Great Western Beach is named after the Great Western Railway that terminates above its cliffs. In terms of vibe, Great Western oozes laid back charm, it’s the locals beach and so doesn’t have the same tourist feel as some of the other beaches in Newquay. At high tide it has a cove-like secluded feel which is pretty amazing for a beach right below the centre of Newquay. Great Western as a complex is all about activities, so there is plenty going on here.
The complex also runs evening events during the summer, pop up silent discos and outdoor big screen cinema events, so keep an eye on the Great Western socials for some unique evening experiences.
Great Western doesn’t have its own car park, but town centre parking can be utilised, with then a short walk down to the beach. Closest car parks are at Newquay Train Station and Albany Road, or there is limited street parking on some residential roads
Great Western is accessed via Tolcarne Road, a tarmac road that runs down from Cliff Road. Look out for the Great Western Hotel up on the cliff, and you’ll see the access road running down the left hand side of the building, and down to the beach. This road offers a smooth walk down, and access for emergency vehicles and deliveries, but unfortunately no vehicular access for the general public. It is a fairly steep ascent and descent, but there are a couple of viewing platforms at which you can break your journey and enjoy the view.
At mid-low tide you can access Great Western beach on foot from neighbouring beaches Tolcarne and Towan. When the tide is out the separate beaches join up to form one vast expanse of sand, and then you can really see Newquay bay in all its glory. At low tide it’s a dog walkers paradise, and you even get the occasional horse galloping along enjoying the sand too.
There are public toilets as part of the Great Western beach complex.
Lifeguard Patrols 2023 (Check with RNLI for latest schedules):
Daily 13 May – 24 September
Patrol times 10am-6pm
Stay within the black and white flags if you are surfing
Stay within the red and yellow flags if you are swimming or bodyboarding
If you are visiting the beach outside of lifeguarded hours then read the local signs and exercise caution in the water. If you find yourself in trouble in the water, stay calm and float to survive.
Dogs are welcome off lead on Great Western beach year round, without restriction, but should be kept under control.
The Great Western Hotel is a prominent hotel located in the heart of Newquay, known for its stunning coastal views and vibrant atmosphere. The hotel features a restaurant offering a variety of dishes, including expertly prepared pub favorites and unique burger creations, catering to a wide range of tastes and preferences. It is a popular choice for visitors seeking comfortable accommodations and a picturesque dining experience in Newquay.
Great Western has a fabulous back story, as it is the original home of surfing in the UK. The road down to Great Western beach – known as ‘The Slope’ – was where the counterculture surfers of the 1960s hung out in between water sessions and formed a community around this emerging sport. It was from this gathering of pioneers on the slope that the UKs earliest national and international surf champs were drawn. It was here at Great Western that the UK beach and surf culture was born.
Emma Smith’s book, The Great Western Beach: A Memoir of a Cornish Childhood Between the Wars, recounts the hardships of postwar life, softened by the simple joy of picnics on the beach, and the rhythmic reliability of the tides. This memoir denotes the eccentricity of Newquay’s residents, and the exotic background of its holiday makers, the bathing parties, windswept coastal walks and of course, Great Western Beach.