Camping in Newquay – Smugglers Haven / Trevelgue Holiday Park

Smugglers Haven is, according to their website, Newquay’s premier 18-30 holiday park. Trevelgue on the other hand is a family holiday park with “plenty to keep the children happy [at Trevelgue], a wonderful time for toddlers, ten year olds and teenagers” (from Trevelgue’s website). The thing is both Smugglers and Trevelgue are effectively the same site!

Last weekend (July 2009) I stayed at Smugglers Haven / Trevelgue Holiday Park for a friend’s stag do.

As I approached the site, it occured to me that I have stayed here before – about 10 years ago with a group of friends. I can’t remember much about it – other than cooking breakfast from my tent doorway, and watching some sport event (a grand prix?) in the first pub we came to! It is safe to say that things have changed!

The first thing that surprised me was the reception – it is massive! It is a reception that Newquay airport would be envious of! Despite the huge desk, there were only two reception staff, but after a bit of wait we soon had our tent tags and a map.

Trevelgue is mainly made up of static caravans, with a bit of camping. Smugglers Haven, where I was staying, has a static caravan area and then three levels of grass for camping.

The next thing that surprised me was how crowded the camping area was – it was absolutely rammed. There was very little unused grass, and in the area where we camped, which I would consider the size of a single pitch, there were about 11 tents! Talking to one of the security guards, he told me that in very busy times, they even use all the fields (on slopes) you can see around the site.

I won’t bother doing a full review of the site – as there are plenty of reviews out there: for example on Ciao, on Review Centre and on Independent Campsite Reviews. But here are a few of my observations:

  • Rubbish – everywhere! To be fair to the site, they have a lot of litter pickers, but the challenge they face is immense. Groups make no effort to remove litter – the site is strewn with beer cans, broken tents, used disposable BBQs, food wrappers etc. This of course attracts an umbelievable number of fat sea gulls and wasps!
  • Toilet / shower facilities – Considering the number of people on site, there are only five showers, and these are disgusting. The toilets are beyond disgusting – simply foul! But again to be fair to the site, the toilets and showers are cleaned daily, but it doesn’t take anytime at all before they become horrible again.
  • Noise – during the day there is a multitude of drum and bass and chart music pumping for cars across the site. At night, the music is replaced by screams, shouting and other drunken antics. Bear in mind the last site bus returns from Newquay around 3am! Unless you are a) drunk, b) on drugs or c) a heavy sleeper – you will not get much sleep (for the record, I was a bit of option a). If the drunks don’t wake you up, the seagulls will!
  • Age – Smugglers might be “Newquay’s premier 18-30 site”, but the small print states:  “We are able to accept groups under the age of 18, but over the age of 16, provided each group member has written consent from their parent/guardian”. Read that as – “the site is full of under age binge drinkers with nieve parents”.

A tale of two holiday parks

Despite having seperate names and seperate websites (although the similarities are obvious) – Smugglers Haven and Trevelgue Holiday Park are the same site. Sure there are two entrances, a security gate between the two (which is locked at 10pm, and manned by security during the day for pedestrian access only), and seperate toilet/shower blocks, but the vast majority of the facilities are on the Trevelgue side – the reception, shop, surf shop, swimming pool, cafe and arcade.

What I really don’t undetstand though is why any family would ever consider staying at Trevelgue? Ok, maybe during the week, or during term time, it might be ok (some of the reviews of Smugglers suggest it becomes a ghost town during the week) – but over the Summer or at a weekend?

As most of the facilities are on the family side, the site is crawling with under thirties – bear in mind the group next to us were washing down their breakfast with cans of Strongbow, you can imagine the state of some of them by the afternoon!

And the noise – unless the static caravans are soundproofed, the noise coming over from the Smugglers fence must be truely awful! During the day you have the blend of a variety of thumping music, and during the night all the drunken revelling.

Also, according to some of the reviews, the state and queues of the Smugglers toilet/shower block means that some people use the Trevelgue ones, which quickly begin to get into the same state of uncleanliness.

There is a certain type of person who would enjoy staying at this site. I am sure it is brilliant if you are into clubbing and drinking to excess and beyond with your mates, but otherwise stay well clear! Personally I hope to never stay there again (unless of course another of my friends has a stag do there!).


Newquay has a bit of a reputation as the “ultimate” party destination in England.

The streets and bars at the weekend are heaving – there are a lot of underage kids out and about (although to be fair much less so in the actual venues) and a lot of very drunk people (you know – the sort that can barely eat the kebab clutched in their hands). There is a police presence, but a fraction of what can be seen on Broadstreet in Birmingham. The atmosphere is also very moody – not threatening, just moody. As we walked past one of the town’s strip clubs, I watched as someone was ejected, thrown against a wall by a bouncer, who then had to be pulled back by a colleague before he went further.

Newquay is a hugely popular for post-exam / end of term parties and it is not surprising that there are calls for Newquay to revamp it’s image – made after the tragic deaths of two teenages. A spokesperson for the Devon and Cornwall Police stated:

“Newquay is a safe place as long as you come here with a degree of common sense and a degree of responsibility.”
Source – BBC website

There are enough adults without the necessary common sense and responsibility, let alone teenagers high on the euphoria of completing exams chucked into a environment of partying and drinking to excess without any adult supervision.

Obviously being on a stag do, I didn’t get to see much of Newquay other than the town centre. On Twitter, @ignashus enjoyed Newquay on the same weekend, although they sensibly avoided the town centre. Just looking at the photos of Newquay on wikipedia, it seems like it has more to offer than just a party destination – I think I agree with Chief Superintendent Elaine Marshall:

“Newquay has enormous potential, with its great beaches and holiday facilities, especially in the current economic climate. Unfortunately its image has been tarnished and we need to work quickly to re-market it as a safe place to visit.”
Source – BBC website

Good luck Newquay!

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