You are currently viewing McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Harlyn Bay, North Cornwall.

McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Harlyn Bay, North Cornwall.


Harlyn Bay, Cornwall

Spot type:

North facing, open water, heavily tidal location that offers shelter for SUP surfers (and surfers in prevailing SW winds.


Harlyn on any given day during summer will mostly be flat. Perhaps a small wave will break close to shore but it’s usually an idyllically blue (in the sun), family friendly beach. In winter, or during big pulses of swell and/or wind, Harlyn offers a fast sucky beach break style wave that can be super fast and dumpy. It’s a great wave for testing your mettle although most of Cornwall’s surfers will also descend as it’s a known sheltered break.


Dumpy waves when the surf’s up, a fairly strong rip running out from the river and in summer hordes of people congregate in the shallows making it tricky to navigate the end sections of waves. A few deep tidal pools also form on the sand after the tide’s gone – deeper than you’d think! Some rocks need to be navigated and watch out for landslides at either end of the beach under cliffs.

Chasing the section SUP surf style – McConks bitesize travel guides, Harlyn Bay.


It’s fairly easy to access Harlyn with in roads being a doddle to navigate. There can be traffic as you edge closer to the beach and the road does narrow a tad. Once at Harlyn there’s a beach carpark that runs slightly up the cliff on the right with an overspill section across the road. If you’re staying or using the The Harlyn Inn facilities then you may be able to park here but it isn’t a long term solution.

Popularity (1-10):

Harlyn gets rammed on warm summer days with beach goers, families and holiday makers with good surf days seeing every board riders from miles around coming for a wave. There are quieter times but you’ll need to pick and choose or just put up with the mob. 8-15!


The Harlyn Inn, across the road from the beach, offers accommodation, eating/drinking facilities and a small beach shop. Padstow is only three miles away where you’ll find more amenities or check out some of the little villages and hamlets close by for further refreshment opportunities.

Quieter times at Harlyn – McConks bitesize travel guides, Harlyn Bay.


Harlyn Bay is a picturesque spot being one of a number of bays and small beaches close by – Constantine being probably the most headline. Harlyn’s beauty (from a wave point of view) is it offers shelter when prevailing SW winds blow up. It’s often the only clean surfing wave to be found. Unfortunately every surfer and his dog knows this making it a bombed out spot when there’s a decent pulse. The beauty of SUP, however, is that smaller days can be great with a paddle board.

Flatter days offer touring SUP opportunities or just frolicking in the azure colour sea. Warmer temperatures and sunshine do encourage the hordes to Harlyn so you may be sharing the beach and water with lots of others. Again, as with surf days, there are quieter times though if you can be flexible.

Harlyn’s wave can be a fast, sucky wall that’ll provide a few beat downs or barrels (for those good enough). Get it wrong though and the lip may snap board and/or paddle. You’ll also need to watch the crowds messing about in the shallows if SUP surfing. There’ve been a few instances of riders coming off the end close out section only to find bodies in the way! Quieter spots do exist in the vicinity if you’re bored of the hordes. Seek and ye shall find.

In times past the The Harlyn Inn has been the venue of many a cider fuelled party night and offers pretty comfortable and relaxing surrounds with a surfer vibe permeating. All in, regardless of on water conditions, Harlyn is a lovely place to chill.

Don’t forget to check out teh rest of McConks’ bitesize travel guides so you too can unlock your freedom!

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