Tucked away behind a headland off the Camel River Estuary is Polzeath, a beautiful lesser-known surfing village and beach. Under 2 miles from the affluent village of Rock, this secluded spot is a great choice for a couple’s break away from the crowds and for those that would like to learn how to surf. With the sandy neighbouring beach of Daymer Bay less than 1 mile away, there’s little cause for you to venture all that far from Polzeath during your stay. Views of the Atlantic Ocean can be enjoyed all around the village, as well as of the Doom Bar and the estuary of the beloved Camel River. Head into Rock, where you can catch a regular ferry across the river to Padstow and its visitor attractions such as the harbour, the Camel River Trail, its famous restaurants and the National Lobster Hatchery. With Wadebridge, less than 10 miles upriver for shopping and evening entertainment options, Polzeath makes for a great Cornish holiday hideout for all.
About the village:
Polzeath is divided into two parts – the old and the new. Two hills, one to the north called Pentire Head, and one to the west, Highcliffe, overlook the wide stretch of beach below. The South West Coast Path passes through the village from beyond Pentire Point in the north and onto Daymer Bay and Rock as it follows the course of the Camel River. Two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) lie close to Polzeath – the Camel Estuary AONB and the Widemouth Bay to Pentire Point AONB. The South West Coast Path snakes through both of them, where you can take in spectacular ocean views. If you fancy a more modest walk, try the Sir John Betjeman Walk, a 4.5 mile trail through the dunes and golden beaches along the north bank of the river to the graveyard at St Enodoc Church where the famous poet was interred. Polzeath doesn’t have a High Street but it does have one or two convenience stores dotted along the main road and at the beach. There are three places to eat and drink in the village: The Oystercatcher, The Waterfront and The Sandbar.
Polzeath enjoys associations with the poet laureate, Sir John Betjeman, who lived in nearby Trebetherick. Known for his collections Continual Due, that contains the notorious poem Slough, Summoned by Bells, and New Bats in Old Belfries, he will be forever associated with many of the local beauty spots that inspired his later works. Laurence Binyon’s Ode for the Fallen was also written whilst sat on The Rumps at Pentire Head. Polzeath hit the tabloids in recent years when it was reported that the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, holidayed in Polzeath between 2010-2015. The royal princes, William and Harry, are also said to have spent time surfing at the beach over the years.
Polzeath's best draw is its gorgeous beach, but also climb up the hill to Pentire Head to take in The Rumps; a strange collection of hills on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. An inspirational spot for writers, painters and deep thinkers.
Polzeath is within driving distance of the idyllic Port Isaac, which is a traditional Cornish fishing village with a harbour and narrow streets lined with old cottages. Beloved of TV addicts, the village is used as a chief location in the series Doc Martin. It’s also home to one of the best restaurants in this part of Cornwall, Nathan Outlaw. Even further along the coast is the wonderful Tintagel Castle, the 12th-century ruins of a colossal fort atop of a rock said to have links to the myth of King Arthur. It really is one of the most atmospheric and striking locations in the West Country. Unmissable.
Take a ferry across the Camel River to Padstow and hire a bike to ride along the popular trail to Wadebridge and up to Bodmin Moor. For fans of good ale, Sharp’s Brewery is located in neighbouring Rock; it offers tours and a gift shop too.
A haven for surfers, Polzeath is a superb place to catch a wave. Novices and pros love a day out at Polzeath all year round as the shape of the bay creates great waves, there is also a submerged sandbar at high tide; helpfully, a lifeguard service is provided during the summer months which is a bonus. Beachcombers, old and young, will love clambering amongst the rock pools to see what the last high tide left behind. There’s lots of space for families to play and sunbathe too – with its acres of sand between low and high tide there’s plenty of time to build a sand castle. There are restrictions on access for dogs between Easter and 30th September. Less than a mile away and over the hill to the south is Daymer Bay, which offers a large river beach with rock pools and a huge swathe of sand. Climb to the top of Brea Hill for enhanced, wide-reaching views across the estuary and out to sea. You can see the infamous Doom Bar from here, a sandbar in the river mouth that has claimed many a vessel. The aquatic trap is so well known that there’s a famous ale, made by Sharp’s Brewery in nearby Rock, named after it. The beach extends along the river past Rock and along the northern shore of the Camel River. Dogs are welcome all year round at both Daymer Bay and Rock.
The food and drink:
Polzeath is home to three establishments if you like to dine out. For an evening meal, visit The Waterfront, which, as the name suggests, is right at the beach. It’s a great place to enjoy a lazy lunch or watch the sunset over the beach with an evening meal. Open all year round, Sunday lunch is a favourite with locals and visitors – please book ahead. The Sandbar is owned and managed by the same team as The Waterfront and a number of other eateries in the area, and this is more of a takeaway and diner for casual meals. It’s also a great meeting place to hang out and just watch the waves. The Oystercatcher is a short distance up the hill from the beach and is a large pub that offers a good range of English dishes, as well as a wide range of local ales and beers. If you like gourmet burgers or fish and chips, this is a winner. It is often closed over the winter period so check in advance before you visit.
Polzeath is home to one or two convenience stores and places to buy or hire surfing apparel and beach toys for children. For High Street shops and a good sample of independent shops, head into Wadebridge, which is the largest town in the area. Rock and Padstow also offer some handy shops if you need to replenish your fridges and larders.
Stay in Polzeath on your next holiday to Cornwall. We have some lovely accommodation throughout Polzeath and the wider North Cornwall area.