Below is an article about finding surf in Wales that The Inertia published. To see the full gallery click here

Fresh Perspectives in the Old World

The white of the sheep stood out against the green of the hills as I drove the countryside toward the coast. Narrow roads meandered under shadowed tunnels created by the canopy of trees overhead. It felt odd to be looking for surf in Wales. Passing numerous inns and old ruins, it definitely wasn’t what I was used to on a surf trip. But perhaps that’s what charmed me about it.  

Wales is a small country but still boasts roughly 870 miles of coastline. Partly due to a small swell window and partly due to the proximity of more consistent surf zones in nearby Scotland and Ireland, Wales is rarely mentioned when talking surf. But it does in fact have waves. I didn’t really know what to expect when I set out for the Welsh coastline. My friend and host Mike Taylor simply told me to bring a small wave board and keep my expectations low. Not exactly the kind of advice I hoped to hear, but I appreciated his honesty. 

The topography of the Welsh coastline can vary drastically and is largely undeveloped in most parts. It is currently the only country in the world to have a continuous coastal path stretching its entire length; it’s called The Wales Coast Path. And with so much coastline undeveloped yet accessible it’s no wonder the Welsh created their own sport, Coasteering, that blends rock-hopping, shore-scrambling, swell-riding, cave-exploring and cliff jumping. But I wasn’t hoping to go Coasteering in Wales, I was hoping to surf.      

Mike has been surfing the Welsh coastline most of his life. If there is a hint of swell in the water he knows where it will be breaking best. He has spent a good portion of his life serving the people of Wales; first as a trauma nurse and now as a pastor. Having grown up in what some would call a rough area, he’s seen the best and worst people have to offer. It has made him about as genuine and down-to-earth as they come. Mike’s help proved to be invaluable in finding waves in Wales.

At first it was a familiar scenario: one spot had some swell but the winds were wrong, another was clean but lacked swell. We checked numerous spots, and drank too much tea (like their English neighbors, the Welsh enjoy their tea). As we drove Mike would give me mini history lessons about the area. Unlike the U.S., Europe is old. The countries that make it up are full of history and legend, and Wales is no different. Some of the towns date back centuries. It’s not uncommon to see ancient castles along the side of the road as you drive. It sort of makes you feel as though you were looking for waves on the set of Robin Hood. It has a way of adding a certain romance to the search that makes finding waves a little less important yet somehow more exciting.

We drove slowly over the narrow, cobblestone road. I didn’t need to ask to know that the town was probably as old as America itself. Farmers still used the stone fences that had been erected in the fields long ago, their sheep not seeming to mind the rain. The road eventually made its way along the cliff-lined shore, down a hill to a carpark fronting the ocean. We stared at an empty beach with a headland off to our left. 

“Does it ever get crowded?” I asked. 

“On weekends it can,” replied Mike.

It wasn’t this day.

I watched for a set as the rain gently washed across my face. Off in the distance the hills grew slightly darker as the storm approached. I glanced back to shore to see the carpark nearly empty. Just past that stood the ruins of an old estate overlooking the headland. I clocked back toward the horizon. As dusk approached I knew it was time to go in. But the waves were quite fun and I had the headland all to myself. I waited for one more. 


English Village.jpg

I don’t remember the name of this little village on the English coastline, but I was directed here by a few different people. Driving north from Newquay along narrow country roads, my pulse escalates a little as the beach comes into view. I pull into the carpark, turn my windshield wipers to intermittent and sit for a while. The steady drizzle and green hills providing an odd comfort. Debating whether to surf or not, I decide the waves aren’t worth making my sore throat and aching head any worse. A quick exploration of the village yields a cozy coffee shop to retreat to. I order and find a seat as the drizzle escalates outside. I sit alone, contently enjoying my drink and wonder at how I ended up in this random village on the coast of England. 



It was the end of a 5-week tour for When Oceans Rise and Ireland was the last stop. In a few days I’d be on a plane home to sunny California, but for now I just enjoyed exploring the cold, damp streets of this small coastal community. It might be because I’m more interested in finding waves, but I rarely go to popular tourist destinations when I travel. I don’t dislike them or anything, I just usually find myself in small villages, talking to strangers, walking the main street, trying to get a sense of what a place is like for those who live there. If a popular tourist site happens to be near waves then I might visit it, but if not chances are you will find me somewhere more like this little village.

As the rain let up I found the local pub, ordered dinner, and listened to the locals next to me excitedly recount the waves they just surfed over rounds of Guinness. I understood their excitement, I just surfed them too. Those kind of waves are hard to forget. But so were the mashed potatoes—some of the best I’ve had.