England’s Cornish Coast: Amazing Food and Surfing in Newquay

Newquay's coastline is dotted with several stunning beaches.

Newquay on the Cornish coast of England is known as the surfing capital of the UK. It is a town frequented by young hedonists and is a particularly popular choice of location for hen parties and stag dos. As well as its rowdy side, Newquay is also a great place for those looking to unwind.

I have experienced both sides of this picturesque spot.The first time I visited Newquay was, no surprise, for a hen party a couple of years ago. This weekend was largely swallowed up by partying. But I was also taken aback by how beautiful the place was.

I vowed to return again and did so this summer with my boyfriend, Andy. It was high season in August and right in the middle of the annual Relentless Boardmasters weekend, featuring surfing, BMX and skateboarding competitions. The town was buzzing.

Despite all of the crowds and the action, our trip was still a far cry from my last weekend spent in Newquay. We walked along the coast to see Newquay’s several stunning beaches. Each one has its own character and unique community.

The main one is Fistral Beach – Newquay’s most famous surfing spot.

Surfers on Fistral Beach.

Fistral Beach is overlooked by the Headland Hotel, which was where the film adaptation of Roald Dahl ‘The Witches’ was filmed.

The Headland Hotel, where the film adaptation of Roald Dahl's 'The Witches' was filmed.

Great views over Fistral Beach and the Headland Hotel can be found by walking up to the Pentire Headland.

The path up towards the Headland Hotel and the Pentire Headland.

The view over Fistral Beach and the Headland Hotel from Pentire Headland.

Learning to surf was ‘awesome’

Surfers are everywhere in Newquay – ranging from world-class professional competitiors to those taking a lesson for the first time. We fell into the latter catagory when we decided to sign up for an afternoon of surfing on Fistral.

We arrived at the RipCurl English Surfing Federation Surfschool on a Sunday afternoon for the two-hour lesson and were greeted by a young Aussie girl who stereotypically said ‘awesome’ somewhere in every sentence. Then we were handed our wetsuits to change into. Getting into one of these was a task in itself.

Surf boards at Fistral Beach.

When everybody was ready the six learners were partnered up in order to carry the surfboards down to Fistral Beach, which was a good ten minutes walk. We circled around our instructor, a South African called Sean, to learn the basics before literally being thrown in at the deep end.

We were first shown how to catch a wave lying on our bellies, similar to bodyboarding. Sean showed us how to balance our weight in the middle of the board, with our feet tucked under the end, and also how to paddle effectively. I was ‘stoked’ to catch a few waves lying down.

The second part of the lesson was not as successful – as this was the time to try to stand up. I nearly got to my knees, but by the time I had managed to get anywhere near to dragging up my weight the wave’s momentum had well and truly gone.

By the end of the surfing lesson I felt amazingly exhilarated.

Although I didn’t really know what to expect, I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It did not matter that I had swallowed half of the sea, I still loved every minute of it.

Tolcarne Beach is home to the Kahuna Restaurant - seafood lovers' heaven.

What was the highlight of the trip? Without doubt, it has to be the ridiculously tasty food…

Cornish paella - a 'catch of the day' special.

This paella was on the menu at the Kahuna Restaurant on Tolcarne Beach. We were able to watch the surf as we tucked into one of the tastiest meals ever.

Yes, this plate of juicy steak and chips tasted as good as it looks.

A Cornish pasty.

Cornwall is famous for its Cornish pasties and we devoured some for lunch one day. What qualifies as an authentic Cornish pasty? According to the Cornish Pasty Association, a genuine Cornish pasty should have a distinctive D shape, folded over and crimped on one side.

The filling should include a minimum of 12.5 per cent of minced or roughly cut chunks of beef, along with swede/turnip, potato and onion, with a light peppery seasoning. They must be slow cooked to ensure full flavour and cannot have any flavourings or additives.

Cornish cream cakes.

Another thing Cornwall is famous for: cream cakes! Check out this tempting window display at a tearoom. My choice was the delicious apple turnover in the middle, along with a Cornish ice cream milkshake. Glorious gluttony.

Have you been to Newquay? What were your highlights?

10 Comments

  1. November 30, 2011 / 20:59

    Wow what a different image to the tropical beaches we see in magazines, but a cool one nonetheless. I’ve been to Brighton as my only British beach experience.

    As for the pasties. There was a pasty store in York that was awesome. I think it was a chain though. There was a big display of all kinds of pasties. From sweet to savory. I got a stew filled one that was good except for the onions. Gotta find that chain again next time we hit up England.

    • December 1, 2011 / 19:59

      If you’re a pasty fan, Cornwall’s your place. There are bakeries and pasty shops everywhere. They smell so good as well so you’re lured into the shop!

  2. December 1, 2011 / 01:26

    Having only been to London due to long layovers, I’ve yet to see the rest of the country, but this place looks fantastic.

  3. December 1, 2011 / 20:12

    It is a really fun and beautiful place. A great option is to take a road trip along the coast, taking in other great spots such as St Ives and Land’s End.

  4. December 2, 2011 / 08:33

    The paella looks delicious! And well, so does the steak and chips.. yum!

    I should go to Cornwall some time next summer.. haven’t visited much of southern Britain yet.

    • December 2, 2011 / 14:26

      The food is fantastic, especially if you like seafood and cream cakes!

  5. January 4, 2012 / 12:25

    beautiful coastline, looks a bit like the beach here in California

    • January 4, 2012 / 14:04

      Hi Nick, wow that’s really cool for you to compare this beach to one in California. Bet it’s a lot sunnier there though!

  6. January 19, 2012 / 20:53

    Cornwall is a place in my wishlist !! I would hire a car, starting from london, stopping in Oxford, Bath and arriving in Cornwall. Southern coast on the return. Yes, quite long. How is Plymouth? I’ve never visited these places. I’ve been only to Surrey in 2007. Very beautiful and british countryside :-)

    • January 20, 2012 / 19:09

      A road trip would be a great way to see this part of the country. If we were there longer than a weekend, would have ventured along the coast to St Ives and Land’s End. There are loads of gorgeous places to visit on the Devonshire coast as well.