Paignton is a small seaside town in Devon that sits just down the coast from Torquay. The seafront of Paignton is home to many attractions including the Paignton Pier and the Palace Amusements arcade, as well as being a popular destination for family days out and a day at the beach.
Surfing Paignton can be a hit-and-miss so we’ve created a detailed guide with everything you need to know next time the swell hits.
Can you surf at Paignton?
Yes, the waves here are fairly inconsistent but under the right conditions, all of Paignton’s beaches can provide surfable waves. Much like other spots in the area, it needs either a large south-westerly ground swell or easterly wind swell.
Offshore winds are from the northwest but the beaches are all surfable in varying degrees of onshore wind.
The four surfable waves in the area are Preston, Paignton, Goodrington and Broadsands. It’s a quick drive between the four spots making picking the right beach easy you can even head up the coast and surf Torquay as an alternative if it’s not looking great here.
In the right conditions, surfing Paignton’s beaches can all provide great surf but in terms of consistency, we’re talking at best a few times a year.
The predominant conditions here will be strong onshore winds with the swell arriving in the chilly depths of winter, normally alongside stormy weather.
Despite its long flat spells, there’s a committed local surf community that will still paddle out in marginal conditions all year round. The vibe here is very friendly in the water and most surfers are happy to share the waves.
Swell direction: South westerly ground swell or easterly wind swell
Wave height: From 1ft up to 4ft (it rarely gets any bigger then this while staying surfable)
Wave direction: Lefts and rights
Wind direction: Offshore winds are from the west to north
Consistency: Quite rare
Water temperatures: 8°C to 18°C
Sand or rock: Mainly sand bottom with a few rocks scattered along the beaches
Suitable for: Shortboards, longboards, paddle boards, bodyboards, kayaks
Let’s take a look at Paignton’s different surf spots.
Surf spots in Paignton
- Preston Sands
- Paignton Pier
- Goodrington Sands
- Broadsands Beach
Preston Sands is located at the far north of Paignton and meets up with the main beach and the pier at low tide.
Preston can actually provide some pretty fun rides when it gets going, ground swells are a rarity but there are some magic windows after storms. The wind drops but the swell hangs around giving you a good few hours of fun waist-high waves.
Paignton Beach and Pier
Paignton’s main beach is probably the best surf spot on this list. The pier helps shape banks and improves the wave quality, the best waves are normally found on the left of the pier where you’re slightly protected from howling south westerlies that normally accompany the swell here.
When it’s particularly windy you can head to the far south end of the beach to get us much shelter as possible but the wave size drops significantly down here.
Goodrington is a beautiful beach popular with families heading to the beach. It’s a long stretch of gradually sloping sand which makes the waves here fairly mellow on most days.
You can find slow peeling lefts tucked in by the cliffs at the north of the beach and a range of waves as you move down the beach. Best surfed from low to an hour or two after mid before the tide starts to hit the break wall.
The rock that separates the beach has a rocky outcrop that can help shape an a-frame in the right conditions.
Broadsands is the furthest south of all the beaches on this list and only gets any waves on the largest of swells due to its sheltered nature.
When it does start breaking it’s very similar to Goodrington with a fairly slow incline making for relaxed waves. This is a great place to take small children to get their first experience of surfing.
Other surfing beaches in the area
If surfing Paignton’s isn’t an option you can check out our guide on surfing Torquay where you can find a quality right-hand reef break on the right days and small rocky peelers for this who aren’t afraid to lose their fins.
If the waves are non-existent on this side of the coast try surfing Bantham which is much more exposed to swells from the Atlantic.
Don’t miss our guide to surfing South Devon for more great spots across this amazing county.