Widemouth Bay, Bude, Cornwall
Open water, tidal location featuring small to large surf depending on conditions.
Widemouth Bay is an Atlantic facing spot so expect sizable waves at times with the odd day of completely flat water conditions. It’s an exposed beach that has a variety of features making for a changing picture through the tide cycle.
Widemouth Bay isn’t that big a beach really, and is in fact made up of a few different areas – mainly rocky (apart from the actual sandy beach itself) from left to right. The rocks are typically Cornish in geology – slanted scars cut from years of storm, surf and water activity jutting out to sea. In places small stacks of rock vault skywards, the largest and most imposing of which is Black Rock which protrudes to the left – you can’t miss it. Rips can occur at any time but tend to be at their strongest around low water. Other water users can make Widemouth a particularly busy location. The other thing to be aware of is possible landslides if you take a walk along beach around the Black Rock area where the cliffs hem in closer to the beach.
Widemouth boasts easy access via the main car park just off the coast road. It’s then a short hop down the steps to the water’s edge. At low tide it can be a trek with heavy SUPs, however – this is Cornwall after all.
Popularity of Widemouth Bay can vary greatly, depending how in favour the beach is. Obviously, with good surf in the mix, you’ll get a crowd. Being a stone’s throw from Bude town means there’s a large local contingent of surfers all frothing for a wave or three. Plus, Widemouth itself (considering its small village feel) has a large crew of wave riders living in close proximity. And a number of surf schools use the beach for lessons during high season.
A couple of cafes and beach shops can be found right on the beach at Widemouth, as can public toilet facilities. There are a few accommodation options dotted along the coast road for anyone wanting to stay right at the spot. Back into Bude you’ll find plenty of pubs, nightclubs, restaurants cafes, fish ‘n’ chip shops, takeaways and surf shops. Bude also has two other town beaches – Crooklets and Summerleaze – as well as a placid canal and river with some flow, both of which can also be good for a spot of SUP.
Being so close to Bude you’d expect Widemouth to be a super popular spot. And whilst that’s certainly true at times you may luck out and score the place on a much quieter day. Widemouth seems to ebb and flow in popularity like the tide. The beach itself is mostly sand with a few scattered pebbles at high water. It’s worth scoping the place at low tide, however, to identify where the rocks/reef are. Dominated by the imposing Black Rock stack to the left these reefs are actually ridable (for the experienced) at the right stage of tide. In fact, Wanson, as far left as you can go (under the cliff with the Outdoor Adventure Centre perched atop) can be world class on its day. But not for the feint hearted. Widemouth’s wave, in contrast, is much mellower – fatter at high tide and slightly hollower at low. The whitewater on big days can be intimidating and a mission to get through. It might be worth sitting it out when conditions like this materialise. If the sea goes flat then a few touring routes are there for the taking, the most obvious being along the (mostly inaccessible by foot) cliffs back towards Bude. And further afield you’ll discover a whole load more options, from reef to beach, that work on a variety of swell, tide and wind conditions.