Newquay, United Kingdom

United Kingdom's Seaside Haven

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It's not often beachgoers associate a trip to England with a sunny summer holiday spent relaxing on luxurious sands. Unknown to many outside the United Kingdom, the isle is home to Newquay, a seaside haven and mecca for surfers from around the globe, where visitors encounter some of the world's finest beaches.

Eleven beaches comprise the coast of Newquay, with plenty of occasion for swimming, surfing, sunbathing and hiking. International surfing championships are held each summer at Fistral Beach, which sees some of the region's most unruly waves, and some of its biggest crowds. For a more secluded experience, try visiting the grass-covered dunes at Crantock Beach, where plenty of quiet nooks can be found for picnicking or simply unwinding before the clear waters of the Atlantic. A 15-minute walk from the car park will take you to the sheltered Porth Joke, also called Polly Joke by locals, an oasis of smooth, white sand and calm sapphire waters lying between the cliff walls of Kesley Head and West Pentire.

Should lounging beachside grow dull, or the weather proves disagreeable, travelers need not experience a dull moment. As the town's popularity continues to grow with both national and international visitors, Newquay has seen a surge in lodging, dining and cultural options, offering tourists a range of things to do and see for all tastes and budgets.

Getting There
By Air: Newquay Airport is located six miles from the center of Newquay and is served by British Airways. The airport has daily flights to and from London Gatwick and London Stansted airports, where travelers can connect with national and international flights.

By Train: Every Saturday during the summer, direct rail services to Newquay run from London, the Midlands, the north and Scotland. For more information on schedules, contact the National Rail Enquiry Bureau or call 08457 484950.

Airport Transportation
Taxis are available from the airport to the city center. Summercourt Travel operates a taxi service with some wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Also at the airport, passengers will find the Airlink Bus 910, which runs regularly every half-hour. The bus heads to the central Newquay bus station.

Timing
Beaches or not, Newquay is still a part of England and still subject to her chilly and damp winters. June through September is undoubtedly the best time to visit Newquay; the weather is generally warm and sunny, and events are always ongoing, including the British surfing championships. The St. Ives Festival of Folk, Jazz and Blues takes place in September. The average summer temperature is 65 F, and the average summer sea temperature is 58 F to 64 F .

Lodging
Travelers will find a range of accommodations in Newquay to suit every need and price range, from four-star hotels to tent and caravan camp sites. Additionally, bed-and-breakfasts and self-catering cottages are also popular options. Because of the annual surf festival, Newquay does attracts a number of backpackers and young tourists, who generally opt to stay at one of the town's budget hotels. For more information and to find and book a hotel, check out the tourist information Web site: www.newquay.co.uk.

Cuisine
Traditional Cornish cooking generally features freshly caught seafood from the region, namely pilchard, mackerel and her ring, which are served up in pies, baked or boiled. Cornish pigs (and all their parts) make appearances on many local menus, as does Cornish ice cream, which locals claim to be the creamiest in the world. Pasties, essentially a filled pastry consisting of meat or fish and herbs and spices, are another popular Cornish dish.

In the town center of Newquay, diners will be overwhelmed with the variety of dining options, including Indian, Chinese, Italian, American, pub meals and fast food. Thanks to the town's proximity to the water, freshly caught seafood is also found on most restaurant menus.

Travel Tips
For tourist information or other inquiries, contact the Tourist Information Centre. The currency is the British pound, and the following banks have branches in Newquay: Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and National Westminster.

Most visitors to Newquay aim to explore the beaches, but should familiarize themselves with the tide calendar, as the clear ocean waters belie strong and sometimes dangerous tides. The major beaches have tide clocks posted.

While You Are Here
If you've planned a trip to Britain's surfing capital, then grab your swimsuit and towel and head out to one of the many spectacular seaside haunts to practice your skills. Towan, Great Western and Tolcarne beaches are sheltered from the at times harsh south-westerly winds, and make great beaches to learn some basic surfing skills. Lessons and rentals are available at all beaches. Once those skills are set, check out Watergate Beach, whose mile-long expanse makes it a more challenging surf experience. Expert boarders can hang 10 on Fistral Beach's enormous waves.

If you've had your fill of the beach, Newquay still has plenty to offer visitors, such as the Blue Reef Aquarium, the water theme park Waterworld and the Newquay Zoo. During summer months, look for the "What's On" guide for local activity listings.

To Fake You've Been Here
Mention how you almost fell overboard during your brief interlude with gig racing, a popular rowing competition in Newquay, not unlike skull boat racing in the States.

Linking for a Better Vacation
For more information on Newquay, visit the tourist information Web site, www.newquay.co.uk. For even more detailed information on Newquay accommodations, food, culture and attracti ons, visit www.newquay.org.uk.