Home » Europe » UK & Ireland » South Cornwall » West Cornwall » Kitesurf Guide to S & W Cornwall

Kitesurf Guide to S & W Cornwall

A KITESURFING GUIDE TO CORNWALL BY NORTH UK TEAM RIDER, TIM OVENS

Cornwall is possibly the best place to kitesurf in the UK and boasts some world-class locations when the wind conditions are right. It has the largest area of coastline in England, nine river estuaries and about 300 beaches! I haven’t got time to write about all of them, but here are eight of the most popular ones that you may want to check out if heading down with your kite. Whether you’re just a first time flyer or a sponsored pro, there is something to challenge everyone. As with most beaches in the UK, high tide leaves little space, so please do not go to any of these locations at least 2 hours either side of the high-tide. Some beaches have further restrictions so please read them carefully as failure to adhere to them could jeopardise the future of kitesurfing at the location. Please also make sure that you have valid insurance of at least £5m. Instant worldwide cover is available online from the BKSA for only £30. This covers all kite activities, even snow-kiting.

Daymer BayWatergate

Daymer Bay

Starting with the most northerly beach in this guide, we have Daymer Bay. Located at the river mouth just along from Rock and Rick Stein’s Padstow, here you will find a truly awesome spot offering flat shallow water for everyone to play in. Daymer works best when the wind blows from the NW, out in the river it also works on a northerly. The main danger is the river currents and the tidal flow so don’t head out of your swimming distance and avoid spring tides. Daymer has a car park right near the beach where you can check out the conditions before getting suited up. Watch out for the guy at the gate who will not only charge for a parking ticket but also a launching fee! This beach has a kite-flying ban in place in July and August between 10am and 6pm.

Tide: never go 2 hours either side of high tide.
Hazards: strong current in river, passing boats and very busy beach in the summer.
Wind Direction: N and NW (NE over the other side at Hawkers).
Restrictions: no Kite-flying in July and August between 10am to 6pm.

Watergate Bay

Just further down the coast from Daymer, about 10 minutes above Newquay (and the airport), there is the most famous kitesurfing location in the UK, Watergate Bay. The BKSA tour visits this 2½-mile long beach annually and it hosted the first European championship a few years back. The place has plenty of room for everyone to fly and has a complete range of facilities right on the slipway. Sail here on a prevailing SW and if it veers W, NW or even N it is still safe to stay out. Big Atlantic swells do come in quite often, so be ready to turn quickly if trying to get out the back and they start dwarfing you! But don’t let this put you off if you’re still learning the ropes, it is still safe to stay on the inside and play on the large flat sheets of water where it remains shallow. Getting upwind then becomes a little tricky and you usually end up sat on the beach once the water has retreated. Main dangers are a small strip of rocks, just to the right of the beach when looking out to sea, and the high cliffs that effect the wind if you get to close. No restrictions, but please walk up the beach to the quieter areas before setting up.

Tide: never go 2 hours either side of high tide or when the water touches the rocks.
Hazards: small strip of rocks just below the high-water line can get big swell, and there are big cliffs!
Wind Direction: N, NW, W, and SW.
Restrictions: no restrictions but you should walk to the ends of the beach before going out.

PerranporthGwithian

Perranporth

The other side of Newquay there is another expansive beach called Perranporth. It is slightly longer than Watergate, stretching 3 miles, and has sand dunes at one end. As it is very exposed, it allows you to kitesurf on a SW, W, NW and N. There are two ends you can park, the main sea front car park in Perranporth or the Perran Sands car park at the back of the campsite, just outside the town, on top of the hill on the Newquay Rd. There are no facilities at the Perran Sands end but as there are sand dunes at the top and not cliffs, it means that you can often get a bit more time on the water before the tide comes in and it is much quieter in the summer. Although the hike back up the dunes is a bit of a killer with all your kit, it is still worth it! At the town end there are restricted zones marked on the lifeguard signs. These restrictions are in place all year round so even if the beach is dead please stay in the right area.

Tide: never go 2 hours either side of high tide or when the water touches flatrocks.
Hazards: can get big Atlantic swell out the back!
Wind Direction: N, NW, W, and SW.
Restrictions: Zoning marked on the lifeguard signs, enforced all year so even if the beach is dead please stay in the right areas (for more info contact Mobius Kiteschool 01637 83 13 83).

Gwithians

The last of the three Titans is Gwithians, located in St Ives bay about 30 minutes down the coast. This beach is the longest continuous piece of sand in Cornwall but it is named differently depending upon where you park up. The Gwithians section is up near the lighthouse end, named after the nearby village. Gwithians works on N, NW, W and SW and, just like Watergate and Perranporth it is a great spot for wave riding. The car park is situated on top of the cliffs so you get a perfect view of riders already out and can make sure the wind is right. As usual, make sure you avoid high tide. There are a couple of big rocks that you need to pinpoint before the water covers them and the water tends to come right up to the cliffs on big tides. If you keep to the north-end towards Godrevy you can sometimes stay out longer but it generally gets busy with holidaymakers and surfers. There are no restrictions as yet so lets keep it this way by being considerate to all other beach users. There is also a café for refreshments.

Tide: never go 2 hours either side of high tide or when the water touches the rocks.
Hazards: another big wave location and two big rocks below the high-tide line.
Wind Direction: N, NW, W, and SW.
Restrictions: no restrictions as yet, so make sure you stay in a clear area.

HayleMarazion

Hayle

Hayle (a.k.a. The Bluff) is also located in St Ives bay and like Daymer bay is another river estuary providing flat shallow water as well as some swell where the water deepens. This is regarded by some people as the best place to kitesurf in Cornwall, but you can only go there when the wind is N, NW or NE. Again, as with all river mouths, there are strong currents so keep in the shallows where you can stand up to launch your kite and retrieve your board. Often boards are lost here, so a retractable leash is advisable as well as being courteous by helping pick up runaways. The river changes course and depths frequently as the sand banks relocate so keep in the water where your fins don’t bottom-out or you will be eating sand! You will see a line of telegraph posts down the other side that marks a boats passageway and no kitesurfing is permitted in this channel when the water is above knee depth or boats are present. Once the tide fills all the lagoons the water also becomes choppier as it is no longer sheltered by sand, it is then time to pack up and go for a pint in the Bluff Inn (where you get your car park money back if you produce your ticket when you buy a drink).

Tide: never go 2 hours either side of high tide.
Hazards: strong current in river, passing boats and a few telegraph posts!
Wind Direction: NE, N, and NW (not good on W so please don’t go there then!)
Restrictions: No kitesurfing in the river when the water is above knee depth or boats are present. Fishermen make complaints and this is jeopardising the future of kitesurfing at Hayle.

Marazion

The next beach involves hopping across to the south coast. Only 15 minutes away, Marazion is home to the historic island of St Michael’s Mount, making it a nice backdrop for pictures. You will pull up right next to a small wall that separates the beach from the tarmac – obviously concrete being at the top of the beach has dangerous consequences as well as the positives of not having to walk to far. Always pick the clearest area to pump-up, and you may want to wear booties when walking down over the coarse sand to where the beach levels out. Swell tends to be smaller here than on the North coast but the S, SW or SE winds can still generate messy breaks for you to contend with. Mobius tend to teach their students a little way down the beach towards Marazion but recreational kitesurfers stay near the sea wall. Further up the beach towards Penzance is an outlet pipe and also Longrock beach. Some kitesurfers will head over there for flatter conditions but there is the odd small rock and thick kelp so local knowledge should be sought. Getting the tide right here is the most important factor as once the waves hit the steeper bank it creates a lovely shore break that destroys kites! If you are unlucky and do not find a free space along the wall then there is a pay and display car park that has a pub, toilets and a café where you can buy tasty panninis!

Tide: never go 2 hours plus either side of high tide or when the water is on the steep bank.
Hazards: road and seawall at the top of beach, coarse sand so booties recommended and big shore dump if good swell and near high tide!
Wind Direction: SE, S, and SW.
Restrictions: restrictions coming into place to stop people kiting above Red River near the town end of Marazion and to prevent any kiting activity near to the road and sea wall.

PentewanPar

Pentewan

Further on from Marazion, the beaches become smaller and more dangerous with The Lizard only having tiny rocky coves. The next place is called Pentewan just a few miles south of St Austell on the Mevagissy road. East wind is required here but you can also sail on a NE and SE. A campsite privately owns this beach, so access is only given to those who stay there. If you just want to kite, then you have to park in the village and walk through, make sure you check the conditions first from the beach, as it will be sheltered in the car park. The beach is similar to Marazion, so booties are good and a shore break builds up when the tide hits the steep shelved sandbank. There is no stonewall but there is a fence, a children’s play area and some caravans in certain areas to stay well clear of. Even though there are not any restrictions enforced, the beach does get very busy with happy campers and roped buoys are laid out in the summer. You can chill out after kiting by sitting in the beer garden outside the pub in the centre of the village.

Tide: never go 2 hours either side of high tide or when the water is on the steep bank.
Hazards: campsite, fence and children’s play area at the top of beach! Coarse sand so booties recommended and big shore dump if good swell and near to high tide!
Wind Direction: SE, E, and (NE – better to go to the North Coast on this direction though).
Restrictions: no restrictions as yet, so stay clear of bathers and avoid sunny summer days.

Par

The final destination is Par. Here you will come across all the south coast boys who kite here on the prevailing SW and make the most of S winds too. Follow black signs to Par docks until turning right into Par Sands campsite and either stop in the car park provided or keep going until you can pull up on the left hand side of the road. A fairly sheltered beach from the waves as it remains fairly shallow for a long way out and some sandbanks emerge creating areas with sheltered water. There is a long row of rocks that start from where the small river flows into the sea. The rocks do create mirror flat water on the inside but you do not want to drop your kite, as this is where green slime clings to the lines preventing a re-launch and you resurface as the swamp thing!

Tide: never go 2 hours either side of high tide.
Hazards: rocks below the high-tide line (you must check it out at low tide first), and radioactive water (only joking, but the west-end of the beach has green seaweed!).
Wind Direction: SW, S, and SSE (too much SE will result in the wind being gusty = dangerous!).
Restrictions: no restrictions as yet, so stay clear of any bathers and other beach users.

If you require any more information or need some lessons to help you progress more quickly, you can contact Timo at Mobius Kite School. Mobius are the only BKSA approved school in Cornwall to use different locations for changing wind conditions. All locations are no more than 30 minutes from their base at Perranporth. Visit www.mobiusonline.co.uk or call 01637 83 13 83 .

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Mr Capac Mr Capac Mr Capac Mr Capac Mr Capac