With foreign holidays still mired in uncertainty and bound tightly in red tape, it’s no surprise many are choosing to explore the beauty of the world a little closer to home this summer.
With over 400 miles of rugged coastline, hundreds of great places to eat and drink and activities to suit everyone from Bear Grylls level adventurers to relaxation seeking beach lovers, it’s easy to see why Cornwall has become the staycation destination of choice.
Plus, it’s far enough way and expensive enough to get to from most major British conurbations that by the time you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve travelled somewhere much further afield.
With WL HQ based in the county’s central surfing hub of Newquay, we thought we’d share some local’s tips and our own favourite things to do for anyone heading down this summer.
If your holiday falls between mid-July and the start of September you’d be mad to miss the county’s premier outdoor cinema experience, The Wavelength Drive-In, running all summer long from a beautiful clifftop location overlooking Watergate Bay. We’ll be showing a selection of family films, surf movies and cult classics on the big screen, across both daytime and evening screening slots. As well as the movies, there’ll be a wide range of food and drink on offer and plenty of space to roll out a blanket and watch the sun slip into the sea. Plus, the Fisherman’s Friends will be joining us for a series of live performances prior to each showing of the film inspired by their story. View the lineup and grab your tickets here.
No Cornish holiday is complete without having a solid crack at the Sport of Kings. While summer is not the most consistent season for waves in these parts, the water’s warm (ish) and with beaches facing in every direction, there’s almost always something rideable if you’re willing to explore. To figure out how different swell and wind combos will affect different spots, check the forecast on Magicseaweed or Windy, consult the Stormrider Guide, or ask a lifeguard or friendly local to point you in the right direction.
As a general rule, if the swell is looking bigger than you’d like at the more exposed spots, head to the sheltered beaches of Newquay Bay, Harlyn or the long stretch just south of Gwithian, or, if the Atlantic is looking a little sleepy and you want to make the most of what’s out there, head for a swell magnet like Fistral, Perranporth or Constantine.
All the main beaches in West Cornwall are lifeguarded and offer surf hire and lessons. For those looking to up their game, we recommend booking in with Ticket To Ride Surf School in Perranporth.
Our friends at Dick Pearce are also doing free rentals of their wooden bellyboards, in an attempt to cut down on the waste generated by cheap, poorly made polystyrene bodyboards. You can grab a board from select locations in Newquay, St Ives, Perranporth, Mawgan Porth, Bude and more. Click here to see the full list.
SUPing and Kayaking
If you’re more of a fan of flat water fun, there are numerous coves, bays and estuaries perfect for exploring by SUP or kayak. If you’re in Newquay, you can hire both from Great Western Beach and head out and explore the caves along the Gazzle headland at the western end of the bay. Or, if you’re in North Cornwall, we’d recommend a guided tour along the coast near Port Gaverne with Cornish Rock Tors.
If there’s too much swell on the north coast, why not explore the calmer waters of the beautiful Roseland Peninsula just north of Falmouth or take to the tranquil estuaries of the Helford or Fower rivers.
Hiking the Coast Path
If you’re keen for a serious bit of hiking you can find challenging (and usually pretty quiet) routes around Sennen Cove or the Hartland Heritage Coast in North Cornwall.
If you’re looking for something a little easier, there are loads of picturesque coastal routes around the main towns, with plenty of pubs to stop off at along the way. Why not head south from Newquay, across the River Gannel (there’s a footbridge exposed at low to mid tide or a little boat from the Fern Pit Cafe at high) and over the back of Crantock beach to West Pentire headland. Or, head north out of town, through Porth and along the coast path to Watergate Bay, where good food, cold beer and, of course, outdoor cinema await.
Eating and Drinking
From fine dining to beachside pub grub, Cornwall is full of food and drink options to suit all tastes and budgets. For great meals with a view in Newquay, head to the Great Western Beach Cafe, The Boathouse for a variety of street food pop-ups, or Fistral for great sit down dining at The Stable or the Fish House. If you’re looking for a hidden gem just out of town, head to Jam Jar Kitchen, The Fox’s Revenge or Babu at Prow Park.
Elsewhere in the county, St Ives, Padstow and Falmouth are widely renowned for their vast array of culinary delights. Ignore TripAdvisor and ask a cheery local, or leave yourself a bit more time and have a wander around to see what takes your fancy.
Cornwall’s coastal waters play host to some of the most strange and exotic marine wildlife the UK has to offer. On the south coast, Porth Gwarra and the surrounding headlands offer the best chance to spot dolphins, whales and sharks from the land, while on the north coast, Godrevy, Trevose Head and the Rumps near Polzeath provide equally ample viewing out over the big blue. Or, for those with a sturdy set of sea legs, there are lots of boat tours available up and down the coast, like Padstow Sealife Safaris, who just last month logged the first-ever confirmed sighting of an Arctic walrus off the Cornish coast.