Dip your toes into wavesurfing at the Woolacombe Wave – guaranteed fun!
Why it’s on my list
Surfing is one of the must-do activities in North Devon, with the likes of Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton being familiar beaches to UK surfers. If you’re not quite ready to take on real waves, something like the Woolacombe Wave is an inviting way to have a go at negotiating with the power of water. And even if you are ready, the Wave is simply great fun.
Location: Golden Coast Holiday Village, Woolacombe
Age range: 8-80
Price: from £20 per hour
To book: call ahead on 01271 872350
Golden Coast Holiday Village is one of the four parks that make up Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks – this group of holiday parks has a great reputation, not just in North Devon but in the whole country, so I was expecting good things. The wavesurfer didn’t disappoint; by the end of the hour I was surfing that wave cool as a cucumber, and managed a couple of tricks too.
The Woolacombe Wave has been a popular feature of Golden Coast Holiday Village since 2011. 60,000 gallons of water shoot over the wavesurfer’s padded, curved surface per minute, creating the perfect conditions for bodyboarding.
You need to sign a disclaimer before using the attraction, which you do in the hut pictured below. After this they will provide you with a wetsuit and direct you towards the changing rooms.
Then make your way to the structure below, where your instructor will be waiting.
The instructors take you through how to use the bodyboards; how to go forwards, backwards, left and right. Basically all the moves that will help you control the board. After their demonstration you just get in the water with one of the bodyboards, push off from the edge and away you go.
Of course it isn’t quite as simple as that, but that’s what the instructors are there for. They provide all the guidance needed to get you started, and will give you pointers if there is room for improvement.
And they also teach you a couple of tricks so you’ve got something pretty impressive in the bag by the end of the hour. We had a go at throwing the board forward, riding the wave with arms outstretched and then catching the board on its return. We also tried kneeling on the board instead of lying, and if you’re really good you might even be able to do a spin in this position.
Lastly there was the barrel roll, which was great fun. You will get water in your face with this one!
We didn’t try it as there’s only so much you can do in an hour, but stand-up boards are also available. It would be best to try the stand-up board after at least one bodyboarding session on the Wave, and make sure to talk to the instructor first.
For the ultimate in comfortable surfing, the water is heated to 28 degrees and has a retractable roof. It’s warm and almost tropical; you can easily imagine yourself catching some waves in the Caribbean.
Instructors provide tips and advice to help you get the most out of the hour. Even at its busiest they make sure that everyone gets a fair go.
Not the best
If you’re not too comfortable with water, this might not be the attraction for you. Personally I found my heart pounding and started psyching myself up for action, as the power of the rushing water doesn’t ease you in like stepping into a swimming pool would.
But once you’ve got over that first go, you’ll find yourself more at ease and will be able to enter the wave with nothing but excitement. Plus, even when (because it is a when, not if) you do bail and go tumbling into the water, the water carries you up to the top where you can just stand up, shake yourself off and try again. It’s actually fun, and no harm done!
Wear a swimming costume underneath your wetsuit for the ultimate comfort, and so your bits don’t feel like they’re sharing a wetsuit with other people!
Enough of words and pictures, check out the Woolacombe Wave in the video below: