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!
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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 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
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!).
4. Walk to Polzeath
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.
5. Visit Daymer Bay
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!
7. Hop across the river to Padstow
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!).
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
15. Paddleboarding at 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
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.
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.
18. Doc Martin tour of Port Isaac
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.
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.
How to Get to Rock
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
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.
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.