19 best things to do in Rock, Cornwall (2024 guide)

Are you looking for the best things to do in Rock? I’ve put together my top picks in this blog post!

Sitting on the banks of the Camel Estuary, Rock’s becoming an increasingly popular village with gastronomy fans and watersports enthusiasts. 

In recent years, it’s gained prestige as one of the most glamorous places to visit in Cornwall, with an impressive catalogue of celebrity chefs calling it home. 

It’s a small village, with one main road leading along the river, but there’s a surprising amount of things to do in town and the surrounding area. 

I recently visited Rock as part of a stay with St Moritz Hotel, although I’ve been to the village numerous times throughout the years – I’m a West Country local, living in Devon, and my family are from Cornwall. 

So, if you’re staying in Rock or nearby and are wondering what the best attractions and activities in the area are, here’s my full guide! 

This blog post may contain affiliate links.

Things to do in Rock

Rock may be small, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of things to do! From watersports to fine dining, here are the best attractions in the area. 

1. Chill out on Rock Beach

Rock beach with boats dotted on the waters

Rock Beach isn’t my favourite in the area – it’s less fine white sand, more coarse shingle and there’s not much space to spread out and relax, but it is right by the main street of the village!

This makes it ideal for sitting on the wall above, sipping a coffee and watching the boat traffic of the Camel Estuary go by

If you don’t fancy a longer walk, strolling along Rock Beach is pleasant too. Just be mindful of people launching watersports gear! 

2. Rock lifeboat centre

Rock lifeboat centre

The Rock lifeboat centre, administered by the RNLI, is a nautical-themed shop and information centre. 

Lifeboats leave from this station. 

It’s had 516 call-outs and has saved 88 lives since 1994 – which is certainly impressive, but that makes it one of the smaller ones in the area. 

For comparison, the lifeboat station in Exmouth, where I live, does 100 callouts every year

That said, the small station is a testament to the life-saving volunteering of the RNLI – it’s also a valuable place to visit if you want to learn more about beach safety. 

Learn about boat rescue in the select exhibits, chat with the volunteers or venture to the shop where you can purchase some RNLI-themed souvenirs – all profits go to the charity. 

We bought an RNLI-themed mug and keyring

3. Fishing trips

Fancy heading out to the water – and potentially catching dinner?

Father and son duo, Rodney and Jason, offer daily fishing trips on board their boat, the Optimus Prime

Having been in business for over 15 years, they combine a keen passion for fishing with extensive local knowledge. 

They can also arrange sightseeing trips around the Camel Estuary and Coastline

There’s room for 12 passengers on-board and they’re a dog-friendly boat (but do let them know in advance if you’re bringing your furry friend along!). 

Read more on their website.

4. Walk to Polzeath 

The South West Coast Path near St Moritz

The three-mile route from Rock to Polzeath winds past the river, taking in the opposite cliffs of the Camel Estuary as it journeys north. 

A fairly easy hike, it travels past the stunning Daymer Bay (on a sunny day, the glittering blue ocean will have you feeling like you’re somewhere much more tropical!) and ultimately leads to the surf town of Polzeath

It’s part of the South West Coast Path – at this point, the path heads inland to Rock, where you can cross the River Camel by the ferry to Padstow, and then it ventures back out to the coast. 

Check out my full guide to the hike by clicking here.

5. Visit Daymer Bay

The beautiful Daymer Bay Beach

If you tackle the Rock to Polzeath walk, you could stop halfway at Daymer Bay, a haven for wild swimming and paddleboarding. 

However, if you don’t fancy the hike, I’d still recommend a side trip to Daymer Bay; pack a paddleboard and picnic, and relax on the brilliant white sand.

In my opinion, it’s one of the prettiest Cornish beaches, but because it’s a little out of the way, it’s never as busy as others!

6. Visit Sharps Brewery

Fancy a tipple after all that sun, sea and sand? Head to Sharps Brewery, which is a half-hour walk or a quick four-minute drive from Rock. 

You may have sipped on Sharps before; it’s renowned for creating Doom Bar Ale, a staple in many pubs throughout the country. 

Their tasting room and shop are open to tourists most days, but if you’re a beer aficionado, try their tasting experience. 

These tastings take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and include a digital tour of the brewery, an overview of the process and history of Sharps. 

Then – the best bit – you’re invited to taste a variety of beers! 

Check out the Sharps Brewery website for more information.

7. Hop across the river to Padstow

Rock to Padstow ferry

Constantly viewable from Rock, Padstow is one of Cornwall’s most popular harbour towns. 

Hop on the Black Tor ferry service, which connects the two in less than 10 minutes (for context, the drive would take around 30!). 

It’s an idyllic way to see the river, and once you arrive in Padstow, you can enjoy its gorgeous harbour and array of seafood restaurants (many run by the ubiquitous Rick Stein!). 

You can check out the best things to do in Padstow by clicking here.

8. Charter a boat with Wavehunters 

Based in Rock, Wavehunters is a marine-focused company that offers watersports equipment hire, wildlife-watching trips and a water taxi service

Charter a boat to see dolphins and seals in the surrounding area, or keep their number handy (07507 948025) in case you want to go for dinner in Padstow and arrange a water taxi in the evening!

9. Hit the waves in Polzeath

Polzeath in cornwall from rooftop

Just a 10-minute drive from Rock (or a walk on the South West Coast Path!), Polzeath sits right at the mouth of the River Camel

As it’s a little sheltered, the waves on Polzeath Beach aren’t as big as elsewhere on the north coast of Cornwall, but it’s perfect for beginner surfing

Wavehunters offer lessons in Polzeath, or there are numerous other schools based right on the sands. 

10. Dine at The Mariners by Paul Ainsworth

Outside the Mariners by Paul Ainsworth restaurant

While Padstow generally wins when it comes to high-end restaurants owned by celebrity chefs, Rock’s answer is The Mariners by Paul Ainsworth

The Mariners like to call itself a “pub”, although it’s far from your country-feeling, cosy establishment and looks more like a high-end dining establishment

Dine on dishes like crisp pollock hot dogs and local oysters; there’s also a range of local beverages that you can wash your dinner down with!

11. Stay in town for the Rock Oyster festival

The Rock Oyster Festival is a highlight of the town’s calendar. 

It may focus on oysters, but this summer event is more than just a food festival

It’s a vibrant gathering that brings together music, art, and gastronomy. 

Yes, you’ll have the chance to sample oysters in all their briny glory, but there’s also a wide array of other local food and drink to enjoy. 

With live music echoing across the estuary, cooking demonstrations, and plenty of activities for kids, it’s a festival that has something for everyone. 

12. Go waterskiing with Camel Surf School 

Watersports on the River Camel

Since its opening in 1977, Camel Ski School has been the go-to place for waterskiing enthusiasts on the estuary. 

Waterskiing’s an exhilarating adventure where you glide across the water’s surface on either two skis or a single ‘mono’ ski, towed behind a boat. 

Lessons are suitable for complete beginners, but experienced skiers can also be catered to! 

The school provides a variety of ski equipment tailored to different skill levels.

Beyond waterskiing, Camel Ski School also offers stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), wakeboarding, and wake surfing from their base in Rock. 

13. Take a swing at St Enodoc Golf Club

Play a round of golf at the St Enodoc Golf Club

Fancy a round of golf? 

St Enodoc Golf Club is known for its distinctive layout and spectacular views over the Camel Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean.

With two courses – the Church Course and Holywell Course – St Enodoc is ideal for golfers of all abilities. 

Click here to read more about it.

14. Shop or take a class at the Porthilly Spririt Distillery Shop

Situated right on Rock’s main street, the Porthilly Spirit Distillery is a shop where you can purchase a Cornish souvenir to take home; and also a distillery offering a range of experiences.

Enjoy a range of classes, including Mixology master classes, tastings and even distil your own gin sessions!

More information can be found on their website.

15. Paddleboarding at Port Quin 

Port Quin

Yes, more watersports!

This time it’s at Port Quin, which is on the Cornish coast, a 13-minute drive from Rock. 

Port Quin is a tiny cove – there’s nothing much here other than a few holiday cottages – but it’s widely regarded as one of the best places for stand-up paddleboarding in Cornwall

Cornish Coast Adventures have rental facilities right at Port Quin, so you can hire a board out and quickly take to the waves. 

Rates are on the costlier side, at £30 for two hours, but Port Quin is a long natural harbour with pond-like still waters, making it the ideal place to practice the sport. 

16. Find your inner zen at the St Moritz Spa

Claire sitting in a sauna, relaxing at the St Moritz hotel

Experience unparalleled relaxation at the Cowshed Spa in St. Moritz Hotel, just a five-minute drive from Rock.

Unwind with a day pass; most deals include a selection of treatments and use of leisure facilities for a day.

You can also make use of St Moritz’s fantastic restaurants, offering fresh, local seafood and veggie and meat dishes.

Read more about it by clicking here.

17. Visit Tarquin’s Gin Distillery near Wadebridge

At the renowned Tarquins Gin Distillery, step into an immersive 90-minute tour where you’ll be welcomed with a refreshing drink and invited to discover the secrets behind their high-quality spirits. 

The tour includes a tantalising gin tasting where you’ll sample their distinctive Cornish Dry Gin, Blood Orange Gin, Cornish Pastis, and the intriguing Three Hops Brewery Gin.

You’ll also have the unique opportunity to seal your own bottle with Tarquin’s signature wax. 

Check out my full review of the tour by clicking here.

18. Doc Martin tour of Port Isaac

Sunset in Port Isaac, Cornwall, South West England

Immerse yourself in the world of Doc Martin with a 1.5-hour tour around Port Isaac, which is around a 20-minute drive from Rock. 

This tour guides you through numerous well-known settings from the show.

See where the curmudgeonly Doc Martin resides, the school his son attends, and other notable village landmarks like the pharmacy and Louisa’s former abode. 

The tour is peppered with fun trivia about the show and provides a glimpse into Port Isaac’s real-life history. 

Once a very isolated village, Port Isaac has a long history as a port for slate from nearby Delabole. 

This engaging tour lasts 1.5 hours and provides a perfect blend of fictional intrigue and real-world history. 

Click here to read more and book your spot.

19. Cycle on the Camel Estuary

Take the boat over to Padstow and hire a bike from Padstow Cycle Hire, where you can embark on the Camel Trail, a disused railway line that is now one of the best ways to explore the Camel Estuary. 

This 18-mile trail, renowned for its riverside scenery and rich wildlife, threads its way from Padstow to Wenfordbridge via Wadebridge and Bodmin. 

Cycle the whole path, or stop in Wadebridge or Bodmin. You could also hike or jog along the path – the 11A bus runs back along the route for the return journey. 

Where to stay in Rock

St Moritz Hotel is a five-minute drive away, in nearby Trebetherick, and it’s a refreshing retreat-style accommodation. 

I stayed here for two nights on my recent trip to North Cornwall, and loved the panoramic views over the estuary, the delicious dining experiences, the Cowshed spa and the indoor and outdoor pool! 

If you want somewhere to truly relax and unwind in this part of Northern Cornwall, there’s nowhere better than St Moritz. 

See my full review here

How to Get to Rock 

Sea views of Rock in Cornwall

Rock’s best accessed by car – take the A30 to just pass Launceston, and then take the A389 and B3314 toward the village. 

You could technically get the train to Bodmin Parkway and jump one of a few Cornish buses to Rock, but I wouldn’t advise it – buses in North Cornwall aren’t well-known for their reliability or speed.

If you are taking the train to Cornwall, I’d recommend pre-booking a taxi from Bodmin Parkway to Rock

FAQs about visiting Rock

View over the bright blue sea of Rock in Cornwall

Is Rock worth visiting in Cornwall?

Rock’s small, but for those who fancy trying their hand at watersports, or anyone who loves serene estuary views, it’s worth a visit.

Plus, it’s an ideal base to explore nearby towns and villages like Port Isaac, Tintagel and Boscastle

Is Rock a village or a town?

Rock’s a small village that sits opposite Padstow on the River Camel. 

Is Rock in Devon or Cornwall?

Rock is located in the county of Cornwall. It is situated along the Camel Estuary, facing Padstow across the water.

How long is the ferry from Padstow to Rock?

The ferry ride from Padstow to Rock takes approximately 10 minutes, which is much quicker than the 30 minutes plus journey that it would take to get around the estuary! 

What time is the ferry crossing from Rock to Padstow?

The ferry service from Rock to Padstow typically operates between 8 am to 5 pm, but it’s always best to check the latest timetables as they can vary depending on the season and weather conditions.

What is the nearest town to Rock, Cornwall?

The nearest town to Rock is Wadebridge, located about 6 miles away. Wadebridge is quite a quiet, non-touristy town, but it is on the Camel Trail which is a popular cycling route. 

Are you ready to visit Rock? 

At first glance, Rock’s an unassuming river town, but there’s a surprising amount of things to do here!

Whether you’re into watersports or fine dining, you’ll love the relaxed vibe of this estuary town. 

Take look at the rest of my Cornwall posts for more information about visiting the region, or feel free to reach out on Instagram if you have any questions!

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