Manorbier beach by Henry

A wave catches surprises surfers at Manorbier - image by Adie @ frames photography.

A consistent spot with reef and beach break but very crowded nowadays, especially in summer.

This small, south westerly facing bay is made up of sand and pebbles with an uneven reef break known as the 'dak' to the west of the bay.

The surf here always looks bigger from the top of the cliff so it always pays to drive down and check it properly.

When and where to surf

The beach is sheltered at high tide due to the cliffs on either side of the bay so it can be worth a look when other beaches are blown out by the wind.

It generally works best on the incoming tide between mid and high tide, especially during bigger swells. At low tide the break tends to become a heavy close-out with dumping waves but can be good if the winds remain light.

Advice for learners

Learners are advised to avoid the reef area altogether and stick to the sandy side of the bay. A rip runs along the southerly side of the bay that takes you out to sea following the edge of the rocks, so if you're not ready to surf bigger waves out back; try to avoid it.

At high tide on the beach, the shore break dumps hard onto the pebble bank, so take care when exiting the water or you'll end up flat on your back!

Crowds and chaos at Manorbier

Crowd chaos at Manorbier by Adie @ frames photography
Image by Adie @ frames photography

The Dak reef

The right hand reef break tends to barrel onto shallow rocks, so is best left to experienced surfers only. You can surf the left here but the ride is very short due to the rocky shoreline.

The local rock strata consists mainly of red sandstone and is popular with geologists who regularly visit here on field trips to hunt for fossils.

Like the beach, the reef is best on the incoming tide from mid tide up and offers nice long rides all the way through to the beach.

A surfer pulls into a tube over the reef

A nice barrel over the dak by Adie @ frames photography
Image by Adie @ frames photography

The inside section gets nice and hollow so you might get 'covered up' on your way through but you'll more than likely encounter wide eyed learners on longboards blocking your way, instead.

On bigger days it can be tricky here if you fall off as the water is fairly shallow inside and the rocks uneven, so take care.

In 2009, a local surfer broke his leg here when his foot became entangled in rocks as a wave washed over him.

Low tide Manorbier

Manorbier beach by Pemb Dave
Image by Pemb Dave on Flickr

Things to do

If the surf is flat, wander up to the Norman castle up on the hillside for a look around.

There is also a youth hostel, pub, post office, and a few B&B's locally and the popular tourist town of Tenby is only a few miles away.

There's a lovely coastal walk between Manorbier and Skrinkle and plenty of good fishing spots along the way. Keep an eye out for 'King's Quoit' - a magnificent chambered burial tomb, cut into the hillside above the beach.

Parking is limited as the few spaces above the beach fill up quickly. You can also park higher up on the headland and walk down, or use the National Trust car park opposite the castle.

Nowadays this beach gets very crowded and is popular with beginners so try not to drop in and wait your turn. If you're learning, stay away from the reef area altogether.

Article written by Martin Aaron

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