North Cornwall

Probably the most famous stretch of sand in Cornwall, and definitely Newquay's best-known beach, Fistral has become synonymous with Cornish surfing thanks to its reliable waves. Purists scoff that it's way too busy to be worth surfing these days – and they may be right – but its consistent swell and close-to-town facilities make it a fine place for beginners and novices. Just don't expect to be on your own.

There's a surf school right on the beach, as well as a cafe and a shop complex.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby North Cornwall attractions

1. Blue Reef Aquarium

0.76 MILES

A small aquarium on Towan beach, with touch pools and various deep-sea denizens, including reef sharks, loggerhead turtles and a giant Pacific octopus…

2. Crantock

1.23 MILES

Around Pentire Head lies this big, broad shelf of golden sand, backed by grassy dunes and set alongside a river called the Gannel. It's one of the most…

3. Newquay Zoo

1.52 MILES

Newquay's pint-sized zoo isn't a world-beater, but its population of penguins, lemurs, parrots and snakes will keep the kids happy. The Tropical House and…

4. Lusty Glaze

1.65 MILES

Probably the least hectic of Newquay's beaches, this is a sheltered wedge of sand framed by cliffs. It has a good adventure-sports centre, and also hosts…

5. Porth Joke

1.85 MILES

Not quite the off-the-radar secret it once was, Porth Joke remains a good spot to escape (most) of the crowds. Known as Polly Joke to locals, its best…

6. Porth

1.99 MILES

Porth is a popular family beach 1.5 miles northeast of the town centre. Long and narrow, it's ideal for building sandcastles and sheltering behind the…

7. Holywell Bay

2.57 MILES

Two miles southwest of Newquay as the crow flies (but more like 5 miles by road), Holywell is a wonderful expanse of white sand, dotted with tidal pools…

8. Watergate Bay

3.22 MILES

This magnificent sweep of sand presents what is undoubtedly the finest panorama of any beach near Newquay. Travelling north from town, as the road crosses…