The other side of Fistral Beach
Fistral Beach means many things to many people. Some think of it as the commercialised go-to surfing beach in the South West, the place to rent boards and take a lesson. For others Fistral is a party beach, famous for its momentous annual Boardmasters surf festival with the surf village, skate ramp, Reef girls and even the surf competition itself all jostling for attention.
While it’s inevitable that people will associate Newquay’s most visited beach with man-made entertainment, for many of us it’s the feeling of being at the edge of the wild Atlantic Ocean that keeps us coming back every year, every weekend, and in the case of the really fortunate ones, every day. As you become familiar with the surf crashing into the steep granite rocks and sending plumes of spray 30 feet or more into the sky, it’s easy to forget the impact this place has on you when you first set eyes on it. The beaches of the Newquay Bay are spectacular in their sweep, but don’t hold a candle to the untamed power that faces you as you stand on the headland at Fistral during a deep Atlantic storm and see waves unleashing enough energy to power a small town.
Standing on the edge of the wild
Fistral Beach faces west into the North Atlantic with nothing between it and Newfoundland, over 2,000 miles away. The beach has an amphitheatre feel to it with Pentire Headland at the south end and Towan Headland towards the north seeming to focus the power of the ocean and distribute the sand in such a way that the waves here are often more impressive and consistent than neighbouring beaches. These twin headlands also do a lot to protect Fistral’s waves from strong northerly and southerly winds that mess up the surf at more open spots like Watergate and Gwithian. So while Fistral’s location so close to the centre of Newquay is a factor in it becoming the most famous surfing beach in the UK, it’s really only part of the story, for it is an awesome surfing beach in its own right.
In these days of air-conditioning, safety rails, pre-planned excursions and litigious culture, it can be hard to step out of society and into nature. If you have yet to visit Fistral you may be surprised to learn that there is no amusement arcade on its shores. There is no tacky pier jutting out into the sea (it would have been dashed to pieces long ago). You can’t get a donkey ride here, or a kiss-me-quick hat, or even candy floss. This doesn’t mean you’ll be totally roughing it though as the Beach Bar and Bodhi’s Cafe both serve up excellent drinks in comfortable surroundings, but the onus is on you to make your own entertainment.
The ultimate health retreat?
I like to think of Fistral Beach as one of the most amazing health clubs on the planet. Just walking on the sand tones muscles in your legs. Negative ions that promote a great sense of wellbeing are blown in on the sea breezes. You can swim, surf, kitesurf, coasteer, snorkel, or run barefoot through the shallows of the clear blue-green waters. At low tide you can forage for mussels, fish off the rocks or trawl a lure behind your longboard and try catching some of the local produce that you’d find in one of the nearby restaurants. If there’s a better way to end the day than bbq’ing your own catch in the lee of the rocks at Little Fistral as you watch the sun slip into the ocean, I don’t want to know about it (always remember to clear up disposable bbqs!)
These are just my experiences of living close to this beach, so if you’ve been to Fistral recently or are planning a visit this season, we want to hear your thoughts on why you think it’s so special, so sound off with your comments below!
Guest blogger Dom Moore creates original words and content for businesses across Cornwall. Reach him at www.thesurfwriter.com