Fistral Beach: things to do and visiting guide

View along Fistral Beach Newquay Cornwall England UK

A golden stretch of sand hugging the North Cornish coastline, Fistral Beach is an absolute delight.

With world-class waves crashing against the shoreline and rugged sand dunes in the background, this iconic beach is one of the most-loved in Cornwall.

It’s a west-facing sandy beach, with rocks and cliffs behind it.

While it’s very popular, it’s a vast stretch of sand, so you should have plenty of space to stretch your towel out and sunbathe here!

Here’s a full guide to everything that you need to know about Fistral Beach.  

Where is Fistral Beach?

Surf over Sand, Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall

Fistral Beach is located near Newquay town centre.

However, it’s not right by the town – it’s about a 20 minute walk.

There’s a route through the town, or you can walk over the cliffs of the South West Coast Path. Y

ou can also take the U1A bus!

If you’re driving, there is a paid-for car park on Fistral Beach with space for 200 cars.

Here’s a blog post about how to get to Newquay.

Things to do on Fistral Beach

One of the best things to do in Newquay is definitely exploring Fistral beach.

Here’s all that you can do on this glorious stretch of sand.

Surfing

Newquay, United Kingdom - August 21, 2007: Surfing off Fistral Beach at Newquay in Cornwall in the southwest of the United Kingdom

One of the UK’s best surfing beaches, Fistral Beach is the place to go in Cornwall (and, let’s be honest, the whole of the UK) if you’re looking to catch some waves.

Lots of the UK’s biggest surfing competitions, like BUCS Surfing Championship, happen here, so you can be sure that you’ll find some swell at Fistral!

Thanks to the two headlands on either side of the beach, regular waves funnel in, sometimes reaching six to eight feet.

If you haven’t surfed before, don’t worry – there are lots of schools at Fistral Beach, and the instructors will show you the beginner swells! There are also surfboard rental shops.

North Fistral has large barrels on low tide, with mainly right-handers. It’s great for beginners, although it is a very busy spot during the summer months.

South Fistral is a little has good west/ southwest swell, with south/ southeast wind offshore.

Relaxing

Colour image of families enjoying their holiday on Fistral beach, Cornwall, England.

Fistral Beach is great for sunbathing – you’re in Costa del Cornwall, after all!

It’s a 750 metre long sandy beach, so there’s plenty of space for you to roll down a towel, kick back and relax.

If you want to hire some sand chairs, speak to Fistral Surf Hire Shop (their phone number is 01637 850854). 

As there’s so much space for spreading out and playing games, it’s the perfect family beach. 

Hiking

Lookout place known as the Huer’s Hut on the cliffs at Newquay, Cornwall, England

Fistral is on the South West Coast Path, so it’s a glorious place for hiking. You can walk over the clifftops to Huer’s Hut, which was used to look out for pilchards.

There are some incredible views from here toward Newquay town and back to Fistral Beach.

The other way, you can walk across the River Gannel (at the right time of day!) and all the way towards Perranporth. This beautiful walk traverses past some lesser-known Newquay spots such as Crantock Beach and Poly Joke. 

Sand Dunes

Sand dunes line the back of Fistral Beach, and they’re perfect for running around in and taking in the views of the Atlantic Ocean!

Swimming

Newquay, UK - September 5th, 2012: Lifeguard and rescue van on Fistral Beach in Cornwall.

While there are better swimming beaches around Newquay due to the rough shores at Fistral, there is an RNLI lifeguard here in the summer months, usually from Easter until the end of October.

On South Fistral Beach, the cover is from the start of July until the start of September.  

Go to Boardmasters Festival

Boardmasters Festival is usually held in August every year, and it’s the largest surf and skate festival in Europe. And it takes place right here on Fistral Beach!

Watch the sunset

Early evening photo of the rock pools on Fistral beach Newquay, Cornwall, South West England.  The sun is setting and very low in the sky, slightly obscured by clouds.  The tide out exposing the rock pools, sand and rocks.

The Fistral sunset is legendary.

As it’s a west-facing beach, you’ll be graced with a spectacle every night as the sun descends into the Atlantic Ocean, silhouettes of dedicated surfers catching the last waves of the day still visible.

Where to stay in Fistral Beach

Bay, rocks, beach, Fistral Beach, Newquay, famous popular surfer beach, The Headland Hotel and Spa

Headland Hotel and Spa

The Headland Hotel and Spa is one of the most iconic places to stay in Newquay. It’s a Victorian hotel with an impressive spa, surf school and a terrace with a sea view.

It’s a popular spot in the summer months, with gorgeous views over Fistral Beach, but it’s also a wonderful place for storm watching in the winter.

The spa facilities are the perfect place to relax and unwind all year round! 

Click here to read more about the Headland Hotel and Spa.

The Atlantic Hotel

The Atlantic Hotel in Newquay is a four-star award-winning hotel with charming features but plenty of modern facilities.

There’s a marble stairway in the entrance, with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

Every room has a sea view, and all are kitted out with comfortable beds and lavish touches.

Click here to read more and to reserve your room.

Esplanade Hotel

This four-star hotel gazes out over Fistral Beach, and offers family and couple rooms, ideal for any group size. Rooms are modern and fresh-feeling, with plenty of natural light.

The Cove restaurant onsite serves local seafood and other classics, and there’s also a cocktail bar.

Read more about Esplanade Hotel by clicking here.

Restaurants near Fistral Beach

Fish and Chips with Peas and Lemon on a White Plate, a Typical Traditional Dish of English Cuisine with Deep Fried Cod and Fries

Rick Stein Fistral

Rick Stein’s Fistral Beach restaurant serves incredible locally-sourced seafood. Just make sure that you book far in advance!

The Deck

Located at the Headland Hotel, The Deck provides al fresco Italian-style dining with views of the waves. Choose from salad, hand-cut pasta and delectable flatbreads.

Dune Restaurant

This is definitely one of the best restaurants in Newquay! Dune Restaurant permits amazing vistas of the Cornish coastline, and serves seasonal food that’s sourced locally.  

Lenninwick Lodge Restaurant

Lenninwick Lodge Restaurant serves tasty classics like smoked salmon and crispy squid with larger plates, like cauliflower steak, roasted Atlantic cod and confit duck leg.

If you want a varied menu with plenty of options for any dietary requirements, it’s worth checking out!

Other beaches around Newquay

Towan Rock and beach in Newquay, Cornwall

From gorgeous hidden coves to sprawling sands, there are plenty of beautiful Cornish beaches in Newquay

  • Towan Beach: Located right below Killacourt, the grassy area close to Newquay high street, Towan Beach is home to the iconic Towan Island, a rocky outcrop with a bridge connecting to the mainland.
  • Lusty Glaze Beach: This beach is privately owned (although entry is free) and it’s sheltered between two cliffs. It can be booked for weddings and funcitons.
  • Tolcarne Beach: This beach is located right next to Towan; at high tide, you can walk between the two.
  • Newquay Harbour Beach: This is the historic quay (where the town gets its name from!). There’s a patch of sand here, and I really recommend eating at The Boathouse, which is a beachside street food dining spot.

Is Fistral beach busy? 

Fistral is one of the busiest beaches in Cornwall, but as it’s quite long, you’ll find there’s usually a bit of space to spread out. Particularly busy times are in July and August. 

What is Fistral Beach famous for?

Fistral Beach is famous for surfing, with exceptional waves gracing the shore nearly every day.

"Newquay, Cornwall, UK - August 11, 2010: Surfers on Fistral Beach, Newquay"

Is Fistral beach nice? 

Yes, Fistral Beach is lovely – one of the best beaches in Newquay, if not all of Cornwall! 

Can you swim in Firstral Beach? 

You can swim at Fistral Beach, but be wary of rips. There are RNLI lifeguards in the summer months. 

How much is parking at Firstral Beach? 

Parking at Fistral beach costs £2.20 for one hour, £3.80 for two hours and £6 for three hours.

Is Fistral Beach good for beginners? 

Yes, beginner surfing is possible at Fistral Beahc, 

Who owns Fistral Beach?

Fistral Beach is not privately-owned.

Is Fistral Beach sandy? 

Yes, Fistral Beach is nearly a kilometre of glorious sand!

This famous surfing beach is in an amazing location on the north coast of Cornwall and offers something for everyone.

With steep sand dunes, incredible waves, an amazing sunset virtually every night and great hiking opportunities, you’ll love every inch of Fistral! 

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