Surf's Up: a Coast to Coast Adventure in Cornwall

Take to the waves in Cornwall and embrace the Atlantic Ocean
Take to the waves in Cornwall and embrace the Atlantic Ocean | © Farlap / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Isabella Noble
31 March 2021

Stay in a stylish hotel and spend days coasteering and stand-up paddleboarding on this adrenaline-fuelled tour.

With its swirling Atlantic waves, sugary blonde beaches and cliff-edged coast, it’s no surprise that Cornwall has become the UK’s surfing capital. It all began with the arrival of four young Australian lifeguards and their boards to Newquay in the 1960s. Today, this county is where England’s South West coastline reaches its wildest (almost 30% of the land here is protected as the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), and Cornwall’s famously creative flair invariably infuses the breezy seaside towns and villages – from where you can go hiking, cycling, kayaking, paddleboarding, coasteering, horse riding and more.

“When it comes to outdoor adventure, Cornwall can’t be beaten,” says Mike Young, head coach at Newquay’s Escape Surf School. “The rugged north coast provides year-round options for surfing at all levels of experience, while the more sheltered south coast is ideal for sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and wild swimming. Away from the coast, there’s also hiking, climbing, pony trekking and just exploring the beautiful countryside and moorland.”

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up three adrenaline-fuelled adventures in Cornwall, led by expert local guides, and have combined it with a stylish Victorian-era townhouse overlooking the English Channel for the ultimate post-activity retreat – all bookable right here on Culture Trip…

A lone surfer riding a wave at Sennen in Cornwall, England, UK
People walking on the South West Coast Path at Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall, England, UK
Squeeze into a wetsuit and hit the waves at Sennen Cove | © Mick Buston / Alamy Stock Photo Sennen, right at the tip of Cornwall, is one of the UK's finest surf spots | © incamerastock / Alamy Stock Photo Take in the coast at your own pace on the South West Coast Path | © David Lichtneker / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to stay: the hotel…

The Old Quay House Hotel

Hotel
Map View
Courtesy of The Old Quay House Hotel / Expedia
In the pastel-painted, south-coast port town of Fowey, where Daphne du Maurier once lived, this adults-only 1889 townhouse is all about Cornwall-chic design and dazzling estuary views. Calming tones, natural fabrics and elegant oak furniture mingle in the 13 coast-inspired rooms, which have been styled by the creative duo behind local interiors boutique, Brocante (we love the Loft suite with its in-room roll-top bath). But dining out on the waterside deck is a highlight, too: fabulously fresh South West produce fires chef Richard Massey’s seasonal cooking, which means dishes such as charred Cornish mackerel, thyme-infused gnocchi with grilled oyster mushrooms and Cornish cheese boards. Relax the evenings away with original cocktails including the Quay Sling, made with Salcombe gin from neighbouring Devon.
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What to do: the experiences…

ActivitiesHalf-Day Surf Experience in Newquay
From $48 per person
2 hours 30 minutes

Clifftop Newquay, on the north Cornish coast, is the epicentre of Cornwall’s surf scene, home to wave-tastic Fistral Beach. Escape Surf School has been teaching the all-season ropes here for over 17 years, with all instructors qualified by ISA/Surfing England. This two-hour small-group session is adapted to your level, paying special attention to safety, and the experienced team chooses whichever beach has the best conditions each day.

ActivitiesZero 2 Hero Stand-Up Paddleboarding
From $65 per person
2 hours

Another wonderfully rewarding way to enjoy Cornwall’s coast at a relaxing pace is from a paddleboard. This keen local team (who have their own “board-to-bar” clothing line, too) run fun-filled, environmentally conscious SUP trips on the Fowey estuary, where landscapes melt from salt marshes to sandy beaches and forested slopes. Instructors tailor itineraries to your personal experience, whether you’re a complete beginner or a pro, and this two-hour session covers all the basics to get you started.

ActivitiesNewquay Coasteering Adventure
From $63 per person
2 hours

It isn’t all about riding the waves in Cornwall. Join a two-hour multi-activity expedition around Newquay’s Towan Headland to wild swim the coastline, explore hidden caves and whirlpools, brave some rock-climbing and, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, go deep-water cliff jumping. These knowledgeable coasteering instructors are all qualified lifeguards, and there are sweeping surf beach views the entire way, as well as historical curiosities to discover, such as relics from WWII.

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