Newquay is a large seaside town on the north coast of Cornwall, in the southwest of England. It’s known as the ‘surfing capital’ of the UK and home to some of England’s most popular surfing beaches and many of the UK’s top surf brands.
We’ve created the definitive guide to surfing Newquay for all abilities with helpful tips on where to surf, eat and stay. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to plan your next surf trip.
Check out our guide to surfing in Cornwall for other fantastic surf beaches to tick off your list
Can you surf in Newquay?
Newquay is a bit of a surfing mecca, but it’s not just for the experts. With so many beaches in the area, you can normally always find a suitable wave for your ability.
What’s more, if you’re not a confident surfer there’s a wide range of high-quality surf schools to choose from or surf equipment hire if you want to try and teach yourself to surf.
Surf spots in and around Newquay
Let’s take a closer look at some of the different spots Newquay has to offer.
Fistral Beach has been voted as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by TripAdvisor users, thanks to its gorgeous sand and crystal clear waters. The beach is also known for its surfing competitions that take place every year.
The beach’s popularity has grown exponentially since surfers first discovered it in the 1950s. Today, Fistral Beach is known throughout Europe as one of the UK’s best surfing beaches.
The summer season at Fistral Beach runs from May to September, when it attracts large numbers of tourists. You can park at the North of Fistral in a paid car park or opt for the south of the bay where you can grab free parking if you’re lucky but it’s busy whenever the waves are on.
South Fistral offers waves through all stages of the tide but it’s best from low through to an hour after mid-tide when it starts to back off slightly. Offering predominantly lefts this corner of the bay is a goofy foot’s dream with a long peeling left breaking just off the cliffs on larger swells.
As you move up the beach you’ll start to find right-handers and a-frame peaks breaking all across this approximately 1/2 mile stretch of beach.
North Fistral offers great waves across all stages of the tide and tends to be a bit better at high tide than the south of the bay. Just to the north of the bay, you’ll find Little Fistral, a high-quality beach and reef combo that offers fast-breaking waves across shallow rocks.
Little Fistral is a go-to spot for some of the best surfers, and competition here is high. Only breaking from low to mid tide avoid this wave unless you’re an experienced surfer.
Towan Beach is one of the most accessible beaches in Newquay. The beach is located at the end of Towan Road and it is just a short walk from Newquay’s main street.
Offering waves all up this stretch of sand with a novelty left nestled in the harbour this beach is a magnet for surfers. It’s sheltered from south-westerly solid winds making it a go-to when Fitsral starts to go onshore.
The harbour left is a rare gem that only starts working in large ground swells but when it does it can offer some great lefts ending in a patch of rocks that can pose a serious danger to your fins. Needless to say, many of Newquay’s pro surfers will turn up for this rare gem so don’t expect catching waves to be easy. The video below is an oldie but a goldie.
Watergate bay is a three-mile stretch of sand located just north of the town. Enclosed by large cliffs and home to The Watergate Bay Hotel this popular surfing spot has become somewhat gentrified in the last 10 years.
The RNLI lifeguards man the beach from 1st May to 26th September making it a perfect beach for beginners and people learning to surf for the first time.
You’ll find waves all up and down this stretch of beach with easy access via the main car park at the top of the cliffs.
Advanced surfers can head to the north end of the bay from low to mid tide for a hidden gem that hides in plain sight, offering high-quality banks and long peeling right-hand walls.
Watergate regularly hosts the English National Surfing Championships, check out the video below from 2021, safe to say they scored!
This large beach is backed by dunes and grasslands, with the wildlife-rich Rushy Green rising up behind them. At the end of the beach is Pentire Point West, a large headland that juts out into the sea and adds to the spot’s remote appearance.
The river, which runs alongside and sometimes across the beach, is prone to changing its levels. Please look out for steep drops from the edge of dunes and follow the advice of the RNLI and only swim in designated areas when lifeguards are present.
The best waves here are typically found on the north end of the bay where the river cuts deep pronounced banks into the waiting sand. Best suited to good to advanced surfers the waves here are fast-breaking and can offer little tubes on good days.
Best surfers from low to mid this break can offer some shelter in southerly winds and is always slightly smaller than Fitsral beach just around the headland.
Learning to surf in Newquay
If you’re looking for a fun, unique way to spend your time in Newquay, learning to surf is a great option. The town is well-known for its surf schools so you can start learning right away!
Surf lessons are available all year long, but if you want to get the most out of your lessons, it’s best to take them during the summer months. While you can learn to surf in the winter the water temperature drops considerably and can be quite a challenge without an appropriate wetsuit and equipment.
If you’re looking for something more relaxed and fun, try taking a lesson from Fistral Beach Surf School. They offer private lessons with an instructor who will help you get comfortable on the board and then take you out into the water to practice on your own. They’ll even take photos of you in action t
For something more structured and competitive, check Escape Surf School. Operating for over 18 years in the area Escape boasts two ex-professional surfers amongst their coaching team.
Where to stay
There are plenty of places to stay in Newquay, and they’re all within walking distance of some fantastic beaches. Here are some great options:
Fistral Beach Hotel & Spa: This hotel has the best location in Newquay -one right on Fistral beach You’ll be met with stunning views of the surf at Fistral and easy access to waves at all times. They offer free Wi-Fi and parking, as well as a range of room types to suit your needs.
The Headland Hotel: Located at the end of Fistral Beach, this hotel offers rooms with ocean views as well as those overlooking the garden courtyard. You can also enjoy breakfast each morning at their restaurant before heading out for some surfing or other adventures around town!
Where to eat
Newquay is a beautiful town with a thriving food scene. Here are our top picks for the best restaurants in Newquay Cornwall:
12 Beach Road
If you’re looking for a place to relax with friends, look no further than 12 Beach Road. This new restaurant offers a unique menu of burgers and tacos in an atmosphere that’s sure to make you feel like you’re on vacation.
When you walk in the door, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a beachside bar somewhere in the Caribbean. The restaurant has a laid-back vibe and is decorated with bright colours and surfboards hanging from the ceiling. You can enjoy your meal while listening to live music played by local musicians on weekends.
The menu has something for everyone—burgers, tacos, pizza and more—and everything is made fresh daily using only locally sourced ingredients. Don’t miss out on their signature “beach dog” hot dog topped with Chilli Con Carne (ground beef), cheese sauce and bacon bits! If that’s not enough for you, try their signature dish: crab cakes served with spicy sauce on top of garlic breadsticks!
The Boathouse restaurant is a laid-back beachfront venue serving street fare and locally sourced seafood. It has numerous food stalls, all of which are sure to please your taste buds.
The Boathouse restaurant Newquay is open year-round, but it’s best enjoyed during the summer months when you can sit outside on the patio and enjoy the ocean views. The menu includes everything from burgers to seafood, so there’s sure to be something that takes your fancy.
Boardmasters is an annual surfing competition and music festival that is held in Newquay, usually between the town and Watergate bay. The event attracts thousands of surf and music fans from all across the globe who come to watch some of the best surfers in the world compete for prizes alongside a large roster of bands and DJs.
The event takes place over the course of four days and features live music performances from some of the biggest names in the UK music industry alongside global talent. After being first held in 1987, Boardmasters is now considered to be one of Europe’s largest surfing competitions outside of the WSL world tour.
Newquay has no shortage of surf shops so we’ve hand-picked some of our favourites to save you time when you’re looking for a new sled or wetsuit.
Down The Line Surf Co Ltd
Down The Line surf shop is known for its extensive range of surfboards, wetsuits, surfing accessories, clothing and bodyboarding equipment.
They offer a wide selection of boards for every level of surfer, from beginner to pro. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable and will help you choose the right board based on your experience level, height and weight.
They offer a wide range of surfboards including a variety of brands such as Al Merrick, Pyzel, Firewire, Fourth, Lost and more. They also stock a large range of wetsuits in different thicknesses to suit all seasons.
Sunset Surf Newquay
Sunset Surf is an independent surf shop and lifestyle brand that’s been operating since 1988 in Newquay. They supply surf clothing, equipment & hire. They also design, source and print their own clothing in Cornwall (which we love here at Honest Surf!!) with organic and ethical products key to their offering they’ve quickly become a part of the community that makes Cornwall what it is today.