Surfing South Devon

South Devon isn’t the first location you think of when it comes to surfing in the southwest of England but its coastline is home to some quality waves when a good ground swell arrives.

Heading down to Devon for a surf trip? Don’t miss our guide to the best surf spots Devon has to offer along both coasts.

From the tucked-away beachies located right up the English Channel to the more exposed breaks closer to Cornwall, we’ve created the definitive guide to surfing South Devon packed with local knowledge and tips to help you out.

Can you go surfing in South Devon?

Yes, South Devon’s packed full of great surf spots but due to its location inside the English Channel, it requires a fairly large swell to reach many of the spots listed here.

Ideally, you want a good ground swell from a south-westerly direction with favourable offshore winds from the northeast for the best surf conditions but this is a fairly rare occurrence.

For those willing to get out in less than perfect conditions South Devon plays host to several large wind swells that create surfable waves, particularly through the cold winter months.

Now we know what’s required for South Devon’s surfing beaches to come to life let’s take a look at some of the best surf spots in the area.

Surf spots in South Devon

From tucked away coves to large expanses of Golden sand we’ve listed the best surf spots South Devon has to offer and some that you may not have heard of before.

Bantham Beach

Without a doubt, this is South Devon’s premier surf spot. Located close to Kingsbridge and just a short drive from Plymouth this beach draws surfers from far and wide to enjoy the quality banks at this spot.

The sand bottom here is carved out by the river mouth flowing out to sea making for long peeling waves that can be ridden for a considerable distance.

The beach has two main peaks with a fast, powerful right breaking from the river mouth towards the beach, and an A-frame peak breaking further towards the left of the bay.

Best surfed from low to mid tide the beach tends to fill up with water at high, reducing wave quality and stopping waves from breaking altogether on small swells.

Head over to our guide on surfing Bantham to get the full low down on how to score this epic beachie.

Challaborough Bay

Just round the headland from Bantham lies Challaborough, a small protected beach break that can offer some respite if Bantham’s waves look wind affected.

At high tide, Challaborough is just a small beach but the waves are anything but small in quality.

Offering barreling peaks that can wedge just metres from the beach it’s a popular spot with local surfers who dominate the break here so make sure to be respectful if you do head here for a surf.

As the tide drops away the beach opens up to expose a large area of sand that can connect up with the sand walkway to Burgh Island on large spring low tides.

A reef at the right-hand side of the bay starts to work from low to mid, offering a steep take-off and occasional tube before heading into deeper water and dissipating.

Thinking of heading here for a surf? Make sure to head over to our guide on surfing at Challaborough to get the low down before you go.

Torquay and Paignton

Without a doubt, the most sheltered spots on this list, nestled within the English Riviera Torquay and Paignton face east meaning they need the largest of south westerly ground swells or storms to start working or a rare easterly wind swell which nearly always arrives with onshore wind.

On these rare occasions, you can find some great waves all up and down this stretch of coast with a mixture of reefs and beach breaks all providing different levels of shelter from the wind.

Scoring here can be hard work so we’ve gone ahead and created detailed spot guides for surfing Paignton and Torquay so you’re all set next time a large swell rolls up the channel.

Sidmouth

Not the first spot that comes to mind when you think of surfing in South Devon, this quiet seaside town has started to become very popular with local surfers and students visiting from Exeter.

Best surfed from low to mid the beach slopes sharply down from a large pebbly bank onto long stretches of sand.

The waves here are predominantly mellow making it a great choice for beginners and longboarders. Occasionally you can find a good wave about two hours after low when the pushing tide gives the waves enough power to have some fun on a shortboard.

The large rock groins that stretch out to sea at the right of the beach can offer some great shelter from westerly winds that often come with the large storms heading up the channel.

Check out our guide to surfing Sidmouth for more tips on when to go and another beachie just up the road.

Exmouth

Just a few miles west along the coast from Sidmouth, you’ll find the larger coastal town of Exmouth. Not your stereotypical surf town but still worth a look when a good swell is running.

Orcombe Point at the far end of Exmouth Beach is the go-to at high tide when the swell can roll over the outer banks approximately a mile out to sea. This punchy beach/shore break is great for bodyboarders and can get pretty round when the size picks up.

Further along the coast, you’ll find Sandy Bay, a large sandy beach overlooked by the Devon Cliffs Holiday Park. This beach break works best from a few hours after low up to around an hour before high when backwash starts to set in.

There’s a security guard at the park entrance who’s pretty tight on not letting surfers in so you may want to park elsewhere, you’ve been warned!

Head over to our guide on surfing in Exmouth to get the full low down on what it’s like surfing here.

Is north or south Devon better for surfing?

While South Devon can produce some fantastic waves, North Devon’s location means it’s much more exposed to swell coming off the Atlantic Ocean. South Devon can be flat for long periods during the summer months.

Where’s the best place to surf in South Devon?

Bantham Beach is the best surf spot in South Devon but its quality waves mean it often gets crowded with other surfers, particularly during summer.