Newquay, Cornwall is a seaside resort town on the north coast of the county. It’s been a popular tourist destination for over a century and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. Its world-class beaches, delightful attractions and reputation for surfing make it an ideal getaway. Here are some of the best things to do in Newquay.
Things to do in Newquay
Surfing in Newquay
Newquay is synonymous with surfing and is widely regarded as the surf capital of the UK. The sport started to become popular in the 1960s, when it was brought across from America. The town has many long, sandy beaches with perfect conditions for surfing. Fistral Beach is one of the most well known beaches in Newquay, with its 750 metre stretch of sand and powerful waves and swells. This beach has been home to international surfing competitions for over 20 years, including the annual Boardmasters Festival. There are many other surrounding beaches which offer opportunities for surfing. Towan Beach is located in the centre of town, and is particularly suitable for beginners as it’s sheltered from strong winds. Tolcarne Beach is another favourite for all levels of surfers. Surrounded by dramatic cliffs, the beach is slightly more exposed to the ocean. Whether you’ve never surfed before, or you know your way around a surfboard, there’s no better place to surf than here. Newquay has everything you need, with numerous surf schools, surf stores and hire shops in town.
Eating seafood is almost a requisite when visiting a seaside resort. But what better way to enjoy seafood than by catching it yourself? Paddlefish Adventure offers deep sea fishing trips where you can try your hand at catching a variety of fish like mackerel, bass, pollock and whiting. The tour leaves every day from Newquay Harbour, and all equipment is provided. If you would rather not fish, they also offer relaxing coastal cruises, where you can admire the local landmarks and learn more about the town’s history and heritage. It’s also a great way to spot wildlife, including birds, seals and dolphins.
In north Newquay lies a unique attraction that’s perfect if you want to get away from the busy town centre. Set in the Vale of Lanherne, the Japanese Garden may be small, but it offers a myriad of beautiful features. Combining nature with art, the gardens offer a space for mindfulness and reflection. There are many traditional Japanese garden features, including stone lanterns, bonsai, waterfalls, ponds and bridges. Stroll around the Water Gardens and Zen Gardens, admire the ornamental grasses and bamboo groves, or take a rest on the balcony of the traditional teahouse. There is also an ethical and fair trade gift shop where you can start your own garden collection.
The largest zoo in Cornwall, the Newquay Zoo is home to over 1,000 of the world’s rarest and endangered animals. The zoo is involved in breeding programmes for endangered animals, and their conservation work goes back to 1957. There are tons of animal experiences that you can get involved in, from lion feeding to penguin encounters. The Tropical House is a rainforest exhibit where you can come face to face with tropical birds, poison dart frogs and various reptiles. Little ones will enjoy activity trails, face painting, a play area and a dragon maze. They can also take part in the junior zoo keeper experience, and learn what it’s like to work with the animals.
Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre
Set against the former RAF HAS (Hardened Aircraft Shelter) buildings, the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre is an exciting place to discover Britain’s aviation heritage. Most of the aircraft are accessible, and you can sit inside the Hawker Harrier jet or take a guided tour of the other aircraft. As the centre is located on the grounds next to RAF St Mawgan and Newquay Airport, you can watch the planes take off and land. They even offer flight experiences if you want to see Cornwall from a unique point of view.
The Gannel Estuary is a tidal river that you can explore by foot, kayak, canoe, bike or horseback. It was once used for barges carrying coal, timber and sand, but as the silted estuary is no longer navigable, it’s now a recreation centre and nature reserve. It’s a beautiful corner of Newquay offering more than a mile of sands and salt marshes to explore, and there are a few remaining footbridges that cross the river. The place is teeming with wildlife and you can spot wading birds and different species of fish swimming in the shallows.
Places to Stay in Newquay
The Headland Hotel and Spa
Perched on a headland, this Victorian hotel overlooks Fistral Beach. As well as spacious rooms and suites, the hotel also boasts two restaurants, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a gym and a spa which includes a steam room, sauna, hot tub and health and beauty treatments.
The Lyncroft Bed and Breakfast
The Lyncroft is set in a charming stone built Cornish house and features spacious rooms with sea views. Set in a strategic location, the Lyncroft is a five minute walk away from Fistral Beach, Towan Beach and all the attractions in the town centre.
Minerva Guest House
Minerva Guest House is right in the heart of Newquay and is less than two minutes walk from the beach. It has a range of comfortable rooms, as well as a bar and games room. The guest house is surrounded by shops and restaurants and Firstral Beach is 15 minutes walk away.
Places to Eat & Drink in Newquay
The Fish House – Fistral
Located on Fistral Beach, the Fish House is a top contender when it comes to seafood restaurants in Newquay. It serves a huge range of seafood caught fresh from Newquay Harbour, and is very reasonably priced.
Harbour Rest Cafe
This relaxed little cafe on top of the harbour is a great choice for breakfast or a light lunch. It uses locally sourced ingredients, as well as fresh seafood from surrounding beaches. Harbour Rest Cafe also makes a range of homemade cakes, perfect for afternoon tea.
For something a little different, head to this Australian-inspired restaurant. It uses a mix of Australian and Cornish ingredients to create a fusion of flavours. If you don’t fancy kangaroo or wild boar, the restaurant also offers classic mains like roasted meats and vegetarian dishes.