7 of the Best Surfing Spots Near London
The capital city might not be the first place you think of when it comes to surfing in the UK, but those that live or holiday in London will be happy to hear that they aren’t too far away from some fantastic breaks. The east coast of England offers a range of beaches with varying surfing conditions and you could avoid the hours of travel involved in heading to Cornwall or Devon by staying a little closer to home. Whether you’re on holiday in the UK and need to stay fairly close to the capital or you live and work in the city but need some fresh sea air and a few waves to ride, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for our pick of the best surfing spots that are as close to London as feasibly possible – we’re not sure that the River Thames has much of a swell!
Brighton’s West Pier, East Sussex – 54 Miles from Central London
Brighton has long-since been popular with long-boarders, but since the pier burnt down and sandbanks shifted, the waves don’t seem to be as effective as they once were. That said, a playful break here works particularly well at low tide, and the sandy bottom makes it perfect for beginners hoping to hone their skills on a slightly smaller wave. After a few hours in the sea, dry off and explore the fantastic city of Brighton, checking out the various sites and perhaps even staying to sample some of the night-life it is renowned for.
Littlehampton, West Sussex – 64 Miles from Central London
Little by name, little by nature, the swell here rarely reaches over two foot, but conditions are certainly rideable on a good east/south westerly swell. There can be a good wave at high tide, but remember, if it is working, it’s sure to be busy with locals who have also identified the favourable conditions. However, most surfers will embrace riders of every ability as long as they are respectful when it comes to wave etiquette.
Hastings, East Sussex – 66 Miles from Central London
A beach break that usually works best in the winter with a south-westerly swell, although it can also benefit from the big low tides in spring and autumn. For those that are brave enough to stand the cold water, this beach can provide a small, clean swell that’s great for practising tricks on. If you’re hoping to visit this beach anytime soon, remember the water usually takes a little longer than the weather to warm up, so you may want to consider checking out our vast range of Manera wetsuits to take with you. We recommend checking conditions before you embark upon the one hour 40 minute-drive from Central London and only visit if the conditions are as described above.
Hayling Island, Hampshire – 74 Miles from Central London
This beautiful, sheltered sand island benefits from long stretches of beach breaks with a right-hand point in the entrance to the harbour. That said, its protection on all sides but one means that it only works if there is a big south-west swell working its way up the English Channel. Surfers that live here have dedicated hours upon hours to understanding weather maps and tide charts to ensure they are ready to go on the rare occasion that the conditions provide some ‘gnarly’ waves. Most opt for long-boards but winter storms can sometimes provide a big enough swell for shortboard riders.
Camber Sands, East Sussex – 80 Miles from Central London
Head to Camber Sands around two or three hours before and after high tide, where the waves will be the most rideable. It reaps the benefits of any decent swell making its way through the English Channel. On windier days, head to the west end of the beach to use the shelter of the harbour wall. The fairly open nature of this beach makes it a popular destination for kitesurfing enthusiasts. If that is something you’ve been meaning to try out for a while, why not check out Camber Sands with a different type of board and a kite? Check out the Kite Surf Centre and be sure to read our recent blog, A Beginner’s Guide to Kitesurfing in preparation.
Joss Bay, Kent – 80 Miles from Central London
A renowned surf spot in Kent for over 50 years, Joss Bay benefits from both left and right-handers breaking over sandbars and chalk reef. Beware of rips and a shallow reef at low tide which could cause issues for any spectacular bails, but there’s no better place on the east coast when there is a strong northerly swell.
Bournemouth Pier, Dorset – 107 Miles from Central London
Slightly further afield sits Bournemouth Pier, a consistent and obvious beach to head to that won’t disappoint. Underestimated by many in the UK, the waves are clean thanks to the shelter provided by the pier and the spot has established itself as something of a surf centre on the east coast.
That concludes our guide to some of the best surfing beaches that are close to London, avoiding the hours on the motorway in search of the more popular surfing spots in Devon and Cornwall. Any fair-weather surfers who can’t wait to get back in the sea this summer should browse our extensive range of surfing equipment so that they are fully prepared to get out on the waves.