North Coast Cornwall holiday cottages and beach resorts

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For a bit more action and excitement, have a look at cottages to rent within reach of Cornwall's North Coast. Here you'll find miles of spectacular coastline, pounding surf and vibrant towns to visit. If it's safe, family swimming you're after then stick to areas such as Crantock, Newquay and Porthcothan and rent a holiday cottage near there. For those who want to have a go at surfing, Watergate Bay, Polzeath and Bude will suit. More challenging surf, suitable for those with a bit of experience, can be found at Perranporth, Constantine and Fistral Bay, which is home to the National Surfing Centre.

In fact, Cornwall is rumoured to be the birth place of surfing in the UK. Soldiers returning from the First World War took to the waves after being influenced by comrades in Australia and South Africa. Photographs dating from the 1920s show surfers on the beaches of Cornwall using boards fashioned from coffin lids by an entrepreneurial undertaker in Perranporth.

Windsurfing is also popular in Cornwall, and the varied coastline allows windsurfing opportunities for the beginner right up to the professional, in a range of conditions - this is a perfect part of the UK for a windsurfing holiday and there are lots of holiday cottages in Cornwall to rent near the sea. For those who are totally new to wave-riding, another option is waveski, which is a mix of surfing and white-water kayaking. It's easier to learn than surfing since you don't have to worry about standing up, and there's the added bonus of having a paddle to help you catch those waves! Another interesting fusion is kitesurfing, which combines elements of windsurfing, wakeboarding, paragliding and kiting. Even if you don't fancy having a go yourself, you'll find great entertainment in watching an experienced kitesurfer jump and spin their way around the beach at impressive speeds. Favourite Cornish beaches for kitesurfers include Watergate Bay, Hayle Towans, Perranporth and Daymar Bays in the North and Marazian on the South Coast.

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Tintagel is a romantic spot, perfect for a peaceful break away from the livelier parts of the Cornish north coast - luxury holiday cottages near Tintagel abound. Explore the ancient castle ruins of this rocky islet, and continue down to the beach below to find magical caves. Steeped in legend, it's said that King Arthur himself was born here at the home of Gorlais, Earl of Cornwall. Tintagel is a great place to potter about and take in spectacular sea views. The village itself is set further back from the coast, where you can have a look around the fourteenth century manor and the old post office.

Newquay is growing a reputation as one of Europe's 'surf capitals'. Not only are there great beaches, there are trendy shops, bars and nightclubs to suit the whole lifestyle. These attractions make Newquay a popular destination for groups of young people, but the town also has plenty going on for families. There's the Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay Zoo, Dairyland and Crealy Adventure Park. Bark House is one of Cornwall's biggest single-space galleries, and has many pieces inspired by the surrounding sea and surf. Newquay buzzes with life in the evenings and boasts numerous stylish restaurants - there is a great choice of gorgeous holiday cottages near Newquay to rent. Even if you're heading for a self-catering cottage further south in Cornwall, there are plenty of hotels and B&Bs to choose from if you feel like stopping by and sampling all these delights.