Once a small fishing village in sleepy Cornwall, Newquay has become the UK’s surfing capital of cool. Whether you just like watching the surfers, and there are plenty to watch, want to take some lessons with a surf school or just fancy chilling out all day and clubbing well into the night, Newquay is your surfers’ paradise.
Newquay Bay has four main beaches, Towan, Tolcarne, Great Western, and Lusty Glaze, which forms a single mile-long stretch of golden sand at low tide. Lifeguards are on duty from mid-May to mid-September and there are many cafes and surf shops nearby. Other nearby beaches include Crantock, Watergate, and Fistral.
Situated at the southern end of the bay area, Towan beach is Newquay’s most popular beach and can get crowded even in the winter months. Towan is very popular with beginners and bathers in the summer months, which does result in some surfing restrictions during this period. The beach is well protected from the wind, so unlike some of the other beaches, surfers rely on good swell – a succession of waves usually generated by offshore winds.
Slightly more exposed than Towan, Great Western sees bigger swells. Huge, hollow waves can be produced from southwesterly winds – perfect for surfing. This is an excellent beach to learn to surf. The beach is slightly less popular for sun-seekers in the afternoon as high cliffs block out the sun.
Tolcarne and Lusty Glaze
These are the more exposed beaches and also pick up more swell. Tolcarne is popular with boogie boarders and its large sandy beach makes it a popular sunspot. Lusty Glaze is the most exposed of the bay beaches, with waves that are rideable at all tide stages, although low to high is the best. The national lifeguard training centre is located here.
There are many surf schools dotted along the coast of the Newquay area. Try the National Surfing Centre (Fistral Beach), the Tolcarne Surf School (Tolcarne Beach), or BSA Surf Scholl (Lusty Glaze), which are run by the British Surfing Association (BSA). They guarantee the highest standard of coaching, safety and equipment.
The BSA also has a list of 60 approved schools in the UK and around Europe. Visit the BSA website for more information about surfing and their approved schools (www.britsurf.co.uk).
Surfing is an extremely demanding sport and can be dangerous for those not experienced in riding the waves. You must be able to swim at least 50m in open water and be physically fit and regularly work out. Beginners should ideally receive tuition from experienced surfers before attempting to go it alone. Surf schools are fun, so learning will be enjoyable.
Apres surfing blowouts
Once the sun sets on the beaches, Newquay’s many restaurants, bars and clubs come alive. Newquay has the busiest nightlife if the southwest. Here are some of the main bars and clubs.
Red Square: this bar combines alfresco dining on the terrace with a DJ playing a pre-party vibe.
The Koola: plays a variety of nights, including hip-hop, drum and bass, through funk and beats to all forms of house.
Tall Trees: three clubs under one roof, playing house, R&B, hip-hop and old skool.
The Beach Nightclub: centrally located, with four bars on three floors.
Berties Pub & Club: two clubs under one roof, offering a choice of variety of music from top DJs and PAs.