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Home Watersports The Northern Cornwall Beaches You Must Visit This Summer!

The Northern Cornwall Beaches You Must Visit This Summer!

Part one of our best North Cornwall beaches, first up best surf spots and family beaches!

As the UK (and most of Europe!) enjoy an unseasonably warm spell of weather you’d be easily forgiven for thinking about summer holidays, despite it actually only being March!

Cornwall is undoubtedly one of the top tourist hotspots in the UK, popular with British nationals as well as travellers from across Europe, North America and Asia. The northern coast is home to some of the best beaches in the country, if not Europe!

With a range of beaches and tidal conditions, there is a spot to suit everyone, whether you’re an expert surfer or just like basking in the sun.

Over the next few days we are going to run through some of our favourite beaches, first up is our favourite surf spots and family beaches, then tomorrow we will run through the best swimming areas and a few hidden gems!

Best for Surfing!

1. Watergate Bay

Measuring over 2-miles in length Watergate Bay is one of Cornwall’s top surf beaches, having played host to many professional competitions over the years, there is never a shortage of waves.

Whereas many beaches in Cornwall are set back in coves and shielded by rocky cliffs, Watergate Bay is extremely exposed and feels as though it is reaching out to the ocean. The surf ranges good to quite frankly terrifying, there is a good reason the pros surf here! It is also one of the few beaches in Cornwall that surfs well at high tide.

A misty Watergate Bay © Jamie Witham
A misty Watergate Bay © Jamie Witham

The facilities surrounding the beach are second to none, with high-quality restaurants, gift shops and rental facilities. Smart surfers park in the farmer’s field on the hill and walk down, avoiding the beaches main car park.

2. Fistral Beach

The conditions at Fistral can get so wild in the winter months that on a few occasions they have caused severe damage to nearby buildings and the beach itself! It will often see the biggest waves in all of Cornwall especially when a Cribbar hits (a weird phenomenon where colossal 30ft waves occur!). Check out this video to see how big the waves can get!

Like Watergate Bay it is popular with the pros, conditions here are generally better at mid tide, but good surf can be had any time of the day regardless of tide position. We once surfed into the car park at high tide, much to the dismay of our boards!

Fistral Beach at Sunset  © Jamie Witham
Fistral Beach at Sunset © Jamie Witham

There is a fantastic bar complex located on the beach, which plays host to regular live music as well as having a good range of food/drink, shops and rental equipment. There is plenty of surrounding accommodation unlike Watergate Bay, so this can be a good choice if you are looking to stay at one main beach for your holiday.

3. Portreath Harbour

Not one for surfers Portreath’s harbour wall is often called “The Vortex”, with backwash from the nearby pier creating perfect conditions. The spot rarely disappoints for those on smaller boards and is Cornwall’s own bodyboarding heaven.

The waves themselves aren’t particularly long, and the conditions really aren’t suitable for beginners, so you best only head here if you are an experienced bodyboarder. The big barrelling shorebreak is what keeps the locals coming back, but it is heavy, and often dangerous.

The village has lots of facilities and the main beach is popular in the summer so there is also plenty to do away from the waves.

For the Family!

1. Perranporth

Perranporth is one of best equipped beaches in Cornwall, the small accompanying town is home to a diverse range of shops and restaurants, as well as having ample accommodation.

A great spot for families there is numerous fish and chip shops, ice cream parlours and gift shops for the children. The main car park also has a decent toilet block which includes showers and a dog washing station. With an old Victorian swimming pool located in one of the cliffs and plenty of caves/rockpools to explore it is a great beach to spend the day at, just be sure to adhere to any local warning signs and always listen to the lifeguards!

Perranporth © Jamie Witham
Not even a busy day by Perranporth’s standards! © Jamie Witham

Perranporth is extremely popular in the summer holidays, and there is plenty of parking in the town and on top of the adjacent cliffs, but it is best to arrive early to avoid disappointment. The wave conditions are great for beginners but can also provide enough challenge for experienced surfers.

2. Constantine Bay

One of the largest beaches in Cornwall, Constantine Bay is truly stunning, the sweeping golden beach and accompanying dunes make it one of the visual highlights of the West Country.

Constantine Bay has plenty of areas to explore, ever changing surf conditions and a nearby caravan site, all of which make it extremely popular with holiday makers.

The beach is the main source of entertainment here so if your children rely on other activities to keep them entertained it may be best to look at other options.

3. Polzeath Beach

In a way a Polzeath is a bit of a rising star in Cornwall, that isn’t to say that it wasn’t previously popular, but it has definitely entered into a lot more people’s radars in the last few years.

With a good selection of shops and a range of resturants covering everything from cheap and cheerful to fine dining, it has most bases covered. Home to perhaps one of the most scenic campsites in the UK and a nearby holiday park, there is no shortage of family-friendly accomodation.

Polzeath © Jamie Witham
Polzeath, looking across from the cliffside carpark © Jamie Witham

Parking is available on the beach or adjacent headland with toilet facilities in the town. The surfing is again, top-quality with enough to satisfy beginners and experienced boarders.

Stay tuned for our follow-up where we look at the best swimming beaches and hidden gems!

Jamie Withamhttps://get-up-and.com/
A qualified engineer who has worked with high profile companies such as Jaguar, McLaren and Ford. Jamie now works as a writer full-time, splitting his time between Get Up And and Fine Point Solutions (Copywriting Service). Growing up his aspirations were rather different having played football for numerous professional clubs, but sadly it wasn't to be. A keen skier, tennis player and cyclist (he even had his own bike repair business) there aren't many activities Jamie hasn't tried over the years!

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