I absolutely, utterly and completely love surfing. I should quickly make it clear that this does not mean I am GOOD at surfing: I spend most of my time flailing in the shallows or getting hit on the head by my board, but the utter rush of catching a wave makes pain, cold and wee in your wetsuit seem like very minor issues. Whilst I would love to surf the USA, Indo or Oz, living in Cardiff has meant I’ve been able to get out on the green waves of Wales, which offer some very decent surf.
My regular haunt, due to the fact that it’s a bus-ride away from Cardiff. Rest Bay gets busy in the summer but has beginner friendly waves all year round on a beach fringed with beautiful grassy cliffs, away from the tacky shoreline of Porthcawl. Cressey’s Surf Academy are based here and offer girls-only sessions for would be surf girls. There’s a lifeguard station keeping an eye on people in the water, and you can hire gear from the fabulous Malc’s Cafe (boards £10/day, suits £5/day), a a popular surfer hangout with views out over the bay, tables made from old surf boards and a cosy fire in winter.
A pretty, sheltered beach near Mumbles which is really beginner-friendly, as the surf is big enough to give you a challenge but small enough to stop you wiping out mid wave. There’s year-round reliable surf, easy parking and a cosy little cafe serving amazing hot chocolate to get rid of the water’s chill. GSD surf school operate from here if you’re looking for a lesson – their instructors are all patient, knowledgeable and, erm, pretty hot (although I was concentrating on learning to pop up, of course).
Newgale, nestled in St Bride’s Bay in Pembrokeshire, is a gorgeous little picture-postcard beach – long, sandy and perfect for all levels of surfing. It’s in the national park, which means it’s well maintained, and it’s a few minutes’ walk to the village of Newgale which has some good coffee shops and pubs. The local surf shop, Newsurf, issues a daily surf report and hires out cheap boards and wetsuits to learners.
One of the most consistent surf breaks in Wales, this beach has it all – reefs, point breaks, sandy beaches and an abundance of wildlife. Outer Reef surf school operates from here, so if you’re unsure of your ability, it’s worth getting a lesson and some local knowledge from them before heading out, as the waves can sometimes be a bit overpowering – watch out for warning red flags on the beach which mean it’s unsafe to swim.