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Best things to do in Newquay

Newquay isn’t just Cornwall’s surf capital. Claiming prime north shore position, the popular honeypot is a playground for all ages, home to pristine beaches, jaw-dropping coastline and a staggering assortment of things to see and do.

A man surfing, one of the many great things to do in Newquay

Whether you’re an avid seafarer or dedicated landlubber, Newquay’s host of attractions, activities, events, restaurants and venues will ensure that all types of visitor – from couples looking for a romantic retreat to families keen for some adventurous fun – will make many treasured memories while holidaying here. 

You might picture yourself relaxing on the powdery sands of Crantock Beach, walking the sublime South West Coast Path, sipping on a cocktail at sundown or learning to catch waves at any of the town’s celebrated surf schools. Whatever you fancy seeing, eating, drinking and doing while in Newquay, the town is incredibly eager to please.

Here are some of our favourite things to do while in Newquay...

Beaches galore...

Surf, SUP, sunbathe, sail, swim...the list of coastal activities available in and around Newquay is as enticing as they come, helping you to make the most of your time in and by the water. Hire equipment, book a lesson, sink into a beach cafe, or simply lounge on the sands and dip in the ocean at your leisure at any of Newquay’s stunning selection of beaches.

Crantock Beach

A beautiful sunny day at Crantock beach in Newquay

Situated two miles southwest of the town where the Gannel River greets the ocean, Crantock redefines picturesque with its sweeping stretch of sands framed by wildflower meadows, dramatic sand dunes and an achingly pretty village.

Dog friendly all year-round, lifeguarded during the summer months, and with facilities including public toilets, a National Trust car park and cafes such as C-Bay makes this a firm family favourite. Take the foot ferry across to the charming Fernpit Cafe, or venture further west to find the secret and impossibly scenic cove of Polly Joke.

Watergate Bay

Looking down the white sands of Watergate Bay in Newquay with the cliffs towering over

Three miles from the town toward Padstow, on the eastern edge of the area sits the two-mile-long golden sands of Watergate Bay. A popular surfing and kite surfing haunt, it is home to the Extreme Academy, which offers everything from surfing and stand-up paddle boarding lessons to beach yoga and al fresco fitness classes.

Two car parks at the foot of the valley (with toilets), a host of places to drink and dine including The Beach Hut and Zacry’s, May-October lifeguard patrol and all-season dog-friendly status make Watergate a crowd-pleasing choice.

Holywell Bay

Looking through a gap in the sand dunes at the white sands and blue waters of Holywell Bay near Newquay

Situated three miles west of Newquay, the beautiful bay presents wide golden sands, imposing dune scapes and crystal clear waters, all of which are as romantically escapist as they are fun for little ones. A Poldark filming location recognisable by the striking twin peaks of Gull Rock in the centre of the bay, Holywell affords oodles of space alongside sheltered spots amongst the dunes for a beach barbecue or scenic siesta.

Play a round of golf at the 18-hole course, admire the views and fill your belly at beachside beauty, Gull Rocks Bar & Coffee House, or wander into the village for The Treguth Inn.

Parking is in the National Trust car park and Holywell is dog friendly.

Read our guide for more dog-friendly things to see and do in Newquay

Town and Bay Beaches

Looking down the stretch of sand and sea at Fistral beach in Newquay where surfers surf and people lie on the beach

Fistral Beach is Newquay’s best known and prized for its quality surf, stunning surrounds and top-notch facilities. Dog-friendly, an extended lifeguard season, and plenty of places to eat and drink (Sea Spray, Fistral Beach Bar, Pasty Shack, The Fish House, The Stable, Rick Stein Fistral) allow everyone to enjoy this spectacular sandy stretch. 

Tracking west to east across the bay, visitors can select a spot on any of the beaches that are directly accessible from the town, which includes Towan, Great Western, Tolcarne, Lusty Glaze, Porth and Whipsiderry. Each one has its unique character while offering a mix of cafes, surf schools, equipment hire and – of course – those lust-worthy views of Newquay Bay.

Attractions aplenty...

Blue Reef Aquarium

Website: bluereefaquarium.co.uk/newquay

A clown fish at Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay

Located on the beachfront in the centre of Newquay on Towan Promenade, the aquarium is an absolute must-see for those seeking the ‘ultimate undersea safari’.

Discover all about the conservation of the abundance of sea creatures that live here for an experience as enthralling as it is educational, with Blue Reef being home to 40 naturally themed habitats covering both Cornish coasts and more exotic realms. Featuring a wow-worthy underwater tunnel to view the likes of loggerhead sea turtles, reef sharks and a rainbow of fish, there are also talks, feeding sessions and themed events running throughout the year.

The Japanese Garden

Website: japanesegarden.co.uk

A beautiful red-leaf tree and a bridge at The Japanese Garden in Newquay

Situated in St Mawgan just outside Newquay, the spectacular green site is something to behold. In just one acre, the meditative garden packs a visual punch with its blossoming cherries amongst an abundance of trees, flowers, bonsai, waterfalls, ponds, islands, bridges and a stunning Teahouse.

Take home a piece of potted beauty from their on-site shop, or simply stroll the path and absorb a moment of peace in the Zen Garden, Bamboo Grove or Willow Wood as you drift into a deeper state of relaxation.

There’s free parking and the gravel path is 90% wheelchair accessible (though dogs aren’t allowed).

Newquay Zoo

Website: newquayzoo.org.uk

A lemur tilting its head to the side at Newquay Zoo

Newquay Zoo’s 13-acre, sub-tropical garden setting, exciting animal wildlife park, interactive attractions and fun activities make for a memorable day out, whatever the weather.

Meet the lions and lemurs (and we mean literally meet the lemurs with the Animal Experiences packages), monkeys and meerkats while discovering more about each individual species and wildlife conservation. Explore plant life in The Secret Garden, watch a flying bird exhibit in the Gems of the Jungle, expel the kids’ energy in the outdoor play areas, and spy creepy crawlies in The Tropical House, where you’ll find snakes, birds and the zoo’s resident pair of sloths. There’s also a schedule of talks, events and children’s clubs alongside a restaurant/takeaway, toilets, gift shop, picnic areas and drinks/ice cream kiosks to keep all visitors as well fed and looked after as the resident animals.

Newquay Leisure World

A little boy climbing out of one of the soft play pits at Newquay Leisure World

Treat the kids to some trampoline and soft play fun, or dip into the pool for a play in the water at Newquay Leisure World. The tropical-themed leisure pool comes complete with flumes, slides and a giant floating snake, while adults can swim some laps in the 25-metre pool, disappear into the 45 station gym, or sign up for a fitness class to work up a sweat.

Meanwhile, the play park is home to a range of features including a slackline, foam pits, fidget ladder and performance walls. And little ones will delight in the soft play area with its 4-lane slide, rope bridge, glow room, skyglide track, apple orchard ball pit and special baby and toddler area. 

Trenance Gardens and Leisure Park

The carefully cut and styles lawn and floral displays at Trenance Gardens in Newquay

Take the time during your stay for a trip to Trenance Gardens, whose combination of glorious surroundings and child-friendly activities promises a memorable day out for all.

Conveniently located on the outskirts of town by the Gannel River, kids will be occupied by the play parks, miniature railway, crazy golf, pitch n putt, and Cornwall’s biggest wooden outdoor skate park. Hire a pedal boat to explore the beautiful Boating Lake and refresh in style at The Garden Tearoom, whose lip-smacking selection of cakes, cream teas, doorstep sandwiches and soups will sate all appetites.

Local landmarks...

Newquay Harbour

Looking down at the turquoise waters of Newquay harbour where boats bob and people walk on the beach

The town’s historic fishing and pleasure harbour is home to an RNLI station, rowing club and various eateries including The Boathouse’s appetising array of summer ‘Street Food on the Beach’ vendors. 

A sheltered sand-between-the-toes oasis away from the hubbub of the town, but still within a short walking distance, Newquay Harbour remains a treasured favourite owing to its flat golden beach and a protective outer wall that separates it from neighbouring Towan Beach.

Whether you wish to settle on the sand for a picnic, ice cream, or spot of child’s play before cooling off in the ocean, embark upon a fishing or open sea adventure from the fleet that operates from the harbour, or end your day with a street food feast – this particular jewel will never disappoint.

Gannel Estuary

Looking down on Gannel Estuary where the waters are blue and calm

Splitting Newquay and Crantock Village – and beautifully visible as you enter the town from its west side – the Gannel River and estuary is one of Newquay’s most stunning natural features.

A brilliant bird and wildlife watching location, the tidal river presents a rich landscape to explore during low tide, when you can walk or venture on horseback across it; while the high tide rewards water sports enthusiasts with a lulling body of water that’s perfect for the likes of kayaking and canoeing.

Huer’s Hut

The round, white Huer's Hut in Newquay

A remnant of Newquay’s thriving commercial fishing heritage, the unique all-white, round structure of Huer’s Hut presents staggering bay-wide views from its hilltop position above the harbour.

The listed building is believed to date back as far as the 14th century when it was used as a lookout by pilchard-spotting huers, and today visitors can climb the small curved external staircase to admire the panoramas from the rooftop of this striking restored building. 

Check out our wonderful collection of holiday cottages in Newquay and start planning your fun-filled Cornish holiday.

 

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