Things to do in Newquay
Surf, sun, sea, and sand? If you’re looking for a fun beach-side getaway, look no further.
Fistral Beach is a mecca for UK surfers and plays host to several renowned surfing competitions and events each year, including the famous Boardmasters festival. Expert surfers come here for a chance to ride The Cribbar, the UK’s only big wave, but even if you’ve never been on a board in your life, Newquay is a great place to start. There are more than a few surf schools in town ready to help you catch your first wave, at Fistral or on the more sheltered Towan and Tolcarne beaches.
Take a journey through the seas, from the Cornish coast to the tropics, with a trip to Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium. Get to know the local marine life and then begin your voyage of discovery through the seas. The jewel in the aquarium’s crown is a giant tropical ocean tank filled with sharks, stingrays, and lots of exotic brightly coloured fish, with an underwater tunnel for a close up view of life on the reef.
Walk to the beach on the South West Coast path
You don’t have to walk far from the centre of Newquay to find a great beach, but on a nice day it’s worth exploring a little further afield to escape the crowds. The scenic South West Coast path leads right from town to some of the area’s best beaches. To the south, the picturesque Crantock Beach and the secluded Porth Joke cove. To the north, family-friendly Porth Beach and hidden gem Whipsiderry Beach.
Eating and drinking in Newquay
Although it may have a reputation as a party town, vibrant Newquay is fast developing into a foodie destination.
When you’re at the seaside, it makes sense to try the fish. Surprisingly casual, considering the illustrious name above the door, this family-friendly restaurant elevates the classic fish and chips takeaway with flavours inspired by the chef’s travels, in a beautiful location overlooking the ocean. For a more sophisticated fine-dining vibe, Stein’s protegee Paul Harwood has set up shop in The Fish House, right next door.
Soak up the sunny Californian vibes in this cool hangout that combines affordable Mexican inspired dishes with mini golf. After a fun round of crazy golf, enjoy tasty hand-pressed tacos and burritos inspired by the freshest local produce, in the quirky converted golf shack/restaurant overlooking the course. Wash it down with a milkshake, beer, cocktail, or maybe even a shot of tequila.
This trendy cocktail bar has become a bit of a Newquay institution. It’s a little slice of hipster heaven at the seaside, offering up a selection of classic cocktails alongside a menu of original cocktails you won’t find anywhere else, all served with a dose of flair. Everything here is done with passion and precision, including the swanky speak-easy style décor.
Shopping in Newquay
It’s not all surf shops– although it’s true you’ll find plenty! There are lots of independent, community-minded shops to explore on Newquay’s main drag.
Watershed started out as just another surf shop, stocking all the usual brands, but somewhere along the way they decided to cut out the middleman and launch their own brand. Now, alongside custom boards, they make clothing, accessories, home furnishings and even a very cool collection of recycled backpacks. With a community-minded and sustainably focused ethos, they’re a staple of Newquay fashion.
Looking for some artwork to remind you of your fantastic trip to Newquay? The Cornwall Galleries – known locally as Treasure Trove – is a small gallery and shop located right in the heart of Newquay, selling paintings and artwork from local artists. Some of the artists who started out selling here have gone on to be international names, so if you’re lucky, you might just snag a treasure.
If you’ve overdone the fish and chips and ice cream, your body will appreciate a trip to the fantastically healthy Sprout Health Shop and Café. The shop stocks lots of zero-waste and organic products for your body and your home, as well as locally sourced goods and gifts. There’s also a delightful café spilling out onto the alleyway, selling one-pot vegan meals and sweet treats.
Culture and history in Newquay
Experience a slice of Cornish culture, from Newquay’s fishing port past to its current incarnation as the home of British surfing.
Enjoy a serene day out at this beautiful National Trust property, a short drive from lively Newquay. Explore the nooks and crannies of the 16th century Elizabethan House and stroll through the colourful knot garden, having a go at one of the old-fashioned garden games on your way. There’s a popular tearoom in the garden for hot drinks and sweet treats, and even a second-hand bookstore.
A firm fixture in the UK surfing cultural scene, Boardmasters Festival runs for five days in August every year, combining live music with surfing, skateboarding and BMX competitions. When you’re not hanging out at the main stage, head to the surf village at Fistral Beach to watch the pros compete, or maybe try your hand at surf lessons.
The history of Newquay is firmly tied to its picturesque fishing harbour. Perched on the cliffs overlooking the harbour, you can visit the Huer’s Hut. This charming little building dates from the 14th century when it was used by a lookout – called a huer – to spot the pilchard shoals that the town depended on. The huer would then use this vantage point, and presumably a booming voice, to guide the fishing boats towards the fish.