Newquay’s historic harbour is where Newquay got its name – formerly known as Towan Blystra – the town got a new harbour, or ‘quay’ and the name came with it!
Newquay harbour has a long history; from supporting the Cornish tin mining industry to the heyday of the commercial pilchard fishing era. Small scale commercial fishing still exists but this mostly provides the local restaurants and hotels with a selection of the freshest fish and shell fish for fantastic local cuisine. You don’t have to leave it to the professional fisherman to land your supper though, book yourself on a day or evening fishing trip and take home your catch.
Maybe you just want to enjoy a trip out to sea or encounter the ocean wildlife? Pleasure trips run regularly from the harbour and some particular ones are sea ‘safari’s’ - they seek out dolphins, seals and other marine wildlife - if you’re lucky you may encounter a vast basking shark or the rare sunfish. The harbour has a couple of regular wildlife visitors as well, two resident seals follow the fishing boats in at the end of the day and are rewarded with an easy meal as they expectantly pop their heads above the water.
Events at the Harbour
The harbour is also a great venue for all types of events. The now famous Newquay Fish Festival is a foodies dream. Running over a long weekend in mid-September it includes live cookery tuition, special culinary guests and a multitude of fish themed stalls. It’s the food that’s the focus as local restaurants, chefs and suppliers set up their dazzling array of food stalls with huge pans of Paella to giant Jambalaya’s or a delicious selection of shellfish dishes.
There are also some truly spectacular events hosted at the Harbour. One of which is the Newquay Lifeboat Day; with real training exercises as the lifeboats are put through their paces - which usually includes a visit by the air sea rescue helicopter. Harbour sports day is a show-piece of just how fun activities can be on the water - from superfast speedboats to jet ski’s and water skiing demonstrations.
There’s one sport though that has a very long history at the harbour and there’s not a motor or an engine to be seen, and that’s the gig racing. These 6-oared, 10 metre long boats were originally used to ferry pilots to waiting ships – competing boats got the contract if they could be first with their pilot. No pilots now, but still they race, as both men and women gig teams compete for victory in an iconic Cornish water sport.
The harbour is one of Newquay’s most picturesque locations and even has its own small beach to relax on. With a restaurant by the beach, and several other restaurants and pubs overlooking it, you can enjoy a drink or meal whilst taking in those views. Nothing feels quite so traditionally Cornish and relaxing as watching the fishing boats coming home with those spectacular sea and beach views in the background.