Having lived in Wales for pretty much all my life, it probably comes as no surprise that I highly recommend it as a place to holiday in.
In the thirty odd years (yes – I’m choosing to keep my age secret) that I’ve spent here it’s been a pleasure to see more and more tourists flock to the beaches, castles and towns that make Wales such a fantastic place to visit.
Whilst there’s a whole host of great outdoor and extreme adventure activities to get involved in, it will once more come as no surprise that I put surfing at the very top of my list of must-do activities for visitors. There’s no better way to see the Welsh coastline than from a surfboard, but getting on one can admittedly be a little intimidating at first.
Thankfully there are a tonne of great surf schools in Wales that specialise in getting newbies upright for the first time. Here are my top picks, don’t forget to say ‘Hi’ from me if you drop in at one of them!
I’ve mentioned before how much fun Porthcawl is to surf at, it’s a great little seaside town with so much to offer the visiting tourist but it’s also home to one of the most legit surf schools in the country. Hugh and his team at Porthcawl Surf School are so enthusiastic, they also offer a great range of classes from basic surf lessons to paddle board lessons and advanced manoeuvre classes.
Surf School Wales
Port Talbot is a cracking place to drop in at for a couple of days, in spitting distance of both Swansea Bay and Afan Forest Park; it’s ideal for families who want to make the most of the land and sea that Wales has to offer. Surf School Wales might only be a small outfit, but their 4-person private lessons are cheap and if you fancy simply going it alone then you can hire a board for just £10 a day!
You can probably guess that with my predisposition to the sea I don’t often work my way inland that often – however, I will make an exception for this spot. Surf Snowdonia is based in a former quarry in the heart of the stunning National Park and offers some of the most consistent waves you’re ever likely to learn on. It’s a little pricey at £20/30 for an off peak beginners lesson but if you’re planning to visit North Wales it’s definitely worth it.
Llangennith Surf School
The Gower Peninsula is a great place to learn how to surf – as long as you have capable trainers to take you through the basics first. Llangennith Surf School offer some great value packages that can take you from complete novice to capable surfer. A single lesson is only £25 during peak, but the best way to learn is over the course of an extra long weekend. For £135 you get three lessons over the course of four days with plenty of opportunity to practice in between.
When I first started taking my boys out surfing, safety was obviously a paramount concern.
Although the surfing community in general is well known for it’s friendly, cooperative attitude accidents can still happen and it can be dangerous to introduce children into this environment – regardless how well meaning the fellow surfers might be.
Thankfully, my kids didn’t get into any scrapes when they were learning to surf as sprogs and they’re now old enough take care of themselves.
I’ve collected together a few stand-out family friendly beaches that are hot on their safety and also practical for parents who want to keep an eye out on their little learner surfers:
Coney Beach, Porthcawl
Anyone who’s read the blog before will know how big a fan I am of this charming resort town – there are a number of beaches to choose from here but Coney comes head and shoulders ahead of them in terms of easy-to-handle surf. Coney is nice and sheltered making the break nice and smooth, just make sure you head out there at high tide to make the most of it!
Aberdaron, Llyn Peninsula
You can find the sleepy village of Aberdaron tucked away in the heart of the Llyn Peninsula, thanks to its secluded location its much quieter than other beaches on this list and it’s small waves are ideal for beginners. The village itself is home to a quality pasty shop amongst a handful of other lunch options. Make sure you stay wrapped up on cloudy days, the wind can often whip up and make this tranquil spot a little chilly for spectators.
Caswell Bay, Gower
Gentle swell and clear views make Caswell Bay a great option for large families who want to get to grips with surfing in a relatively safe environment. Thanks to it’s close proximity to Swansea this beach does get busy during peak season, but because of the calm nature of the tides you won’t have to worry about pros cutting up your young learners. If you fancy a walk whilst you’re there you can take advantage of some great coastal tracks that are suitable for all ages.
Traeth Mawr Beach, Aberffraw
Many families looking to surf overlook Anglesey in favour of Wales’ more established beaches, but there are some great opportunities to hang ten at this secluded spot. You can park close to the golden sands here, making it a no-brainer for young families; there are also some lovely sand dunes that make for a cracking walk over to nearby Aberffraw. This Special Area of Conservation is a lot of fun for young kids and makes for a good distraction in the late afternoon sun.
Lastly, this beach has a special place in my heart and whilst it might be a little tricky to get to, I always find myself driving the boys down at least once a year to make the most of it’s consistently safe waves and gorgeous views.
In addition to the amenable surf the village itself is also home to a decent ice cream shop and a few other little attractions. This place stays blissfully quiet during the off-peak season which is usually when you’ll see me and my boys out cutting up the surf!