Watergate Beach, at Watergate Bay, Newquay, is a mile long private beach owned by the Watergate Bay Hotel. Although it’s a private beach, it’s completely open to the public – and probably most people don’t even know it’s private.
When you first visit Watergate Beach you might think it’s familiar – that’s because it was used for a lot of the filming of the TV series Echo Beach.
In recent years there’s been a ribbon of holiday apartments springing up along the roadside, all well-appointed and with balconies giving panoramic views over the beach and out to sea across the Atlantic Ocean. At night you can hear the waves crashing on the beach, if you’re looking for a holiday flat that’s just a few metres from the beach and with great sea views, then Waves Apartments are worth checking out, with panoramic sea views.
History of Watergate Bay
Going back a few years, Watergate Bay was a little out of town and not overly busy. There was a lovely, traditional, wooden shack of a shop where you could purchase the requisite flip flops, an ice cream and some postcards, but that was it. During the boom years, things changed. Newquay Airport opened up just a mile up the road, making Watergate Bay the closest beach/resort and ideally placed to market themselves to the city dwellers who wanted an accessible weekend break. Couple this with an upsurge in interest in surfing and Watergate Bay and Watergate Bay Hotel really took off. If you like to discover the past, read more: History of Watergate Bay
If you’re smart, wealthy, keen on expensive sports and well-dressed beach companions, this beach is the one for you – it’s labelled and modelled on being a “Ski Resort on a Beach”.
Slowly the whole area’s been transformed into a hotspot for the middle classes, the well-heeled and some celeb guests. The old-fashioned beach shop made way for Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant. Then the Extreme Sports Academy, providing exhilarating water sports opportunities for adrenalin junkies really took off. Next came the developments – the whole area was re-developed with expensive and tasteful apartments and holiday homes, within the footprint of the Hotel land and across the road where some shabby older buildings were demolished to make way for swish apartments.
What’s the Sand Like?
Watergate Beach itself is typically Cornish, with soft golden sand – and miles of it – with a backdrop of stunning 200′ cliffs. When the tide goes out the flat sand is an ideal spot for sand buggying, while in the water you’ll see not only surfers but a lot of kite surfers.
Once a year or so there’s a Polo on the Beach event, when you can watch horseriders playing polo on the sand.
You might even catch a glimpse of Andrea Wherry, who often kite-surfs to and from Watergate Bay. Andrea is a world champion female kite-surfer and deserving owner of a couple of world records for kite-surfing the longest distance; Andrea’s also an ex-Gladiator, so you might recognise her name from the TV series Gladiators.
At low tide it’s entirely possible to walk from Watergate Beach to Whipsiderry Beach, then on to Porth Beach, and at exceptionally low tides if you were a jogger you could even make it all the way round to Newquay Harbour…. but the route can be dangerous once the tide turns. Many people have been rescued between Watergate Beach and Whipsiderry Beach as they didn’t know the tides go in/out, or they didn’t check first. So always, always, always know the tide times if you are going to be out of sight of your escape route. Between Watergate Bay and Whipsiderry the cliffs are 200′ high and vertical – the only way out is via the RNLI Lifeboat.
Watergate Beach Services
- Car Parking: Yes
- Public Lavatories: Yes
- Easy Access for Wheelchairs and Prams: Yes
- Food Available: Yes
- Shopping: Beyond the beach basics and access to high quality food/drinks, there’s no shopping.
Events at Watergate Bay
Throughout the year there are a lot of events held at Watergate Bay. Surfing, kite-surfing and even polo on the beach in mid-September. Occasionally, too, world record attempts are made at kite-surfing by either leaving from, or arriving at Watergate Bay. The Surf Relief Festival is held every July, which is a long weekend music festival.
To see the full list of events at Watergate Bay: See Watergate Bay Events List
Where to Stay at Watergate Bay
- The Watergate Bay Hotel
- Holiday Cottages Near Watergate
Watergate Bay is popular with wind-based sports, on water and on the land – if there’s a breeze blowing it can get a bit nippy if you’re sitting still, so make sure you’ve got something warm to pull round you, yet upmarket enough to mingle with the upmarket set to be found on this beach as if you own the town!
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Image © Proper Handsome