McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Polzeath, Wadebridge, Cornwall.


Polzeath, Wadebridge, Cornwall

Spot type:

Classic Cornish surfing beach that’s fairly hemmed in, has a vibrant wave riding scene (featuring all types of craft in summer) and a large expanse of sand that can get absolutely rammed.


Polzeath’s a surf beach, through and through. You do get smaller wave days, and some flat periods that can serve up touring SUP options. By and large, however, you’ll be heading here to hunt swell. The wave itself isn’t too challenging on small to medium swells. It can close out, however, and doesn’t hold much more than 4-6ft. If it’s bigger than that the paddle out can be tough, as you battle relentless lines of white water. Rips can be a factor as well.


Crowds are your biggest problem with Polzeath. The once quaint Cornish surf village is now hoarded out most summers with all kinds of tourist in attendance. Many end up in the water, with barely any room to breathe during middle parts of the day. Scoring quieter surf is possible early doors and late in the day. Rips can be an issue with decent waves running and the rocks at either end need to be kept away from. Polzeath is a lifeguard patrolled beach in summer though. Car parking attendants should also be taken heed of – make sure you sort your ticket! Also, don’t keep valuables on view in your transport as opportunists will see this as invitation to swipe them.


Polzeath has easy access from both sides of the bay, descending steep, hilly roads to rest right next to the beach. Parking is then on the beach itself (if you can get a space) above the high water mark or the other overspill car parks at New Polzeath or behind the village. Again, though, these can get bombed out if you don’t arrive in good time.

Popularity (1-10):

10+ nearly all the time. It gets a little quieter in winter but by and large remains popular right through.


Anne’s Cottage surf shop and a few other surf outlets can be found right on the beach. There’re shops to purchase your obligatory pasty with a few pubs and restaurants, plus fish and chip serveries to choose from. Head back in Wadebridge for more, Rock for the high end eat out experience or round into Padstow for yet more culinary choices.


Polzeath is your quintessential surf village that’s become so popular during the last few years that many tend to head elsewhere. Even the locals get rather irked at how busy Polzy (as it’s known) has become. That said you can score quieter times for a SUP surf session. Early in the day and later in the evening yield best results.

Polzy’s wave is fairly mellow offering lefts and rights with quality depending on how well the sand bars have filled in, how solid the swell is and wind direction/strength. If it gets too big then paddle outs are pretty hardcore. And Polzeath is exposed to the elements, often getting blown out quickly. Score it clean, however, with fewer other riders in and it’s a super fun wave that’s great on a stand up paddle board. A walled up Polzeath gives plenty room for multiple carves before you reo into the shallows to finish.

There’s a right that can light up off the northern end rocks, but with a small take off zone and ‘on it’ local crew, you may struggle to snag waves here. Other peaks are available in front of the rocks towards Daymer, but you need to know what you’re doing and how/when they work.

As a base to explore SUP options further afield Polzeath can be a good choice. It’s a vibrant, bustling spot in summer with a real surfing vibe. Enjoy the ambience and relax with a cold one as the sun sets at end of play.

If you head to Polzeath with low expectations – as far as wave riding goes – and then do score you’ll feel pleasantly fulfilled. Heading to other quieter beaches in the area can provide a better SUP surfing experience but on the whole Polzy’s not a bad place to chill with ya SUP.

Don’t forget to check out the other McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides here.

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