Polzeath has a reputation for epitomising warm and welcoming Cornish ‘cool’ for family holidays with a twist – even teenagers love it here!
This small village on the headland, opposite Padstow, was a favourite haunt of poet Sir John Betjeman, and these days, despite being compact, it is a veritable haven for surfers, with a number of pubs, cafes and restaurants for apres-surf!
Tatler even called it “the British St Tropez”, a world of safe freedoms and wetsuits. To be honest, it is more low key and friendly, but probably rather less sunny!
From the motorway (M5), follow the A30, A395 and B3314. Polzeath is about 7 miles from Wadebridge, 14 miles from Bodmin.
If coming from either direction, approach Wadebridge on the A389 (from Bodmin) or the A39. At the roundabout on the outskirts of Wadebridge, head on to the B3314 (signposted to Polzeath) and follow signs.
There is direct and level access to the beach via Polzeath Beach car park. There is also a field car park on the approach to Polzeath, 1 large field car park above the cliffs, and 1 small car park close to the beach. An additional car park is at New Polzeath. If you can find accommodation with parking, then take it!
Try the Point at Polzeath with superb elevated views of the ocean at Hayle Bar and Pentire point, with floor to ceiling windows and a delightful sheltered terrace area. The informal Bear Sports Bar is worth a visit, as it shows Sky and BT sports, so you don’t have to miss your favourite match or event.
Or head to Polzeath’s relaxed beachside cafes to grab a pizza, gastro burger or some fresh seafood. Take your pick from Surfside which really is on the beach with access from the sand (they also have a cool rum bar set up behind) or the chic Cracking Crab, offering light bites and seafood platters by the bucketload – imagine fresh crab right by the sea.
Polzeath is the quintessential surf beach, so older children (7+) and teenagers will love to learn to catch a wave. The enclosed bay and shallow waters mean you walk out with your board rather than paddling out, so it is less tiring for younger ones. Surfing is great for wearing children out, bringing on a good night’s sleep.
Don’t forget the free and easy activities though, such as building sandcastles, and seeking out sea life in rock pools – buckets and nets are available to buy locally. Beach games are also good fun, like cricket, rounders, football and racquet sports.
Opposite Polzeath beach, you’ll find Coronation Gardens where you can play pitch and putt, try the bungee trampoline or play tennis at an outdoor court. There is also a bouncy castle. Near to Polzeath is the Camel Creek Adventure Park visitor destination, which younger children will love.
Have we mentioned surfing?
Surf’s Up surf school is a home grown, grass roots family business with a big reputation, so get a taste for the surf life here.
Wave Hunters also offers progressive surf coaching and equipment hire, but also boat trips and private charter.
Or try coasteering and sea kayaking with the popular Era Adventures.
Polzeath has some lovely galleries. There are two Whitewater galleries, for paintings, etchings, sculptures, studio ceramics and contemporary crafts, with featured artists throughout the year.
Many people love Becky Bettesworth’s prints. She offers modern and fresh vintage style posters and prints from a bygone age.
Zeath Gallery champions unique works by local artists offering an eclectic selection.
Nirvana for surfers, the golden sand and shingle beach is lifeguarded in summer, so also fabulous for families who enjoy sandcastle building and rock pooling. Although it is a largely safe Blue Flag beach, the surf can be large with rip currents, so avoid letting your children in the water with inflatables.
Wetsuits and boards can be hired beachside by the hour. The less confident might have just as much fun bodyboarding as surfing. There is less to learn, the water is shallow, and you can easily hire boards from Ann’s Cottage.
You may also park on the beach – some people love the convenience of this. There is a seasonal dog ban, however, during the summer season. A BBQ or picnic on the beach, watched over by a glowing sunset, is a great way to end your day.
To be honest, Polzeath is more about surfing than shopping. Three are a few surf shops and convenience stores but as locals will tell you, for a range of independent shops, visit nearby Wadebridge, the largest town in the area.
When the weather is good, it is hard to beat Polzeath. There is a school of thought that says if the weather is bad, it is probably pleasanter and warmer in the sea than out of it, depending on conditions, of course. If in doubt, check with the lifeguards; that’s why they are there.
Just out of Polzeath is Pentire Glaze, an old lead mine that used to be one of the main employment sources in the area. The car park at Pentire Glaze is perfect for walking a stretch of the south-west coast path around Pentire Headland and The Rumps, so you don’t have to walk as far from Polzeath.
The Rumps near Polzeath are perfect for dolphin spotting, so take your binoculars.
View of Port Quin Bay from The Rumps at Pentire, Cornwall
Try the cycle path along the Camel estuary from Wadebridge, about 15 minutes drive from Polzeath.
The affluent village of rock is under two miles away. From here, you can catch a ferry to Padstow, being on the water fun in itself, but also offering somewhere new to see.
There is good walking on the coast path north to Pentire Point. Walking south on the coast path, there is a small pebble beach called Greenaway Beach, on which dogs are welcome all year round. It is most definitely a walking area around here and while in the area do take in St Enodoc Church.
The National Trust Pentire headland walk is also spectacular, though moderately difficult.
Coast path from Lundy Bay toward The Rumps, Pentire, Cornwall
It is really busy here in August, a haven for teenagers and families, occasionally affectionately referred to as Eton-on-Sea.
At the south end of the beach is Brea Hill. It is only a 15 minute walk to the top, for an amazing view over the Camel estuary, dotted with windsurfers and small craft, out towards Padstow.
The sunsets over the beach are grand here, so stay beachside to catch one. Also, the roads out of Polzeath are steep so in the town/beach side is the place to be.
Try the Camel Valley Vineyard for a drink or a wine tour.
The weather here is warm and temperate, with July the warmest month and February the coolest. It is prone to rain, but luckily the sea is also wet! Get your flip flops on – and an extra sweater, just in case!
There are pay toilets just across the road, behind the beach.
The pretty little surfer beach village of Polzeath is nestled on the north coast of Cornwall, just to the east of Padstow and is the perfect setting for your holiday home.