We are a surfing, coasteering, standup paddle and ocean skills centre located in the Headland Hotel, Fistral Beach. Our speciality is in creating a friendly, welcoming environment where everyone feels included; just like being a member of your own exclusive surfing club 🙂 To maintain this level of service, we do things a bit differently to how you may have seen in other watersports centres. Most noticeably, we run the lowest client to instructor ratios for group lessons in town; maximum of 6:1 (ISA regulations permit 10:1). We don't run an online booking system with arbitrary start times, instead we individually schedule each group lesson start time according to not only tides, which we can predict, but also seasonal beach state and sand banks, which can only be assessed through being on the beach all year round.

We'll only offer you the lessons that are right for you. If after having a lesson or two with us you've become quite independent, rather than pushing for another lesson we're likely to suggest you rent a board and suit from us and consolidate your skills that way. Or, even though it seems like it might be a good idea, we seldom see any benefit in having two lessons in one day. Best to surf in the morning, rest and recover, and hit it fresh the next day. Perhaps not the most ruthless business model, but it's more fun for everyone and each season we're seeing new faces who soon progress to become familiar regulars 🙂 


ISA Level 1 and 2 Surf Coach / RLSS Beach Lifeguard / AoFA Emergency Medical Technician / RNLI Volunteer Casualty Care and Rescue / BKSA Kitesurf Instructor / BSUPA Instructor Trainer / RYA Survival at Sea / VHF Radio Operator / Day Skipper / Power Boat Level 2 / ICS Coaching and Physical Education 


Surf Sanctuary is advantageously located within the grounds of the iconic Headland Hotel, Newquay, directly overlooking Fistral Beach, Little Fistral and The Cribbar. Most of our lessons are run from Fistral Beach which is just a short walk away across the hotel lawns. There are no roads to cross or busy pavements to navigate. Our surf school offers fantastic facilities from heated changing rooms with hot showers to dehumidified wetsuit and board storage. Even in the depths of winter clients can be assured of a comfortable experience.


I'm Dom and that's Reb; she can often be seen leading our lessons down to the beach...

Betsy Townsend

Betsy grew up surfing in Newquay and it's fair to say that she spends more time in her wetsuit than in her own bed. A technical master, Betsy is able to give the right feedback at the right time to keep you on a smooth curve of progression. It would be difficult to pin down her speciality when coaching, for whether you are 7 or 77, a first-timer or a regular surfer looking to escape a plateau, Betsy has an uncanny knack of finding the magic bullet to success. 

Pepé Navarro

You're unlikely to meet anyone in Cornwall who surfs as much as Pepé, which is all the more remarkable seeing as he was raised on the tropical shores of Venezuela! Pepé's extra-frequent surf sessions have given him an innate ability to read the sea and seek out barrels where it looks like there are none. It's also given him great talent as a surf coach whether that be teaching kids on their first waves or breaking down advanced manoeuvres. If you want to find him, just look for the spray...

Ben Douglas

If you can surf it, climb it, catch it, jump off of it or slide or roll down it, Ben Douglas has probably managed it at some point. But despite his Gnarly-to-the-Extreme credentials, Ben is a risk technician par excellence and heads up our coasteer sessions as well as running plenty of surf sessions too. Completely unflappable and ready to step forward no matter what's going on, Ben's the sort of fella you want at your side during your ocean adventures. 

Dave Read

Raised by wolves, and living on a steady diet of avocados, bullet-proof coffee and clotted cream (he's Canadian after all), Dave Read is the consummate wild man. Bringing a strong scent of the outdoors to Surf Sanctuary, Dave is also a style master across all disciplines, with a particular penchant for free surfs on a 6ft foamie...Dave's sessions are completely absorbing whether it's 1ft or overhead, and if you want to go on a sup expedition up the coast he's your man...