Welsh local Siân Anna Lewis reveals the gnarliest breaks in Wales. And the best places to learn in this under-appreciated surf spot
I absolutely, utterly and completely love surfing. While I would love to surf the USA, Indonesia or Australia, I live in Cardiff. Thankfully there are some very decent waves closer to home.
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 popular surfer hangout with views out over the bay, tables made from 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.