Pembrokeshire has become a mecca for surfers, who have had a particularly long run this summer, their presence marked by the large number of campers and vans crowding the car parks at the county’s best surfing beaches.
The county is blessed with so many Blue and Green Flag beaches that surfers, windsurfers, body boarders and kite surfers have been spoiled for choice.
The top surfing beaches are Freshwater West on the south coast, Newgale in mid-county on St Brides Bay and Whitesands, near St Davids on the north coast, so exponents of these popular water sports can pick their spot according to the differing wind and surf conditions.
And it is not only the surfing regulars who are catered for. There are many outlets around the coast where equipment, including wet suits, surf boards and all the other paraphernalia of the cult is readily available, and most of the popular surfing beaches themselves have the gear to hand. Tenby, Saundersfoot, Haverfordwest, Pembroke, Narberth, Milford Haven, Broad Haven and Fishguard all have their surf equipment shops and in several places instruction for beginners is also on hand.
Leaflets and flyers advertising the many companies offering gear and instruction proliferate in tourist information centres, supermarkets, shops and libraries and in most of the tourist-orientated theme parks and activity centres. One of the biggest caterers for water sport activity of all kinds is the Pembrokeshire Adventure Centre at Cleddau Reach, Pembroke Dock, which provides courses for local schools, colleges, clubs, corporate bodies and individuals. Run by the Prince’s Trust, the centre has surfing, sailing, coasteering, climbing, canoeing, kayaking and coastal exploring on the menu, with highly-trained and experienced instructors and adventure guides in charge. Cardigan Bay Active, based at Teifi Wharf, Cardigan, Tenby Water Sports, based at Tenby Harbour, Dragon Activity Guides, based at Letterston, Newgale Activity Centre, Sealyham Activity Centre, the Big Blue Experience at Newgale, TYF Adventure at St Davids, Masterclass Surfing Pembrokeshire, based at Nolton Haven, and Outer Reef Surf School are among the many enterprises offering watersports tuition, hiring of boards and wetsuits and other facilities for young and old alike. Surf board and wet suit hire costs work out at around £8 a half day, £15 a full day or £45 to £60 a week, while bodyboard hire is £5, £8 and £30.
The Pembrokeshire coastline from Poppit in the north to Saundersfoot in the south, all served by the 170-mile long National Park coastal footpath, has a variety of beach and reef breaks which pick up swells from all directions. There are the big wave winter venues like Broad Haven South and Freshwater West for all-year- round serious surfing, or places like Newgale, which is more suited to beginners, but in windy weather can also test the experts. Dale is the perfect beach for all levels of wind-surfing, also having a sheltered area ideal for learners, while Newport and Newgale offer more challenging conditions.