There’s something about North Cornwall holidays that are out of this world. From fabulous Fistral and its chilled out surfing vibe to pretty Padstow and all that lies beyond and between. Think towering cliffs, sweeping sands, vibrant towns and rolling sea – this stunning part of the UK has so much to discover that every visit to its beautiful shores feels like a brand new experience.
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If you love to get outdoors, North Cornwall is the place. Spanning miles of coastline you’ll have the South West Coast Path on your doorstep which most visitors will agree is the best way to take in the area’s scenic beauty. Of course, its most-loved natural assets are its beaches and here you’ll discover some of the UK’s best. Take to the waves for a surf at Watergate Bay or stroll the dune-backed sands of Holywell Bay beach with your dogs for an idyllic way to unwind from a busy schedule.
Beautiful scenery box ticked, but what can you do during your stay in North Cornwall?
The ultimate for family-friendly activity, North Cornwall has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. Of course you’ll be wanting to spend most of your time down on the beach but for a change-up in the itinerary you’ll have lots of non beach-based adventure at your fingertips.
A must for a family day out with the kids. A host of animals will delight both adults and children including lemurs, lynx and loris, meerkats, marmosets and monkeys to name but a few. There are play areas, picnic spots, a maze, Tarzan Trail and penguin pool to enjoy, as well as a café offering a selection of hot and cold refreshments, and a gift shop where you can buy a momento.
Also in Newquay, the Blue Reef Aquarium offers an up-close view of the marine life populating Cornwall and the world’s coastal waters, with an underwater tunnel where can spot angelfish, big sharks, rays, moray eels and the venomous pufferfish. Various exhibits are home to hundreds of different types of sea creatures, all showcased in 40 themed habitats, and the aquarium is hot on educating the younger generations about the challenges our oceans face and how to make a difference!
It goes without say that you can’t beat a theme park for a fun day out, even if parents would rather be chilling out on the beach. Camel Creek Adventure Park lies just 15 minutes from Padstow and bursts with rollercoaster rides, water-themed activities, slides and play parks. Kids can meet meerkats and Shire horses plus, there are indoor and outdoor adventure play areas as well as restaurants. *The park is closed for refurbishment until March 2024
Formerly a disused railway line, the 18 mile long Camel Trail cycle path is a dream for those who enjoy a flat ride with lots of lovely scenery. If you’re visiting north Cornwall with toddlers, the five-mile section from Wadebridge to Padstow is perfect. And if you fancy a challenge you can make a day of it by continuing on for the 12-mile stretch to Bodmin.
Experience the coastline in the best way possible by embarking on a guided coasteering tour in Polzeath. Just down from Port Isaac this coasteering hot spot has several coasteering operators offering excursions to suit all ages and abilities. Leap, scramble, climb and swim as you discover sea caves, pools and hidden coves.
No matter where you decide to holiday in North Cornwall, you won’t be far from a scenic walking route, the best-known and well maintained being that of the South West Coast Path. Meandering its way through Cornwall’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you can take your pick from dozens of routes like the Hartland stretch to Bude, Port Isaac to Tintagel, and Newquay to Mawgan Porth.
If you’re keen to see even more of the world’s spectacular flora in a calm and serene atmosphere you won’t want to miss a visit to The Japanese Garden in Mawgan Porth. The site is an authentic Japanese garden design in an idyllic Cornish setting and has Koi ponds, Bonsai, traditional wooden walkways and architectural structures for you to explore.
Famous for its surfing beaches like Fistral, Watergate Bay and Holywell Bay, North Cornwall is something of a magnet for water sports enthusiasts. But you don’t have to be a surfer to make the most of this beautiful coast. Beaches in the area differ in size and landscape and include vast sandy stretches to laze on like those at – Polzeath, Perranporth Sandymouth, Crantock and Porth.
There’s also really no better way for the younger members of the family (and adults for that matter) to enjoy the untamed great outdoors than rock pooling. Places like Treyarnon Bay, Duckpool Beach, Widemouth Bay near Bude are excellent spots where you can spy on sea snails, colourful anemones, sponges, prawns, hermit crabs and cushion stars.
Some of North Cornwall’s top beaches are:
Compared to some of the busier beaches in the area, Constantine Bay offers a more secluded atmosphere. Roughly 3 miles west of Padstow, it’s popular for its excellent surfing conditions but is prone to rip currents due to its west-facing position. Its natural beauty and quieter vibe make up for its lack of facilities, so if you’re looking for somewhere to chill out in the sunshine it’s perfect.
Situated in Newquay, it is famed for its golden sands and excellent surfing conditions. Stretching over a mile and offering some of the UK’s best waves, it attracts surfers from around the world. Not only epic for water sports it also offers facilities like surf schools, equipment hire and guided tours. It’s a hub of activity during the summer months and hosts numerous events and competitions.
Picturesque and family-friendly the one mile long Harlyn Bay is a sheltered, crescent-shaped beach with fine golden sand. Made up of sand and pebbles it’s backed by dunes and is a favorite among surfers. Its water are known for being clean and safe so it’s a great spot for swimming and for families with younger children. Facilities include a surf school and a beachside cafe serving refreshments.
This popular beach is a favourite for both surfers and families. The beach is sandy and relatively sheltered, making it suitable for both swimming and surfing. The consistent swell attracts surfers of all levels, and there are surf schools available for beginners. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and offers a picturesque setting for coastal walks.
Watergate Bay is a two-mile-long sandy beach that offers a mix of conditions suitable for various water sports. It’s not only a great location for surfing and kiteboarding but also provides excellent opportunities for sandcastle building and beachcombing. Unlike many of its North Cornwall counterparts, it’s made even more popular by allowing dogs all year round, and a handful of beachside cafes and restaurants like The Beach Hut and Zacry’s, making it a perfect place for relaxation.
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