Tolcarne is a fairly upmarket hotel resort, so it has a classy beach village feel to it. Many of the hotel guests use the beach during their stay, they set up sun loungers and give off full blown beach holiday vibes. Non-residents are welcome on the beach, and are able to use the beach facilities. It has a lovely family feel to it, and is a great place to bring the kids and enjoy lovely sunny summer days.
There is limited car parking on the road down to the beach, but this is for hotel guests only. There is no parking at the beach for non-residents. There is some unrestricted parking available on nearby cliff top residential streets, and Newquay Train Station and Albany Road car parks are the closest pay and display options.
Access down to Tolcarne is on foot, either via a narrow flight of steps directly above the beach on Narrowcliff, or via a steep sloping road that leads down from Barrowfields. Tolcarne can be accessed on foot from neighbouring Great Western beach at mid-low tide, and from Lusty Glaze during spring low tides.
There are public toilets as part of the Tolcarne 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 (under control) during the winter, however there is a dog ban on Tolcarne from 1st April to the 31st October. Please check local signage.
Tolcarne beach has slightly bigger waves than Great Western & Towan, this is because it has more exposure from the swell wrapping around Towan headland.
When it’s coming off low tide, on the right hand side of the beach you get big marching right handers, right up until high tide.
As the tide comes up the waves start to collide with the cliff, the point between Great Western & Tolcarne. The waves refract, which is when cross waves connect with incoming waves, this creates a wedge wave. This is why that left hand corner of the beach is well known within the bodyboarding community as Tolcarne Wedge, and is probably the best bodyboarding wave in the UK.
At high tide on a 5.5m tide upwards, with a small swell, there can be a fun left hand wedge, with really bowly shaped waves which deliver great sections for aerials. The waves are shaped like skateboard half pipes, it’s quite unique.
On bigger tides, it needs a bigger wave, 7m+. Bodyboarders will travel huge distances to score these waves at Tolcarne. You’ll see lots of gymnastic manoeuvres so it’s a great spot to sit in the evening and watch the pro bodyboarders strut their stuff.
Tolcarne has its own restaurant, The Colonial, which serves lovely food and cocktails. The Colonial is a bit smarter than the average beach cafe, and has some dress code rules which means you’ll not be able to come straight from the water to use it. But if you’re happy to get dressed and slip on some shoes, then The Colonial is a lovely treat during your visit to Tolcarne.
For more casual refreshments, The Wedge is Tolcarne’s beach cafe. You can queue up in your wetsuit and grab pizza, fries, drinks etc, whatever you need to fuel your day in the water. There is a lovely deck area with seating, or you can take your food and enjoy it on the beach.
In 1987, John Renous, captain of the 183-tonne Panamanian registered Ross Alcedo, became the victim of a very weird coincidence. His boat and crew were regular traders at Newquay so they knew the route well, but on the 19th April a strong North-Westerly wind created an almighty swell that pushed the Ross Alcedo aground on Tolcarne beach. It was 67 years to the day since the Philamine, a French coal transporter ran into trouble and went aground in exactly the same spot on Tolcarne beach. The Philamine was doomed, destroyed by the waves she shed her bounty of coal all over the beach. To this day coal is still to be found amongst the sand on Lusty Glaze beach, just down the coast from Tolcarne. The Ross Alcedo was more fortunate, and freed from the sand after a week stranded on Tolcarne beach.