It’s been a long old winter, but spring is finally hitting its stride here in Cornwall. Days are getting longer and the mercury is rising. Across the county, wetsuit-wearers are preparing to shed some rubber, while for those dedicated to traditional cap and cossie, longer dips are now well within reach. Whatever your sartorial and wave riding preferences, there’s no doubt we’re entering the best time of year to just get out and glide. 

While autumn and winter might bring the biggest swells, the beauty of belly boarding is of course that you don’t need pumping waves to have a good time. For us, pretty much any motion in the ocean is enough for a few run rides. 

But where to head to make the most of it? Cornwall is home to 60 lifeguarded beaches, and while they’re all great in their own way, we do have a few personal favourites at DP HQ. Here, we’ll present a quick rundown of why we love them, with a few tips on what conditions each likes best.

You can find tide times and a wave forecast on Magicseaweed, or if you’re not too worried about the swell size, and all those stars and pointing arrows, a quick look at the wind direction on Met Office, paired with the advice below, will give you a rough idea of where to head for clean peelers. 

Newquay Bay 

Comprised of five separate beaches (Towan, Great Western, Tolcarne, Lusy Glaze and Porth) which all link up on low tide, Newquay bay hosts a variety of accessible waves within easy reach of the town centre. Of course, we’re a little biased, since this is our local, but there really is something for all tastes along this stretch. As the most sheltered, Towan generally has the smallest waves of all the beaches, while Tolcarne will have the largest. Porth and Lusty are good at low tide, but get a little squeezed, leading the waves to lose power as the water comes in.

Mid-tide Great Western is the best for mellow peelers, while low tide Towan and high tide Tolcarne will offer steeper, hollower waves with a bit more punch. These beaches are generally very safe, with hardly any rips or currents, but it’s a good idea (as with everywhere) to stay between the flags. The waves will be cleanest on any wind direction with southerly in it, but Towan will also be clean on a westerly. 

Heading to Newquay? Pop in and see us at our Newquay HQ to browse our gear or hire a board for free.

Sennen beach

Sitting out near Land's End, Sennen Cove is home to a beautifully rugged stretch of beach, with clear blue water, white sands and imposing granite cliffs. Thanks to its location in the far west of the county, it picks up more swell than elsewhere, so it's a great choice for when the waves are looking small and the wind is southerly or southeasterly. The sandbanks change all the time, but there’ll almost always be a fun wave to be had at some point throughout the tide. It can be rippy, so it’s important to always stay between the flags. If you fancy a bit of hiking, the coast path around Sennen is well worth exploring with the chance to spot seals, dolphins, basking sharks and even the occasional humpback whale as you go. 

Praa Sands

The delightful Praa Sands is located on Cornwall’s south coast, between Mounts Bay and the Lizard. Generally speaking, it will pick up less swell than the north coast beaches, so is a good option for bigger days, or if there’s a northerly wind blowing. The western end in front of the car park will usually be smaller, while the eastern end – known as Hendra – will have bigger, punchier waves, particularly on lower tides. With plenty of space, good protection from the chilly northerly winds and a bit of dry sand on offer throughout the tide, this is a great place to roll out the blanket for a beach day. Plus, the bar at the western end is the perfect spot for a post-session beer. 

 Summerleaze Beach

Situated a stone’s throw from the centre of Bude, Summerleaze is one of the North Cornwall’s most popular beaches, with easy access, plenty of room and a picturesque river mouth. Although usually mellow throughout the summer months, thanks to the swell protection from the harbour, there are fun rollers to be found at all tides. Low tide is best at the northern end, while mid-tide offers waves towards the middle of the beach. Plus, if the sea’s too rough, there’s always the tidal pool, perfect for a dip in any conditions! 

Heading to Bude? You can hire a Dick Pearce board for free from Zuma Jay or the Two Minute Beach Clean charity shop. Click here to browse all of our Surf Wood For Good locations. 

Perranporth beach 

The sprawling Perranporth Beach is located between Newquay and St Agnes.With 3 miles of golden dune-backed sands, complete with several lifeguarded areas, it's the perfect place to get away from the crowds. Like Sennen, it picks up all available swell and breaks throughout the tide, although from about mid-tide up, a headland separates the northern end – known as Perran Sands – from the southern end in front of the town. The optimum wind for clean conditions is from the east, or south east with the towering dunes at Perransands providing good protection if it's blowing a bit hard, particularly at high tide. 

For Surf Wood For Good free hire in Perranporth town, head to Bathsheba Surf Shop. 

Photos: @lugarts

April 30, 2022 — Luke Gartside