Freshwater West picks up the Atlantic swells, and is a very popular surf beach as a result. The surf here is fairly consistent at all stages of the tide, but strong rip currents are common and occur anywhere on the beach. Places to be extra careful are near the reef and near the rocks at the northern end. Signs warn against swimming beacause of currents.
The beach is sand backed by dunes at the north end, becoming rockier with pebbles towards Little Furzenip point at the southern end. South of Little Furzenip the shore has plenty of streams and rockpools at low tide, and is backed by pebbles and cliffs of sandstones and conglomerates. The land behind this section of the beach belongs to the MoD. This beach usually has excellent water quality.
The main (free) car parking areas and roadside parking are at the southern end of the beach, whilst a small car park can accommodate approximately 18 -20 cars at the northern end. Depending on which car park you use, access to the beach is either a short walk down a concrete footpath onto the shingle or a 200 yard walk across the dunes. The B4319 runs through the dunes behind the beach. The main car park has toilets and usually a van serving refreshments.
Lifeguards patrol from the end of June until early September, and dogs are allowed at all times.