf camps in North Devon with a budget option and a more luxurious choice for those who prefer the comforts of life.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s look at the internet’s most pressing questions about heading to North Devon for a surf.
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.
It’s 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 learn about the county’s less surfed side.
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 are the best months for surfing North Devon?
North Devon gets swell all year round, but the best waves normally occur from September to December.
If you don’t mind cold water surfing, you can normally find some great conditions through the depths of winter. Just make sure to get your hands on a quality winter wetsuit.