Polzeath is a small village on the headland across the River Camel from Padstow. A well known Polzeath surfing beach. There are lifeguards on the beach during the season, so it can be safely used by families as well..
New Polzeath is on the headland just north of the surfing beach, with lovely views over the beach and the Camel Estuary to Daymer Bay and Trevose Head. Mostly National Trust land, there are coastal walks.
Polzeath area was much loved and written about by Sir John Betjeman, the Poet Laureate. Now the village is pretty grotty, destroyed by the excesses of pandering to mass tourism. Yourism sometimes destroys that which it has come to see.
But if you get away from the village, the coast around is still marvelous. Betjeman is buried in St Enodoc Church to the south overlooking the Camel estuary. The tiny church is always in danger from the sands, on one occasion the vicar and congregation had to enter the church through a hole in the roof.
The bays of Daymer and Trebetherick provide good bathing and surfing beaches, and the area is popular for walking.
You can walk via New Polzeath to Pentire Point and along miles of coastline. On the unusually shaped double headland of The Rumps is the Iron-Age cliff castle. A massive triple rampart and ditch system protecting an area of around 6 acres at the tip of the headland. Several hut circles lie within the enclosure. Craig Weatherhill, in "Cornovia: Ancient Sites of Cornwall & Scilly" (Cornwall Books - 1985, revised 1997 & 2000) adds "The magnificent cliff castle at the Rumps, near Polzeath, was found to have housed a thriving community which perhaps had trading links with the Mediterranean through the Breton tribe, the Veneti. It may be that the Veneti themselves built the Rumps and other cliff castles, notable Gurnard's Head which bears similarities to Breton cliff castles on the coast formerly inhabited by the Veneti"
Further on, there is a 19th century folly at Doyden Castle. More a castellated folly than real castle, spectacularly situated with stunning views over Lundy. Built about 1830 by local bon-viveur Samuel Symons to entertain friends to nights of feasting, drinking and gambling. Now owned by the National Trust.
Both Daymer Bay and Trebetherick, with their fine bathing and surfing beaches, have a family appeal.