Fistral Beach is home to British surfing and as such is one of the most popular beaches in Cornwall.
Whether you’re an avid surfer or just enjoy lazy days at the beach this is certainly a must-visit location on your trip to the South West.
We spent most days here on our week-long summer trip to Newquay.
The beach is long enough that even in the height of summer visitors can spread out enough that you’ve plenty of space around you both on the sand and in the sea.
Nearby there’s plenty of facilities to keep you entertained for the entire day including; shops, restaurants, bars, surfing equipment hire.
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Newquay Town To Fistral Beach
We stayed in Newquay Town in a little B&B set back from Towan Beach and visited Fistral Beach on multiple occasions during our stay.
It’s around a 30-minute walk with a small inline and then decline on the final two streets to the beach (Beacon Road and Headland Road).
We’d advise against driving to the beach unless you struggle with mobility issues or are coming from out of town simply due to the lack of parking and the high volume of traffic – especially during peak season.
Fistral Beach isn’t signposted to pedestrians so if you don’t know where you’re going you’ll either want to use the GPS on your phone or ask a tourist / local for directions.
There’s plenty of shops, convenience stores, and restaurants that you can hop into during your walk between Newquay Town and Fistral Beach either to pick up some drinks and snacks for the beach or even a new t-shirt or bodyboard for the waves.
Parking At Fistral Beach
Parking at Fistral beach is free between 4am and 8am, and 6.30pm until midnight. Outside of these hours, regular parking charges apply.
There are more than 250 parking spaces at Fistral Beach, however, during the peak season these can be gone by 10.30am so it’s advisable to get there early to avoid disappointment.
During our most recent visit parking at Fistral Beach was;
1 Hour: £2.20
2 Hours: £3.80
3 Hours: £6.00
5 Hours: £8.50
10.5 Hours: £12.00
The parking machines only accepted payments in coins. However, you can also pay by SMS, Phone, or using the Just Park mobile application.
The Just Park mobile application was the easiest for us to use when paying by credit/debit card and took 5 minutes or so to set up.
You may be able to find some free roadside parking on the roads near Fistral Beach, however, these can be extremely hard to come by especially during peak times.
If you can’t find any parking at Fistral Beach then it’s worth downloading the Just Park app as you’re able to use the location services on your phone to find other available car parks nearby.
In our opinion, parking anywhere in Newquay is often one of the biggest frustrations (lack of space, tight car spaces, narrow roads) so if you can go without a car to Fistral Bay I’d advise doing so.
Is Fistral Beach Busy?
Fistral Beach is incredibly popular, therefore in the peak season (July and August) it can be extremely busy.
This is especially true during the Boardmasters festival which runs for four days in August. During this time the surfing contest takes place on Fistral Beach.
Anyone can come down during the festival and watch the surfing competition, therefore it can be busy with both festival-goers and surfing enthusiasts alike.
It’s worth noting that during the festival roads within Newquay will be closed, and parking around Fistral Beach will be limited due to the increased number of shopping, food, and drink stalls.
However, even during this peak season, there are still times where the beach is extremely quiet. We found that the best times are between 6am and 10am and 6pm until sunset.
While the beach is extremely busy during peak times and peak season there’s still plenty of space for everyone as the beach is around one mile long.
The further away from the main car park and cafe area you go the quieter it gets on the beach.
However, you may find yourself waiting longer than usual for a seat, drinks, and food at some of the restaurants and bars or in some cases be told it’s advanced reservations only.
There is another quick-service cafe and sit-down cafe at the far end of the beach but this gets just as busy in peak times.
Other notable dates where you might find Fistral Beach to be busier than usual are during the bank holidays and school holidays during the Spring and Summer months. This includes the likes of the May bank holiday and Easter school holidays.
Can You Camp At Fistral Beach?
You can bring a tent and camp on Fistral Beach for the day, this is fairly common practice and a great way to shelter yourself from the wind.
However, camping on Fistral Beach after the sun has set is highly advised against due to the tide and lack of lighting.
Staying overnight (between 12 midnight and 4am) in the nearby car park is also not permitted. Therefore you’ll likely have to find a designated camping spot.
The nearest one I could find to Fistral Beach when researching in advance of our trip was Trenance Holiday Park.
Where To Stay Near Fistral Beach
With camping on Fistral Beach being a no-go you’ll likely need to turn to some formal accommodation if you’re wishing to stay overnight nearby.
Accommodation in this area comes in all shapes and sizes depending on your budget from hostels, to bed and breakfasts all the way through to private studio apartments and hotels.
Based on our experience of visiting Newquay we recommend booking accommodation at least three months in advance, especially during peak times as the best places book up well in advance!
For reference during our most recent stay, we stayed at Lazy Wave’s B&B. This is based just off Towan Beach and is around a 30-minute stroll over to Fistral Beach.
Swimming At Fistral Beach
Swimming is welcomed at Fistral Beach, however, the waves can be intense and the water can be cold so in some cases you may want to bring a wetsuit or additional swimming aids for non-confident swimmers.
Wetsuits and additional swimming aids can be either rented or purchased from the shops and centers on Fistral Beach or within Newquay town if you don’t have your own.
The RNLI operates daily from 10am until 6pm from the 2nd April through to the 31st October keeping swimmers safe in the open water.
Be sure to take note of the flags and their meanings before heading into the water so you know what to expect.
If you or your children aren’t into swimming or want to do something else on your visit you might find the rock pools fun.
Further away at the far end of the beach (away from the main car park and cafe areas) there are plenty of rocks which create lovely little pools to explore.
Make sure to wear some suitable shoes or water shoes as the rocks are sharp and hard on bare feet.
We noticed many families were exploring the rocks and pools along with smaller children playing in the pools where it was safer and much quieter than the main swimming area of the sea.
Surfing At Fistral Beach
I decided to book a taster surfing session with the Newquay Visitor Center during our trip to Newquay.
There’s plenty of places you can take surfing lessons in Newquay but this place certainly has the best reviews, and the experience didn’t disappoint.
I had in the past done some surfing lessons out in Lanzarote, however being the best part of a decade ago I decided to start from scratch.
During the three-hour lesson, we headed down to Fistral Beach (although it’s worth noting the Newquay Activity Center switch between Fistral and Towan depending on the tide).
The lifeguards on Fistral will map out where you can surf, bodyboard, and swim with flags. It’s well worth checking out what each of these flags means in advance of your trip to Fistral beach if you plan on going in the water.
With a number of surf lessons taking place all within a small area of Fistral Beach mapped out by the RLNI the area can get incredibly crowded, and this was certainly the case during my surfing lessons.
I was highly conscious of who was coming towards me and who I’d be going towards if I was to attempt to surf a selected wave.
Of course, this isn’t the fault of the Newquay Activity Center, it’s more a byproduct of the success of Fistral Beach and how many people want to come to learn to surf here.
If you’re new to surfing you’ll likely be heading down to Fistral Beach between 9am and 3pm and as such you will be alongside many other lesson groups.
However, if you’re an experienced surfer then you may want to try and go either further out (behind the surfing lessons) or before / after the surfing lessons take place.
Most lessons are finished by 5pm and as such, you’ll notice many more experienced surfers heading down to Fistral with their wetsuits and surfboards in tow.
Can You Bring Dogs To Fistral Beach?
Dogs are welcome on Fistral Beach as such you’ll likely find a number of dogs on the beach.
Therefore if your dog isn’t friendly with other dogs you may want to take precautions for the safety of your own dog and others.
If you need any supplies for your dog before heading over to Fistral Beach you’ll find two dedicate pet stores in Newquay Town which is around a 30-minute walk away.
Can You Have A BBQ On Fistral Beach?
Sadly BBQs are not permitted at Fistral Beach. There are signs on the walk to and at the beach that state this as one of the beach’s rules.
Instead, you could opt to bring a picnic or check out one of the restaurants and bars on the beachfront.
Unsurprisingly food and drink on the beach itself are slightly inflated when compared to elsewhere in Newquay, you’re paying for the convenience.
Therefore if you’re on a budget you may want to pack some food and drinks instead – just be sure to dispose of any rubbish responsibly.