Fistral beach, Newquay’s most popular surf spot and reminiscent of Australia’s Bondi.
The 630 mile (1,013 kms) South West Coast Path pointing at Newquay.
The path goes more-or-less through the town. There is a classic 5 mile walk from Newquay Station to Newquay’s Twin Headlands for visitors to the town – as opposed to hardy walkers who are doing a serious Coast Path trek and Newquay is just another milestone. The Headlands walk does not get much elevation (ie it’s not very steep) and goes around cliffs at a safe distance.
Young Newquay tourists experiencing Coasteering, before returning to the town to indulge in their favourite activity – copious drinking.
Coasteering involves throwing yourself off high rocks into the sea, then climbing back up and doing it again further along the coast. Later the kids get busy with vodka-induced blackouts in Newquay clubs and pubs followed by a night of noise terrorism and vomit fundamentalism.
A typically less-than-interesting Newquay street, though on the positive side it’s too early to be awash with vomit and pop-up brothels, the latest fashion apparently. Newquay is leading the UK on that one.
A council ban on fancy dress, ‘offensive clothing’ and drinking in the street over the last few years has killed off Newquay’s image as a wild stag night or teen party magnet. Nightclubs are shutting their doors forever and pub owners are whingeing about loss of revenue, while families who want a quiet surf holiday in Cornwall are delighted with the news.
Newquay police cracked down on underage drinking and general night time rowdiness, something that overtook this small town and pumped up the economy but changed the previously tranquil atmosphere into a nightlong street rave.
So…drunken teens out, families and older couples in.
Newquay Harbour, Cornwall, England. Photo Afterbrunel
Fistral beach on a mediocre surf day.
This is Newquay’s largest beach, nearly a mile long and west facing which normally produces good surf. Fistral hosts many surfing competitions, both national and international and is fully equipped with surf-necessities such as rental boards, wet suits, café/bars and surf schools.
Like most most Cornish beaches the sea is clear and the sands light and clean. Frequent high waves are excellent for surfing and the whole region is geared up for the surfers.
Fistral beach has plenty to offer less serious surfers too such as body boards, nice sand to lounge in with lots of entertaining action, great places to eat and drink. Even in the beach restaurant portions are generous and staff willing and helpful, and good accommodation nearby tho’ inevitably it’s very busy in the summertime.
Other water sports available in season from Newquay are scuba, snorkelling, water skiing, jet skiing and fishing charters.
Newquay harbour entrance and Towan Beach. Photo by Nilfanion.
Towan beach is the closest to the town and consequently (or perhaps accidentally) known as Town Beach. Towan has easy vertical access – unlike many other Newquay beaches that involve large numbers of steps – and a small sea-water swimming pool.
Tolcarne beach, Newquay, backed by 50m cliffs and west-facing so good for surf, is provided with all the facilities for a comfortable day on the sand or in the water. Access is via a short walk from the town centre and a substantial descent of 200 steps down the cliff. Photo by Nilfanion
Grand Western Beach
And another cliff-embraced beach, Grand Western. Me, I see nothing Grand or Western about it. Photo by Nilfanion
Heading further out of Newquay, an easy campervan ride is Watergate Beach. Photo by Nilfanion
While Fistral is a firm favourite in Newquay, Watergate Bay has the same luscious stretch of sandy beach that makes a lovely walk at low tide but the beach almost disappears at high tide so beware tides!
Watergate facilities include a car park, surf school, food/drink kiosk and a decent cafe.
Other Things to Do in and around Newquay
This Pirate-themed attraction is both educational and fun, working on an adult level as well as for kids as little as 3 or 4. It’s lots of laughs mixed with a regular shot of scary and very well presented by lively, competent actors using quality props.
Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre
Appealing to a limited market but this aviation museum does have one winning unique selling point. Visitors can get into real plane cockpits and hear detailed airplane stories from lively, well informed guides, many of them ex-pilots.
Oasis: A large clean, friendly indoor pool with plenty of activities for a family outing. Excellent slides and pleasant lifeguards but can get over-full in mid-summer.
Holywell Bay Fun Park: Free entry, free parking and 20 family-friendly rides and attractions available, close to the beach and 4 miles from Newquay. Some of the activities are junior go karting, water zorbing, quirty blaster boats, mystical waterfall and magical maze. However, there’s no forward booking so queues can be hugs in the summer and many visitors think the cost escalates too rapidly paying ride-by-ride so with 2 or 3 kids this may end up being an expensive day. If you buy online before arriving, you can save 10%.
Waterworld: swimming, fitness, water slides etc. so suitable for a family visit but all a little shabby and dated and staff attitude questionable.
Set in sub-tropical gardens, Newquay Zoo is compact but houses more than 1,000 animals and birds in varied appropriate settings, such as ‘African Savannah’. Located a short walk from Newquay town centre visitors can see lemurs, penguins, meerkats, lions, wildebeest, waterbuck, antelope, zebra, pot-bellied pigs, African pygmy goats, turkeys, striped squirrels and more.
Entertaining keeper talks and animal feeds take place throughout the day while activity trails, face painting, children’s play area, dragon maze keep the kids from the dragon boredom.
Blue Reef Aquarium
The Aquarium is neither huge nor cheap but is educational and informative for kids and adults alike. A regular visitor might spend between half an hour and an hour on the displays and then take a break in the not-very-welcoming café.
This small National Trust Elizabethan Manor House is run by knowledgeable and pleasant volunteer staff, telling the story of the Arundell family. Around the house are interesting, attractive gardens that can be used for picnicking if you time it right, tho’ the place has a good restaurant/tea room and other facilities.