I don’t blame you for wanting to take a trip down west. It's strange.It’s beautiful. It's now easier than ever! The long sandy beaches, the sometimes lovely weather and of course the prospect of becoming a bonafide surf dude. I applaud your inner explorer, and as a native implore you to go beyond the four walls of Newquay, BUT there are a few places that not even your 3 days of swell board lessons will have you ready for.
Porthleven – The Bone Crusher
We have all seen Baywatch and Hawaii Five 0, and it sure makes the surfer lifestyle look appealing, but it also teaches you the correlation between neck braces and reef breaks.
Not only is Levey dangerously easy to make it out, it can be even easier to time it wrong, leaving you to get a very ‘drowny’ beating on the boulders. This heavy right hander with a left option on bigger swells is a mecca for British surfing. Like the real mecca, it gets hella busy, with a lot of people who have travelled a long way to get there and sure know what they are doing.
St Agnes/chapel porth – The one with no room for tourists
This is not so much a case of danger but more the confinement of the beaches, the wealth of talent for one village and a scarcity of waves to go around, means that there is not enough room for you to not get in the way. The surfers here are good; they know each other and do not take too kindly to disturbances in the water. No matter how many T-shirts you buy in their shops, or ice creams you give your kids, keep your feet on the sand.
Little Fistral – The one that’s out of sight of safety
Ah Fistral, the one we’ve all heard of. The apple of the UK’s surfing eye, this is a perfect place to take your novice self to learn the craft. BUT beware; over on the right hand side of the beach, where you will see a big red hotel on the cliff, north of North Fistral is the danger zone. This semi-detached rocky beach is the swell magnet of the bay, meaning bigger waves, better surfers for you to disrupt, the famous cribber when it breaks, and it is out of sight of the lifeguards. It may look appealing, but it’s generally not a good idea for first timers. Keep between the flags!
Portreath - The Wall - The one that will hurl you against the harbour
You may find yourself down here for some fish and chips, or to see the beach, and whilst you enjoy your pasty, you will see the various shops renting out surfboards. However, if you see the waves breaking off the harbour wall like in the image bellow, it’s probably best to leave it to the locals.
The wave that rolls along the harbour wall is a heavy reef break with a tricky take off and you will soon find out how fragile your spine is. Take a nice photo instead.
Portreath Harbour Wall
Mother Ivey’s – The one that will make you eat sand
A favourite of body boarders and skim boarders alike, this North Cornwall beach near Constantine has a shallow sand bar that breaks near to the shore, leaving very little option but a compression into the sea bed for any unsuspecting newbies. What’s worse is the seemingly safe appearance of the beach. Strong rips and dumpy waves mean that even in the shallows you can lose control before you realise what’s happening, and there aren't any lifeguards to help you.
Porthemmet – The one that doesn't exist
Porthemmet Beach was made up in 2007 as a Cornish in-joke. The name sounds surprisingly realistic, but derives from the old Cornish word for ant, ‘Emmet’, which has been adopted by the natives as a nickname for the masses of holiday makers that come down west. Tales of golden sands, great waves, attractions for all the family and an official website, P-Emmet caused controversy with huge local support and outrage from the Tourism Industry. What made the trick even funnier was every sign or direction for this fictitious oasis that was erected around the county, or verbally passed on to any unsuspecting holiday maker, sent them east bound on the A30.