Surfing Portreath

surfing portreath

Portreath is a small village and fishing port located in West Cornwall. Located just a few miles from the population centre of Redruth is a great location for a day out at the beach and try your hand at surfing.

There’s a large harbour wall that juts out to sea at the right of the bay and a large headland on the left can offer some protection from strong southerly winds.

Don’t miss our extensive guide to surfing in Cornwall for some of the best surf breaks the county has to offer.

If you’re thinking of surfing Portreath anytime soon make sure to read our full guide on when to go, what the waves are like and some helpful tips to score the best conditions here at Portreath.

Can you surf at Portreath?

Yes, the blue waters of Portreath are regularly visited by surfers, bodyboarders and stand-up paddleboarders ready to head out and take on the swell. You can surf straight out front on the beach or experienced surfers can try their hand at surfing the harbour wall.

Portreath faces northwest so it needs a good-sized west swell to get going or some north in the swell direction. Offshore in easterly and southerly winds, it’s a great option when westerly facing beaches are being ruffled by cross shore southerly winds.

Check out the video below with some local surfers tackling Portreath on a sunny day in the dead of Winter:

What are the waves like at Portreath?

The main beach at Portreath can offer some good waves all the way through the tide. It’s wobbly, wedgy and pretty fun on the beach here, half the waves close out but the other half can throw steep sections and the occasional barrel if you’re lucky.

It’s always a foot or two smaller here than other more exposed breaks on this coast like Porthtowan so keep it in mind if the main breaks are looking a bit too big.

The Vortex

The Vortex is a heavy right-hander that breaks to the left of Portreath’s harbour wall. Strictly for advanced surfers or bodyboarders, this reef break can throw square barrels on a good ground swell.

Coming directly out of deep water and unloading on the shallow reef below, this right can take you by surprise with elevator drops and heavy sections to contend with.

If you’re an amateur surfer it’s well worth heading over to Portreath purely for the spectacle.

Learning to surf in Portreath

Portreath Surfing School sits right on the seafront at Portreath! If you want a fun, supervised introduction to surfing these guys can help you out.

They offer group or private lessons with qualified instructors that know the beach at Portreath like the back of their hand. If you fancy more of a DIY adventure they rent out surfboards and kayaks for relatively cheap prices.

Other surf spots around Portreath

If surfing Portreath isn’t an option because the waves are too small there’s a more exposed beach you can check.


Just a short 10-minute drive away lies Porthtowan, a quality beach break that hoovers up most of the swell the North Atlantic has to offer.

Head over to our detailed guide on surfing Porthtowan to get the low down on what this beach has to offer and the best time to go to score.

Can you surf at Portreath at high tide?

Yes, even though it can get a bit wobbly at high tide the beach here can still have some short punchy rides. Typically it will break close to the shore making for an easy paddle out if you time it right.

Can you bodyboard at Portreath?

Yes, the Vortex over at Portreath’s harbour wall is perfect for getting your adrenaline fix on a bodyboard. Its heavy, fast barrels lend themselves to bodyboarding and draw a committed local crew that surfs it every time it’s on.

How big do the waves get at Portreath?

You can surf here up to about 6-8ft on a good ground swell. Much bigger than this and the waves tend to close out making for a hefty paddle out.