Surf Location Review: Gwithian Beach

The coast line between Gwithian and Hayle offers some of the best places to surf in Cornwall, and on good days the entire UK. The beaches provide waves for all skill levels but it is in winter when the beach delivers its famous top quality surf as the exposed beaches take a battering.

Between the town of Hayle and the village of Gwithian there is an uninterrupted stretch of beach just over three miles long. This stretch of sand is often broken up and given different names, but for continuity’s sake we at Coast Sound consider this stretch to be Gwithian beach.

The Surf:

Gwithian provides some of the most consistent, quality waves in the UK. Its size and location means that there is always a range of waves which conveniently get bigger the further you get towards Godrevey to the east. The potential of the beach is huge, as on good days you can often get long walling lefts and rights. On some of the best days, although they are rare, you can surf a few barrels at deep, low tide. Low to medium tide is often the time to catch the best waves.

As Gwithian is situated at the northernmost side of St Ives Bay it hoovers up most of the swell that the Atlantic can push into it. This means that it is rare for the sea to ever go flat and this generous ‘fetch’ of the Atlantic Ocean means Gwithian gets reliable surf all year round. This exposure to most northerly and westerly swells means that when the surf picks up then the other less exposed areas to the west get bigger waves of their own. Heading down towards St Ives Bay and Hayle you can find more beachbreak waves, and optimum conditions for surfing are during medium sized north coast swell and southerly round to easterly winds (south east is directly offshore). In a South-Easterly wind the beach can offer fast hollow waves.

Gwithian is very popular in summer. Thanks to a couple of nearby surf schools there are many amateurs floating about, however crowds are never too much of a problem due to the length of the beach and the number of peaks. Despite many amateurs being drawn to Gwithian’s consistency, summer on the beach attracts all levels of surfer wanting to make the most of everything it has to offer.

If you are an amateur looking to learn a surfer’s trade then the beach is an excellent place to learn. Due to the gentle slope of the beach, the surf forms and breaks very slowly giving amateur surfers more time to get to their feet and start riding waves.

The Beach:

Gwithian Beach is a very popular family beach. It has a massive expanse of sand which at low tide extends from Godrevy in the East and Hayle to the West. The beach has rock pools and caves in the middle and a large maze of dunes to the West. Gwithian Towan sand dunes border most of the beach and are littered with opportunities for cliff walks and exploring.

Set at the end of St Ives Bay, the beach looks across the water at the town of St Ives to the left and Godrevy lighthouse to the right making it one of the most picturesque places of the entire North coast. The World Land Speedsailing Championships are often held at Gwithian and the beach also attracts kitesurfers, windsurfing, kayakers and every type of beach sport player.

The most Easterly tip of the beach ends at the Red River, named because it was once stained red by tin mining waste, but nowadays the river like the beach is one of the cleanest and safest  in Cornwall. Car parking is always available in car parks wedged within the dunes all along the beach’s length and there are plenty of local facilities including cafes, nearby pubs, beach shops, surf shops and toilets.

Type of beach:


Lifeguard service:

Well covered by RNLI lifeguards during summer months (5 May-30 September), Easter Bank Holiday weekend and weekends during October.


There is a seasonal dog ban. Dogs are not allowed on Gwithian beach (Ceres Rock to the Red River) between May and September, 8am – 7pm but dog are allowed on during the evenings and outside of these months.


Plenty of parking between the road and the beach.


Take the Gwithian road from Hayle and turn left onto the Towans. A path leads down to the beach.



Gwithian Academy of Surfing

1 Godrevy Towans, Gwithian, Hayle, Cornwall TR27 5ED

Beginner lessons for all ages starting at £30 advance for £75. You can rent out all equipment from the surf academy from soft boards to body board fins.


Shore Surf School

St Ives Bay Holiday Park, Loggans Rd, Hayle, Cornwall TR27 5BH

Beginner lessons only from £30 all equipment included.


slide65 surfboards

47 Gwithian Towans, Gwithian, Hayle, Cornwall TR27 5BT

Hand-shaped single fin logs and retro shapes for the avid surfer.


Sunset Surf

10 Gwithian Towans Gwithian Hayle TR27 5BT

Café School and Shop, the surfing hub of Gwithian beach


The Bluff Inn

19 Riviere Towans, Hayle TR27 5AF

Beautiful views and cheap food. Lots of kids.


Bucket of Blood Pub

14 Churchtown Road | Phillack, Hayle TR27 5AE, England

Good traditional ales and pub grub. Little bit of a walk


Red River Inn

Prosper Hill, Gwtihian, Hayle TR27 5BW, England

Big bar restaurant, somewhat expensive.


Godrevy Cafe, Gwithian

Hayle, Cornwall, TR27 5ED

Cool surfer café in a great location.

Spread design for Surf Location Review

Spread design for Surf Location Review

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