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Newquay Beaches, Cornwall
Newquay Beaches, Cornwall
If you're having a holiday in Newquay, then you might like to know how many beaches there are and identify the ones that would best suit your needs, maybe before you book your holiday accommodation in Newquay, or perhaps you are reading this a few days before your holiday starts.
Every beach at Newquay is sandy and the tide goes out quite a way, exposing a multitude of rock pools to explore and exposing cliff caves. Watch the tides though, you don't want to be cut off.
Moving North to South, the beaches of Newquay are:
1. Watergate Bay Beach
Watergate Bay is a privately owned beach. The Extreme Sports Academy operate from this beach and it is ideal for kitesurfing, windsurfing, buggysurfing as well as just surfing! Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall is based at Watergate Bay. There are two car parks available: one belonging to the Watergate Bay Hotel which is open to the public; the other is council owned.
Events: There are lots of popular events at Watergate Bay, usually free to watch. Surfing contests, music festivals and polo on the beach and more....
When the tide is out this beach is well over 1 mile long. All facilities are available at Watergate Bay. This is the nearest beach to Newquay Airport (although Mawgan Porth is probably close to, this is not a Newquay beach).
2. Whipsiderry Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
Whipsiderry Beach can be reached by descending a steep and tricky set of irregular concrete steps. Possibly about 100 steps! This is not recommended if you are carrying a lot of belongings or have anybody with you that is unsteady on their feet.
There are no facilities at Whipsiderry Beach. No car park, no toilets, no shop.
When you are on the beach at low tide there are a number of exciting looking caves exposed. It is possible to get from here to the next beach down at low tide, although watch your step as the rocks you have to clamber over can be very slippery and dangerous.
There are no lifeguards on Whipsiderry Beach.
3). Porth Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
Porth Beach is one of the most accessible of Newquay's beaches, with a lot of good facilities. Car parking is available right on the sand, but at high tide the car park is covered. There is another car park across the road. Porth Beach is at road level, so there are no steps or cliffs to get to the bottom of.
There are several shops across the road from the beach, enabling you to buy beachware, drinks, beach items and takeaway food. The Mermaid Inn is also alongside the beach, with a fabulous affordable menu and outside seating areas - I love eating at the Mermaid, the menu is so extensive there's something for everybody and the portions are generous. The staff are always welcoming too. You can eat inside or outside, outside is literally overlooking the beach. The low side wall puts you just 4' above the sand. There is parking at the Mermaid Inn.
Years ago Porth used to have huge ships sailing right in to a small harbour, although over the years the sand has covered all this up. If you like a walk, you can walk along the coastal path to and from Newquay from Porth Beach - and if the tide is out and you don't mind getting your feet wet a little, you can even walk round the headland ... but be careful - make sure you know what times the tides are. If you walk round the headland to the left (looking out to sea) you'll be in Lusty Glaze Beach.
There is crazy golf/putting and football golf on a field overlooking Porth.
When the tide is out it's possible to walk on the right hand side of the beach, over the rocks and under the bridge that joins the land to the old iron fort headland - once you're the other side you are where there used to be the Cathedral Cave - they would lower a piano into the cave and have sing song nights. Unfortunately, the cave became unstable and had to be blown up years ago. Once you're through the gap, you can clamber your way round to Whipsiderry Beach. Be careful, I did this once on my own and as I leapt from one big slate slab to another I slipped and came down hard on my bum. It made me realise that if I'd landed badly or differently I could have been knocked out or incapacitated and maybe nobody else would take that route that day. ALWAYS know what the tides are doing. ALWAYS.
4. Lusty Glaze Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
This privately owned beach runs courses in lifesaving. Lusty Glaze also has the highest wire in Europe so you can wire across the beach
Access is via some steep and irregular steps. There is a car park at the top of the cliffs solely for beach users, the car park is alongside the Glendorgal Hotel private access road and starts right at the top of the steps down to the beach. The steps down to Lusty Glaze beach are irregular, so if you're not nimble-footed be careful. There is no access to this beach if you are in a wheelchair or require aids to help you walk because the steps are just too narrow and unpredictable.
There is a bar on the beach. Lusty Glaze also hosts beach rugby, late night entertainment and other sporting events. The banana boat ride works from this beach, as well as jetski hire and more.
There are also some super wooden beachhuts for hire.
Tolcarne Beach, Newquay
5. Tolcarne Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
Tolcarne Beach is another beach that is tricky to reach for some people. There is a narrow access road to it that not many people use. The alternative is to walk down the 100 or so unevenly spaced granite steps.
In 2017 there were problems with the road access and a new hotel is being built on the beach, so the beach is mostly closed - if you wish to visit you should check local information on it on the day as access could be granted/gained at short notice.
The steps down to Tolcarne Beach remain open, it's just the slipway road that was affected.
Once you are on Tolcarne Beach, you will discover beach huts for hire by the day/week/month or the whole season, you can hire surfboards and wetsuits too. The majority of beach huts don't have any electricity or running water, but are a great place to keep your beach gear so you don't have to carry it down every day.
Venus Cafe and Kahuna Restaurant at Tolcarne Beach
There were two cafes at Tolcarne: The Venus Cafe serving locally sourced organic food, mostly daytimes. The Kahuna served high quality food mostly evenings. There was a small beach shop at Tolcarne. There is no parking available at Tolcarne, the closest are the public car park behind the Bristol Hotel and the temporary car park at the top of the cliffs where a hotel was demolished. There are toilets on Tolcarne Beach.
Holiday Flats on Tolcarne Beach
There were a number of nearly new upmarket holiday flats to rent on Tolcarne Beach - with on site parking, but this is where the new Hotel will be, so check local information about what's happening. Tolcarne Beach is privately owned, the area is patrolled during the hours of darkness by security guards, who prevent any undesirables running riot and/or having parties on the beach. Although there is no parking at the beach, there is limited parking available for people who rent the holiday flats on Tolcarne Beach. These flats are in an enviable position, with wide french doors leading to balconies that overlook the beach ... and the beach is just a few steps away. If I had to work from home while on holiday this would one of my preferred spots because you can work and not miss out!
New Restaurant on Tolcarne Beach
A new restaurant is being built right on the beach - building work is ongoing in 2017. This is The Colonnial, Newquay.
6. Great Western Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
This public beach can be accessed via a narrow roadway alongside the Great Western Hotel. There is no parking at or near Great Western Beach. There is no parking at Great Western Beach. The closest car park is Newquay Station car park, which is pay and display.
When the tide goes out there are a number of caves to explore, as well as the usual rock pools. It is also very easy to walk round to Tolcarne Beach half the day.
There is a small shop selling basic beach items and ice creams and there are some public toilets.
7. Towan Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
Towan Beach is the nearest beach to Newquay town - and is the one most famous for having The Island on it. The Island is privately owned, having access via the only privately owned suspension bridge in England.
The Island, Newquay
Over the years, the Island has been used for keeping chickens, as an art gallery and as a tea room. Lord & Lady Long bought The Island in June 2001 as a private residence. They extended and improved the bungalow and have even been known to run a upmarket B&B from the premises.
There is limited parking just above Towan Beach. This is an ideal beach to head for if half of your party want to sit on the beach and the other half want to go round town - but you don't want to be too far from each other.
The times you can surf at Towan Beach are controlled - mostly it's outside of peak hours and peak seasons. There's a sign telling you the times you can and can't surf around about the entrance to the car park. The closest alternative parking for Towan Beach would be either beside Sailors Pub or in the Harbour car park, although none of these are large either, so you might have to consider going out as far as the corner of Crantock Street and St George's Road (behind the Central Inn).
Food and Services:
At the head of Towan Beach is the Sealife Centre with a cafe, a couple of small food serveries and a surfboard hire and wetsuit hire outlet. As Towan Beach is the one closest to the main town, it has several pubs, chip shops and pasty shops close by.
Towan Promenade Businesses
Towan Beach Promenade
The Towan Beach promenade is now a licensed area, where small food carts and businesses are encouraged to set up and run their businesses on a season by season basis.
Some will be present for one season only, whereas other businesses are expected to grow and flourish in the vibrant foodie area.
If you love discovering something a little unusual, then you might be surprised to know that there is a tunnel between the Harbour Beach and Towan Beach. When the quay was built, the tunnel was put in place so you could walk between the two - but over the years the sand has built up and most of the time it is completely obscured.
I've seen the top of the tunnel exposed - see this photo below, which was taken from the Harbour Beach side.
The tunnel is tall enough to take an adult, so a good 6' high!
8. Newquay Harbour Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
The Harbour Beach for some reason has the silkiest sand of all the beaches. While all Newquay beaches are very sandy, Newquay Harbour Beach sand just feels like pure silk between your toes. However, on the downside it is a working harbour and as such you can expect some dead crabs to be floating about in the water and there are a number of ropes and chains to negotiate where the boats are tied and anchored.
When the fishing boats come in, they are followed most days by 1-3 seals, who will swim around the harbour for a couple of hours, waiting to be thrown fish and sometimes playing together. Although these are fun to watch, be careful as they are wild animals, so don't be tempted to try to join them in their watery fun, or to stroke them.
If you are at Newquay Harbour Beach when the fishermen are bringing up the crab pots and sorting them out, you'll notice they throw the dead crabs overboard - you'll often see parts of crabs, or crab shells dotted around the sand when the tide has gone out.
The New Harbour Cafe, was Finns
The New Harbour Cafe is based on Harbour Beach and serves fresh seafood direct from the boat. This is an upmarket outlet, so don't expect to be able to pick up a couple of cheddar cheese sandwiches and a can of coke on the cheap. When the Newquay Rowing Clubhouse is open they sometimes have pasties for sale. Apart from that, you will have to climb to the top to a pasty shop or the chip shop or Somerfields for food.
There is limited parking at the harbour if you are there early enough, although the area is often swamped with crab pots and boats. An ice cream van is usually parked by the car park.
There are a number of fishing trips which leave from the Harbour. The booking huts are open most days. You can take a speedboat ride or go shark or mackeral fishing.
There are no lifeguards on Harbour Beach - it is not ideal for swimming, although families are usually quite happy to let their younger children splash about at the water's edge. It is a safe beach for this as the water isn't far away and there are no waves to knock children over.
9. Little Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
The next beach is Little Fistral Beach and is on the other side of the Towan Headland, which is dominated by the Atlantic Hotel. Little Fistral Beach is a smaller beach than the others. There is some car parking and some good public toilets. An ice cream van parks alongside the beach most days. There are no shops anywhere near Little Fistral - the closest place to get any food or drink would be at the Fistral Surf Centre along the coastal path.
There are no lifeguards on Little Fistral Beach.
Starting from Little Fistral, you'll see there's a small headland, with a tempting white lookout and seating spot at the top. It's worth taking a walk up to the top just for the views. Round the back there you can see how the rocks break away from the land and it's fascinating to watch the waves crash in.
The old lifeboat station building can still be seen. An artist occupies this building. Opposite the old lifeboat station you'll see the original launching slope that the lifeboat used to launch from. I like to walk down to the bottom of there, although it is steep. Don't do this in heavy or unpredictable seas, just when it's calm and flat - and wear good gripping shoes! You might be swept off.
Events at Fistral
- Fistral Beach - Events, including Free Events, at Fistral
An overview of upcoming events on Fistral Beach. Surf contests, music festivals and even free tennis during summer months.
Fistral Board Masters
10. Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall is world famous for surfing. In 2003 the new Fistral Surfing Centre was built, where there are a number of shops selling surfwear, clothes, jewellery and gifts. Fistral Beach is the best beach for watching pro surfers practising for upcoming surfing festivals; it's where the surf contests are held.
There are food outlets within the Surfing Centre, offering choices of a smart restaurant, a fish and chip takeaway, or sandwiches, drinks and hot meals of the cafe variety.
There are first class public toilets and showers for surfers, facilities befitting of a world class surfing beach and surf contest venue.
There is good car parking at Fistral Beach, which is right overlooking the beach. If it's windy or you've of limited mobility, if you can get one of the front slots then you're ideally placed to enjoy the views. It's possible to fit a small picnic table in front of your car on the tarmac, yet just one step away is the sand. There are also some special beach wheelchairs available for hire, giving access to the beach to people who need a wheelchair, however, sometimes the sand can bank quite harshly away from the car park as the sand is driven by the tides and wind. Be careful when parking at Fistral Beach - it's one of those car parks where people get caught out by the Parking Eye/similar parking control companies, so don't come home to a big fine!
Fistral Beach is the setting for 99% of the surfing championships and surfing contests that are held in Newquay. When these are on, the car parks may be completely closed off and marketstalls and sideshows are put in place.
There are lots of music events to accompany the surfing championships held on Fistral Beach too.
In the past, Radio One have held their roadshows at, or next to, Fistral Beach - Boy George re-launched his career at one of the Radio One Roadshows in the grounds of the Headland Hotel - I was there to see that.
Another annual event is the Nuts Boardmasters, including the Nuts Boardmasters Bikini Babes Contest - a popular annual event.
11. Crantock Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
Although by road Crantock is 5-6 miles from Newquay, this is simply because you have to go almost full circle to get to it. I have included it here because it is easily walkable from the Pentire end of Newquay simply by dropping down the back onto the estuary and walking over.
Newquay and Crantock are separated by the River Gannel. At low tide you can get across very easily using one of the wooden bridges, or by boat from the base of the Fern Pit Cafe - however, when the tide comes in, the whole estuary is completely covered and flooded. Watch out for the incoming tide. Do not get stuck on the wrong side of it.
If you are driving, there is a car park at Crantock Beach. But access to the beach is by walking up and over some sand dunes. This makes it inaccessible for wheelchair users.
Facilities at Crantock Beach are limited, with one small toilet block in the car park and a small kiosk selling basic refreshments. However, on the Newquay side, where the boat crosses there is a small shop at the base of the cliff and the Fern Pit Cafe at the top of the 100+ steps up the cliff.
If you are on the south end of Crantock Beach, there are some caves - one of them has an interesting carving of a horse and a poem at the entrance. The sand shifts a lot over the year and this carving can be seen anywhere from just poking out of the sand, to being 10 feet or more above you!
At the south end of Crantock Beach you can gain access to The Bowgie Inn, a pub serving food and drinks. The Bowgie has a pay and display car park too.
I hope you find this Newquay beach overview helpful if you are choosing a beach to go to on your holiday in Newquay.