Beginners Guide to Surfing at Summerleaze Beach in Bude, Cornwall

Summerleaze Beach is a few minutes walk from the town centre of Bude town. It is the first beach many people stumble across when visiting the town and is also the home of the Bude Sea Pool. The sea pool lies on the North side of Summerleaze Beach nestled beneath the cliffs. On the south side of the beach lies the large breakwater which provides some shelter from the brunt of the Atlantic. There are plenty of ways to access Summerleaze, with level access from the main car park, the steps above the sea pool and across the bridge at the end of the canal, always free of water at 1pm everyday.

With surfing being such a popular activity, Summerleaze provides the perfect beach for surfers of all abilities. The main benefits for a beginner surfer at Summerleaze is the length of the bay and the shelter that the breakwater provides the bay at mid and high tides. The length of the bay causes the sand to form a gently increasing incline, which in turn causes the waves to break softly over a long distance (more ride time for you!). As well as helping to reduce the size and power of the waves in the bay at Summerleaze, the breakwater also causes the waves to peel along in a right hand direction (right-hand if you riding the wave) which is often favoured by Natural or Regular footed surfers (weirdos!). On a good day you can surf waves at Summerleaze for over 200 meters!

When is the best time to surf at Summerleaze Beach?

For beginners, we recommend surfing an hour either side of high tide. This way you get to enjoy the benefits of small peeling waves within the shelter of the bay. The waves often break more gently at higher tides making it easier for you to catch waves and ride them for a long distance with ease. The waves are often better in the earlier parts of the morning and the beach is usually quieter so more space for you to enjoy your surf sliding session! Always surf when the beach is lifeguarded. Find out dates and times of when Summerleaze is lifeguarded.

All stages of the tide can be a fun time to surf at Summerleaze, however this depends on the surf and weather conditions that day. When the tide is high we can be confident that they’ll always be a nice fun and peeling wave to ride.

  • High Tide – Long and gentle breaking waves – Current often pulling south towards the river – Can be lots of water users, especially in summer.

  • Mid Tide –  Faster breaking waves – Smaller beach area – Stronger currents

  • Low Tide – Steep waves – Loads of space – Changing currents 

What surfboard should I ride at Summerleaze Beach?

which surfboard should i ride at summerleaze beach in Bude, Cornwall

Everyone is different and so your board choice should reflect your ability, aspirations and what you would like to do when your surfing on a wave. As a beginner, we recommend surfing a wide board that has plenty of buoyancy especially in the nose area. The waves at Summerleaze can be a little bit softer than other waves, so a board with good buoyancy in the nose area will help you to catch waves more easily. Having a wide board will help you to ride the waves at Summerleaze over the long distance that they break for.

What dangers should I look out for when surfing at Summerleaze Beach?

As Summerleaze beach does not have a set of black and white chequered flags, so it can be a little more difficult to decide where is the best and safety place to surf. If you are unsure about where to go surfing at Summerleaze then always speak to a lifeguard before entering the water. Taking a single or course of surfing lessons will help you to understand the basics of surfing as well as how to keep yourself and others around you safe while surfing.

  • At high tide it is best to stay central in the bay or as close to the sea pool side of the beach as possible. The red and yellow swimming flags are often over this side of the beach and so please make sure you always look backwards towards the beach to check where you are. If you do drift in to the swimming zone you may get a whistle from the lifeguards! The southern side near the breakwater is where the most prominent rip at this beach is located, so it is good practice to stay away from this area.

  • At Mid tide the beach becomes very narrow as it passes through the gap between Barrel Rock (end of the breakwater) and Cross Rock (the rocky outcrop coming out from the seapool). At this point you can continue to surf in this narrow area or make the decision to walk to the north side of Cross Rock and surf on the more open Middle Beach. Be careful as the currents can be strong at this stage of tide.

  • Low tide can be a very different place depending on whether you are surfing on a Spring or Neap tide (For more information about tides click here). If it is a neap tides the tide will not go out very far. Neap tides cause the waves to hover in a good or difficult area for a longer period of time. If you are surfing on spring tides the the waves often drop much further out and open up a large expanse of beach on which to surf on. The waves can often become more steep at lower tides but again so much is dependent on the surf conditions that day (For a current surf report and how to understand one, click here).

How to stay safe when surfing at Summerleaze Beach

Here are a few final top tips to staying safe when surfing at Summerleaze Beach:

  1. Surf on a lifeguarded beach at all times (see link for dates/times).
  1. Take some surfing lesson with an accredited surf school. 
  1. Surf with a friend or have someone on the beach that can keep an eye on you.
  1. Keep your feet on the floor when you are not catching a wave. This will help you to be aware of where you are and to prevent any unwanted drifting.
  1. Use a suitable surfboard for your ability and a wetsuit that is the correct thickness for the time of year.
  1. If you are unsure if you should or should not be going in the water then don’t. Seek advice before jumping in.

Fancy booking a Surfing Lesson at Summerleaze? or perhaps you would like to read our Beginners Guide to Surfing at Widemouth Bay!