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Best beaches in and near Newquay

Steeped in surfing culture and boasting some of the best beaches in the country, Newquay is a town that only gets better and better.

 

Britain's chilled out surf capital has a beach for every day, a quaint fishing harbour and plenty of pockets of green space to boot. It also makes for a popular location for a holiday; you can fly in and plenty of the country’s best attractions are a short drive away.

And if you’re looking to explore some of Cornwall’s best beaches, Newquay is definitely a must visit destination for you. From sheltered family-friendly spots to gnarly waves, there is a beachside spot for everyone in this town. 

 

Beaches in Newquay

 

Fistral BeachFistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall

A world-class surfing beach, Fistral is the town's premier playground for wave hunters. It attracts surfing enthusiasts from around the world who come for the epic waves and stay for the easy-going atmosphere.

There are pros aplenty in these west facing waters too, with all the UK's major surfing competitions like Famous Night Surf and Boardmasters Surf Championships happening here. Why the epic waves? The beach is wedged between two headlands which attract powerful, hollow waves that regularly reach eight feet high.

To get started head to The Fistral Beach Complex, a buzzing hub where you can arrange surf lessons at Fistral Beach Surf School, shop at Ann's Cottage and Fat Face or dine in style at Rick Steins.  If you don’t mind a mile walk along the beach and around the coast path, or a short drive, it’s well worth a trek out to Lewinnick Lodge where you’ll enjoy fine dining and stunning views across the Atlantic and back to Fistral.

There is also a beach wheelchair facility available, making Fistral a great choice for disabled visitors. Look out for events that run on the beach throughout the year, the Silent Disco Yoga is always popular with locals and visitors alike.

If history is your jam, head around Towan Headland to The Huer’s Hut, a striking white building with a huge chimney.  Dating back to the 14th century it was used as a lookout by a 'huer'. It was their job to look for pilchard shoals and upon spotting them alert the fishermen by crying out. It was a job with a lot of responsibility, as can be gathered from this 1848 advertisement which read:

 

"Wanted, for a Pilchard Sean, at Newquay a steady intelligent man as huer, and an active man, with some decision about him as master seaner. None need apply but those who have had much experience in Pilchard Fishing."

             

Back on the shoreline, be sure to bring your dog with you. If you’re looking for dog friendly beaches, Newquay has plenty including Fistral.

-   Dog friendly: Yes

-   Lifeguard cover: 7 days a week service from 10am-6pm from 1st April-29th October and a weekend patrol in November

-   Toilets: Yes

-   Parking: Yes

 

Harbour BeachHarbour Beach, Newquay, Cornwall

Newquay used to be known as Towan Blystra, but the historic harbour rebranded the town and it was reborn as Newquay. Today, this quaint reminder of the past remains alive and well; the harbour is a hive of activity with fishermen going to sea in search of fresh catches for local restaurants.

It’s a steep walk down, but it’s worth it for a family-friendly beach with picture-perfect harbour scenes awaiting.  As the tide goes out, the harbour drains and a charming beach is revealed. It's popular with wild swimmers and young families as the harbour walls provide excellent shelter and calmer waters.

Keen for an adventure? Head out on a fishing trip or if that sounds too much like hard work, take a pleasure trip from the harbour and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals and seabirds.

And when your appetite emerges, head to The Boathouse, a laidback beachfront restaurant serving up delicious street food. If you're after something a touch more formal, book a table at The Harbour which overlooks its namesake.

It is often the hub of many events throughout the year, including the famous Newquay Fish Festival, but sadly due to the current situation many have been postponed.

-   Dog friendly: Yes

-   Lifeguard cover: No

-   Toilets: No

-   Parking: 10 minutes from town centre

 

Towan BeachTowan, Newquay, Cornwall

Often Newquay's most popular beach thanks to its convenient location just below the Killacourt (a newly revamped green space a stone’s throw from town), Towan Beach lies at the very heart of Newquay.

To the west is the harbour and to the east are the beaches of Great Western and Tolcarne. At low tide, the beaches merge into one long mega beach. You also can't miss 'The Island', a huge rocky stack topped with a house connected to town via a suspension bridge and once the home of the famous scientist Sir Oliver Lodge.

Sheltered by Towan Head, the waves here tend to be a little smaller making it the perfect place to get to grips with surfing. Head to Newquay Activity Centre where you can have a go at a huge number of activities including surfing, stand up paddle boarding, coasteering, kayaking and bodyboarding.

It's an excellent choice for those with mobility issues, as there is a sand chair available to hire through the Aquarium. Speaking of which, if you need a break from the beach head to Blue Reef Aquarium Newquay and take a look at sharks, turtles and coral reef up close.

-   Dog friendly: Yes

-   Lifeguard cover: Full cover 1st of May until the 26th of September and weekend lifeguard cover in April and October

-   Toilets: No

-   Parking: 5 minutes from town centre

 

Great Western Beach Great Western, Newquay, Cornwall

Backed by high cliffs and comprising of several rocky coves, Great Western feels slightly more secluded than some of the other beaches in town. It's a steep walk down a path to get to the beach and you'll want to arrive at low tide to get the most out of this sandy haven.  As well as coves and caves, there are plenty of rockpools perfect for little ones and four legged friends to explore.

NQY Surf School, run by pro surfer Adam Griffiths, is the place to head if you fancy grappling with surfing, coasteering or bodyboarding. They also arrange beach games and BBQs if you prefer your fun shoreside.

And you'll be learning in a fine spot; it was the start of stand-up surfing on this very beach in the 60s by pioneers that kicked off the sport in town and helped shaped Newquay surfing culture. As you walk down to the beach, you'll spot pictures from this era and you'll quickly learn it's as popular now as it was back then.

That’s not the only piece of history here, either. The beach actually got its name from the Great Western Railway which ran a service to the town from 1876 and 1960, well and truly putting it on the map.

When it’s time to eat, mosey over to Great Western Surf Café where you'll find gourmet burgers and buddha bowls. If you’re looking for a beach bar, Newquay will deliver. We’re particularly fond of The Surf Shack on Great Western, which serves up draught beer and cider (along with coffee, soft drinks and ice-cream) in its beach beer garden. 

-   Dog friendly: Yes (one dog free section)

-   Lifeguard cover: Full cover 1st of May until the 26th of September

-   Toilets: Yes

-   Parking: 5 minutes from town centre

 

Tolcarne BeachTolcarne, Newquay, Cornwall

A golden crescent shaped bay set against cliffs, it's a similarly steep walk down to the beach. Once you arrive, like Great Western to its left, you'll discover it's a family-friendly spot with soft sand, plenty of rockpools and mellow waves.

Speaking of waves, keep an eye out for the famous Tolcarne Wedge, a wedge-shaped wave popular with body boarders. There's a surf school on the beach where you can learn the ropes from professionals if you don't want to dive straight in.

And when it comes to facilities, there is no shortage of them here. You’ll find tiers of lock-up beach huts, sunbathing platforms, a fully kitted out beach shop and surf hire. If you're feeling peckish, head to the Colonial Beach Bar & Restaurant where you'll find a Caribbean inspired menu with epic sea views and cocktails.

-   Dog friendly: Yes

-   Lifeguard cover: 15th of May until the 26th of September

-   Toilets: Yes

-   Parking: 5 minutes from town centre

 

Lusty GlazeLusty Glaze, Newquay, Cornwall

A private beach with public access, it's worth noting that the owners can close this beach whenever they like, so it always pays to check their website before arranging a visit. It’s often closed due to private functions and weddings, and you also can’t arrive before 10am.

Nevertheless, it scooped the Beach of the Year 2017 award from The Times and The Sunday Times. The horseshoe-shaped cove is popular with beachgoers who appreciate an event; throughout the summer there are usually plenty of events including sundowner music gigs and the famous tag rugby tournament. Check the website before heading down though, as some have been cancelled due to the current situation.

Thrill seekers should book onto a waverunner safari where you can explore the coastline via jet ski or banana boat. And if you are hungry and in the mood for a pizza, you could book a Private Pizza Marquee Dining Space (though at present there are no dates available for this) or alternatively head to the beach bar for coffee and takeaway snacks.

-   Dog friendly: Yes 

-   Lifeguard cover: 13th July – 5th September

-   Toilets: Currently closed due to covid

-   Parking: Yes (but access is down 133 steps)

 

Beaches near Newquay

 

PorthPorth Beach, Newquay, Cornwall

A popular beach with families, Porth Beach has got it all. Golden good looks, easy access and plenty of top-notch facilities. It's a 30-minute walk from town, or you can drive in around five minutes (traffic dependent).

A long and narrow beach, the tide times make all the difference here though even at high tide there is a good amount of sandy shoreline left to play on. Still, for maximum fun exploring coves and rockpools, head here when the tide is low or on its way out. Protected by a headland on each side, it's often sheltered and the shallow waters are popular with children.

If you'd like a break from the beach, head up to Newquay Football Golf for a change of pace or take a scenic walk around Porth Island and check out the prehistoric defensive earthworks and settlement remains. There's also a rather impressive blow hole at the end of the island.

When it comes to food and drink, you're in good hands here. On the beach is the Mermaid Inn, the perfect spot for grabbing a pint shoreside. Alternatively, head over the road to Roo's Beach Coffee Shop for an excellent takeaway coffee. On the other side, Cafe Coast Porth does excellent sandwiches and if it's a cream tea you're after, book a table at the highly revered Gwenna Teahouse. If you're travelling without kids, try and snag a table at Estrella Morada which does authentic tapas.

-   Dog friendly: Restricted 15th May to 30th September between 10am - 6pm

-   Lifeguard cover: 15th of May - 26th of September

-   Toilets: Yes

-   Parking: Yes 

 

Whipsiderry BeachWhipsiderry Beach, Newquay, Cornwall

Scoring a spot in the top 20 of Europe's Best Beaches as decided by The Sunday Times, Whipsiderry Beach is a quieter, sheltered beach near Newquay just around the corner from Porth.

Unlike many other nearby beaches, there is nothing in the way of facilities here and access is via a steep flight of cliff-hugging stairs, which no doubt puts a fair few off.

Down on the beach you'll find a network of caves, coves and pools to explore. But adventure with care, at high tides this beach all but disappears and you could easily end up cut off.

-   Dog friendly: Yes

-   Lifeguard cover: No

-   Toilets: No

-   Parking: At Porth

 

Watergate Bay BeachWatergate Bay, Newquay, Cornwall

For oodles of space on the shore and in the sea, head to Watergate Bay Beach, around 3 miles up the coast from Newquay. You can either drive or walk along the coast path (we suggest the latter, the views are staggeringly good as you approach the bay).

While it's a bit of a slope to get down to the beach, there is a sand chair available from Watergate Bay Hotel making this a good choice for visitors with mobility issues. If you get here for low tide, you'll have two miles of golden sand to explore and plenty of coves and rockpools to entertain little ones and canine companions.

The waves here are big and as such it's popular with surfers and windsurfers alike. Head to Extreme Academy down on the beach, the West Country Surf School at the top field car park or Blue Surf School in the council car park at the bottom of the hill to book a lesson.

Grab a laidback bite to eat at Wax Watergate where the music is as good as the grub, or if it's views you're after, book a table at The Beach Hut.

-   Dog friendly: Yes

-   Lifeguard cover: 1st May - 26th September, then weekends up to October

-   Toilets: Yes

-   Parking: Yes

 

Crantock BeachCrantock, Newquay, Cornwall

Backed by dunes with views out to the East Pentire Headland and beyond to sea, it's not hard to see why Crantock Beach is a popular spot. At low tide the sea reveals access to The Gannel river too, expanding the playground considerably. And the best part? It’s just a ten-minute drive from the centre of Newquay.

The waves here are often excellent, so why not book onto a lesson with the Big Green Surf School, which is the only activity provider on Crantock Beach. They run all sorts of activities, including surfing and stand-up paddle boarding. 

If you're venturing in on your own, as always, exercise caution when exploring as the tides can change quickly and the currents in these parts are very strong. It's advised you only swim when lifeguards are on duty.

Birdwatchers will be in their element here, to the west of the beach you'll find the deep cleft of Pipers Hole which is often home to fulmars and jackdaws. For more wildlife watching, explore The Gannel.

If the tide is in your favour, head over to Fern Pit Cafe where you can tuck into legendary crab sandwiches. Alternatively, head to Cargo Coffee where organic coffee and excellent cake are served from an ex-military truck. 

Take a wander into the village of Crantock and stop off at Beachcomber for an ice-cream, or save yourself for pub grub at the Old Albion Inn. If you don't mind a walk or a short drive, head up to the West Pentire Peninsula and grab a table at The Bowgie Inn for glorious views across Crantock beach.

-   Dog friendly: Yes

-  Lifeguard cover: 15th May until 26th September

-   Toilets: Yes

-   Parking: Yes

 

Holywell Bay BeachHolywell Bay Beach, Newquay, Cornwall

Just a fifteen-minute drive from the centre of Newquay you'll find Holywell Bay Beach which is a north Cornish classic of a beach thanks to its decent waves and huge expanse of golden sands.

Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the colourful grotto-like Holywell Cave, meanwhile history buffs will clamour to get a view of an old Argentinian coaster, which can be spotted just offshore at low tide.

There's no denying some people flock to the county having seen Poldark and they won't be disappointed with a trip to Holywell. The beach's iconic Gull Rock is spotted as the backdrop of many beach scenes in series three of the show. That's not the bay's only claim to fame, it also starred as a Korean battlefield in Die Another Day!

But for those who are more focused on actual beach activities, the Cornwall Surf Academy will be more than happy to help you get to grips with surfing. After you've worked up an appetite, head to The Treguth Inn, a picture-perfect thatched roof pub doing proper hearty pub meals.

-   Dog friendly: Yes

-   Lifeguard cover: 15th May – 26th September

-   Toilets: In Holywell village

-   Parking: Yes

 

Ready to try your hand at surfing or lie on a beach with a good book for a week? Book one of our cottages in Newquay or the surrounding areas in Cornwall and head for the coast.

 

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