How to Know What Surfing Lesson is Right For Me

Thinking about surfing in Newquay? Here is the insider’s guide to knowing what surf lesson is best for you.

Making the choice to join a surf school for tuition is an important decision that certainly starts your surfing career off in the right direction. But what actually happens, what do you learn and what type of surf lesson is best for you?

These are just some of the common questions we are asked by people who join us at our Newquay surfing school. In this post we go behind the scenes, break down what actually goes on and answer those common questions that all beginner surfers face when learning to surf.

Benefits of taking a surf lesson:

Before we get into the detail of answering those important questions, let’s take a look at some of the top benefits of getting some surf tuition from the pros.

  • Get answers to common surfing questions
  • Gain insights & coaching based on tried & tested methods
  • Discover the do’s & don’ts and save the embarrassment of surfing faux pas
  • Build your confidence in the ocean
  • Save time by learning the correct methods from the start
  • Learn the basics from a professional surf instruction

Whatever your rationale or taking a class, learning to surf in a supervised environment with a qualified surf instructor is the best way for you to get a complete introduction in the surfing world, giving you a great head start in the sport.

different types of surf lessons & what is involved in each one?

We’ve kept it simple for this post but you can find out more information by getting in touch or by visiting each surf lesson page.

  • Group lessons
  • Private lessons
  • Progessor surf course

All of our lessons are two hours long from once you are ready. We don’t include enrolment time or getting changed as part of this so you’ll have plenty of time on the beach and in the water.

‘Our pledge to anyone joining us for a surf lesson is to have passed on enough information for you to feel comfortable enough to rent some surf equipment and head out to a beach and practice surfing on your own with a clear understanding of basic surfing techniques and beach safety awareness.’


Group surfing lessons are designed to provide a fun and informative introduction to surfing for absolute beginners. You’ll be in a group of up to 8 other likeminded individuals, typically the lessons are made up of a wide variety of budding surfers from solo travellers, couples, groups of friends and families, all eager to give surfing a go.

Delivered by a friendly and experienced surf coach your group surf lesson is fun and safe environment to pick up the basics.  Perfect if you want to see what all the fuss is about or if you’re at the start of your surfing path.

What will I learn? 

  • Introduction to beach & surf safety
  • Basic surf terminology & parts of the surfboard
  • Prone surfing, how to catch waves on your stomach, and controlling your surfboard.
  • Fundamentals of how to pop up, ride waves to the shore and wiping out safely.


Private surf lessons are the arguably the best surf lesson format for learners seeking optimum coaching – you can enjoy these as part of a small group of friends, family or on a One to One basis.

1) Choose a private surf lesson if you want the undivided attention of a surfing professional, maximising the amount of knowledge, skills and feedback you can obtain.

2) Mixed ability groups – if you are visiting Cornwall with a group of friends or maybe some have more surf experience than others, a lesson exclusive to your group gives the coach flexibility to provide tips for both beginner and developing surfers without the distraction of other members of the public in your group.

3) small children under 8 years old? Typically surf schools in Cornwall only accept students into group surf lessons that are eight years and older. If you have youngsters who are dying to surf then private tuition is the best way to ensure they have a great time and learn about the sea safely.

click to Take a look at our range of private surfing lessons 


Condensed learn to surf courses tailored to your ability and timetable are the ultimate vehicle to learn & improve quickly.

Much like an intense driving program, these progressor surf courses are a full immersion into the surf world. A good learn to surf course should touch on all areas of surfing from the basic physical movements to understanding the ocean and even the finer details of surfboard shapes, styles and history.


Learning to surf or even developing your surf skills can be a long draw out process for most.  It seems that unless you’re lucky enough to start surfing at a young age or have plenty of time to donate to your new favourite hobby, surfing can prove to be a frustrating road to success.

The good news is, given time in the water your surfing will improve even if it doesn’t feel like it.  To give yourself that little boost to get ahead of the curve, taking a few tips from a dedicated and qualified surf coach can really give you that edge, progressing your understanding and developing the correct techniques that are proven to work.

Understand How to Spot a Rip Current

Understanding Rip Currents and how they form is a fundamental skill that all surfers learn and respect, not only for themselves but for the sake of others. Discover how to identify a rip current when surfing and what to do should you ever need to help yourself or a fellow surfer. 

Activities In Newquay: Why We Love Adventure Activities (And You Should Too!)

Why we love activities in Newquay.  Join us for exciting adventure activities in Newquay and share our passion for Surfing lessons, Coasteering sessions or Wild Camping. From making memories with family & friends, exploring nature to keeping fit – these are just some of the reasons why we love adventure activities.  

Corporate Adventure Days UK

Corporate adventure team building days UK

Team Building Activities In Newquay

The key benefits of a team building activities in Newquay

Thinking of organising a team building day but not sure if the crunch is worth it? In this post we explain why a team building day is vital to the success of your business.

Whether it’s group cohesion, celebrating a successful quater or ramping up for the year ahead our corporate adventure activities are sure to provide the recipe for achieving results.

Break down communication barriers

A great team building activity will include every member of your group and ensure everyone is equally pulling their weight. People will need to rely on each other throughout and the activities will help break down any cultural or language barriers that may have been slowing you down in the office.

Increases employee morale

According to a recent survey, businesses experience a 31% increase in efficiency if the employees have a higher morale. An afternoon, day or even weekend away from the office shows your team how valuable they are to you and your business. We’re talking more than just a free lunch down the local pub!

Character building

Everyone goes into the activity with the same amount of knowledge. As the task progresses you will start to see who the natural leaders are, who’s the most creative and other skills will present themselves that hadn’t been apparent previously. You can then start to use these new found skills in your everyday work life.

Relationship building

As you already know, communication is key to a great workflow. Getting people together and working with people they don’t usually talk to is a great way to connect departments. Staff will feel more confident picking up the phone and the entire office atmosphere will be happier. 70% of people believe that having friends in the workplace is fundamental to a happy office.

Corporate Team building Adventure day activities

Take a look of our team building ideas in Newquay or check out Adventure Connections for more ideas around the UK.

The History of Surfing in Newquay, Cornwall

Discover the rich history of surfing in Newquay. We ask why Fistral beach is the ‘Home of British Surfing’, discuss the link between surfing & tourism in Cornwall and what the future holds for surf schools in Newquay. 

Surfing in Newquay: A Guide to Tides

Yellow buoy and chain on a beach - sea & waves in the background

Have you ever wondered:

How are tides created?

What is the difference between high tide and low tide? 

Do tides affect how waves break?

In this detailed guide we answer all of these questions and more to give you all the understanding you need about tides.

The tides that shape our coastlines play a huge part in how and when we deliver our surfing and coasteering activities here in Newquay Cornwall.

What are tides?

Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun, and as we all know we have high tides and low tides.

A way to get one’s head around the process of tides is to think of a massive, slow moving wave created far, far out at sea that travels gradually towards the coastlines with every ebb, flow and cycle of the moon.

The moon and the sun do not have an equal gravitational effect on the tides, with the moon counting for roughly 2/3rds of the gravitational pull as opposed to 1/3rd from the sun.

Although we experience a stronger gravitational pull in our day to day lives from the sun than that of the moon, the tides are not generated by the strength of gravity but instead by whats known as gravitational gradient. Since the moon is closer to the earth it exerts more gravitational gradient than the sun and so has a stronger effect on the world’s oceans.

Despite the moon being smaller, it is much closer to the earth so it exerts greater gravitational gradient over our oceans. This is why you would have heard of the connection between the tides and the moon.

How many tides are there in a day? 

The majority of the world will see two tides each day or within a 24 hour period. Two high tides and Two low tides. There is a period of 6 hours and 12.5 minutes between a high tide and a low tide.

Example: High tide is at 12pm – the next low tide will be at 6.12.5pm (6 hours and 12.5 minutes) or there is a high tide every 12 hours and 25 minutes. So for instance, if it’s high tide at 12pm today, the next high tide will roughly be at 12.50pm the following day.

As both the sun and the moon have an effect on the earth’s tides we can split these two forces into separate days for the ease of understanding the effect of each.

Stormy surf at little fistral beach in newquay, cornwall

Solar day:
In a solar day, it takes the earth 24 hours to orbit around the sun.
Lunar day: 
Unlike a solar day, a lunar day takes 24 hours and 50 minutes to make its full rotation of its axis. This is longer because the moon revolves around the earth in the same direction as the earth rotates on its axis. Because of this, the earth takes longer to catch up to the moon’s rotation. i.e 50 minutes.

The moon and the sun affect the earth’s tides on a daily basis and follows a monthly lunar cycle and is why we are able to predict the tides in advance. A common misconception about tides is that the ocean only moves in one direction, towards the side of the earth that is closest to the moon.  If this was the case there would only be one high tide and one low tide in each 24 hour 50 minute period.

In reality, the part of the earth that is both closest to the moon and furthermost away from the moon will receive high tides within a 24 hour  50 minutes period, whilst other areas of the earth will then see a low tide.

This is because water is being pulled towards the moon on one side of the earth and the earth pulled away from the water on the other side of the earth, creating a bulging effect and a high tide at opposite sides of the earth.

time lapse showing phases of the moon

What is a high tide?

A high tide is when the ocean is at its fullest point on the beach. On the beach, we notice that there isn’t much sand to walk on and the waves are breaking close to the shore or at the top of the beach. A high tide is caused when the moon is overhead or at its closest to the earth and when it is at its furthermost away.

What is a low tide?

A low tide is caused when the ocean is at its lowest point of the beach. On the beach, we notice that the sea is far away and leaves a large patch of sand once covered at high tide exposed. Low tides are caused when the earth is a right angles to the moon.

Spring tides –

As well as having high tides and low tides each day we see a variation in the size of these high tides and low tides. This again is due to the rotation of the earth and each phase of the lunar cycle that we pass dictates the size of the tides.

What is a Spring tide?

A spring tide or king tide can be defined as high high tides and low low tides or large tidal movement between one tide and the next.   If you are surfing or at the beach during this phase of the lunar cycle you will notice a big difference between low tide and high tide.

grahic displaying the cycle of the moon in relation to tides

What causes spring tides?

You’ll notice a spring tide occurs when there is a full moon and/or a new moon. When the sun and the moon are aligned (both on the same side of the earth) that makes the gravitation pull very strong creating high high tides and low low tides.

What is a Neap tide?

A neap tide is where we don’t see much difference between low tide and high tide. The tidal range is smaller than of a Spring tide. Neap tides occur when we see a waxing and/or waning moon. This occurs twice every month when the sun and the moon are at right angles to each other the solar tide partially cancels out the lunar tide making for a small tidal range.

Sublunar tides – this is when the moon is directly over a specific point on the earth and the moon’s gravity pulls water towards the moon.

Antipodal tides – this is when the moon’s gravitational effect on a particular spot on the earth is at its weakest. i.e when the moon is furthermost away or opposite side of the earth from the ocean.

How do tides affect the surf?

The tide will affect the surf in a variety of ways.  Waves are formed as the energy or swell in the ocean moves from deep water to shallow water and is forced upwards, waves will then peak and start to break as the hit sand banks or reef that make up the bathymetry of the sea floor. The volume of water that covers these sandbanks or reefs will effect how quickly the waves form and break.

Bathymetry – is the shape of the sea floor

Waves at high tide are said to be fat and slow ,or lumpy due to the large amount or volume of water that is sitting over the sand banks or reef on that particular beach.

Waves at low tide are said to be quick, steep or dumpy, this is because there is very little water sitting over the sand bank or reef allowing the ocean swells to travel from very deep water straight into very shallow water.

Every beach is different: All beaches have a different topography which causes the waves to form and break. Some beaches suit a high tide where some may suit a mid or lower tide.

large white water waves breaking on the rocks at little fistral beach in newquay, cornwall


For our surf lessons in Newquay we typically avoid running lessons within 1 hour before, during and 1 hour after a high tide. When the tide is full or high this typically causes the waves to break close to the beach which we find doesn’t always create the best conditions for learning to surf.

Tides for Coasteering in Newquay

Many people that join us for a Coasteering session are surprised that we cannot deliver Coasteering sessions any given time of day. Typically the most popular Coasteering session will involve a mixture of elements such as wild swimming, low-level traversing, and deep water cliff jumps.

With many folks interested in challenging themselves to a cliff jump Coasteering companies in Cornwall need to keep a close eye on the tidal movement in their area each day to ensure that there is enough water for customers to plunge into.

Never attempt to go Coasteering without a local professional Coasteering provider

Here in Newquay, our high tides are usually in the morning or late afternoon, this makes for some fantastic still early morning or classic sunset Coasteering experiences.

What is tidal range or coefficient? 

Tidal range or coefficient refers to the distance between a high tide and a low tide and is measured in meters. refers to it as: Tidal range is the vertical difference in height between consecutive high and low waters over a tidal cycle.

The tidal range will change slightly each day due to local weather conditions and as the cycle of the moon moves around the earth from neaps tides to spring tides.

When reading the tide times or surf forecast this is shown as 6.2 or 5.7 in the middle column after the morning high tide or low tide time. The higher the figure, the greater the coefficient or tidal range that day.  As we know this is directly related to spring or neap tides.

When we refer to “how big the tide is” this is in reference to the coefficient or tidal range on that particular tide. Not the distance that the sea has travelled up or down the beach. 

What is Chart datum?

Chart datum is the highest or lowest astronomical tide possible or the highest or lowest point that the tide is expected to rise or fall under average meteorological conditions.

This level then sets a bench mark for tidal movement. All tidal movement is measured above the lowest astronomical tide and below the highest astronomical tide and is used in part to map out minimum or maximum depths of coastal waters.

One of the points in the UK that chart datum is measured is Newlyn in Cornwall. In the UK we measure chart datum as a figure of zero. Rising tides will then measure how many meters above zero or chart datum that particular tide will rise or fall.

American chart datum is taken from a mean or average low or average high tide.  This means that you can often get negative tides during spring tides and bad weather.

Congratulations if you made it here!

Although a very investing topic, truly understanding the the process behind tidal patterns takes quite the explanation.

Surfing in Newquay: A Unique Surf Day

Despite the early start, the girls from Unique Home Stays were with us right on time as the sun shone over our beautiful Fistral Beach. Cornish Wave’s head honcho, Jey, and surf coach, Ash were waiting to greet the guys and kickstart the festivities.

Raring to go Raring to go

After suiting up, the group headed down to Fistral Beach where it was time to listen up and get started with some on-land exercises. Ash led quick warm-up, and ran through some important beach safety info.

Pay attention Pay attention

After learning the basics on the sand, it was time to head out into the surf and put it into practice!

Don't be shy! Don’t be shy!

The group paddled around in the white-water close to shore for 45 minutes with Ash keeping a hawks eye on everyone (making sure the ladies was surfing, rather than sinking). Gradually building confidence, the girls soon mastered basic board handling and riding waves lying down.

Ash then collected everyone on the sand once again. Now it was time to school everyone on how to stand up. The real surfing was to commence!

Wait... Surfing or Yoga?! Wait… Surfing or Yoga?! The evolution of surfer The evolution of surfer

Back in the big blue meaning business this time!

I came, I saw, I surfed I came, I saw, I surfed Everybody's doing it! Everybody’s doing it!

Locals had caught wind of the good surf that day and the beach started to fill up with like minded wave-enthusiasts, so the guys called it day and headed for dry land for a hot shower and some lunch.

The smiles on everyone’s faces said it all, but we’re very happy with what Unique Home Stays’s blog had to say about the experience:

“A huge thanks to the team at Cornish Wave, who were the perfect mix of laid-back, professional and completely brilliant.”

The gals from Unique Home Stays were an absolute pleasure and us at Cornish Wave had a ball from start to finish. We’re immensely proud to have given them their first taste of surfing and we have a feeling we might see them again!

Our Fistral Beach surf lessons are another example of the private, small group bespoke activity packages we offer around Newquay. Contact us now to arrange one of your own!

Related blog posts

Surfari Surf Lesson Package

Surfari Surf Lesson Package – progressive surf coaching across three stunning Cornish beaches.

Cornish Wave is Newquay’s only mobile surf school. We are specialists in surf adventure and pride ourselves on our progressive private small group surf coaching. Join us in Newquay, Watergate Bay or Perranporth beach for a truly unique experience of some of the most beautiful coastlines the UK has to offer.

Build your own surfari surf lesson package

We deliver daily surf lessons at Newquay’s famous Fistral beach and Towan beach, which are just a short walk from our base on Headland road. Our fantastic location gives us great access to both of Newquay’s surfing beaches with only a short drive to Watergate Bay and other exciting Cornish surfing spots.

Example 3-day Surfari Itinerary:

Day One: Surf lesson at Fistral beach

Day Two: Surf lesson at Watergate Bay

Day Three: Surf lesson at Perranporth beach

With Cornwall being surrounded by unique surf drenched beaches – many of which are perfect for learners – we have put together our ultimate surf lesson package that blends the spirit of adventure with the unique flavour of Cornish Wave Mobile Surf School.

Surfari adventures at some of cornwall's best surfing beaches Surfari adventures at some of cornwall’s best surfing beaches

How it works

  • Receive three progressive surf lessons at three iconic surf beaches, led by your own personal surf coach.
  • We create a surf schedule to suit your surfing ability. Get the most out of the conditions and explore the Cornish coastline.
  • Cornish Wave provides all the equipment you need – from wetsuits to a variety of surf boards we have everything you need.

For more information about the benefits of our unique surfari surf lesson package or our ultimate build your own surfing and coasteering adventure package, simply contact us with the dates that you’d wish to visit us on and we can create an itinerary to suit you.

You can reach us on 01637 872031 between 7am and 9pm 7 days a week, or email us at:

Delivering educational, structured surfing lessons and coasteering sessions provided by fun, passionate and qualified instructors.

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Top 5 Things To Do In Newquay | Surfing, Coasteering, Camping in Newquay

The town of Newquay, or Towan Blystra as it’s called in its native Cornish tongue, is positioned on the North coast of Cornwall roughly 50 miles from the Devonshire border and like many Cornish coastal towns, it is primarily a seasonal destination which starts to come alive in early May.


Newquay and the surrounding area has a wide range of activities, things to do and places of interest that caters for a variety of both domestic and European tourists each year. Whether you’re on a family on holiday, a couples retreat, stag and hen celebrations or solo traveller, Newquay boasts a good selection of accommodation and activities to suit everyone’s tastes.

Whilst everyone has a different idea of how they spend their free time, here is our list of 5 Top Things to Do in Newquay.

#1 Learn to Surf in Newquay

Newquay has a rich history with surfing and has long been known as the surf capitol of the UK.  For over 50 years Newquay has been attracting surfers from around the world and has now developed into one of the most popular coastal towns to learn to surf.

The surf school industry has grown in to big business since surfings introduction and as such brought with it National Governing Bodies and recognised surf coaching awards, bringing the sport in line with many other popular sports allowing surf schools to offer peace of mind and a professional approach to potential customers.

The majority of surf schools offer surf lessons for varying abilities, depending on your level and of course budget, generally surf lessons are 2 hours long and include all the equipment

If learning to surf is on your bucket list then taking a surf lesson on Fistral beach in Newquay is a good place to start.

Surf lesson at Fistral beach, newquay

#2 Coasteering in Newquay

Coasteering in Newquay encompasses all manner of obstacles and elements to get the adrenaline going.  Tidal dependent routes will see adventurer’s in full wetsuits, buoyancy aids, helmets and shoes scrambling over rocks, jumping into plunge pools, negotiating natural sluices and whirlpools with the option of big cliff jumps for the not so faint hearted.  For the nature lover, specific companies offer a relaxed look at the coastline exploring various habitats and the old smugglers caves.  If you have a taste for adventure why not join us for a Coasteer today!

Coasteering in newquay

#3 Newquay Harbour Fishing Trip or Pleasure Boat Ride

The harbour is at the heart of Newquay and with regular fishing trips or nature pleasure boat rides it’s another excellent way to explore the north Cornish coast line.  Newquay harbour supports many businesses and is often a main venue for town festivities such as the Joe Way Paddle for Life and Newquay Fish Festival.  Why not check out for further information.

things to do in newquay things to do in newquay

#4 Coastal Walk

Take a stroll around some of the UK’s most dramatic and beautiful coastline. With designated walking paths and a variety of walking routes to choose from it’s a great way to work up an appetite and soak up your surroundings.  From circular routes or walks that include a bus, visit   for suggestions on where to start and finish your coastal walk.

#5 Sunset Drinks

Take some time to watch a Cornish sun setting to really get you in holiday mode. There is a great choice of restaurant bars that are perfect to unwind with your favourite drink and relax as the sun slowly sets out of the sea.  Here are our top 3 places to watch the sun set.

1.      Lewenick lodge, Pentire, Newquay. 

2.     The Watering Hole, Perranporth beach, Perranporth.

3.     Fistral Beach Bar, Fistral beach, Newquay.

4.     The Phoenix Bar, Watergate Bay.

sunset drinks in newquay


Surfing the October Swells

Surfing the October Swells…

Last week another run of big really surf-able swell hit the UK coastline.  As with any good period of surf everyone came out of the wood work to enjoy the spoils.  From freelance builders knocking off early, office workers taking extended lunch breaks it didn’t matter what you did to earn a living , the swell was pumping and you were getting in.

It all started Wednesday evening…

A week full of rainbows and waves !! A week full of rainbows and waves !!

By early Thursday morning, the sky was blue and solid 3-4 ft clean sets were rolling into the beaches around Cornwall.  As many surfers had anticipated the swell to build throughout the day, some were keen to pick off some good fair size waves before it got too big !

Fistral Beach early morning ! Fistral Beach early morning ! Strong off shore winds grooming the waves at Little Fistral just before sunset. Strong off shore winds grooming the waves at Little Fistral just before sunset. Right hander anyone ??? Right hander anyone ???

Friday morning wasn’t quite the 4 starts that had been predicted. The size was there but a lot of waves not quite having the right swell direction or simply being to big, many were closing out.

Fistral Beach, Newquay Fistral Beach, Newquay Towan Beach was looking fairly clean compared to Fistral, it was definitely the way to score a good session !! Towan Beach was looking fairly clean compared to Fistral, it was definitely the way to score a good session !!

Up close or from a distance it was a pure Cornish gold watching the waves breaking on the rocks into Little Fistral and the Cribbar.


By Saturday morning some consistent and impressive rollers were making their way to Fistral beach, a real eye opener for many students visiting Newquay to watch the University Surf Championships.

After a though paddle out, this could be your reward ! After a though paddle out, this could be your reward !

The Rescue team was never too far just in case…

RNLI providing a fine service. RNLI providing a fine service.

The size of the swell was definitely not for your everyday surfer.  The paddle out was hard work and the size was quite intimidating at times.  Newquay being Newquay, plenty of people enjoyed the more manageable conditions.

Newquay Bay definitely had the best conditions for beginner and intermediate surfers.

The savior for many.  Newquay Bay.  The savior for many.  Newquay Bay.

In between the flags, it was an absolute mine field !

Newquay Bay was the only option for Surf Schools Newquay Bay was the only option for Surf Schools The Harbour wall was being ripped by the kids all week !!! The Harbour wall was being ripped by the kids all week !!!

Already hoping for the next Swell…

The Cornish sunsets to add up to the days ! The Cornish sunsets to add up to the days !

See all Surf Beaches around Newquay