Alternative Surf Activities in Cornwall

29th March 2019

Cornwall has become synonymous with surfing and the surf culture, but don’t forget that there are lots of other reasons to hit the water while you’re on holiday here.

“When you’re on holiday in Cornwall there are so many ways to experience the stunning coastal environment,” says Tom Greaves, of King Coasteer. “Coasteering offers a unique perspective, as you swim, climb and traverse along the coastline, encountering all sorts of marine wildlife along the way.”

Thinking of visiting in the February half term, check out what activities we recommend trying in February.

Visiting with a large group? Discover our large holiday homes perfect for big families or friend groups.

Whether you want to glide across glassy bays, get a close-up view of the marine life or dive to the bottom of the ocean, here are some of our favourite ways to enjoy the sea when we’re not surfing:


Pedn Vounder, West Cornwall

With white sands, turquoise tidal lagoons and crystal clear water backed by towering granite cliffs, it’s little wonder that Pedn Vounder is one of Cornwall’s most photographed beaches. It’s also home to some of the cleanest, clearest water in Britain; so if you brave the knee-wobbling descent to the beach, don’t forget your mask and snorkel. Glide out under the shadow of Logan Rock and you can spot crabs, starfish and all sorts of sea life including seals and dolphins. There are also regular sightings of basking sharks in May and June. Just be aware that it’s also a naturist beach, so you may feel a little overdressed when you return to shore in your wetsuit.

Stay at one of our Beach Retreats in Sennen Cove or Mousehole and it’s a short drive to the village of Treen or Porthcurno, from where you can access the coastal path to Pedn Vounder.


Watergate Bay, north Cornwall

If you’d like to zoom down the waves without having to grasp the skill level that stand-up surfing requires, try handplaning. A turbo-charged version of the ancient art of bodysurfing, all you need to do is strap a mini surfboard (about 30cm) to your hand and swim out into the shore break. Using a pair of fins to propel you into the waves, it’s simple to catch the breakers and carve your way along the face of the waves on your belly. Get an introductory lesson from the expert instructors at Watergate Bay’s Extreme Academy – it’s fun, relatively easy and accessible to anyone who can swim.

Stay at one of our Beach Retreats in Watergate Bay and enjoy a handplaning session at the Extreme Academy. Equipment hire is also available.

Scuba Diving

Newquay, north Cornwall

Do you fancy exploring the underwater kingdom? You don’t need to head to tropical islands to try diving; Cornwall is home to some world-class dive sites and a great location to give scuba diving a go.

Plunge beneath the waves and come face-to-face with seals, sea horses and cuttlefish on your first reef dive alongside a qualified instructor. No previous experience is required for a Discover Scuba day with Dive Newquay, during which you’ll get an introduction to the academics of diving, practise basic scuba skills in a 4 metre-deep dive pool, and finish the day with an open water dive off the Gazzel in Newquay.

Stay at one of our Beach Retreats in Newquay and Discover Scuba Diving with Dive Newquay.


Porth Beach, north Cornwall

Swim through gulleys, ride whirlpools, explore sea caves and leap from rocky ledges on a coasteering trip. Although it sounds like a full-throttle adventure, coasteering is a family-friendly activity and isn’t all about cliff jumping from great heights; every trip is tailored to the group. In the safe hands of the expert guides at King Coasteer, you’ll encounter sea life from starfish to seabirds, swim through smugglers’ tunnels and scramble around wave-hewn headlands, as you experience a unique perspective of the coastline.

Stay at one of our Beach Retreats in Porth, and head off on a coasteering adventure around Porth Island with King Coasteer.

Stand-up Paddleboarding

Cawsand Beach, south east Cornwall

The calm and sheltered waters lapping Cawsand are the perfect territory to get your balance on a stand-up paddleboard and castaway into the bay. Nail the basic techniques with a SUP lesson, or join a full- or half-day guided trip to explore sea caves and secret coves, spotting kingfishers and seals as you float to historic landmarks such as the mighty Artillery Steps or Grenville Battery Fort. All equipment is provided – it’s up to you whether you hire a paddleboard and castaway on your own adventure, or hire a guide to take you on a tour.

Stay in a Beach Retreat in Cawsand and head off on a stand-up paddleboarding excursion with Cawsand Kayak and SUP Hire.

Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Trip

Carbis Bay, west Cornwall

Launch from the beautiful Carbis Bay and explore St Ives Bay on a traditional outrigger canoe. These safe and stable Hawaiian craft were built to cross vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean and can seat up to seven passengers – making them perfect for a water-bound family adventure. Underwater viewers enable you to get close-up to the amazing marine life, from spider crabs and sunfish, to seals and even basking sharks.

Check out our luxury holiday properties in Carbis Bay by the sea.

Stay at one of our Beach Retreats in Portreath and it’s just 20 minutes’ drive to Carbis Bay where you can take an Outrigger Tour with Ocean Sports Centre.

See all our Beach Retreats and make new memories this year.