A short, sober weekend in Newquay

You’d have thought that Newquay was nothing more than a playground for well-off 14 year old drunken teens causing havoc in what otherwise is a peaceful seaside town. That isn’t quite the reality of course; for a start this isn’t a peaceful seaside town.

It’s a noisy vibrant place with a few too many stag parties and lots of parents shouting at their children as they drift from arcade to chip shop to gift shop. In fact it’s much like any seaside town, just not a Devon/Cornwall twee seaside town. And in that sense, for us as a family on a short break down there, it was ideal. We love chips by the sea, loud arcades, sheltering from the rain in caves along big beaches, getting sunburnt under cloud cover, having a pint in a bar with too-loud music. We love all that stuff. If you want typical Cornwall/Devon then go to St Ives. Newquay is Rhyll for the south coast.

Our brief weekend there was a freebie, courtesy of BMI Baby with input from Newquay tourist board. They sent Nicky Getgood and Karen Strunks to Belfast as well. They didn’t tell Nicky and Karen what to write and they haven’t told me what to write either. However, not having to pay for your flight or accommodation and getting free entry to the aquarium and Zoo does colour your judgement a tad. It certainly gave us family stuff to do (zoo was very nice,  aquarium was, well, an aquarium, I can never get excited about them but the kids loved it). The accommodation was in a quieter bit of town near the lovely, long Fistral beach.

Pure Shores Lodge, the ‘accommodation partner’ as the PR company referred to them, has the very friendly Lisa from Great Barr at the helm. It’s clean, relaxed, does a really fantastic breakfast (big on locally sourced produce) and has free wifi. Has decent Trip Advisor reviews if you don’t believe me.

The centre of Newquay does seem a bit overrun with bars designed solely to appeal to the stag and hen parties that descend on the place (lots of Brummie ones I was quietly pleased to see). They contribute to a rather drab central strip that’s a mix of cheap surf tat shops and fast food outlets. Plenty of places to get pasties though – mmmm pasties. But once you step off the high street: those beaches! Wow! Big, wide, impressive and with waves. Those in the know say other beaches further up or down are better but the further you go from the centre of Newquay the more self-consciously cool the beaches become and the less comfortable a family of brummies with simple needs feels.

In some ways Newquay seems to not know what it is trying to be. Teen-central (I saw no marauding teens by the way but then we were in bed by 10.30pm), stag/hen hotspot (great place for one – no question) or family resort. The taxi drivers who drove us to the airport and back were worried about some aspects of the way Newquay has changed but blamed poor policing and lax licensees rather than the visitors themselves.

Overall I suppose the issue is that Devon/Cornwall seems to be full of ‘nice’ places and Newquay doesn’t quite fit the mould. But Newquay isn’t Port Isaac, it isn’t Boscastle and is the better for not being so. It’s Skegness, it’s Weston-Super-Mare and is full of Brummie, northern, Cockney accents just as those places are. All I can say is we had a blast – even, in fact especially, on the rainy Sunday. We ticked off a long list of typical family seaside holiday stuff in a short amount of time. The pics and this short video tell the story I think: