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Cornwall Marine Directory

Cornwall's North Coast

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Cornwall’s north coast really comes into its own with adrenaline-fuelled adventure sports like surfing, kiting and windsurfing. There are miles of sandy golden beaches with great facilities with the added bonus of lifeguard cover during the season.

If you look carefully amid those breaking waves you will also see all manner of surf craft from bodyboarders to surf kayakers – you may also catch a glimpse of the occasional kneeboarder.

Aerial Photograph of St Ives

The consistent quality of surf on Cornwall’s north coast attracts wave riders from across Europe to sample its delights. Beaches such as Fistral, Perranporth, Porthtowan and Gwithian are high on the list of popular venues where a healthy swell can mix with prevailing winds to result in top quality waves.

The quality of the surf and the cleanliness of the beaches means this coast is the location of choice for organisers of surfing competitions that take place annually around its beaches. And when the waves aren’t breaking the craggy coastline offers much to explore in a sea kayak, not to mention the fact that those majestic cliffs offer coastal walks with fabulous views.

Power kiting and kitesurfing have grown massively in recent years – if you look to the sky above Watergate Bay on a windy day you’ll likely to see it filled with colourful kites pulling wave riders along and allowing them to jump to dizzying heights.

Watergate is a wide expanse of golden sand, often blessed with high-quality waves and home to the Extreme Academy,north_qtr_surfboard that teaches adrenaline sports – including kitesurfing – to a high standard. It is also the venue for quality food from the likes of Jamie Oliver who opened his new 15 Cornwall restaurant here in May 2006 so if you fancy a little aprés-surf; you wont have to look hard to find somewhere to treat yourself.

Other great beaches on this stretch of coast include Bude, Hayle and Gwithian. Gwithian is especially popular with competition windsurfers having hosted several high profile windsurfing competitions in past years.

Cornwall has taken a leaf out of Australia’s book as surf life saving becomes less a novelty in the county and more a part of the way of life. The surf life saving club on the beach at Porthtowan has established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the international competition scene, indeed the Porthtowan surfboat can often be seen training as it rows out through the breakers before surfing back in on the waves – a great sight for spectators.


north_qtr_kidsThese beaches are all within reach of the south coast via overland transport links which makes them well worth a day visit if staying in somewhere like Falmouth or Fowey. There is also plentiful accommodation in Newquay.

Towns such as St Ives, Newquay and Padstow are well worth a visit for their pure Cornish charm. St Ives is a beautiful fishing port perched on its own headland with an attractive sandy harbour and beaches facing at least three directions.

The charm of St Ives can be found in its tightly winding lanes, cobbled streets and high cottages and net lofts. It also has views over azure waters all the way across Carbis Bay to Godrevy Island as well as views to the north and west.

The sailing grounds of Padstow and Rock on the Camel Estuary are also on this coast. In mid-August each year the estuary is home to the Camel Week regatta – an extravaganza of sail mainly aimed at shallow-draft vessels such as dinghies, racing catamarans and Cornish Shrimpers which, being local craft, have a stronghold here.

The Camel also has a watersports area buoyed off and the local sailing club hosts a private waterski club with extensive equipment, a friendly clubhouse, and a good base on the estuary from which to enjoy waterskiing.

The estuary is also a great place to explore in a sea kayak or dinghy...


The estuary is also a great place to explore in a sea kayak or dinghy which allows you access to parts of the Camel too shallow to explore in other craft. The shape of the estuary means that viewing of action on the water is possible from either the eastern side, at Rock, or from the town at Padstow. At Rock, sandy beaches are the order of the day so it is a great day out to pack a picnic and take your time enjoying the scenery as well as the watersports.

While in Padstow, you may like to check out the home ground of TV chef Rick Stein who set up his Seafood Restaurant at Padstow in the 1980s and now also has a seaside bistro, seafood delicatessen and two smaller restaurants – St Petroc's Bistro and Rick Stein's Café. The most recent additions are the Padstow Seafood School overlooking the estuary and a fish and chips take away.

Whatever takes your fancy from the list of adrenaline sports, please remember that these sports can be dangerous. Make sure you take the advice of a local school or instructor before attempting something you are not experienced in.

Use the search box at the side of the page to help you find a training establishment that is most suited to your level of ability and experience. 

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