Surfing in Cornwall can be huge fun – but it’s worth getting a lesson in so you understand the basics. We spoke to local instructor and RNLI lifeguard Sam about how best to tackle it if you’re on a week’s holiday.

Read on for some great tips if you want to try surfing in Cornwall…

What age can children learn to surf?

We recommend kids start learning from about age 8 as at this age they seem to understand the concept and begin to be able to catch the waves by themselves!
They can of course start before this age but you will have to be there with them, helping them to catch waves, surfing in with them and giving lots of help.

What is bodyboarding?

Bodyboarding is sometimes called bellyboarding. The boards are shorter and wider than a surfboard – and much easier to carry! Rather than stand up, the boards are tucked under your tummy because you lie on top of them to catch the waves.
This is a perfect activity for shallower waters, and bodyboarding is one of the best ways to feel the power of the sea. And it’s much easier to catch a wave than surfing because you don’t have to stand up!
Try to catch the wave as it breaks, point your board towards the shore line – and in you zoom!

What is the best time of year for surfing?

It’s a really good idea to have a lesson with a surf school – and there are plenty to choose from in Cornwall. The instructors are experienced surfers and are well used to coaching people of all abilities. Instructors really know the local waters as well, so they will give you some top tips and safety advice.

Are Cornwall’s beaches safe to surf?

Reputable instructors hold surf lessons on beaches that are lifeguarded. Most of the popular surfing beaches in Cornwall are covered from mid May until the end of August. See some of our own favourite beaches here.
The RNLI provides an outstanding lifeguarding service and if you surf in the right area they will keep an eye on you and the family. The beach flags will show you the safe places to swim and surf – but remember to stay out of the water completely if the red flags are flying.
Beach lifeguards are a great source of advice, too! There is a whole world of really useful info online too from the RNLI, from safety advice to information about the service the charity provides. If you’re travelling to a part of Cornwall that’s new to your family, you can find the nearest patrolled beach by following this link here.

Do I need my own board?

Not for your first go – save room on the roofrack for something else!
Even the children really do fall in love with surfing be aware they are still growing. You really don’t want to have to buy a new one every year there is a growth spurt! So if surfing will only happen on your summer holiday, you’ll be better off hiring one. Most beach hire places offer reasonable full week rates or deals for family group hire.

Surfing Cornwall – anything else?

Wetsuits might be one of the best holiday investments you make! These are great additions to your beach kit – for swimming and paddling, not just for surfing and bodyboarding.
You do need to pay attention to sizing as a suit that is too big won’t do the job of conserving warmth. There are always good deals on shortie suits (short sleeves and cut to the knees) from local supermarkets but the best local place is Ann’s Cottage. Great brands at great prices – this is the place we send you if you need to replace flip-flops or you forgot to pack your swimming gear!
If you’re not sure surfing is for you then it’s still worth heading to a surfing beach. Watching someone who knows what they’re doing taking command of the waves can be both exhilarating – and strangely relaxing.
Read our blog on RNLI flags and beach safety here.