Learnt to surf this summer and are eager to do more? The read this UK winter surfing guide to enjoy British surf conditions year round. These tips also apply anywhere you’ll encounter colder conditions.
In the UK (and much of the world) autumn and winter swells bring in bigger, cleaner and more consistent waves. Compared to the UK’s one to four foot summer ‘wave-lets’, winter regularly sees waves of over four feet and they can reach up to twelve foot.
Of course after our long, hot (ahem) summer, UK winter conditions can be particularly frigid. To gear up correctly follow this UK winter surfing guide and you can enjoy excellent surf without the crowds.
With colder air and water, cloudier skies, and less direct sunlight heating up your neoprene, a 2 or 3 mm summer wetsuit will not do. Get yourself kitted out with a decent 4 or 5 mm wetsuit for autumn and early winter, if you plan to carry on all winter you may need a 6 mm. Look for sealed seams, a snug fit and go for a zipper-less option for added warmth.
From early to mid-autumn, you’ll see a fairly low proportion of surfers adorning their extremities with accessories but, once November hits, boots and gloves start to become commonplace. Split-toe booties are the way to go, offering more manoeuvrability and control than full-on boots.
Gloves should be tight-fitting (they’ll bulge and stretch a bit in the water). Hoods are really a matter of preference with many surfers avoiding wearing one as long as they can. But you lose most of your heat through your head so for this UK winter surfing guide I personally recommend donning a hood sooner rather than later.
Despite the bright sunshine and relatively warm sea (once you are in!), the autumn and winter winds can lower your body temperature significantly. On a winter day without wind you could be comfortable in a 4 mm wetsuit, but the next day with wind (particularly if coming from the north) you may need 6mm to stay warm.
If you’re on the water in the afternoon, autumn and winter temperatures drop significantly very quickly. If you stay out so long that your hands are too numb to turn the keys in your car-door, you’ll be in trouble.
For this winter surfing guide we recommend you head back to shore before you get too cold. Always have a flask of hot drink and some warm, dry clothes at the ready. Ugg boots, hoodies and beanies are popular with surfers for a reason!
If you’ve got a board and a car, there are breaks all around the country so you can enjoy British surf conditions year round. But it’s wise to pick somewhere that’s popular with other surfers so that help is at hand if things don’t go as planned.
It is also a good idea to surf somewhere with a cafe so you can quickly warm up if you need to. Another good precaution is to pop into a local surf shop to get the heads up on the conditions – this is not just applicable to a UK winter surfing guide but is a good tip year round.
Although this UK winter surfing guide is applicable to anywhere with colder conditions, we are based in Britain and want you to enjoy British surf conditions year round. So here are a few good spots to get you started.
Watergate Bay, Cornwall: The wide beach is perfect for beginners and the surf school offers year-round lessons and board hire. The on-site accommodation, award-winning restaurant and beach-front café are great for warming up afterwards making it ideal for inclusion in this UK winter surfing guide.
Croyde, Devon: A great intermediate spot, Croyde has one of the most consistent waves in the UK but can be very powerful in a big swell – you’ve been warned! Surf schools operate here until early November. Beach-shops, cafes and accommodation are all on hand year round.
Bournemouth, Dorset: Overcrowding makes this wave a tricky one for beginners in the summer months. But come autumn, the crowds have dispersed, making this artificial reef-break a good option to enjoy British surf conditions year round. Local surf schools offer heated changing rooms to keep you warm all winter.
We hope you have found this UK winter surfing guide useful and that it helps you get out to enjoy British surf conditions year round. There are more surfing articles and discounts here.