Sitting approximately half way up the English Channel and in the shadow of the Isle of Wight, Hayling Island is never going to get the lion’s share of Atlantic swell. But if you are after a surf-able wave, at certain times you may just get lucky and score yourself some elusive Hayling waves.
A significant number of surfers live on the island and they have dedicated most of their lives to understanding weather maps and tide charts, making sure they are ready to be ‘on it’ when those fickle conditions emerge.
The two ends of Hayling offer sand bar waves that break near the mouths of Langstone and Chichester Harbour. With a small window of opportunity, you can guarantee that a large group of wave hungry riders will be at each spot when it gets good. With this in mind it is worth considering your options, as waves can get crowded quickly.
The Beachlands area is the most mellow of the two breaks and also the safest when it comes to tidal flows. Swells slingshot round the Isle of Wight and rumble down the sand bar getting progressively smaller the closer you get to the beach.
At low tide it is fine to walk out to the end of the sand bar to access the bigger waves that break here. Just be aware that you are quite a distance from shore and once the tide starts to fill in you can be quickly cut off from the beach.
Most locals tend to ride longboards due to the soft breaking nature of the waves here, but during large winter storms it is possible to break out your shortboard.
A little bit of luck…
Hayling is an extremely fickle place for quenching your thirst for waves and unless you understand all of the local anomalies that affect breaking waves then travelling to the island specifically for surfing would best combined with another activity.
If you do manage to get it right with conditions then you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere other than the south coast. What Hayling Island lacks in consistency, it certainly makes up for in quality when the stars align.
The best course of action for scoring a decent surf session is to pack all the beach toys and, when a decent looking forecast materialises, head on down to the beach but be prepared to indulge in some other hobby if conditions fail to show up.
There are no surf schools or hire centres on the island but local watersports shops Andy Biggs and CBK are happy to offer advice and share knowledge.
Whichever way you look at it, Hayling is a great place for all watersports and surfing on the island can be better than anticipated. Be aware that it doesn’t happen all the time and then when you do strike it lucky you’ll be delighted!
Surfing Key facts
- West Beachlands is the most popular spot for surfing
- Low tide gives mellower conditions with wave heights increasing as the tide fills in
- Dangerous currents can be a hazard at certain stages of the tidal cycle and watch out for the powerful high water shore dump
- Winter is more consistent for swell but colder.