WITH Christmas here, glorious sunny weather and warm evenings feel like an age away. It is no wonder that, for many, now is the time to start planning next year’s summer getaway.

If your checklist includes gorgeous sandy beaches, endless activities to keep all ages occupied and a thriving nightlife, it is likely you are searching the internet for the best deal on a short trip to one of several competing European destinations.

But what if you could get all of that – and much, much, more – a lot closer to home?

Ever since its humble beginnings as a quaint Cornish fishing town, Newquay has attracted tourists from far and wide for its wide-ranging sea views and steep rolling cliffs. Over the decades, visitors from across the UK have made the pilgrimage to one of Britain’s most southern holiday destinations, seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, and now I can see for myself why.

Newquay’s popularity dates back to Victorian times, and this has blossomed over time. In the 1960s the resort gained its now worldwide reputation as a surf spot for expat Aussies and South African lifeguards, while in the ‘80s and ‘90s a sleepy seaside Cornish surfer town became a mini-Ibiza, with a proliferation of nightclubs in the summer.

The Northern Echo: Newquay MIKE SEARLE

Now, it is becoming a more boutique destination that caters for families, couples and people looking for a holiday or a new life on the ‘coast of dreams’.

A short flight – little over an hour – from Newcastle Airport was a simple solution to avoid a lengthy, exhausting drive from the North East. The airport experience surrounded by holidaymakers travelling to every corner of the globe made us feel like we were jetting somewhere much further afield. If it wasn’t for the comforting accent of home on arrival, the spectacular coastal views would have continued to fool us.

A short taxi drive took us to our home for the next three nights - Tolcarne Beach Village. Having arrived at the appropriate postcode on the driver’s satnav, we asked if there had been a mistake, as no obvious accommodation was in sight.

But it was us that were in the wrong. Looking down over the cliff edge, we spotted a beach lovers paradise. Tolcarne, situated right by the sea, boasted a range of boutique style beach accommodation from luxurious ocean suites to family beach apartments. You will never get bored of the views or being able to walk from room to sand within seconds.

The Northern Echo: Newquay  MIKE SEARLE

Our seaview room was full of everything you would expect from a surfer’s home – busy, quirky décor and even a record player (with an Elvis soundtrack provided, among others). It was comfortable and relaxing thanks to the sound of the waves and had everything we needed, but, unless you were taking pictures of the view, you wanted to spend as little time indoors as possible.

The village is also home to the Colonial restaurant serving fresh seafood and local delicacies as well as a beachside café. The service was exceptional and the food just as good, giving enough options for those with a simple palate, and those who have more adventurous tastebuds – the monkfish curry ticked that box.

When it comes to food, you will be spoilt by fantastic flavours wherever you go in Newquay. Rick Stein’s famous Fistral Beach with even more spectacular sea views must be worth a visit, as is The Garden Café. The heritage site with beautiful outdoor grounds and tables overlooking their ‘Britain in Bloom Gold’ award-winning park is a little gem. Every table had huge scones with sizeable pots overflowing with jam and cream. It was never in doubt what we were ordering. “Jam first here!” we were told. We happily obliged!

But any trip to Newquay must include a visit to Bush Pepper, a contemporary Australian influenced restaurant in the heart of the town. Voted TripAdvisors Travellers Choice 2022, Bush Pepper is among the top 10 per cent of best restaurants worldwide, so we had high expectations.

The food was sublime. And yes, you really can eat kangaroo, either as a beautifully cooked fillet with flavours close to Venison or as part of an incredible scotch egg which made the perfect starter. You can finish with a shot of homemade Baileys, which was better than the original. If you love it as much as we did, you can buy a large bottle to take home. We did, but couldn’t promise how long it would last.

After all those calories, it was a good job there was plenty to keep you active. As well as surfing, a range of other activities can be tried across the seven beaches. Dedicated groups of sea swimmers aiming to push themselves for the benefits of cold-water therapy, while visitors and locals alike relish the wide and open coastline playground, undertaking beach runs, rock pooling, stand-up paddleboarding, bodyboarding, kayaking and even regular silent disco beach yoga.

To satisfy the adrenaline-fuelled adult and the naughty child within us, we took it a step further and gave coasteering a try – an action-packed exploration involving jumping, swimming, and rock climbing. I say we... one of us did. I chickened out and vowed to stay on dry land. It is not for the faint-hearted and certainly gets the heart racing, but it was clear from the sidelines that it is an incredibly exciting way of exploring the coastline thanks to the fantastic and friendly experts at Newquay Adventure Centre.

The Northern Echo: Newquay

If you want something a little less adventurous but still explore what Newquay has to offer, many hours can be spent strolling along the cliff edges, with easy and more challenging routes available. Newquay Zoo and Blue Reef Aquarium both offer family-friend fun, and posters around the town show the area is always thriving with events and festivals, whatever time of year you visit.

It is no wonder that so many are leaving their passport at home and looking to Newquay for their next summer holiday.

Tolcarne Beach Village is a boutique holiday village based on the North shore of Cornwall. Rates vary depending on type of accommodation and time of the year, but start at £115 per night. For more information, visit www.tolcarnebeach.co.uk or call 01637 872489.

Flights with Loganair start from £33 one way and all Loganair flights include 15kg luggage allowance as standard. Transfers from Cornwall Airport to the centre of Newquay cost from £16 with Coastline Travel.