Heading to Woolacombe for a surf? We’ve compiled years of surfing into a helpful guide for one of North Devon’s premier surf beaches.
We’ll cover where you can surf, the best time of year to catch a pumping ground swell and some great local surf schools if you’re just starting out.
Don’t miss our guide to surfing around Devon for more great surf spots around the county.
Let’s dive straight in with what the waves are like and the best conditions for surfing here.
Can You Surf At Woolacombe?
Yes, Woolacombe Beach is one of North Devon’s most famous surfing beaches because of its quality waves and easy access.
It’s offshore in any winds from an easterly direction and works with any swell from a westerly direction. It’s predominantly sand-bottomed apart from a rocky point at the north end of the beach.
The beach is lifeguarded through summer making it a great location to learn to surf or when you’re just trying to improve as a beginner.
What Are The Waves Like?
You can find quality peaks all up and down the stretch of beach with the best waves usually found closest to the town.
Combesgate is a small beach that only becomes exposed from mid to low tide. The seafloor here is a mixture of sand and rock but can act as a reef to improve the wave quality compared to the exclusively sand bottom waves further down the beach at Woolacombe.
Woolacombe is suitable for all kinds of surfing crafts from shortboards to longboards and mini mals to stand-up paddle boards.
Unfortunately, Woolacombe is a relatively exposed beach break so when the onshore wind starts to blow it doesn’t take long for the wave quality to decrease.
Head far enough South here and you’ll reach Putsborough which offers very similar conditions to Woolacombe with the addition of a large cliff that can provide shelter from south westerly winds.
Are the waves too big at Woolacombe? When North Devon gets hit by very large ground swells lots of the main beach breaks become unsurfable due to a combination of large set waves and gruelling paddle-outs.
When this happens all the surfers in the area set their sights on one of North Devon’s premier point breaks Lynmouth. Check out our guide to surfing in Lynmouth to get the lowdown on went to go and what to expect.
Learning to surf at Woolacombe
Woolacombe’s status as one of Devon’s premier beach breaks means you’ve got plenty of surf schools to choose from in the area. Here are a couple of our favourites with some stellar reviews.
Hunter Surf School
If you’re thinking about surfing Woolacombe for the first time then make sure to check out Hunter Surf School. Their Surfing England qualified coaches are some of the best in the UK so you can rest assured you’ll be in safe hands during your surf lesson.
You can check out the price of their lessons below:
The Woolacombe Surf Centre
The Woolacombe Surf Centre is an accredited ‘centre of excellence’ via Surfing England. This puts them up there with some of the best surf schools the country has to offer.
Other surf spots close to Woolacombe
Heading south you’ll be surfing Croyde or Saunton Sands each offering its own unique waves. Croyde’s known for its fast-breaking barrels at low tide but if you just want to cruise then Saunton has some great waves for longboarding.
If it’s a tad onshore with classic south-westerly winds at Woolacombe, just head down the beach to Putsborough. The large towering cliffs that form Baggy Point act as a barrier to the wind so you can often find some fun clean waves tucked into the cliff.
Check our guide on surfing at Putsborough to find out more about the waves and the best time to go.
Can you surf Woolacombe at high tide?
Yes, even though the waves can back off a little at high tide, there are still rides to be had through high tide on good days.
Is Woolacombe suitable for bodyboarding?
Yes, Woolcamombe’s an excellent spot for bodyboarding. It’s a large beach so you can spread out and find a wave all of your own if you’re lucky!
How big do the waves get?
Woolacombe gets hit by the full force of the North Atlantic’s swell. It’s surfable anywhere from 2-8ft (if you’re brave enough). Any bigger than this and the beach will start to close out and become unsurfable.