Surfing Saunton Sands

surfing saunton sands

Saunton Sands is situated on the wave-rich coastline of North Devon just south of Croyde bay. Surfing here offers easy access for surfers further inland and regular trains running to Barnstaple make surfing here without your own transport a viable option.

Overlooked by the Saunton Sands Hotel this stunning stretch of beach runs from the Saunton Sands end all the way down to Westward Ho. The beach has massive tidal movement with the ocean moving nearly a mile on spring tides.

Now let’s take a look at the finer details of surfing Saunton, when to go, and other surf spots in the local area.

Looking for more surf spots in Devon? We’ve created a list of all the best surf spots in Devon for your next surf trip.

Surfing at Saunton Sands?

Surfing Saunton Sands is a great option for beginners, longboarders and anyone looking for long gentle rides with relatively easy paddle-outs.

Due to its long beach, Saunton doesn’t have a very steep shelf meaning that waves start to break from a long way out and gently roll into the bay (winds providing).

Unlike surfing in Croyde the vibe here is mellow and less high-performance focused with a wide array of wave riding crafts in the lineup. This also makes Saunton a popular spot for surf schools in the area looking for manageable waves for their students.

Don’t take our word for it just check out some of the rides captured in this homemade surf footage submitted to YT a few years ago.

If you are worried about wave direction it’s really not an issue here, lefts and rights break all up and down this stretch of beach with the best waves typically found breaking off the rocks on the right of the beach.

This huge expanse of sand also offers lots of opportunities to surf by yourself or with just a few others in the lineup. That being said you may need to walk a fair way down the beach to escape the summer crowds here.

When can you surf at Saunton Sands?

You can surf at Saunton Sands all year round, it’s location on the north coast of Devon means it’s fairly exposed to swells rolling in from the Atlantic ocean.

The best waves at Saunton normally occur between September and October with the highest chance of surfable waves and offshore winds but you can still find surfable waves all year long.

If you’re a beginner or starting to learn to surf you may want to opt for the summer or autumn when the water temperature is considerably warmer making for an overall more pleasant introduction to surfing.

  • What tide is best to surf at Saunton Sands?

    Saunton is best surfed from low tide to around an hour after mid tide. While the waves are still surfable at high tide the length of ride and power of the waves are considerably decreased.

  • Can you paddle board at Saunton Sands?

    Yes, Saunton is a perfect location for stand-up paddle boards. Its long waves make it a great place to learn to surf on a paddle board and when the ocean is flat you can paddle all the way up to the point at the end of the headland.

  • Is it dangerous to surf Saunton Sands?

    It can get very crowded here in the summer with surf schools so make sure to be aware of other surfers when you’re out in the water. The river mouth further down the beach can create some rip currents and is best avoided.

Other surf spots close to Saunton

If you’re set on some shortboarding then you can’t look much further than Croyde, the gem in North Devon’s surfing crown.

This fast powerful beach break is just around the headland. Best from low to mid tide it can provide critical take-offs, heavy sections and deep barrels when the conditions get good.

Don’t miss our write-up on surfing at Croyde, Devon’s premier surf break.

If the swell gets massive and the wind starts blowing lots of surfers call it a day. But for the committed few there is a go-to spot that can offer some quality conditions when surfing Saunton is no longer an option.

Lynmouth is tucked right up the coast making it hard for any swell to reach its pebbly point but also offering lots of shelter from south-westerly gales.

Find out more about surfing Lynmouth in our guide to one of the UK’s best point breaks.

Learning to surf at Saunton Sands

Saunton’s a great place to learn to surf and offers a pretty large selection of surf schools to choose from so we’ve gone ahead and picked our top three to help you decide.

Surf Saunton

Surf Saunton surf school offer a range of surf lessons for any age or ability level with a surf shack literally on the sand as you walk to the waves.

Their instructors are all qualified ISA instructors and beach lifeguards, so you can be confident that you’ll be learning from the best! They offer private lessons, group lessons, and family lessons so you’ll be set to bring along Grandma if she’s feeling brave.

Walking On Waves

Walking on waves operates the surf shack literally opposite Surf Saunton as you head to the beach. Offering ISA-qualified instructors and over 20 years of experience it’s a hard call between these two very well-established surf schools.

Surf South West LTD

Surf South West operate a surf school just around the headland at Croyde and comes with a fantastic set of reviews from previous students. Operating since 1996 they’ve been an integral part of the North Devon surfing community.

Open from mid-March through to November you’ve got plenty of time to finally book that surf lesson you’ve been waiting for!

surfing saunton sands