Its charming coastline, abundance of surf schools, and reasonably consistent surf make Cornwall the UK's premier surfing destination, and an all-round great place to learn to surf. Whether you're going surfing for the first time or a repeat offender hoping to advance to the intermediate stage and beyond, a handful of lessons at any of the following Cornish surf schools will stand you -- literally -- in excellent stead. All lessons include surfboard and wetsuit hire.

Learn To Surf In Cornwall: Fistral Beach Surf School, Newquay

Good clean surf and a beautiful day at Fistral Beach, as seen from... Photo: Fistral Beach Surf School & Surf Hire.

Learn to Surf in Cornwall: View from the surf school at Fistral Beach

Newquay is the UK's surfing capital, and Fistral Beach is one of the main reasons why. With the family-run Fistral Beach Surf School — headed by the delightful Jenny Briant, a recent English longboard champ — you can’t go wrong. The school’s open year round, and is ideally located right on the beach front at the International Surfing Centre, where you can grab a bite to eat and watch the waves as you bask in post-surf satisfaction.

Learn To Surf In Cornwall: Westcountry Surf School, Watergate Bay

Immediately to the north of Newquay lies Watergate Bay: a long, open, picturesque stretch of beach overlooked by Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen. It can still get busy in summer but has none of Newquay’s occasionally claustrophobic feel, and there’s generally enough space and waves to go round, particularly on a lower tide. Westcountry is a relatively new but already thriving surf school, run by siblings Joel and Naomi Bishop. Both are highly experienced lifeguards, and their passion for surfing is palpable.

Learn To Surf In Cornwall: Ticket To Ride Surf School, Perranporth

Another happy customer at Ticket To Ride Surf School. Photo: Ticket To Ride.

Learn to Surf in Cornwall: Ticket To Ride Surf School Perranporth

As well as the numerous surfaris, camps, and coaching courses it runs abroad, Ticket To Ride also has two hugely popular surf schools in Cornwall: one in Newquay, the other at Perranporth. The standard of instruction at both is excellent, but Perranporth’s slightly mellower vibe maybe just gives it the edge. Accommodation can be arranged at the Seiners Arms B&B as part of the “Surf and Stay" package.

Learn To Surf In Cornwall: Raven Surf School, Bude

There are several quality surfing beaches in the winningly versatile Bude area, which is just south of the Devon border and relatively quick to reach if you’re coming from outside Cornwall. Raven Surf School, founded by former English, British and European surfing champion Mike Raven, offers lessons at Widemouth Bay; the instructor to student ratio’s always favourable, the instructors themselves are highly trained, and the nearby accommodation options are excellent.

Learn To Surf In Cornwall: Smart Surf School, Sennen Cove

Inviting conditions at the beautiful Sennen Cove. Photo: iStock.

Sennen Cove

Around the corner from Land’s End you’ll find the small coastal of village Sennen Cove, which though popular with tourists enjoys a more tranquil atmosphere than many other parts of the Cornish coast. It’s home to one of Britain’s finest beaches, and also to one of its best surfing families. Pro surfing brothers Sam and Seb Smart are also very likeable lads, and their surf school routinely receives rave reviews. Due to its position as Britain’s most westerly beach Sennen Cove picks up more swell than anywhere else on the coast, meaning there are often small waves here when it’s virtually flat elsewhere.

Learn To Surf In Cornwall: Wavehunters, Polzeath

If Newquay is the primary residence of UK surfing, Polzeath is its expensive second home. With it’s shallow gradient and predominantly gentle waves, David Cameron’s favourite surf spot is ideally suited to beginner surfers, who stand a good chance of making swift progress at the Wavehunters Surf School. Wavehunters also runs a daily Kids Club through the school holidays for children as young as six, and a bi-weekly Groms Club for slightly older kids; both are a great way of improving in a sociable environment and making new friends.

Situated in John Betjeman’s favourite part of Cornwall, a short walk (“this turfy mile") along the coast from his beloved Trebetherick.

Learn To Surf In Cornwall: Dan Joel Surf School, Lizard

Fancy learning to surf under the tutelage of a man who’s peered calmly out of more monstrous man-eating barrels than you’ve had traditional Cornish pasties? Dan “Mole" Joel, one of Britain’s most respected big wave riders, runs the surf school for you. The sometime primary school teacher shares his considerable wisdom on Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula; the classroom is the stunning National Trust beach of Poldhu. And don’t be put off by his hard-charging credentials: the Dan Joel Surf School’s a great place to try surfing for the first time.

Learn To Surf In Cornwall: Escape Surf School, Newquay

Few surf schools can boast the kind of experience, expertise and flexibility that make Escape Surf School such a safe bet. Based in Newquay, Escape takes full advantage of the various beaches at its disposal, holding classes not only at Fistral but also round the corner at the more beginner-friendly town beaches when conditions allow. And while most lessons are tailored towards beginner surfers, Escape is almost unique in offering lessons for intermediate surfers on a daily basis.

Learn To Surf In Cornwall: KingSurf Surf School, Mawgan Porth

It’s barely a ten minute drive down the road from Newquay, but Mawgan Porth, an enchanting, relatively secluded village, can sometimes feel like it’s a million miles away. The beach itself is beautiful, the surf great for beginners, and the local surf school one of the finest in the land. KingSurf’s owner and head coach Pete is the personification of stoke; a 24-hour beacon of fun and friendliness, always genuinely excited to get beginner surfers up on their feet. The school runs its own surf camp too, based at nearby Rettorick Mill, where there’s a bar, pool table, bonfire, and unbeatable atmosphere. Like several other surf schools round the Newquay area, Kingsurf can also organise stag and hen party packages, which incorporate not just surfing and accommodation but also food, drink, and a selection of additional activities.

Learn To Surf In Cornwall: Lamiroy Surf Academy

Partnered with Ticket To Ride is the Lamiroy Surf Academy, which is better suited to those who've already had a few lessons and are now comfortable getting to their feet. In addition to standard surf lessons, which are available on a one-to-one basis, the LSA runs a very reasonably priced membership scheme that allows members access to a wide range of communal surfboards. In charge of the whole set-up is former national champ Sam Lamiroy, who's been prominent on the UK pro-surfing scene for the last twenty years. An affable Geordie of Belgian extraction, combining in his appearance the best elements of Guy Garvey and Paul Lambert, he’s a borderline national treasure. “When I was a kid growing up," says Sam, “I often wished there was a place on the beach where I could hang out and get simple honest surfing advice from the best guys around." The Lamiroy Surf Academy is just such a place.

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