Surprisingly, the chillier seasons of autumn and winter offer some of the best months for surfing in Scotland. This is also when a campervan or motorhome with a lovely warming heater becomes the best ever form of transport.
At this time of year, Scotland, which is already famed for offering some of the best surfing in the world, benefits from bigger swells and more consistent waves.
As Sam Christopherson, who runs Coast to Coast Surf School in East Lothian, says: “It might seem strange but the conditions for surfers are better in the winter than they are in the summer. Yes, the summer air temperature is often more favourable but in the autumn and winter, the sea can still be warm enough and the waves can be far easier to ride.
“When the pressure is lower the swell will be bigger and this brings with it more regular and consistent sized waves. The surf is generally cleaner and surfers, new and experienced find it easier to ride.”
Vastly improved surfing kit also helps the comfort levels of surfers. Good quality wetsuits, neoprene boots, gloves and hoods give surfers the ability to ride in relative comfort all-year-round.
It’s only when surfers come out of the water and into the chilly air temperatures of autumn and winter that they suddenly feel the cold. One surfer Ali said: “I am always thankful for my campervan with its brilliant heater in the winter months. I strip off my wetsuit and quickly jump into the van where I can warm up with the heater and a hot chocolate. It’s fantastic.”
Seven top places to surf in Scotland
Belhaven Bay, near Dunbar, East Lothian
A wide and flat sandy beach. This is a great spot for beginners as there are no rocks and the water is shallow. Coast to Coast Surf School also offers kit hire and lessons.
Dunnet Bay, between Thurso and John O’Groats
A three-mile stretch of beach on the north coast of Scotland with waves that break the whole way along. This is a favourite spot for more less experienced surfers as there are various beginner-friendly peaks in smaller swells.
Simply one of the best places for surfing waves in Europe, Thurso East is a right-hand reef break. It is perfect on a north-west swell.
Isle of Tiree, Inner Hebrides
One of the most popular spots on the island is Port Bharrapol, although the whole of the Tiree boasts fantastic beaches and great conditions whatever the wind direction. The waters are also warmed by the Gulf Stream. See Suds Surf School for hire and lessons.
Machrihanish, Mull of Kintyre
One of Scotland’s best-kept secrets, Machrihanish is a superb find for surfers. There are said to be “good rivermouth peaks” in the bay, with the best protected surfing to be found at the south end.
Westport Sandbar at the north end of Machrihanish Bay can be fickle and is tide-dependant but when it’s good, it’s very, very good.
Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides
The beautiful clean waters of this Outer Hebridean islands boasts stunning white sandy beaches and great swell for surfers, too. Many surfers head to Dalmore, which has a well formed beachbreak that’s offers a lot of fun when the swell is smaller. When conditions grow, the surf is only for the more experienced as it can be pretty “rippy”. See Surf Lewis
Pease Bay, Borders, Scotland
A great beach break for a range of surfers and a more challenging reef for better wave riders. Ask Coast to Coast Surf School for more details.
For detailed surfer-focused weather reports see Magic Seaweed.
Tell us about your favourite campervan surfing hotspots.