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The North Devon coast has just become the UK’s first World Surfing Reserve

Forget Malibu and the Gold Coast, these English beaches are among the best spots to catch a wave

Sophie Dickinson
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Sophie Dickinson
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When you think of surfing hotspots, where comes to mind? Malibu in California? The Gold Coast in Australia? You wouldn’t be wrong, but North Devon in the UK is now listed among them as a great place to catch a wave. 

It’s the first place in the country to be designated a World Surfing Reserve, which recognises the quality of the surf plus its importance to the local community. And while the North Devon coast is already protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, WSR status only adds to the area’s status as a top tourist destination.

A spokesperson from the organisation said that ‘its high density of outstanding surf, at iconic breaks such as Croyde, Saunton, Woolacombe and Lynmouth, caters to wave-riders from beginner to expert and a variety of surfing styles’. They’re not wrong: in the summer months, the beaches are a favourite for UK-based surfers. 

Surfers in the area are hoping that the WSR accreditation could help to reduce water pollution levels in the area. Local campaigner Kevin Cook told the BBC that ‘i
t seems crazy to be pumping out gallons of sewage into the ocean and spoiling the beaches’.

‘Our water quality is good but it could be better and we need that extra spending on infrastructure by water companies to make sure we are not tarnishing the future,’ he said.

Adam Hall, co-founder of the surfing reserve in North Devon, added: ‘Our core focus is looking after the quality of the waves themselves and preserving the ecosystems that produce them.

‘Surf spots need to be celebrated, recognised and protected in the same way we protect and recognise beautiful national parks like Exmoor.’ So, if you want to grab a board and go surfing, North Devon sounds like the place to be. 

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