Watergate Bay is a fully equipped complex situated on a two mile stretch of golden sand. It has the feel of a ski town, the steep cliffs on either side of the complex give it the feeling of height, and the various restaurants and cafes give off a definite holiday vibe.
It is situated on the north coast of Cornwall, approximately 3 miles northeast of Newquay. Watergate Bay is known for its stunning coastline, sandy beach, and is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts, surfers, and beachgoers. The beach offers beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and is surrounded by cliffs and rugged landscapes.
There is plenty of parking at Watergate’s public beach car park, it’s free over the winter months, and pay and display over the summer season. Overflow parking becomes available up on the cliff top in the peak season; you’ll see a sign on the B2376 as you’re coming from Newquay.
Mon – Sun 09:00 – 06:00
Maximum stay – 21 hours
1 Hour – £2.20
2 Hours – £4.40
3 Hours – £5.50
21 Hours – £8.50
Free outside these hours
Access the Watergate Bay is down a pedestrianised tarmacked path that leads through the centre of the beach complex and right down to the sand. It is fairly level access, as it is just a gentle slope down to the beach.
There are public toilets by the Watergate Bay beach car park.
Lifeguard Patrols 2023 (Check with RNLI for latest schedules):
Easter School Holidays 01-16 April
Weekend 22-23 April
Daily 29 April-24 September
Weekends and Bank Holidays Only 30 September-15 October
October Half Term 21-29 October
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 at Watergate Bay all year round. There’s no seasonal ban on our two-mile stretch of beach – it’s a permanent sandy playground studded with rock pools.
Watergate Bay is exposed to the prevailing swell, so gets a similar amount of swell to Fistral beach.
At low tide it can be a tough paddle out, so be prepared for that.
An ace feature is if you make the effort to walk all the way to the right of the beach, the north end, you’ll find a wave known as Watergate Corner. Waves here refract off the cliff, creating the bounce, which gives you fun, fast right handers. Walking this distance from the carpark has the added benefit of the crowds dissipating, and you’ll find yourself on empty waves.
The main section of the beach is busy, it has fun bowly peaks, but does get crowded as there are 5 or 6 surf schools using Watergate, plus visitors.
Watergate Bay is located along the South West Coast Path, which offers stunning views of the coastline. You can take a leisurely stroll along the path, enjoying the fresh sea breeze and panoramic vistas. Alternatively you can walk along the sandy beach itself is a great option. Feel the sand beneath your feet as you take in the sound of the waves and the expansive ocean views.
While Watergate Bay is renowned for its impressive surf breaks, making it a paradise for surfers, swimming is best enjoyed at other nearby beaches. However, during the summer months, you can still take a refreshing dip in the inviting waters of Watergate Bay, providing a delightful respite from the warmth of the sun.
Experience the exhilaration of the renowned Boardmasters Festival, the largest surf and skate festival in Europe. The music festival element is held on the clifftop overlooking Watergate Bay every August and has to be the most stunning venue of any UK festival.
From the clifftop at Watergate Bay you can watch the sunset, a spectacle that graces the beach every evening. With its west-facing orientation, the sun gently descends into the Atlantic Ocean, painting the sky with breathtaking hues of warmth and tranquility. As you observe this awe-inspiring moment, you’ll witness the silhouettes of dedicated surfers catching their last waves of the day, adding a touch of magic to the already captivating scene. Let the mesmerising Watergate Bay sunset become a cherished memory that lingers in your heart long after your visit.
You’ll be very well catered for at Watergate Bay, whatever your vibe there are some tasty options. The Watergate Bay hotel dominates the complex, and offers several dining options including:
With a bold charcoal-fired heart, Zacry’s is where the hotel’s chefs think global and source local – from the best quality meat and fish served with an imaginative twist, to a full plant-based menu. All with the glow of candles, conversation and cocktails.
Sofa, armchair, banquette table or decked ocean-view terrace? Coffee, cream tea, beer, gin or cocktails? Seasonal salads, hearty fillers or kids’ dinner? Anything goes in The Living Space, so find what’s right for you and settle in.
The Living Space is an ace place to sit and watch the surf through huge sliding doors.
Is also situated there, offering seasonal tasting menus, and beach side fine dining. For those who want to keep things more low key, you’ve got Wax, Cubs and The Beach Hut, as well as a container serving takeaway fast food.
WAX Bar and Kitchen offers you a chance to experience amazing fresh cooked food and delicious beverages while overlooking the iconic Watergate bay
Up on the southern cliff (towards Newquay) you have The Hangout, it’s a laid back shipping container style coffee shop with an amazing view of the bay. You can reach The Hangout by walking along the south west coast path, or by parking in the overflow parking previously mentioned.
Watergate Bay offers a variety of accommodation options, including hotels, inns, and resorts that cater to different preferences and budgets. Here are some hotels and places to stay in and around Watergate Bay:
The Watergate Bay Hotel is and upscale hotel that offers stunning views of the bay and ocean. It features luxurious rooms, spa facilities, multiple dining options, and easy access to the beach.
The original parts of the Watergate Bay Hotel were built in 1900, with the intended use of being a railway station hotel for the soon to be built Newquay to Padstow branch line. When the railway didn’t materialise, the hotel became redundant. During the Second World War, it was used as an RAF Officers Mess and then was later converted into married quarters, but again, its lack of purpose led it to fall into disrepair during the 1960s.
Watergate Bay has been used as the backdrop for several tv and film productions, including: The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns (1999) Plunge (2003), a surf movie featuring Kate Winslet. Echo Beach (2008), featuring Jason Donovan and Martine McCutcheon.
Watergate beach has nothing to do with the scandal that shares its name, that is just an unfortunate coincidence.