Even with the best laid plans, costs can quickly stack up on family seaside breaks. You’ve already booked a room and filled up the car again, before the requests for ice cream and pocket money arrive. However, by making the most of cheap and free kids’ activities, you can still find great ways to save money on your family holiday. Here are ten brilliant low cost and totally free things to do in Newquay, Cornwall (or any seaside resort for that matter!) to keep kids amused for hours without costing you a bean:
Beach art and Sand Sculptures are an excellent free activity to keep kids out of mischief. The really nice thing about getting creative with sand, stones and seaweed is just how involved it can be, and it works just as well as a solo or team effort. Whether you are six or eighty-six, there are infinite possibilities and it is good for the mind as well as the wallet. Nor do you even need proper buckets or tools; just use the things you find to add details or shape the sand. Designs can be as basic or artistic as you please- just make sure you take a picture before the tide comes in!
Sand sculptures and beach art appeal to all ages and the only cost is time! (Image: Javier Branas/ Wikimedia Commons)
Crab-lining, also simply known as “crabbing” is a brilliant family activity that won’t cost an arm and a leg, (or even a claw?). A suitable crab line shouldn’t set you back more than two or three quid, while the best baits for crab-lining tend to be cheap or even free. Leftovers such as bacon rind are ideal or, if you can bear the smell, the local fishmonger may well spare you some leftovers.
Pick a suitable vantage point such as a harbour wall, lower your offering and wait for the fun to begin. It’s totally absorbing for kids of all ages- not to mention dads, who often secretly enjoy it just as much! The best crabbing is usually as the tide comes up, when the real beasties come out of hiding and you have more water to go at.
Free play areas, some with skate parks and games are available in virtually every seaside town in Cornwall, if you only know where to look! Newquay is no different, with play areas and the green spaces of Trenance Gardens and Trenance Action Park (by Edgcumbe Avenue TR7 2NW) just round the corner from Hotel Bristol. Newquay’s version has BMX and skate ramps for the older kids too, while you will also find cheap family activities and games such as a crazy golf course on the edge of Trenance Holiday Park too.
Head to Trenance Gardens and Action Park for budget family activities in Newquay
Rockpooling is another of those old school delights that kids of various ages never tire of. You can use your bare hands to try and catch shrimps, crabs and blennies, although for the sake of a very small outlay, a little net is also a good idea and perhaps a bucket should you want to have a look at your little beasties for a few minutes without harming them. Do encourage a healthy respect for young ones- always put rocks back where you found them and handle sea creatures gently with wet hands (the Countryfile site has some great advice on rockpooling HERE).
There are miniature monsters to be found in a rockpool near you! (Picture: Dom Garnett/ Fishing with the General)
Beach Games cost absolutely nothing and can range from the classics ("bury dad in the sand" is still as funny as ever, especially if he’s asleep), to the active and skillful (a ball or frisbee is always worth bringing, while you could also buy or make a basic kite).
Find a little piece of local history. Granted, some kids get bored in museums and art galleries. So why not give them a little history in small doses? Smuggler’s caves, sculptures and old ruins always have a great story to them (or you can make one up!) An obvious target in Newquay is Huer’s Hut (below). The white, curious igloo-like structure is well worth a look (see if your kids can guess what it was once for), while it is also a good excuse to give them a walk and won’t cost a penny.
Huer's Hut (above) is a little piece of local history with great views and no admission price.
Become a champion stone skimmer. This is an activity for less busy beaches, but a lot of fun for both kids and dads who like showing off. There’s a definite knack here, in both finding a perfectly flat stone that will “skip” off the water, not to mention getting that flick with your index finger to a tee. Old school fun and completely free, who can get the highest number of “skims”?
Go fishing for free by casting into salty waters. Unlike freshwater fishing, no license is needed for sea fishing. Granted, you will need a rod and some tackle, but this can be inexpensive. Try fishing close to walls and rocks as the tide comes up, using smallish hooks and pieces of worm for bait. There are loads of small fish to catch if you don’t go OTT with your gear.
Become a wildlife spotter around Newquay by getting onto the beaches and scrubland. You’ll find everything from butterflies to sea birds and wild flowers. Make a game of it by giving your kids things to spot as a fun way to earn that little treat (there are colourful flowers all around the town in summer, while the harbour even has it’s own local seal to find!).
Look for treasure of all kinds by surveying the tideline as the water recedes at low tide. Kids sometimes grab things that they shouldn’t , but this is a great lesson in itself! Nobody is going to shoot you for taking a single stone or shell from the beach to keep, but do bear in mind that it is often forbidden to gather items en masse. If you want to do your good turn for the day, you could also pick up some litter and dispose of it along with your own.
Hotel Bristol, Newquay: Perfect for affordable family holidays in Cornwall!
With a brilliant location just footsteps from the beach, along with fun facilities and great value rooms, family accommodation in Newquay doesn't get much friendlier or more affordable! We have a fantastic seaview location, a swimming pool and games on site, besides stacks to see and do all within walking distance. See our Facebook page and main site for further details, news and current special offers on family breaks in Newquay.