Cornwall Kitesurf Guide No.3: Watergate Bay

by

All-terrain / big down the line waves

The biggest beach break in Cornwall?

Wave rating: 4/5

Flat water rating: 3/5

Watergate during the BKSA course racing. Lots of space!

Watergate is really the best beach to be heading to when you’re in the Newquay area and it’s where I do 90% of my riding. It works in anything from a South round to a North wind. When the wind is cross shore, you can get stellar waveriding conditions, and though days that the North wind combines with the swell are rare, they produce excellent down the line right handers.

Watergate in a southerly wind produces clean walls

South winds often come in with a decent swell and twin tip appeal is limited as the wind is quite gusty and the wrong angle for exploiting the flat sheets between the white water on the inside. This is also the riskiest direction because it pulls you towards the foreboding rocks and cliffs of the North End; approach the South wind days after conducting a good risk assessment, and preferably on a dropping tide, a couple of hours before low.

Looking towards the North End on a rising tide

The steady West winds nearly always come with a thumping swell, 3m plus, and this opens up the whole beach for all types of riding. You can still get out the back for some exciting ‘tow-ins’ as long as you don’t mind a hefty swim in if it goes wrong.

Down the line charging in a big swell

The onshore days are good fun on a twin tip, but I find usually quite disappointing on a surfboard and there are other places I’ll head to instead. Learners and improvers will find that an hour after spring low, on a rising tide, huge sheets of water will rush in under these conditions which are ideal for honing skills.

Flat water cruising in onshore winds at Watergate Bay

Along this beach, the best area is directly out in front of the Beach Hut. The beach is widest here, the wind is strongest as it accelerates over the sloping cliffs (rather than buffeting around the vertical cliffs to the north and south) BUT it’s only accessible to kiters during off season or outside lifeguarded hours.

Watergate during a spring low tide

Launching

Head north of the rocks by the steps during lifeguarded hours. No kiting two hours either side of high tide, for your own good.

Winds

180 degree wind exposure at Watergate: South round to North, via West. Do not attempt in an offshore.

Restrictions

As above.

Looking north, aerial view of Watergate Bay.

NEXT GUIDE: Newquay Bay

6 Comments

  1. Jeff Carter

    Nice one Dom, I am heading to Watergate for a big weekend in September so this is invaluable
    Thanks again
    jeff

  2. Thanks for reading Jeff. Where’s your local beach?

    Thanks Gary – though I can’t take credit for that image, it’s from Bing maps! Definitely worth a look, I much prefer the colours to Google maps.

  3. jo-anne taylor

    great pictures and amazing waves. i love this beach and this part of cornwall. do you ever go surfing at treyarnon bay i used to holiday there very year. i love the rock pool.

  4. thomas

    Hi Dom, first of all congratulations for the good work u r doing! Just wanted to ask a thing… 10 days ago I was in Newquay, there was about 20 knots and 4-5 feet waves, lots of surfers, but no kiters, not even in Watergate Bay, do u know where is possible they went?

  5. Thanks Thomas, and sorry for the slow reply!

    Honestly there are not too many kitesurfers in the Newquay area, Watergate Bay is usually the first and last place you’ll see a kite up so if there was no one there, and it was kiteable, it might simply be that they were all busy doing something else, or maybe the surf was good instead? Other choices that work when Watergate works would be Penhale and Gwithian. Gwithian is more likely to have people out, more so because of convenience rather than quality over Penhale.

    If you ever want to know where most of the kiters in Cornwall are, check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/160901674061/ , the page for Kernow Kitesurf Club.

    All the best,

    Dom

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