Discovery Surf School FAQs

Here's what you need to know

Location/environment

What to expect at the beach

We have two different locations but are mainly based down in Bigbury-on-Sea, in the South Hams. We run lessons and hire from our shop is in the lower level of the beach car park (next to Venus Cafe). Our postcode is TQ7 4AS. During the summer months we have a second location open on the Parkdean campsite in Challaborough. This has a beach shop and is where we run our Surf Camps from (TQ7 4HU).

Yes! We are based in a car park so there are a few spaces around us. The ticket machines takes coins only, but change is available from Venus Cafe (next door to us). Here are the car park charges. During the summer this fills up quite quickly but there is a local farmer who opens up his field for parking. We really recommend parking here as it's far cheaper than the main car park, and only a short walk away from the beach (by footpath). 

There are lifeguards operating on our beaches from May until September. Click here for exact dates and information about beach safety. 

Great! Right next door to us is Venus Cafe , and nearby (but still in the car park) there are public toilets, a cold shower and a beach shop

Yes, it is. There are slipways down on to both sides of the beach, and we have a beach wheelchair that is available for hire free of charge - just give us a call beforehand if you can.

On the day/equipment

Arrival/sign in and kit

On the day we ask that you check in for your lesson at least 20 minutes before it is due to start. This means you should have plenty of time to get into your wetsuit and ready to start. There is a quick sign in sheet for you to fill out, then we’ll get you kitted up.

Here is an example of the layout for a lesson at 2pm: 

13:40 - arrive at the surf school and sign in/get kit

13:40-14:00 - get changed and ready to go in the water

14:00 - begin walk down to the beach and start beach lesson

14:15/14:20 - enter the water and surf until 15:00 (1hr lesson), 15:30 (1.5hr lesson) or 16:00 (2hr lesson).

We provide all of the equipment for your surf lesson. All you’ll need to bring are swimmers and a towel. If you would like to wear your own wetsuit then that’s fine too.

Yes we do. The use of the wetsuits, along with all other equipment for your lesson is included in the price.

You shouldn’t be! During the summer months, our rails are filled with a mixture of summer and winter wetsuits. When it gets a bit colder, everyone will wear a 5mm wetsuit and have the option for boots, gloves and a hood.

The vast majority of our wetsuits are made by XCEL, here is their size guide. The largest women’s size we have is a US14, and the largest adult suit is 3XL.

If you book a private lesson with us then you have free use of the surfboards and wetsuits for the rest of the day (subject to availability). If you have a group lesson then you are more than welcome to pay for a couple of extra hours hiring the gear.

We have a really friendly team of local surfers who are all really experienced with teaching, and being in the water. Everyone has current ASI (Association of Surf Instructors), SLSGB (Surf Life Saving Great Britain) and DBS certificates. Click here to learn more about our coaches. 

Most people do manage to get standing in their first lesson! Our instructors will always be there to support you and give you any extra help should you need it. 

When we go down to the beach for every lesson, we take with us a 'rescue bag'. Inside this bag we keep a few emergency first aid essentials and spares for boards. If you have medication that needs to be kept close by then it can be kept in this bag.

While you are in the water, you are more than welcome to leave any bags in either the cab of one of our vans, or in the small changing room (at your own risk). Any valuables can be left behind the desk.

Unfortunately we cannot offer a dog sitting service.

Booking/payment

When and how to book pay

The youngest we take in lessons as part of a group is 6, providing they can confidently swim 50m. For safety reasons, children who are younger than this, or not confident swimmers will require a 1:1 lesson.

Never! Surfing is quite physically demanding, but if you’re up for it then we are excited to get you in the water!

Once you have had a look through the information for different lesson types online, either give us a call or an email to get your lesson booked in. If you are still unsure on which option will be best, we will be happy to advise you. 

We take full payment for lessons on booking so that the slot is confirmed. If you need to confirm times with other people etc. then we are happy to pencil the lesson in, and can take full payment once numbers have been confirmed. If there are exceptional circumstances that mean you cannot make the lesson, as long as notice of at least 24 hours is given, we are happy to reschedule or refund the full amount. Payment can be done by cash (in the shop), card (shop or by phone) or payment link (email). 

Yes, we accept all credit/debit cards except from American Express. Payment can also be done online via a secure Worldpay payment link (sent by email). 

Lesson times vary from day to day depending on tide times. We always have a look through and set up lesson slots based on when we think the waves will be best. If you have a specific time in mind then we will do our best to accommodate this, although the waves might not be quite as good. 

It depends on how busy we are and what time of the season we are in. It’s always best to give us as much notice as you can, so we can get everything in the diary. Having said that, you can still sometimes get lucky by calling up on the day, or the day before but it’s always best to plan a few days ahead.

In order to take part in a lesson with a group, you must be able to confidently swim 50m. Surfing is quite physically demanding, so be prepared to feel a bit tired and achy afterwards!

In the water we always work with the small ratio of 6:1 so that the instructors get good contact with all pupils. School and discount groups have slightly larger ratios, with 8:1.

Policies

Insurance/what to do in extreme weather

Click here to view our terms and conditions. 

Yes, we have comprehensive public liability and employment liability insurance. Please get in touch with us if you require a copy of the insurance certificate. 

We understand that sometimes emergencies cannot be avoided, so our cancellation/refund policy reflects this. If you can no longer make your booked lesson, please inform us of this as soon as you can, and at least 24 hours before your lesson is due to take place. We are happy to reschedule these lessons, or refund you if there are no other days you can make. If notice of less than 24 hours is given, and there is a valid reason e.g. sudden illness, then we are still happy to reschedule/refund. 

Here in Bigbury-on-Sea, we are lucky in that we can operate in most surf/weather conditions. Having said this, there are still some days where it is too dangerous to get in the water. We always keep a close eye on the forecasts and try to give you as much notice as possible for cancellation. If we take the decision to cancel the lesson, then we will always try our best to reschedule, or refund the lesson price. 

Most of the time, even though the waves can be really small, there's enough surf for under 12s and beginners to get in there and make the most of it. But when we decide that the waves are too small to surf, you will have the option to either reschedule your lesson or have a refund. If there is availability with SUPs, and everyone in your group is aged 10 or above, you may switch to a SUP lesson. For school groups we have a flat water plan, which involves lots of games, adventures around the island and often a go on the XLSUP. 

Extras

Other useful information

Over at our shop in Challaborough, we have a range of basic wetsuits for adults and children starting at £17.99. To buy the kinds of wetsuits we use for lessons and hire (XCEL wetsuits) then the best place to go is Triocean Surf on the industrial estate in Churchstow (near Kingsbridge).

Yes we do. Every year during September/October we sell off surfboards, wetsuits, kayaks and SUPs. To keep up with dates and more information, check out our Instagram/Facebook pages and subscribe to our newsletter.

A post surf feed up is exactly what you need when you've just had a busy session! Our favourite places nearby are:

The Journey's End - Ringmore (about 3 miles away)

The Pickwick Inn - St Anns Chapel (about 3 miles away)

The Oyster Shack - Bigbury village (about 3 miles away)

The Pilchard Inn - Bigbury-on-Sea (visible and accessible across tidal causeway)

The Venus Cafe - Bigbury-on-Sea (right next door!)

The Waterfront bar - Challaborough (about 2.5 miles away)

There are so many beautiful places in the area for you to stay in, whether you're planning your week around surfing or not. It might be worth checking out Airbnb, Sykes Cottages and Helpful Holidays. We have also put together a list of great places to stay locally.