Newquay’s surfing culture really exploded in the 1960s with the tourism boom, and the international lifeguard influx. Britain’s definitive surfing capital, Newquay is home to the English Surfing Association’s head office and school located adjacent to Fistral Beach. Fistral, which faces the Atlantic head on, is widely regarded at Britain’s top surfing beach, hosting year round national and international surfing competitions. Newquay beaches cater for all surfing standards, groups and ages, from kids to seniors, couples to Stag and Hen parties. A huge choice of surf schools are here, all offering a fantastic range of surfing lessons and packages, including surfing getaways with accommodation and surf equipment hire included. Safe surfing is guaranteed with beaches lifeguard patrolled across peak season. All your favourite surf shop names are represented in surf capital Newquay including Roxy, Billabong, Rip-Curl and Animal, with surf shops flanking Fistral beach and situated around Newquay town centre.
Internationally renowned surfing beach Fistral Beach in Newquay is divided into three sections – North Fistral, South Fistral and Little Fistral. South Fistral beach is popular with experienced surfers. The waves are excellent and tend to break to the left and its best surfing here from mid to high tide. Submerged rocks to the right of South Fistral are often used by experienced surfers as a springboard into the sea! Fistral South has a South/South East offshore wind and attracts the crowds in peak season. Get to it via steps down from the car park at the top of the cliffs. Little Fistral Beach is actually a small bay, only exposed during low tide and surfers should look out for tides creeping in as you can get cut off. Little Fistral is also preferred by experienced surfers accessed via the car park above the bay or North Fistral Car Park.
North Fistral Beach has more consistent waves than South Fistral as you’ll see swells here during all tides, although the best are usually at low tide. Incredibly popular in peak season, this section attracts both beginners and the more experienced Newquay surfers. The surf mainly right swings here, and can be a little hazardous for lefts as submerged rocks await! Parking is available on the road above North Fistral and this section of Fistral beach is well equipped with facilities including a large cafe, surf equipment hire outlets, surfing lessons, wcs and baby changing facilities.
Crantock Beach Surfing
Gentler Crantock Beach west of Fistral is much more sheltered yet still offers a reasonable break. At low tide you get a good right hand whoop, or when the swell is of a good size watch out for the left handers! There’s a nice pub off the A3075, within easy walking distance of Crantock Beach, called the Bowgie Inn pub which is popular with surfers. Crantock is well equipped with a bar, restaurant, wcs, and surf hire outlet plus it’s life guarded during peak season and has its own adjacent parking.
Watergate Bay Surfing & Watersports
Spectacular Watergate Bay surfing beach sits on the eastern edge of Newquay and is popular with all from beginner surfers and families to the more experienced surfer. Offering two miles of fantastic sandy surfing beach space, Watergate Bay is at its best at High Tide, but still picks up the waves at all tidal stages! Extreme Academy specialist surfing, waveski, kitesurfing and paddle surfing school flanks Watergate Bay, offering year round equipment hire and expert tuition.
Newquay’s choice of surf schools is extensive. The choice is welcome because each of the surfing schools tends to have a different or mixed focus, with the choice of surfing packages including everything from Stag & Hen Party surf weekenders to Women only surf tuition with fully qualified female instructors. Many surf schools also offer exclusive one to one surfing lessons, and some cater well for kids and school groups. Surf lodge and B&B accommodation is also available with some Newquay Surf Schools. The English Surfing Federation’s flagship surf school is here in Newquay. Open all year round and offering surf lessons, bodyboard coaching and adventure sports such as coasteering, ESF’s surf staff are trained annually so you can expect the highest standards of surfing tuition. The Federation’s surf school in Newquay is ideally located alongside Fistral beach.
Activities & Walking
Newquay offers a variety of outdoor and indoor activities such as abseiling down the Newquay cliffs, sea kayaking around the Gannel Estuary, surf rafting and horse riding on beaches! Play tennis at the Heron Tennis Centre or head to the ultimate splash out, The Oasis Fun Pools with indoor and outdoor pools, flumes, a river rapid ride, giant tap and toddlers area. Other great activities include skateboarding at the free entry outdoor skate park Wooden Waves, and boating, bowling and mini golf at Trenance Park.
Lusty Glaze beach is a top spot for jet ski, Aqua Zorbing and coasteering. Great reef diving experiences are around Medusa Rock and the shipwrecks of The Shell, HMS Obdam and HMS Vesuvius. Newquay is also an excellent base for coastal walking breaks all year round, and is a popular choice for walking holidays with dogs. The resort offers easy access onto the South West Coast Path, and there are numerous local walks to enjoy including the Headlands walk and walking from Porth to Watergate Bay. Walking around the Gannel Estuary towards Crantock beach is also popular, easily reached via the footpath at low tide or the little Fern Pit Café ferry service.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.