Destination Newquay – tips for the best holiday ever

Located on the north coast of Cornwall, the popular seaside resort of Newquay is 12 miles north of Truro, the county seat, and 20 miles west of Bodmin. It has a population of around 22,000, but this swells to over 100,000 in summer. Visitors flock down to Newquay to enjoy the beautiful beaches, scenic countryside, lively attractions and laid-back lifestyle that this fabulous county is famous for.

Newquay is undeniably the UK’s surfing capital; after all it regularly hosts top surfing championships on world-famous Fistral Beach. Whether you’re surfing or spectating, you can look forward to exciting events including the British Surfing Championships, the English National Surfing Championships, Boardmasters Festival, the floodlit Newquay Night Surf and the BUCS (British University and College Sport) Surf Championships, which incidentally is the largest surf competition in Europe. But even if you’re more of a shallow-paddle sort of visitor, Newquay still has some amazing attractions to keep you busy without getting your hair wet.

There are no less than 11 beautiful surfing beaches and sandy coves around Newquay offering sunbathing, sandcastles, rock pooling, volleyball, swimming, bodyboarding, kite-surfing, sea kayaking and a host of other watersports we’ll get to later. Clifftop walks along the ups-and-downs of the South West Coast Path provide stunning views, sea birds and the occasional sighting of Cornish dolphins.
Newquay town has the usual array of tawdry and tat along with some more upscale shops mingling with fish and chip shops, amusement arcades, takeaways, bars, restaurants and pubs. It goes without saying that there’s a pretty lively nightlife in Newquay, as Cornwall goes.

By day, Newquay is buzzing with attractions including theme parks, gardens, animal attractions, a world-class aquarium, golf (and crazy golf), mackerel fishing charters, boat trips, orienteering and a whole lot more besides. Venture 20 miles or so from your holiday cottage and there are even more amazing places to visit.

We’ve a lot to get through, so let’s get started!

Newquay: Getting there and getting around

The opening of Cornwall (NQY) Airport in 1972 really put Newquay on the map with direct flights from London taking just 75 minutes. Sited on the former RAF St Mawgan Airfield, it handles almost 500,000 passengers every year thanks to low-cost daily flights from London and further afield.

Currently Newquay Airport is mainly served by EasyJet, Eastern, British Airways and Loganair. UK routes including direct flights to/from London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Teeside and Aberdeen. International routes include Dublin and other European airports.

A taxi from the airport to your accommodation (about 5 miles) will cost around £20.

For a similar price to an air ticket, you can take the train to Newquay from London Paddington with First Great Western. Direct services take s about 5¼ hours. Newquay Railway Station conveniently located right on the seafront near Great Western Beach.

The cheapest option for getting to Newquay from "up the line" is by bus (7 to 8 hours from London) with National Express, changing at Bristol.

Having a car to explore southwest Cornwall can be a big advantage if you’re staying a while. Car hire is available if you don’t want to drive down. Getting to Cornwall by car is easy along the M5 / A30, but in summer the long queues can add hours to the usual journey time. Once in Newquay, parking can be difficult and expensive, so plan to park your car at your accommodation and get around on foot or public transport.

Newquay is fairly compact, so most visitors enjoy walking around Newquay town centre and there are plenty of beaches within easy reach of holiday apartments. There’s a local bus service from the bus station on Manor Road if you fancy heading out to St Austell, Truro or Perranporth for the day.

The best option after dark is a taxi or Uber. Taxis are governed by the local authority. A yellow card displayed in the windscreen means the taxi can be flagged down in the street. Cabs with a red card cannot be hailed and must be pre-booked by phone. Best local taxi services are 123Taxis (01637 851234) or Newquay Taxis (01637 872424) which has vans for up to eight passengers.

If you enjoy shopping then Newquay's town centre has plenty to offer. The high street stretches the entire length of the town and is dotted with individual and specialist local shops, restaurants and cafes as well as national names all mixed in with surf shops and boutiques.

Best time to visit Newquay

The best time to visit Newquay depends on whether you want the best weather, the best prices, least crowds, or perhaps the best festivals and activities. Many families are restricted by school holidays, making Newquay very busy in July and August. The hottest month is July, with an average high of 20°C and low of 13.4°C. However, it is also the driest month with 11.4 rainy days on average, compared to 16.6 days of rain in November.

Winter breaks can be fun as Cornwall typically has mild temperatures and rarely has snow on the coast. Although the driest months are December through March, it can be windy.

If you want to enjoy a stay in Newquay with warm weather, less crowds and lower prices, May, June, September and early October are all good times to visit.

A little Newquay history

Cornwall is steeped in history with ancient barrows and archaeological remains dating back to Bronze Age settlements over 5,000 years ago. Although Crantock and Towan were listed in the Domesday Book (1086AD), it was not until the early 1600s that Newquay came into existence. Local burgesses decided to build a New Quay near Towan and eventually the name appeared on local charts and records as Newquay.

The harbour prospered with pilchard fishing and mineral exports from local mines. The arrival of the railway in 1836 brought expansion as lodgings and guest houses sprung up. The earliest hotel was the Great Western Hotel (1879) overlooking Great Western Beach and the equally imposing Grade II listed Headland Hotel (1900) on Fistral Beach.

The town continued to expand before and after the world wars with development creeping across Pentire Point and the Trenance Valley. This area along the Gannel Estuary was developed for recreation with walks, tennis courts, gardens and a bowling green.

During WW2, schoolchildren were evacuated from Holt, Norfolk to the relatively safe area of Newquay. The RAF commandeered hotels and guesthouses for troops who were completing military, gunnery and pilot training. The grand hotels were turned into convalescent hospitals for the Army, Navy and Air Force.

More recent development in Newquay includes an industrial estate, supermarkets and commercial warehouses. Land to the east of Newquay Beach belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall where a 30-year masterplan at Nansledan includes building 4,000 new homes, local offices, shops and a school in an award-winning sustainable development.

In 1439, the Bishop of Exeter granted permission for the building of a stone quay in the manor of Towan Blystra. This was built where the harbour now stands and was known as the 'new quay', and is the origin of the town's name. The manor of Towan Blystra (including the quay) was bought by an investor from London – Richard Lomax. In 1832 he began the construction of the North quay, followed shortly after by the construction of the South quay. Today the harbour has a small fleet of commercial fishing vessels, landing mainly crabs and lobsters. In addition to this, there is a fleet of tripping boats offering fishing and pleasure trips.

Fun things to see and do in Newquay

Newquay has plenty of indoor and outdoor attractions. These are just the tip of the iceberg!

The award-winning Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay brings the ocean into focus with 40 huge tanks of tropical corals, anemones and pretty fish as well as turtles, stingrays, sharks and more. The walk-through tunnel is pretty cool too. Fortunately you’re unlikely to encounter any of these awesome creatures on Newquay beaches, so spend a happy few hours in the Blue Reef Aquarium on Town Beach.

Located one mile from the harbour, the 13-acre Newquay Zoo has been engaging generations of visitors since 1969. It has plenty to offer as well as over 1000 exotic animals. Follow the Dragon Maze, explore the Tarzan Trail, walk in the free-flying aviary, visit the Adventure Park and attend one of the informative talks.

Enjoy a family walk along the tidal Gannel Estuary from Newquay to Crantock. Stop for refreshments at the Fern Pit Cafe on the south bank. It’s accessible at low tide across a wooden footbridge. The river is ideal for paddling, swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding in the calm waters. Keep you eyes open for many wild flowers, newts, gulls, goldfinches, linnets, dunnocks and swallows! At high tide a ferry takes you across the estuary in summer.

Plan a day at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre next to the airport on the former RAF St Mawgan base. There’s a full range of historic military aircraft and WW2 bombers to admire in the huge hangar. Sit in the cockpit, enjoy a Hawker Hunter experience flying high above the Cornish countryside in a thrilling simulator ride. Open Sundays through Thursdays only, 10am to 4pm.

Days out from Newquay…

If you fancy exploring more of the southwest tip of England, you’ll find plenty of award-winning attractions just a short drive from Newquay.

Located 28 miles away in Helston, Flambards theme park is a great day out for all the family. It has over 20 super-thrilling rides (think SkyRaker, Sky-Force and Colorado log flume) plus indoor themed attractions for rainy days. Wander through the cobbled street of the Victorian Village peeking in the windows. Next up, feel the earth shake during the recreated bombing in the "Britain in the Blitz" attraction.

Even if you’ve visited before, the Eden Project continues to re-invent itself around the main attraction of the massive biomes. Their recreated tropical and Mediterranean climates showcase many exotic plants, fruits and food including bananas and pineapples. Reinforcing its strong environmental message, Eden offers £3 discount on admission if you travel by bus from Newquay!

All aboard! You’ll find lots more than just a fleet of miniature steam engines when you visit the 35-acre Lappa Valley Steam Railway. Located in St Newlyn East, it’s six miles from Newquay. Paddle boats, canoes, steam train rides, woodland walks, crazy golf and a multi-purpose Engine Shed soft play area (with cafe for refueling!) are just some of the attractions in this micro-world of steam trains.

Head to the charming coastal village of St Agnes, 14 miles down the coast, and explore this former hub of copper, tin and arsenic mining. The St Agnes Heritage Coast is worth exploring for its mining heritage, solitary engine houses and protected flora and fauna. Hike through heather and gorse to St Agnes Beacon for stunning sea views or head to the Parish Museum to check out local history and curiosities. The village has recently become a foodie hub for gourmands, so drop in for a meal at Taste, the Tap House or Schooners.

Once nicknamed Pad-stein for its connections with celebrity chef Rick Stein and his family, Padstow is a delightful harbour village. The quaint narrow streets are lined with alluring studios, galleries, cafes and restaurants. Head to the harbour and watch kids crabbing on the harbour wall or take a boat trip out along the scenic coast. It’s still a great place to enjoy a top-notch meal at Rick Stein’s Cafe or the famous Seafood Restaurant that more than lives up to its reputation.

Best kept secrets in Newquay

You can’t beat local knowledge if you want to discover a few hidden gems around Newquay. Keep these well-kept secrets to yourself, mind…

Starting in Killacourt overlooking Towan Beach, the Newquay Discovery Trail around the town is marked by 14 Cornish slate disks, each one metre in diameter. Pick up a map from the Tourist Information Centre and follow one of two routes to unlock facts about Newquay’s history and heritage. The yellow "Hetty" route includes the harbour, house on the island, Huer’s Hut (lookout for pilchard shoals), Headland Hotel and Fistral Beach. The pink "Ada" route covers the Gannel Estuary, Trenance Leisure Park and Gardens, Newquay Zoo and the Tennis Centre. Who knew there was so much fascinating history in Newquay!

Cornwall is known for its fantastic gardens but one of the most recent (1989) is the Japanese Garden and Bonsai Nursery at St Mawgan. Open from March to October, it’s a haven of natural beauty with serene ponds, Japanese bridges, shady trees and peaceful meditation gardens. Strolls along paths lined with showy azaleas, acers and maples.

Head for a yummy ice cream from the Pink Flamingo van that hangs out on Esplanade Road on the Pentire Headland. It’s surprising how good it tastes as you stroll along enjoy stunning coastal scenery and gentle sea breezes.

Eating and drinking

There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to food and drink in Newquay. East Street is lined with pubs, take-aways, cafes, delis and more upscale restaurants offering fresh fish and Cornish ales.

Best pub grub & casual dining

If you’re renting a self-catering cottage or contemporary beach apartment in Newquay you might want to take a night off from cooking and enjoy a pint of Cornish ale or cider with some local pub grub or a take-away…

Old Albion Inn

Head out to Crantock and visit the traditional thatched pub in the heart of the village. It’s been serving pints to thirsty locals for over 400 years. Check out the bluestone fireplace in the lounge. It hides a smugglers hole (now blocked) from the days of Cornish racketeering and rum-running. The kitchen serves restaurant quality food at modest prices and the bar handles a range of Cornish real ales.

Address: Langurroc Road, Crantock, Newquay, TR8 5RB
Open: Monday 11:00 until 19:00, Tuesday to Sunday 11:00 until 23:00
Call 01637 830243 to book a table at Old Albion Inn

Gusto Deli Bar

If you’re missing the falafels and flatbreads from a Mediterranean vacation, you can get your fix at the scrumptious Gusto Deli Bar on Beach Parade. Ideal for lunch and dinner at the beach, it’s one of the top listed restaurants in Newquay according to TripAdvisor (#5 of 240 restaurants and #2 for Quick Bites). They offer healthy grills and Med-inspired cuisine including vegetarian and vegan options. Opt for one of the popular wraps, hot boxes (pulled pork, duck, roast chicken etc) and wonderful salads. Pssssst! They do a great Sunday lunch take-away too!

Address: 4 Beach Parade, Newquay, TR7 1ET
Open: Thursday to Saturday 11:30 until 15:00, Sunday 11:30 until 16:00

Malcolm Barnecutt Bakery

Pick up an authentic Cornish Pasty from Malcolm Barnecutt on Henver Road in Newquay. Trust me, they are the best "oggies" in Cornwall – moist, packed with steak chunks and wrapped in crisp buttery pastry. They also make delicious saffron buns, cakes, fresh bread and coffee, but the pasties are outstanding. There’s always a queue at lunchtime, so be patient!

Address: 22 Henver Road, Newquay, TR7 3WB
Open: Monday to Saturday 07:30 until 15:30, Sunday 10:00 until 15:00

Rick Stein Fistral

The fresh sea air is likely to work up an appetite, so head to Rick Stein Fistral for arguably the best chef-cooked fish and chips outside Padstow. This laid-back chippie and take-away overlooks stunning views of Fistral Beach as you tuck into crispy light battered fish, melt-in-the-mouth chips and zesty homemade tartare sauce. Alternatively, pour Goan curry sauce over your meal for a new take on an old favourite.

Address: Fistral Beach Complex, Headland Road, Newquay, TR7 1HY
Open: Dine in: Monday to Sunday 12:00 until 20:30, Takeaway: Monday to Sunday 12:00 until 21:00

For more formal dining, Newquay has some outstanding restaurants, many with coastal and sea views.

The Fish House, Fistral

Where do celeb chefs go to dine when visiting Newquay? We have it on good authority that Gordon Ramsey, the Hairy Bikers and other top chefs are regulars at The Fish House overlooking Fistral Beach. Run by noteworthy chef, Paul Harwood and his family, the menu is packed with delicious dishes featuring freshly caught fish and shellfish. Try the Roasted Hotshell Seafood with Focaccia, Seafood Risotto or the smooth and spicy Sri Lankan Prawn Curry with Dahl and Poppadoms. Open for lunch (noon to 3:30pm), and then for dinner from 6:30pm, this is the place for gourmet cuisine with million dollar views.

Address: 5, International Surfing Centre, Headland Road, Newquay TR7 1EW
Open: Monday to Sunday 12:00 until 23:00
Book a table at The Fish House Fistral

Kahuna

If you want privacy and exclusivity, try Kahuna on Station Approach. This Pan-Asian restaurant has just five tables providing an intimate ambience with personal service. It also does fantastic take-aways. Run by a husband and wife team for over 13 years, it has earned a mention in The Times on several occasions. Try the Vegan Chilli Tempeh Noodles coated in a sweet and savoury chilli sauce and deep-fried to crispness. They also have a vegan and gluten-free dessert menu. Open daily from 5:30pm it’s best known for its tempura soft shell crab. Delish!

Address: Station Approach, Newquay TR7 2NG
Open: Autumn & winter: Monday to Thursday 18:00 until 21:00, Spring & summer: Friday to Saturday 17:30 until 21:15, School holidays: Monday to Saturday 17:00 until 21:15
Book a table at Kahuna

The Boathouse

Located in the heart of Newquay in an idyllic position on South Quay Hill, The Boathouse specialises in fresh fish straight from net to plate, as it were. Trendy and understated in appearance, it’s a relaxed street food hub. It prides itself on serving tasty international fare cooked to perfection and artistically presented along with a list of Cornish lagers and ciders. Food is served on the spacious covered deck or on picnic tables on the beach. It’s all served in recyclable take-away containers so you can eat in-situ or take it back to your holiday apartment and enjoy it on your private balcony or deck. Open seven days a week April to late October, 10am until 10pm.

Address: S Quay Hill, Newquay ,TR7 1HT
Open: Re-open on April 14th 2022 at 10:00

Best restaurants with sea views

What’s better than a perfect meal cooked by a renowned chef? A restaurant that has great sea views, of course. Here are some of Newquay’s most scenic…

Beach Hut, Watergate

After a walk along the beach or surfing the waves, warm up with coffee and a cake, or something more substantial, at the Beach Hut overlooking Watergate Bay. Big picture windows make it a great spot to hunker down in winter. Check out the blackboard specials that change daily. You’ll find everything from mussels and meze to Pad Thai and juicy burgers, all cooked to a T by a team of chefs.

Address: On The Beach, Watergate Bay, Newquay TR8 4AA
Open: Monday to Sunday 09:00 until 21:00
Book a table at The Beach Hut

Fistral Beach Bar

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this cool cafe with its beachy vibe is a stylish hangout with superb views across Fistral Bay. Enjoy watching the pro surfers from your clifftop perch on the extensive deck. It’s a great spot for a hot chocolate or sunset drinks – try one of the prosecco cocktails or the signature Fistral Beach Candy Floss Gin and Tonic. The snack menu is great for fuelling up on loaded fries, tasty wraps, pizza and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

Address: Headland Road, Newquay, TR7 1HY
Open: Sunday to Thursday 09:00 until 17:00, Friday to Saturday 09:00 until 21:00/p>

The Fistral Stable

Located right on Fistral Beach, The Stable serves fabulous pizza along with tasty pies and pints. The contemporary building has a panorama window showcasing one of the best coastal / sea views in Newquay. Open noon till 11pm (11:30pm on weekends).

Address: Fistral Beach, Headland Road, Newquay, TR7 1HY
Open: Monday to Sunday 11:30 until 23:00
Book a table at The Fistral Stable

Lusty Glaze Beach Bar & Restaurant

Great for brunch at the beach or dinner with a view, the Lusty Glaze Beach Bar & Restaurant is noted for its use of seasonal produce, fresh food and regional ingredients. It serves exceptional cuisine from March to October including Cornish Mussels simmered in garlic white wine, Seafood Linguine and belting Fish and Chips with crushed peas. Relax on cushioned sofas and armchairs or book a table in front of the huge french windows (open in summer to catch the breeze). It’s a top spot for great dining, drinks and superb sea views. The menu covers everything from pizzas to seafood, set menus and Sunday roast. Like all good eateries, it does get crowded so make a reservation for dinner.

Address: Lusty Glaze Road, Newquay, TR7 3AE
Open: Monday to Sunday 10:00 until 23:00
Call 01637 872444 to book a table at Lusty Glaze Beach Bar & Restaurant

Top places for breakfast & brunch in Newquay

Start the day fueling up at one of these local haunts…

Oceans Cafe

Tucked away on East Street, Oceans Cafe serves exceptional cooked breakfasts as well as lunch and dinner. Good coffee and a cosy atmosphere make it a go-to place for honest tasty food. If the weather’s fine, opt to dine in the garden.

Address: 34 East Street, Newquay, TR7 1BH
Open: Monday to Saturday 08:30 until 14:00

Oceans Cafe is very well established, offering exceptional breakfasts, lunches or main meals, as well as snacks and traditional cream teas which can be enjoyed in the outside garden area. The café is also a licensed premises so customers can enjoy a drink with their meal, all served by friendly staff.

Andy’s Cafe

Andy’s Cafe is said to have the best breakfast in Newquay, so it’s definitely worth a visit. Perfectly poached eggs, tasty sausages, golden potato cakes, rashers of smoky bacon and friendly service are matched by competitive prices. What better way to start your day?

Address: 15 East Street, Newquay, TR7 1DN
Open: Monday to Sunday 08:00 until 15:00

Bunters

Also located on East Street in the heart of Newquay, Bunters does a fab breakfast menu, served in a timely manner so you can get to the beach for a well-earned nap before lunch. It’s a family run licensed cafe that does local deliveries too. Order the seriously good breakfast omelette (£5.50) and tuck into a plateful of tasty ham, eggs and more, with a side salad and red cabbage slaw.

Address: 15a East Street, Newquay, TR7 1DN
Open: Tuesday to Thursday 09:00 until 15:00, Friday to Saturday 09:00 until 16:00, Sunday 09:00 until 13:30

Best place for a Cornish cream tea

You can’t visit Cornwall and not sample rich clotted cream. It’s the essential ingredient of a Cornish cream tea at these popular eateries…

Cafe Cloud

Cafe Cloud is a delectable old-fashioned tea house on Fore Street. Enjoy the vintage decor and knick-knacks in this characterful cafe that does a smashing cream tea to fill the gap between lunch and dinner!

Address: 54 Fore Street, Newquay, TR7 1LW
Open: Monday to Satuday 09:00 until 16:15, Sunday 09:00 until 16:30
Call 07719 822156 to book a table at Cafe Cloud

Pauline’s Creamery

Tucked away on Bank Street, Pauline’s Creamery has been serving delicious homemade cakes and other goodies since 1973. They do baguettes and light lunches as well as a host of cakes to satisfy any sweet tooth. Of course, their scones are renowned, spread with jam first and then a dollop of clotted cream as is the "proper" Cornish way of eating it.

Address: 20 Bank St, Newquay, TR7 1AY
Open: Spring: Monday to Sunday 10:00 until 16:00, Summer: Monday to Sunday 10:00 until 17:30
Call 01637 876809 to book a table at Pauline’s Creamery

The Headland

For afternoon tea with stunning sea views, make a reservation at the five star Headland Hotel. You get a full Ritz-style afternoon tea on a tiered cake stand. Nibble bite-site savouries and iced cakes topped off with warm scones, jam and clotted cream. Add a glass of champagne for the ultimate indulgence!

Address: Fistral Beach, Headland Road, Newquay, TR7 1EW
Open: Monday to Sunday 14:00 until 16:00
Book a table at The Headland

Bars and night spots

After dark, it’s time to head out and see what Newquay has to offer in its many pubs, bars and nightclubs.

Red Lion Inn

Overlooking the harbour and fishing boats, this traditional pub on North Quay Hill is a great place to snag a beer and a breath of sea air in the outdoor area, or enjoy fish and seafood, freshly caught. It’s popular with locals and serves a good range of Cornish ales to wash down the hearty pub grub. Discounts for CAMRA card holders! Open 11am to 11pm (and from noon Sundays) it’s a great place to enjoy live music, open mic nights and Celtic trad sessions on select evenings.

Address: North Quay Hill, Newquay, TR7 1HE
Open: Monday to Thursday 11:00 until 23:00, Friday & Saturday 11:00 until 24:00, Sundayday 12:00 until 23:00
Book a table at Red Lion Inn

Walkabout

This lively nightclub bar on The Crescent has a definite surfer vibe, thanks to the mainly Aussie surfers that work behind the bar. It’s a late-night party venue with live music, dancing and a well-stocked bar.

Address: The Crescent, Newquay, TR7 1DS
Open: Monday to Thursday 11:00 until 23:00, Friday 11:00 until 01:00, Saturday 11:00 until 02:00, Sunday 11:00 until 24:00
Book a table at Walkabout

The Sailors Arms

This Fore Street pub and nightclub has a contemporary interior and superb views across Newquay Bay from the deck. It serves good food, hand-stretched pizza and, snack platters all day long and switches into club mode after dark. It’s open 11am to midnight on weekdays and until 2am with its late license on Fridays and Saturdays. Try the excellent cocktails and Cornish craft ales such as Brew Dog, fresh from the keg. Described as "The Top Club in the Southwest" is has great music to dance to, from Indie and Party to R&B.

Address: 15 Fore Street, Newquay, TR7 1HB
Open: Sunday to Thursday 11:00 until 24:00, Friday to Saturday 11:00 until 02:00

Whiskers

Known as the beating heart of live music in Newquay, Whiskers serves up fantastic drinks and great music in incredible surroundings on Gover Lane. Renovated in 2021, it has been transformed from quirky music bar into a top live music venue. Dance to the beat on the LED dance floor, book a spot on the bright pink sofas in the VIP area or hang out around the stage. Monday is Open mic night for local talent and the pro PA sound system gives every performance a cool gig atmosphere. Closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Address: 5-7 Gover Lane, Newquay, TR7 1ER
Open: Monday 20:00 until 02:00, Friday 20:00 until 02:00, Saturday 20:00 until 02:00

Celebrate cultural events and festivals Newquay-style!

Thousands of visitors flock to Newquay to join in some of the UK’s top surfing, music, food and watersports events. Here are the main annual festivals to look out for…

British Stand-up Paddle Championships

It’s no surprise to find that the British Stand Up Paddle Association (BSUPA) Championships are held at Newquay’s Watergate Bay and neighbouring Mawgan Porth each year on the first weekend in October.

Every October Britain’s best stand up paddle surfers descend on Watergate Bay, in the hope of being crowned National Champion. Stand up paddle (SUP) boarding is one of the fastest growing water sports in the UK. Described as a cross between canoeing and surfing, riders stand up on a large style of surfboard and use a single bladed paddle to steer, turn and propel themselves through the water and onto waves.

Newquay Fish Festival

https://holidaycottagesindevonandcornwall.co.uk/cornwall-food-and-drink-festivals#newquay-fish-festival is one of Cornwall’s longest established food and crafts shows. This fun three-day event takes place around Newquay Harbour on the second weekend in September. It’s an interesting mix of fish cuisine, Masterchef-style demonstrations, sandcastles and beach competitions ending with a Summer Proms Concert.

Boardmasters Surf, Skate and Music

Boardmasters is the biggie five-day event in mid-August with surfing and beach events taking over Fistral Beach. It began as a surf championships but has evolved into a huge music fest that attracts some of the biggest names outside Glastonbury. It attracts thousands to the clifftop site overlooking Watergate Bay with pre-pitched glamping in bell tents, tipis and spacious yurts. Enjoy the best bands, after-parties, beach bars and don’t forget your surfboard!


Best beaches in and around Newquay

There are 11 beautiful sandy beaches in the vicinity of Newquay so there’s something for everyone, from family-friendly coves to world-class surfing beaches. Many have a lifeguard service in summer and operate a flag system to warn of dangerous conditions. Ocean tides and currents can be strong on this Atlantic coast, especially near rocks and piers. All the following beaches have good facilities including a cafe or two. From north to south, here we go…

  • Watergate Bay – Newquay’s longest and arguably most dramatic beach. The onsite Extreme Academy offers kitesurfing, paddleboarding and a host of other watersports and equipment hire. Good access and dog-friendly all year round.
  • Porth Beach – Expansive flat golden sands with shallow water and rock pools. Popular with families and surfers.
  • Lusty Glaze / Newquay Beach – a sandy beach and sea cove with sheer cliffs that are popular for abseiling, climbing and orienteering as part of guided adventure tours.
  • Tolcarne Beach – sheltered by tall cliffs, this beach is a dream for bodyboarding and ideal for families. Safe swimming, rock pools and good for fishing.
  • Great Western Beach – Blue Flag awarded beach with caves and rock pools. Good for families with young children, but reached down a steep slope from Cliff Road.
  • Towan Beach – Newquay’s busy town beach overlooked by the aquarium. It has a landmark private island outcrop joined to the mainland by a suspension bridge.
  • Harbour Beach – the smallest of Newquay’s beaches and tide-dependant, this sandy cove is next to the working harbour. It faces northeast and is very sheltered.
  • Fistral Beach – UK’s #1 surfing hotspot that regularly hosts surfing competitions. Backed by dunes and overlooked by the coast guard station.
  • Crantock – south of the Gannel Estuary, this pretty beach is family-friendly with a river for paddling.
  • Polyjoke Beach – also known as Porth Joke or Polly Joke, this attractive beach is one of the quietest in Newquay, facing northwest.
  • Holywell Bay Beach – one of the most stunning sandy beaches on Cornwall’s north coast, backed by dunes with a cave and "holy well" spring that gave this expansive beach its name. Popular with families.

Newquay surfing and extreme watersports

Famous for its surfing, Newquay has a good choice of surf schools, watersports centres and equipment hire on the beach.

Extreme Academy

Owned and operated by the clifftop Watergate Bay Hotel, the Extreme Academy lives up to its name with a raft of wet-and-wild adrenalin-kicking sports. Surfing lessons are a good way to get hooked as you master the steady inflow of Atlantic rollers into this west-facing bay. Move on to body-boarding and stand-up paddleboarding or try hand-planing. What? Never heard of it? It involves riding a wave with a mini surfboard / handplane strapped to your wrist. The leading edge cuts through the water allowing your body to glide in the wake. Well that’s the theory, anyway, but perhaps the pros at Extreme Academy are better qualified to explain!

Newquay Watersports Centre

Situated in historic Newquay Harbour, the Newquay Watersports Centre does it all, from equipment hire to lessons and tours. Main activities are lessons in surfing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, but they constantly update to offer something new and different. Surf rafting, coasteering, wave skiing, monster SUP, kayak fishing, power kiting and jet ski board blasts are just some of the more outrageous activities on offer from 9am to 6pm daily. From their outstanding facilities they also provide training for beach lifeguards, watersports instructors and coasteering guides. You can also sign up for adventures on dry land including archery, axe throwing and kite buggying.

Things to do in Newquay with kids

Newquay remains a top family-friendly holiday resort during the summer. Here are plenty of things to do to keep youngsters out of mischief

  • Take the kids to Newquay Zoo to see some of the latest arrivals include cute newborn antelopes, lemurs and loris.
  • Dairyland Farm World is a fun farm experience with a host of animals and activities to keep youngsters busy. There’s a nature trail, karts, trampolines, a summer Maize Maze, tractor shed and a milking parlour to see high-tech dairy farming at its best.
  • Enjoy a stroll beside the peaceful Gannel Estuary and let kids paddle in the calm waters. They will love the wooden footbridge leading to the cafe!
  • Visit Trenance Gardens with its boating lake, swings and play areas, gardens, miniature railway, tennis courts, crazy golf and entrance to Newquay Zoo.
  • Formerly Waterworld, the Newquay Leisure World is a hive of activity with trampolining, soft play and swimming. The pool includes slides and flumes, tippy buckets, spitting snakes and a water volcano. There’s also a state-of-the-art gym for parents to get their own workout.
  • Flambards has something for all; ages with thriling rides for youngsters and a stroll down memory lane in the re-created Victorian village for adults.
  • Take a net and a stick and see what marine life you can discover in rock pools at Fistral Beach. Kids will be fascinated to find tiny crabs, mussels, shrimps and translucent fishes in these mini aquaria.
  • Do the Whipsderry Walk! This coastal walk can be done at low tide from Watergate Bay to Whipsderry. Kids can turn it into a treasure hunt, picking up seashells and other beach treasures along the way.
  • Ride the steam trains at Lappa Valley Steam Railway. It’s a great experience for all ages!
  • Ride the fastest zip wire in England at Hangloose Adventure, an aerial adventure company located next to the Eden Project. There’s an aerial assault course, high ropes adventures, swinging logs, giant swing and the chance to fly above the biomes on at speeds of up to 60mph.

Must-photograph spots in Newquay

No holiday is complete without sending out a few selfies and Instagram-worthy photos, so try these for starters. You’ll soon be the talk of the office by envious colleagues!

  • The island on Towan Beach is an iconic landmark with its "des-res" home reached by a private foot bridge. Best shots are looking north from Killacourt (Park) on the clifftop above the beach.
  • Another clifftop landmark is the whitewashed Huer’s Hut, an old stone building on the coast path at Towan Head. It was used by spotters who were tasked with keeping a look-out for shoals off pilchards. They would alert the fishing fleet by blowing a horn. On a sunny day, this stone building could almost be Greek with its blue-sea backdrop!
  • Head to Fistral Beach on a stormy winter’s day and you’ll have endless shots of the huge waves crashing against the shore. On calmer days, the surfers make a great photo op too!
  • Just north of Newquay is the National Trust owned Bedruthan Steps. These large sea stacks are said to be the stepping stones of the giant Bedruthan and are very impressive on camera.
  • Best sunset photos can be found from Fistral Beach. Take a rug and a drink and watch the flaming colours emerge above the restless waves.

Book a holiday cottage in Newquay and you’ll find so many things to do in all seasons in this lively coastal town. Your cottage rental may also be photo-worthy!

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Holiday Cottages in Devon & Cornwall is brought to you by the Jetset Boyz