Cornwall Guide: Best Surfing Beaches in Newquay

Read everything about the 5 best beaches for surfing in Newquay.

If you are planning on surfing in Cornwall, Newquay surfing beaches are the place to be. In fact, Newquay is the ultimate surfing destination in the UK, renowned for its world-class waves, vibrant surf culture, and stunning coastal scenery. Known as the surfing capital of Cornwall, Newquay appeals to surfers of all levels, from beginners to seasoned pros. Its exposure to the west Atlantic swell channels is fantastic, and because there is a protected area, known locally as The Bay, it is perfect for beginners or for surfing on days when the swells get too high. There are nine beaches in Newquay, but in this Newquay surf guide, we will discuss the four best surfing beaches in Newquay and what makes them so epic. 


Surfing in Newquay 

One of the main towns on the North Cornwall coast, Newquay is tucked between Padstow and Truro, behind the Towan Headland, in a bay of its own. When you think about Newquay beaches, it can be helpful to sort them into two categories: inside Newquay Bay and outside of it. The inside beaches have smaller waves and less onshore wind, while the beaches outside of The Bay are more exposed and get more head-on swells because they face the Atlantic. This makes the inside beaches perfect for beginners and the outside beaches better for more experienced surfers

Fistral Beach

Fistral Beach surfing is definitely a bucket list experience.  Famous for its consistent waves, Fistral Beach attracts not just surfers but also national and even international surf competitions. It is the most iconic surfing spot in Newquay, with consistent waves that make it a favourite for surfers of all levels. Fistral Beach is divided into three sections, known for their different wave qualities. North Fistral has large waves and challenging conditions, while South Fistral has waves that are smaller and more manageable. Little Fistral is something of a VIP area, dominated by locals and with swells and rocks that make it unsuitable for inexperienced swimmers and surfers. Fistral Beach is long, and the waves are consistent, so even though the beach is usually crowded, there is plenty of room for surfers to spread out. At the northern end, directly overlooking the beach, you will find paid car parking and beach access, and there is also a large car park at Towan Headland. There are surf hire shops on each end of the beach, lessons available, ample facilities, and plenty of snacks. 

Watergate Bay 

A beautiful beach, Watergate is known for having a wide stretch of golden sands, huge, dramatic cliffs, and excellent surfing conditions. This westerly facing beach gets quite a lot of wind and wave exposure, and the large swells it receives create conditions best for intermediate to advanced surfers. It is about three miles north of Newquay, offers about two miles of beach, and it is a gorgeous place to walk and explore, especially because the South West Coast Path passes through Watergate Bay. There is one main access path to the beach, located between the hotel and the car park, but you can find cheaper parking up on Grass Hill, coming from Newquay. You can hire boards and take lessons directly on the beach, and you will find a range of facilities nearby that include restaurants, beachside cafes, toilets, beach shops, hotels, and pubs. 

Towan Beach 

This family-friendly surfing spot offers smaller waves, suitable for beginning and intermediate surfers. Towan is the Cornish word for sand dune, and this sheltered beach is a great option when surfing gets too rough on the west-facing beaches. It is surfable throughout the year, though there is a local bylaw prohibiting surfing at certain stages of tide. As a rule of thumb, surfing is permitted when the tide is below the rocks on the east side of the beach. If you are not sure whether it is a good time to surf, pop into one of the three surf schools operating on the beach or talk to a lifeguard before you suit up and head into the water. Additionally, because it is popular with non-surfers too, the beach is sometimes closed to surfers at certain hours during the summer months. Towan has the interesting distinction of featuring a small private island, accessible by a suspension footbridge, adding to the beach’s charm. The tide affects beach access, so depending on the stage of tide, you can expect to access Towan and nearby beaches by the harbour steps, Beach Road, or from the Killacourt. In addition to abundant surf hire options, you will find excellent snacking options on the beach and at the cafes on Fore Street. Towan Beach also has the advantage of housing the Newquay Blue Reef Aquarium on its promenade. 

Crantock Beach 

A picturesque surfing paradise, nestled within a nature reserve, Crantock Beach offers surfing with a side of wildlife sightings. Located at the mouth of the River Gannel, with the Pentire headland on the north and the village of Crantock on the south, it is deep, long, sandy beach popular with families. There are caves and sand dunes to explore and sheltered bathing spots to enjoy, but the river creates good sandbanks that can lead to manageable waves with nice, long rides. It does not offer “world class” surfing, but it is dog friendly, has soft sand, and offers opportunities to spot seabirds, and possibly some seals. The village of Crantock has traditional pubs and cafes, as well as a few campsites, and offers breathtaking sea views. 


Surfing Tips and Safety

When you are planning your Newquay surfing trip, educate yourself on the various beaches so that you can choose the spots that are right for you. Stay abreast of the surf reports, determining current conditions before you head out, so that you can pick the best beach for the day. Newquay beaches get crowded when the surf is up, so it is important to know surfing etiquette and be mindful of the right of way. It is also vital to be aware of dangers at the beach, like rip currents and underwater rocks. Never attempt to surf beyond your skill level, and if you are new to the sport, take lessons from a certified instructors before hitting the beach. The water can be cold, even in the warmer months, so wear a wetsuit; if you do not have one of your own, you can rent gear at any of the area’s numerous surf shops. Further, keep an eye on the weather forecast, because the weather conditions can change rapidly, and you would not want to be caught in any sudden winds or storms. 

Surf Culture and Events

As you would expect from the surf capital of the UK, Newquay plays host to many surf competitions throughout the year. Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay offer events like Famous Night Surf, Boardmasters Surf Championships, the Rip Curl Grom Search, the National Surf Championships, the English Para Surfing Open, and more. Other ocean-related sporting events take place here, like the Jet Ski World Championships and the ThunderCats RYA National Championships. The whole area has a relaxed, surfing vibe, and the town is home to numerous surf schools and rental shops, as well as a friendly, supportive surf community. It is a welcoming place, where beginners can learn from experts and surfers at every skill level can find their perfect spot. 

Local Surfing Amenities

Finding surf-friendly establishments in Newquay is easy, since the whole town is geared towards surfers. Surf schools, cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops are plentiful, and Fistral Beach even has a surfing centre with showers for rinsing off the sand after a surf. When you are ready to call it a day, there are numerous hotels and campsites, and Together Travel offers stylish self-catering apartments, some dog friendly, near Fistral Beach. We also have a charming two bedroom holiday home overlooking the Gannel Estuary, perfectly situated for access to both the lively town of Newquay and the golden, tranquil sands of Crantock beach. Just a short distance from Fistral Beach, the property has many activities within walking distance, including Trenance gardens, Newquay Zoo, splash pool and local riding stables.


Plan an Unforgettable Surfing Trip with Together Travel

Are you ready to hit the waves in Newquay and enjoy all that the area has to offer? Whenever you are traveling in Cornwall or anywhere else in the UK, Together Travel Co. is here to bring your holiday dreams to life. All across the UK, we have luxurious, comfortable, unique properties located wherever you want to be. Find out how we can make your trip amazing by contacting our expert concierge team at +44(0)1625 416430 or emailing us for more information.