St Ives Bay is made of three miles of golden sand with Gwithian sitting at the northernmost point and St Ives at the southern end. Many consider St Ives Bay to be the finest beach in Britain – some say the world. The surf school is located at Gwithian which is the most popular beach for surfing in the area as it hoovers up all the available swell during the calm summer months. It’s as good a venue for surfing lessons and surf hire as you could find anywhere.
Gwithian is set in the shadow of Godrevy Lighthouse, the inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s ‘To the Lighthouse’ and a famous local landmark. The lighthouse was originally built to warn ships away from the waves that surfers now flock to from all corners of the country. At high tide Gwithian and Godrevy Point are a collection of coves but as the tide drops they open out to a spectacular stretch of beach.
As you move south down the beach you will come to Upton Towans where even on the busiest summers day you can still find solitude. It’s as far from the crowds, and car parks, that you can get in this part of Cornwall and while the waves may be smaller down here you can quite often get them all to yourself.
At Hayle you will find a harbour town that was once the gateway for Cornish tin to the world. During the mid 1800’s this was one of the busiest harbours in Britain as Cornish tin was exported around the globe but now it’s better known for it’s beautiful estuary, rare birds and glorious white sand beach. It’s rare to see waves break on Hayle beach at any time of year but if you’re lucky, and you time it right, you can get some challenging surf in crystal clear water.
The Carbis Bay and Porthminster beaches are sheltered from surf year round so while they are gorgeous locations the chance of surfing there is almost non-existent. They are the most southerly beaches in St Ives Bay.
Cornwall is famous for it’s beaches but if you want to really understand how special St Ives bay is then watch the sun go down after a surfing lesson at Gwithian Academy of Surfing. You’ll never want to leave.