The Ultimate Guide to Surfing Wales

by Asia Kaczmarczyk

Surfing Wales is all about wild bays with raw Atlantic waves, gorgeous coastal vistas and uncluttered line ups. Move over Cornwall!

An introduction to surfing in Wales

Surfing Wales

Wales is a surfing mecca. But that should hardly come as a surprise. In a country where the coastline ranges a whopping 1,370 miles, there’s bound to be oodles to get stuck into. The shores range from the wide estuary of the Severn by Bristol all the way the Irish Sea, through rugged Ceredigion, and up to the holiday resorts of the north. Along the way, there are enough secret spots and cool coast towns to keep anyone keen on surfing Wales busy for weeks on end!

The prime spots are almost all centered around South Wales. That’s got the wide beach breaks of Margam and then the surf-washed city of Swansea, which is itself the gateway to the wonderful Gower Peninsula. Break out further west and you’ll notice that things get wilder and more rugged as Pembrokeshire enters the fold. That’s one of the few parts of the UK that can really rival Cornwall for consistency and there are some fantastic spots to hit.

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This is a branch of our ultimate guide to surfing in Europe

Surfing Wales at a glance

The good:

  • Beautiful coastal scenery.
  • Reliable swells thanks to the Atlantic.
  • Nowhere near as busy as Cornwall.

The bad:

  • The rain – there’s lots of it!
  • Some spots are a trek to get to.
  • Closeouts on lots of the beach breaks.

What will I find in this guide to surfing Wales?

The best surfing destinations in Wales

Wales might seem small, but the coastline is a behemoth of bays and beaches. It’s perhaps the most defining geographical feature of the country, with everything from saltwater marshes to soaring cliffs inhabited by puffins along its length.

Knowing where to go for surfing in Wales is the first step to putting together any good trip to these Celtic waves. Because there’s such a diversity of spots, you’re going to need to know what’s coming your way. Will it be a wild Atlantic swell with heavy winds? Or will it be a sheltered island point break on the Irish Sea? Let’s take a look what’s on the menu…

The Gower Peninsula

Jutting into the Bristol Channel from the western side of Swansea, the Gower Peninsular has long been a mecca for walkers. They come drawn by the prospect of the first ever Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the United Kingdom. However, there’s also a vibrant surf scene in the area, with some truly reliable spots up for grabs.

The best of them is surely the eye-wateringly beautiful bay of Llangennith. It’s nearly five miles long and magnetises swell from the Atlantic Ocean. That makes it a really reliable choice, even if closeouts and unpredictable left-to-righters are the norm, not to mention a particularly difficult paddle out. Closer to civilisation is the sheltered bay of Caswell. It’s another popular option if you’re surfing Swansea region, especially when there are dominant on shore winds coming from the west and works nicely for short rides at high tide.

Check out our ultimate guide to Llangennith surf and Caswell

Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire is the south-western tip of Wales. It’s a beautiful area with the iconic Pembrokeshire Coast Path linking up all its beaches and bays over 186 miles of award-winning walking. For surfers, there’s loads to get stuck into. That’s mainly thanks to the geography, which means the S-SW swells that roll in off the Atlantic shape up nicely as they mingle with the currents of St George’s Channel.

The most famous places are Freshwater West and Newgale. The first is a long beach break with some reefy points thrown in. The other is really easy to get to and benefits from the sheltering effect of the Marloes headland. There’s usually a peak for every rider there, but longboarders are particularly well catered for.

Head outside of the main surf towns and the long beach breaks and you’ll catch loads more surprises in Pembrokeshire. From little coves with rock-bottomed walls to wide sand-based breaks by quaint fishing villages, the region is a doozy for anyone keen on surfing Wales.

Check our guide to surfing in Pembrokeshire right now

Porthcawl

You only really need one wave on the radar down in Porthcawl: Rest Bay. Just a short drive from Swansea, Port Talbot, and Cardiff, it’s nestled between the most populated areas of South Wales. That means you can often expect line ups, along with surf schools. Thankfully, the beach break is long and peaky. When it’s windy and big, you can mosey around the town to Coney Beach for some more sheltered swells.

Cardigan and Ceredigion

The midriff of Wales is given over to the huge scythe of Cardigan Bay. The cream of the surf there comes on Poppit Sands. Often flat but great when it starts cooking, the spot gets traction from its river mouth. Watch out for the rips.

Anglesey

The mystical home of the druids is a veritable vacation mecca. It sticks into the Irish Sea on the north-western edge of Wales, looking across the Menai Strait to the misty mountains of Snowdonia. It’s got a whopping 27 beaches around its shores, some of which are simply excellent for any beginners surfing Wales. The best of the bunch is surely Broad Beach. It’s a mellow beachy that rolls both left and right. Good shelter from the nearby peninsular can neutralise on shore winds.

Where to stay for surfing in Wales

Sea cottage and dog in Wales

Wales doesn’t really have dedicated stay-in surf camps like Portugal or even Cornwall. What it does have is some pretty fantastic coastal hotels and B&Bs, offering cozy rooms and proximity to Celtic pubs. Let’s take a look at some of the top options…

Blas Gwyr

Surf-hotel-top-pick

Blas Gwyr is a lovely little bolthole B&B in the village of Llangennith in western Gower. It gets you just a short drive (like 2 mins) from arguably the best beginner and intermediate beach break in Wales, where there are also surf schools that cater to families.

Treleddyn Farmhouse

Treleddyn Farmhouse is a six-bedroom cottage that sleeps up to 12 people at once. It’s proper Welsh country stuff, with lush green grounds and quaint interiors with beamed ceilings. The location is fantastic for surfing, as you’ll be right by Whitesands and Newgale Beach on the edge of the Pembroke coast path. It’s perfect for big groups of surfers in Wales.

Llety Farm

Check out this fire-warmed farm stay between the hills of northern Pembrokeshire. It’s close to loads of great surf beaches – Whitesands among them – and has a selection of very cozy rooms. There’s also a lovely doggy who lives there.

Step-by-step guide to planning your surfing Wales trip right now

Step one: Book flights to the surfing Wales…We use Skyscanner and only Skyscanner for this. The reason? We’ve always found it the best site for comparing deals from basically ALL airlines and somehow seems to offer deals that beat going direct.

Step two: Book your surf lodge. There’s Booking.com. That has consistently unbeatable rates for hotels and a nifty map feature that lets you check how close EXACTLY that hotel is to particular breaks. Or Book Surf Camps, which is the numero uno online booking platform for fully-fledged surf-stay packages.

Step three: Book surf lessons and other activities For advance booking, you can use GetYourGuide or Viator. To be fair, though, we usually just leave this until we’re there – it’s easy to book in person in most surf destinations.

A guide to the Welsh surfing season

There are waves in Wales all year round. But the seasons do change the character of the surf A LOT. Winters are usually quite heavy, and storm systems can either work wonders or blow the whole place out. Summers are smaller but good for beginners, though more seasoned riders might lament long waits between swells. Let’s take a closer look…

Winter (November-Feb)

Let’s get one thing straight – Wales is a brutal place to surf in the winter. The water temperature can drop to as low as 8 degrees during this period. And the Atlantic hardly lets up with its constant stream of storms.

However, this is also prime time for surfing Wales. Thanks to strong groundswells and wind swells coming straight through to the Bristol Channel and the Irish Sea from the middle of the ocean, there’s almost always somewhere working. Of course, you’ll need booties, gloves, and something thick – we use a 5/4/3 for longer sessions in the middle of the season! A surf poncho also makes things nicer.

Spring (March-May)

St David’s Day heralds the beginning of spring in Wales in a show of bold daffodils. And it’s a good time for surfers, too, as the big winter storms slacken and leave more steady groundswells coming in to the Gower and Pembroke. The start of the season is less reliable but generally bigger if you do get a good day. The downside is that the water’s at its coldest – keep the 5/3 handy. Oh, and watch out for early spring jellyfish blooms.

Summer (June – August)

When the sun’s a shining in Wales, the coastline is simply gorgeous. Consequently, most people come to regions like Pembrokeshire and the Gower for family breaks in the school holidays between June and August. That means extra crowds and more regular surf schools in places like Porthcawl and Llangennith. However, it also means tamer swells that are great for beginners. You can also get away with 3/2 and no boots. The downside is you’re likely to have to wait for a good day. Just keep checking those Wales surf forecasts, folks!

Autumn (September-October)

Wales gets pretty nice Indian Summers when they happen and it’s a lovely time to be on the beaches, after the crowds have gone but while there’s still good temps in the air and the water. Autumn is also the peak surf time for us. It offers good, clean conditions that come from groundswell waves and easterly offshores, and the evening sessions before the clocks go back really are something to write home about!

Top things to do in Wales when you’re not surfing

Wales is a rugged land of mountains and bays, steeped in ancient culture and rich tradition. That means there’s loads to get up to when you aren’t in the water. Good news, actually, because flat days are more common here than in Cornwall.

Hike Snowdonia

The Snowdonia National Park spreads across more than 2,000 square kilometres of wilderness in the northern reaches of the country. It’s a perfect detour for anyone surfing Wales’s northern coastline, around Anglesey. You’ll need to wax down the walking boots. There are some awesome trails to get stuck into. Think about skipping the popular route to the top of Snowdon (the highest mountain in Wales) itself. Instead, go for the rock gardens of Glyder Fawr, which are awesome. You’ll also find oodles of glamping spots here and some charming little Welsh villages with fire-warmed pubs.

Hike the Brecon Beacons

Snowdonia might be Wales’ most impressive mountain range but it’s not the easiest to get to from the surf breaks of the south coast. That honor goes to the Brecon Beacons, which spread from the Wye Valley, run north of Cardiff, and then edge into Carmarthen west of Swansea. The highest peak is Pen-y-Fan, but we love the horseshoe route around Llyn y Fan Fach and the Black Mountain. There’s hardly ever anyone else there!

Hike the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

A must for anyone surfing Pembrokeshire down in south-west wales is the uber-long Pembrokeshire Coast Path. It links up all the stunning bays, wide sands, and quaint fishing villages of the national park there, going for a whopping 186 miles from start to finish. Highlights include the pastel-painted town of Tenby, the ancient cathedral in St David’s, and the endless dolphin and porpoise spotting that you can do along the way.

Travel essentials for anyone surfing Wales

Quick facts

  • Currency: Pound, GBP,
  • Population: 3.1 million
  • Capital: Cardiff
  • Language: Welsh, English

Where exactly is Wales?

Wales is the large chunk of land that juts westwards out of the United Kingdom. Its only land border is with England. That runs north-to-south from River Dee all the way to the wide Severn Estuary, roughly following the line of ancient Offa’s Dyke as it goes. To the west is the Irish Sea, with Ireland itself within 67 miles at the closest point. To the south is the Bristol Channel, which separates the Gower Peninsula and the Cardiff region from Somerset and Cornwall.

How to get to Wales

Drive straight down the M4 from London and you’ll whiz across the Severn Bridge in a matter of hours. A big Welcome to Wales sign is there to let you know when you’re in Celtic land. Those going north for surfing Wales can come in from Manchester. The trip to Anglesey from there is around 2.5 hours on the A55.

The only major airport in Wales is in Cardiff. It’s not got loads of connections, but there are long-haul jaunts to Doha on Qatar, along with a few short-haul flights to Europe and the UK.


We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This is a branch of our ultimate guide to surfing in Europe