You don’t have to be David Hasselhoff or able to swim like Dory to try surfing. With a little bit of knowledge and an adventurous spirit, you’re good to go. I tentatively took my daughter on her first trip when she was 4. Now 8, she’s my regular surf buddy and it fills me with pride and joy every time we paddle out together.
Where do I start?
First you’ve got to get yourself to the waves, and you can’t do much better than my home county of Cornwall. Avoid the stress by flying to Newquay or getting a train to Bodmin and hire a car to explore the region. Cornwall has the most consistent and warmest waves in the UK. It also has an amazing choice of beautiful beaches, surf schools and post surf refreshments.
There’s a breathtaking choice of world class beaches suitable for every level of surfing. Harlyn Bay is fantastic for beginners as the waves rarely get big and there’s a pub, restaurant and shop nearby. Or for a wilder option the sweeping dunes and unadulterated Constantine Bay makes an awesome alternative. If you fancy a change of scenery there’s at least seven bays within 10 minutes drive of St Merryn.
Top Tip: Only go in the sea if lifeguards are on duty. Swim between the red and yellow flags. Surf between the black and white flags.
What will I need?
You will need a full wetsuit and a surfboard. But before you go spending a fortune on surf equipment, book a surf lesson.
There are accredited surf schools at Harlyn Bay and Constantine Bay. A surf school will provide you with all the equipment and training you need to start surfing safely. This will allow you and your family to learn the basics of water safety, how to catch a wave and stand up on a surfboard.
After your first lesson you’ll know if you love it or not. If you do, then your instructor will be able to give you invaluable advice on what and where to hire or buy your surf equipment. You’ll also have learnt enough to have a go on your own.
Top tip: For your first surf trip, hire your equipment. Cheap wetsuits will rub you raw and won’t keep you warm. Cheap bodyboards will break in minutes.
When should I go?
July and August are the obvious choice to fit in with the children’s summer holidays, plus the waves are small and the weather is warm. Perfect for beginners. Through September and October the water is still warm, the crowds thin out and the waves get bigger. Great for intermediate surfers, or perhaps a short break without the kids?
If you’re tempted to go in Easter, beware the water is cold! So you’ll need a thicker wetsuit, boots, gloves and maybe a hood.
Top tip: there’s no bad time to go surfing. So long as you wear a smile… and a wetsuit.
Should I stay or should I go?
Surfing can be daunting, especially if you’re not confident in the water. But you don’t need to go out of your depth and you’re attached by a leash to a massive foam float. If you’re sensible and go to a beach with lifeguards, the risk is low.
The greater risk is not doing fun and exciting things with your kids while you can. It doesn’t matter if you never go surfing again. You will have an experience that you’ll talk about for the rest of your lives. But for many children and adults it’s an experience that can genuinely change your life in a positive way.
Should you give it a go? Of course! Surfing in Cornwall provides healthy exercise, beautiful beaches, mouth-watering food, cracking accommodation and an experience that will strengthen any family bond. A family surf trip should be at the top of every parent’s to do list.
*This an advertorial post in partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car