Watergate Bay is situated just 3 miles north of the popular beach town of Newquay. As the name suggests Watergate Bay is home to a fantastic beach with one of Cornwall’s most glorious sunset panoramas, alongside a great choice of eateries, plenty of watersport activities and a relaxed seaside vibe.
Despite Newquay having its own airport, which is just over 2 miles from Watergate Bay, most arrive in Cornwall car or train.
By car most the most common route is to take the M5 or the more scenic A303, both routes join up to the A30 and then a short stretch of A39 to get to Newquay. For Watergate Bay you’ll end up on B3276. From London the journey to Watergate Bay will take around 5 hours.
If you’re driving to North Cornwall in a plug-in electric vehicle, see our list of charging locations here.
It is also easy to get to Newquay by train from all over the UK, with direct routes from some of the country’s biggest cities, including London, Birmingham and Manchester. It’s worth remembering that Watergate Bay is about 5-10 minute drive from Newquay
Watergate Bay benefits from two car parks. The closest to the beach and the largest is run by Cornwall Council. It has 400 spaces and to park for an hour costs £1.60. To park for 3-4 hours will cost £6.30 or you can pay £8.40 to park for 24 hours.
The second car park in Watergate Bay is a 3 minute walk to the beach and is the slightly cheaper parking option. There are 150 spaces and parking prices start from £1.50 for an hour.
There are several restaurants to choose from right on the beach.
We particularly love Zacry’s, perfect for a special night out with a bistro style menu if you feel like a night off from cooking in your self-catering cottage.
Talk of the town is chef Emily Scott’s restaurant which sits right on the beach. Inspired by nature and the chef’s love for bringing people around a table, you’ll find plenty of seafood on the menu as well as lots of plant-based options.
For breakfast why not head to The Beach Hut for a scrumptious breakfast? Choose from roasted squash chilli to American style pancakes and everything in between. In fact you’ll find delicious food throughout the day as it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Using local ingredients with international cuisine, diners will enjoy the large windows open onto the deck overlooking Watergate Bay.
A great spot for lunch is Wax Watergate Bay. A cool surfers’ hangout, with hand-rolled sourdough pizzas, tasty small plates and hearty burgers, plus plenty of beer to wash it down with.
The obvious answer is to head straight to the beach when holidaying in Watergate Bay. But if you’re looking to fill your days with some activities, you’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of things to do nearby.
Less than 6 miles from Watergate Bay is DairyLand Farm World. Great for young ones, you’ll find pony rides and tractors, indoor and outdoor play areas, bouncy trampolines and more.
Closer to home, pay a visit to the Blue Reef Aquarium overlooking Towan Beach. Kids will love walking through the underwater tunnel, exploring the species of fish and learning about marine conservation.
Newquay Zoo is a must too, particularly if grey skies loom. With dozens of different animals to see – in fact it’s home to over 130 species of some of the world’s most rare and endangered animals – across 13 acres, there’s plenty to see and do.
For a buccaneering experience, Pirate’s Quest is a fun-filled pirate adventure. Man the decks and weigh anchor as you embark on a brand new adventure golf course through the Golden Age of Piracy. It’s completely under cover, so a perfect place to escape to other worlds, if you get a showery day.
Watergate Bay is one of the largest beaches in and around Newquay, and undeniably one of Cornwall’s most famous. But it’s not just a surfer’s paradise, it happens to be one of the few year-round dog-friendly beaches with 2 miles of sandy beaches available at low tide. There are plenty of rock pools to explore, golden sand to wander on and water to paddle in.
If you want to explore different beaches, there are plenty nearby. Five miles south of Watergate Bay is Fistral Beach, another beach which has put Newquay on the map as the UK’s number one surfing destination.
Two miles north, is Sunday Times award-winning beach Mawgan Porth. A long beach with plenty of sand, it’s the perfect spot to build a sandcastles.
Watergate Bay isn’t a shopper’s paradise, so if you want a proper browse it’s worth heading to Newquay.
However, as the name suggests ‘The Shop on the Beach’ couldn’t get much closer to the beach. It opened in 2000 and is full stocked with all your holiday essentials, particularly if you have kids in tow. You’ll find the favourite outdoor pursuit brands such as O’Neill, Patagonia, C-Skins and Joules.
The attractions aforementioned in the kids section are all great options for when the weather isn’t playing ball and you’re on a family holiday.
There’s a cinema in Newquay, which has four screens to choose from, so you’re sure to find something you fancy watching. Or relaxation may be more your thing. Treat yourself to a special spa day at either Fistral Spa and Headland Spa in Newquay or The Scarlet in Mawgan Porth.
Headland Hotel and Spa, Fistral beach, Cornwall. © Guy Harrop
The Scarlet, Mawgan Porth
Any beach walks need to be timed to coincide with low tide. One such is the walk from Watergate Bay to Porth which can only be completed without diversion about an hour before low tide. Alternatively go via the peaceful cliff path, bejewelled by summer thrift, with spectacular views. On a sunny day, the rather photogenic sea is transformed into a deep azure.
It’s likely you’ll visit nearby Newquay while you’re in Watergate Bay, why not walk there? It’s a 3.5 mile walk along the coastal path. The route takes you past Whipsiderry, Porth Island, Porth beach, Lusty Glaze and Tolcarne. At low tide, you can choose to walk stretches of this walk along the beaches below the town. If you’ve run out of energy you may want to get the bus back. The bus departs from Great Western Hotel, and is quite frequent.
Watergate Bay has been used as a location for many productions, including film Plunge a surfing film which stars Kate Winslet.
While the beach is mainly filled with aspiring surfers, back in May 2007 it played host to the English Nationals Surfing Championships.
Like any Cornish destination, for sunny climes it’s best to visit Watergate Bay from June through August. Weather in late June, early July and September is still usually pretty pleasant.
Public toilets are roughly 150m from Watergate Bay beach, near the main council car park. Be aware that there is a 20p charge to use the toilets, so make sure you’re prepared.
With a chilled vibe and some of the best restaurants on the north coast of Cornwall, booking your self-catering holiday cottage in Watergate Bay is a fantastic choice.