Perfection at Rest Bay in March 2010 by Martin Aaron.
Rest Bay is one of the most popular surfing destinations in South Wales due to its close proximity to the M4 and nearby cities of Swansea and Cardiff.
On any given day, you'll find a rideable wave at Rest Bay, which is all that most learners require. The beach suffers in westerly, onshore winds but can handle south westerly and north westerly winds, provided they are not too strong.
Learning to surf
There are at least two surf schools operating from this beach so you shouldn't have any problems getting a lesson if you'd like to try surfing.
When the surf is good, the beach can become very crowded with 100+ surfers in the water, so be patient and always abide by the surfing rules.
On the wall next to the life saving club is a laminated sign detailing the rules of surfing etiquette so if you're unsure - have a quick read before paddling out.
Beginners are advised to try and surf in the area in front of the car park (use this as a marker when you're in the sea) and be aware of the rip currents as the tide pushes in.
For a top surfing destination in South Wales - the beach side facilities are fairly basic compared to our European counterparts who have showers and beach lockers.
The Welsh Assembly Government however announced funding for coastal development in 2010, including at Rest Bay so watch this space.
A board-walk running from Rest Bay towards Pink Bay to the north west was completed in summer 2010 and runs parallel the Royal Porthcawl golf course.
There's a pay & display car park above the beach. It is still not advisable to leave any valuables in your vehicle or to hide your car keys underneath the car as thieves may be watching nearby.
During the summer months, the car park is closed at 9pm. You can still use the exit but you will not be able to enter it after 9pm, BST.
Surfers walking down to Rest Bay
Malc's Cafe opposite the car park is a focal point for surfers and great if you fancy a hot drink to warm up but is only open in winter time during the weekends. The summer has more regular opening hours though and there are public toilets situated next door.
When and where to surf
Rest Bay works at all stages of the tide provided there's enough swell running. It's generally better from mid to high tide but this can vary greatly depending on the sand banks.
The rip at this beach kicks in on the incoming tide and pulls you towards the cliffs and rocks to the south so be warned and take care as it can be very strong once the tide turns.
The beach is long and sandy and only becomes dangerous towards high tide when the entry and exit points narrow considerably due to the rocks and cliffs lining the waters edge.
Paddle towards the lifeguard station and slipway for a safe exit or wait for the tide to drop back a little. During the summer months, lifeguards patrol the beach and there are designated swimming and surf craft areas flagged up.
Perfect peaks towards the golf course
The life guard station situated above the slipway is only fully manned during the summer months.
The slip itself way can also be dangerous at high tide as waves tend to break over it, so take care when paddling in or out.
On its day this beach can rival any surf spot in Europe, serving up six foot plus, barrelling waves to the hoards of hungry locals.
The surfing standard is fairly high here thanks to a strong local tradition and one of the oldest surf clubs in Britain - The Welsh Coast Surf Club (WCSC) which began in 1969 as 'CREST'. The name encompassed the local breaks of Coney, Rest, Esplanade, Sker and Trecco.
When the surf is good you're likely to be sharing the line up with a mixture of ex and current - British, European and Welsh National surfing champions with guys such as Elliot Dudley, Greg Owen, Simon Tucker, Brad Hockridge and Rhino all still involved in the local scene.
The contest scene is fairly prolific here too throughout the year with various inter-club, sponsored and national events taking place. If a contest is on, please respect the competitor's area or try surfing at another spot for the day.
Article written by Martin Aaron
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