Gwithian, St. Ives Bay, Cornwall
Open ocean, Atlantic facing, tidal location.
Ranging from monstrously big waves to more mellow surf conditions, with even a touch of flat water thrown in (usually summer) Gwithian can be a fun surf SUP spot or hardcore challenging put in – depending on what you’re after. Waves get progressively bigger as you move along towards Godrevy.
There’s a clump of rock, sitting to right as you look out from the cliff top car park, that submerges at high tide but starts to appear as the tide ebbs. It’s definitely one to keep clear of. At high water the beach all but disappears with big waves pounding foots of cliffs. If you walk towards Godrevy (north) you should still be able to get wet at high tide though. The waves themselves can also be hazardous as they tend to get pretty big on solid swells and unload ferociously as they hit the inside shallow section. Also, scrambling down the goat track, as some do, can be sketchy if wet and slippery.
As mentioned above you can choose to ascend via the goat track straight from parking or opt for the slightly longer walk along the cliff top, past the lifeguard hut, down to the beach below. Actually getting to Gwithian itself is relatively easy as you come in from Hayle and drive along the Towans road, following the signs. There’s a relatively long access road leading to the car park. For all intents and purposes Godrevy and Gwithian are opposite ends of the same beach.
Gwithian doesn’t get super crowded, generally. It’s a popular windsurfing spot which tends to see fairly large numbers on blowy days. Surfers don’t pack the place out and SUPers aren’t that frequent unless it’s an especially good forecast.
Amenities are pretty thin on the ground. There’s a surf school perched on the cliff top and lifeguard cover occurs during summer. Drive back towards town, however, and you’ll find a supermarket, Costa, McDonalds and M&S. Head imnto the countryside and you’ll discover plenty of pubs and such. Hayle itself also has restaurants, cafes and bars. Back the other way towards Gwithian village and you’ll find the Red River Inn which has a small grocer tagged onto the side. It gets super popular with diners and revellers alike. A beach café is accessed via Godrevy beach for more refreshment options.
Gwithian sits across St. Ives Bay, from St. Ives itself, and occupies the northern corner next to Godrevy. Slightly confusing Gwithian village is actually closest to Godrevy’s end whilst Gwithian is back towards Hayle. It’s a huge expanse of sand at low tide that links up to The Bluff and offers a multitude of peaks right the way along its length. Wave size increases progressively the closer to Godrevy you go. Waves can be significant in this part of the world, depending on the forecast, so be aware. Rips can also be fierce so know your onions on this front. Tides engulf the whole beach when in flood so best to wait it out for lower water, or head towards Godrevy. The water clarity can be amazing and with Godrevy Lighthouse keeping watch on the horizon, and the bay arcing round towards Carbis Bay and St. Ives, it’s a picturesque surfing spot with lots of appeal. You’re also not far from south coast facing beaches such as Marazion (St. Michael’s Mount) and Praa Sands giving plenty of options depending on the forecast. Carbis Bay, closest to St.Ives, probably offers the most shelter (usually) and The Lizard Peninsula is also readily accessible. All in, this area of Cornwall delivers a huge amount of options depending what you’re after – SUP or otherwise.