Newquay started life as a small fishing village called Towan Blistra, but changed to Newquay its present name when a new pier or quay was built in the 15th century. Today it is the beaches, surfing and mild climate that attract tourists to the area.
Man has lived here since pre-history. There are remains of Iron age burials in the area.
Newquay prospered on pilchard fishing and mining until these industries declined. The shoals of pilchards and sardines were spotted offshore by a man called a huer from the Huer's Hut right out on the headland - he roused the fisherman in the town with a "hue and cry" when he saw the gulls swarming over a shoal of fish.
Another glimpse into the past can be seen with "gig racing" - the six-oared gigs you can see racing today were used originally competed to race to put a pilot on board incoming vessels, the crew that got there first got their pilot the job, and they got the bonus, the other crews went home hungry.
However, providentially the coming of the railway opened up mass tourism, and a number of large Victorian railway hotels were built here.
Newquay has the combination of superb sandy beaches and great surfing conditions made the area popular with all ages. There are a number of major surfing competitions every year. Altogether there are seven miles of sandy beaches in and around the town. Attraction are excellent surfing, 11 beaches, a full range of water sports and after dark its famous nightlife.
The Newquay area offers visitors a number of attractions - Newquay Zoo, Waterworld, Golf Course, Sea Life and a number of other attractions around Trenance Park and lake. Just outside Newquay are Dairyland, Lappa Valley Steam Railway, the National trust owned Trerice House, Porth Reservoir
And the beaches in the immediate area of the town are:-
Fistral Beach is the famous surfing beach and is to be found on Pentire peninsula. Fistral is Newquay's largest beach, it faces west and is nearly one mile long. There are a number of international surf competitions during the year, and the beach has a lifeguard patrol during the summer.
Great Western Beach is a series of several west facing sandy coves under the cliffs. most commercial facilities are available on or near the beach.
Harbour Beach is a small sandy beach in the harbour, where the harbour has been sanded up. Seals play here at low tide, and the beach is covered at high tide. A sheltered safe beach suitable for children, and is easy to get to from the town.
Lusty Glaze Beach ('A place to view blue boats'. in the old Cornish language). Because it can only be accessed via private land, Lusty Glaze is in effect a private beach, but is open to the public - you go down 133 steps to get to the 200 foot sandy beach. Headquarters of the National Lifeguard and Rescue Training Centre, if you want to work as a lifeguard on beaches in the UK and around the world, they offer short courses leading to the internationally recognised Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS). In partnership with Cornwall College, they run weekly lifeguard courses from February to November.
Tolcarne Beach, is another west facing, sandy beach under the 150 foot cliffs. It is usually good for surfing, and is only a short walk from the town, then accessed by a 200 step path down the cliff. Once on the beach, there are great views of the Headland and Harbour.
Towan Beach is the closest to the town centre, beside the harbour. It is a sand and rock beach with a small, sea filled swimming pool suitable for children in the summer.
Francis Frith's Around Newquay (Photographic Memories) Martin Dunning, Francis Frith