DISCOVER CORNWALL'S TOP BEACHES

PUBLISHED: 13:48 01 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:03 30 August 2017

IMG_0140

IMG_0140

Cornwall's run down of the best beaches to visit for dog lovers, surfers and paddleboarders, families, cafes and restaurants and photography and art

Whether you are looking for a quiet contemplative spot, a space for a riotous family-friendly frenzy, somewhere to walk the dog or paint the view en plein air - Cornwall has the beach for you. Here’s a few of our favourites...

Cornwall boasts more than 300 miles of coastline and more than 150 beaches. Most holidaymakers will name the beaches as the county’s major attraction – and it’s true that Cornwall has it all. Here’s our guide to Cornwall’s beaches to help you get the most from Cornwall this summer. But have we missed yours out? Tell us at @CornwallLifeMag

I love many of West Cornwall’s beaches but my favourite is probably Prussia Cove. I grew up in Cornwall and spent a lot of time there, so know it really well; all the gullies, caves and rock pools. There’s a lovely walk along the cliffs to get there, and because it only has a small car park it’s normally a lot quieter than other beaches, like a private cove. The sea is fantastic, great for snorkelling, and it’s a brilliant beach for children on holiday. I go whenever we get beautiful weather – hopefully that will be every weekend in the summer!’

Philippa Penney, Property Manager for Classic Cottages

Foodie beaches

If you like to enjoy good (local) food and drink, while enjoying a spectacular view, then these beaches are for you. Most of our restaurants from fine dining to the smallest of cafes and pasty shops pride themselves on using local produce.

Porthminster, St Ives

The Porthminster Beach Café and its sister restaurant offer incredible views across St Ives bay to Godrevy Lighthouse. It offers a wide range of food - and its own cookbook.

Gyllyngvase, Falmouth

A firm favourite this sandy beach sits on the edge of Falmouth overlooked by Pendennis Castle, the beach has a great café. Gylly Beach Café is family owned and serves up great food in a friendly, trendy atmosphere.

Rock Beach

This beach on the Camel Estuary sits between the two foodie meccas so after you’ve worked on your tan and rubbed shoulders with the celebs who flock to what tourism organisation Visit Cornwall describes as Cornwall’s trendy destination beach’, you can head to nearby Padstow to sample Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant and Paul Ainsworth, or stop off at St Enodoc, home to Michelin-starred Nathan Outlaw.

Watergate Bay

Home to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant and the newly opened Zacrys that forms part of the Watergate Bay Hotel, the bay provides the perfect backdrop to some good food. The beach is also great for surfing, walking and home to the annual Beach Polo tournament in August.

Sennen Cove

Restaurant of the Year at Cornwall Life’s Food and Drink Award 2013, The Beach Restaurant sits on the beach with views out towards the Isles of Scilly - alongside great food it boasts its own fishing boat.

I love many of West Cornwall’s beaches but my favourite is probably Prussia Cove. I grew up in Cornwall and spent a lot of time there, so know it really well; all the gullies, caves and rock pools. There’s a lovely walk along the cliffs to get there, and because it only has a small car park it’s normally a lot quieter than other beaches, like a private cove. The sea is fantastic, great for snorkelling, and it’s a brilliant beach for children on holiday. I go whenever we get beautiful weather – hopefully that will be every weekend in the summer!’

Philippa Penney, Property Manager for Classic Cottages

Sporty beaches

Cornwall has plenty going on when it comes to adventure sports – whether you fancy a spot of kite surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding or just plain surfing. There are surf schools offering friendly and relaxed lessons on beaches throughout Cornwall that promise to make your stay memorable…

Fistral beach

A legendary surf beach and spiritual home to British surfing, this Newquay beach is a great landing spot for surfers – the neighbouring Lusty Glaze is a hidden gem of a sandy beach, sheltered by surrounding high cliffs and Holywell Bay Beach has plenty going on for the whole family.

Porthmeor, St Ives

Sitting outside of Tate St Ives, surfers here create their own artworks as they catch glorious waves, the incredible beach view from the Tate is worth the admission price!

Polzeath near Wadebridge

Award-winning Blue Flag 2013 beach and trendy resort destination for surfers, swimmers and the occasional dolphins.

Gwithian

Named by pro-surfer Alan Stokes as one of his top three surf beaches – who are we to argue?

My favourite beach in Cornwall is Booby’s Bay, on the north coast near Padstow. I grew up in St Austell but travelled to beaches all around the county after I started surfing when I was 12. Booby’s Bay quickly became a favourite and I’ve continued to visit ever since. It’s a great beach for surfing, a little quieter than Constantine just around the corner, and it also has the best rock pools for kids. We’ll be visiting a lot this summer, as my eldest son Toby has just started surfing, and my wife Lucy wants to learn before her birthday later in the year.’

Rob Brewer, landlord of the Rashleigh Arms, Charlestown

Family beaches

For many of us, family holidays on the beach provide perfect childhood memories – and there are few of Cornwall’s beaches that don’t provide the perfect backdrop. We’ve chosen those beaches offering a safe haven, with soft curling waves perfect for splashing in relative safely, lifeguards on duty and sandy beaches with plenty to keep budding architects and builders busy and amenities close-by.

Perranporth

Ever popular with families, this beach offers great local amenities as well as some stunning coastline.

Praa Sands, Penzance

South west facing long stretch of golden sand considered to be one of the finest beaches to be found in the UK and is popular with families, surfers and with good bathing. You can also reach the little known Kenneggy Sands Beach at low tide from Praa Sands or via a clifftop path and chained ladders.

Bude

Summerleaze beach is home to the famous tidal Sea Pool that is now being brought back to life by its hardworking and enthusiastic supporters, Bude on the north coast, also has Crooklets beach - and both have similar facilities attached. When the tide is at its lowest, it is possible to take in the spectacular coastline between Bude and Sandymouth Beach by walking the two miles along the beach. Returning by the coast path makes it a very pleasant, circular walk.

Carbis Bay, St Ives

A Blue Flag beach, Carbis bay is a stunning stretch of sand sitting in St Ives Bay, owned by the Carbis Bay Hotel that sits above it, which is busy adding plenty of new attractions this year.

With just a short drive from the countryside of Little White Alice, you are at the stunning Cornish coast. I love Gyllyngvase Beach as it’s so tranquil, featuring golden sand that Cornwall is renowned for. One of my favourite things to do on a sunny, clear day is to swim out to the buoys and back again. It’s great for walking dogs in the winter and perfect for families in the summer, with the added bonus of a lovely beach café. Gylly Beach Café has a green ethos – which is very important to everyone at Little White Alice!’

Rosie Hadden,

Owner of Little White Alice

Woof factor

Cornwall is a family-friendly holiday destination and many, many places to stay and visit will welcome our four-pawed friends - but what about the beaches? Many beaches operate a dog ban through the summer months - which can be frustrating for holidaying dogowners, but there are still plenty of places for dogs to enjoy the glorious sand and sea.

If in doubt, there is signage on the entrance to beaches setting out any dog bans or other rules. It’s also worth checking before setting out to avoid disappointment as bans can change.

Often the seasonal bans (usually in place from Easter or 1 May to 30 September) are in place during the daytime only and early walkers are allowed on the beach before 8am and after 7pm - the perfect time for dogs and their owners to enjoy the cooler parts of the day.

Downderry Beach, Looe

A wide straight beach made up of shingle and sand this makes it great for long walks and dogs are welcome all year round.

The beach is also fantastic for fishing, windsurfing and swimming.

Mawgan Porth

Sitting between Padstow and Newquay on the rugged north Cornish coast, Mawgan Porth is a stunning west facing beach which is great for children and dogs, alongside acres of golden sand there are plenty of rockpools and caves to explore.

Port Issac

Port Isaac’s popularity has exploded over recent years largely due to its association with the TV series, Doc Martin where it is known as Port Wenn’. The beach is shared with fishing boats and there’s a great two mile cliff top walk to the nearby dog-friendly Port Gaverne.

Mexican Towans, Hayle

Hayle has miles of sandy beach sitting within St Ives Bay and is made up of several beaches - separated at high tide and which stretch from the Hayle Estuary to Gwithian Towans and Godrevy Point. Hayle beach comprises different sections of beach known as Hayle Towans, Black Cliff and Mexico Towans (known by locals as Mexico Beach), which is dog friendly all year round. But beware wandering into the adjoining non-dog beaches during low tide.

Also try Trebarwith Sands near Tintagel and Port Gaverne.

And don’t forget Cornwall’s 300-mile stretch of South West Coast Path, which has 250 miles of dog-friendly walks offering incredible views of the coast.

Find out more at southwestcoastpath.cok

Although Newquay has some fantastic beaches, my favourite is actually Mawgan Porth, just up the coast. The main reason for going there is that it’s dog-friendly and we can walk our Westie Topsy there all year round. We’ve tried a lot of beaches but Mawgan Porth is definitely her favourite! It’s a little off the beaten path which makes it un-commercialised, and my husband Ed loves to enjoy a pint of Tribute in the garden of the Merrymoor Inn, overlooking the beach. We’ve been going for about five years now, and love watching it change with the seasons – we’ll certainly never tire of it.’

Barbara May, manager of the Great Western Hotel, Newquay

Far from the madding crowd

There are times when you just want to kick off your shoes and walk the coast and consider the meaning of life in splendid solitude with the sound of waves crashing in the background. Or it may be a case of walking hand in hand with your other half and enjoy some alone time.

Porthcurno

An oasis of stunning natural beauty in west Cornwall overlooked by The Minack Theatre, it is popular with families but there’s plenty of space to wander.

Port Gaverne Beach, Port Isaac

A sheltered, narrow cove nestles under cliffs with plenty of sand at low tide and neighbour to Port Isaac, home to Doc Martin.

Sennen Cove

The most westerly surf spot in the country. A long, sandy beach, small harbour and an unofficial naturist beach at the far end.

Portherras Cove

This hidden treasure is a 20-minute walk from Pendeen Watch lighthouse near St Just. There are no facilities here, but the thrill of having the beach to yourself makes the walk all the more worthwhile. Gunwalloe is also quiet, and there are no facilities here either. This tiny cove is at the southernmost point of Porthleven Sands; you can park in Church Cove car park, but be prepared for a 30-minute walk. Also try Chapel Porth’s wild beach.

Porthchapel Beach, Land’s End

This National Trust owned south-facing sheltered cove is surrounded by cliff and accessed along a narrow cliff path with a rock climb down to the beach.

Porthcurnick Beach, The Roseland

A beautiful south east facing sandy cove, owned by the National Trust, and recommended by the Marine Conservation Society. Porthcurnick has many rockpools offer hours of fascinating crustacean-hunting for children.

Porthcurno beach holds many happy childhood memories for me. Most Sundays throughout the summer my parents and their friends would pack up the cars with windbreaks, food, fishing rods, primus stove, kettle and plastic sheeting (to make a roof if it rained!) and head in convoy to this beautiful cove. My favourite part was frying up the day’s catch and playing rounders in the evening with the entire beach to ourselves... Bliss!’

Helen Mulhern, MD, Eventy – Marketing & PR

Arty beaches

There is plenty of art to see in Cornwall, but if you fancy making something of your own, Cornwall has perfect beaches for plein air (the art of painting outside) and even classes and special holidays. If that all sounds too much, settle for some glorious photography to take home of the dramatic landscape.

Porthgwidden

A lovely small beach to set up your easel and encapsulate the sky, sea, sun, sand and rocks which frame it. The restaurant on the beach is also a fantastic place to take lunch.

Gwithian

A stunning stretch of coastline where, at the right time of year, the sun dips into the Atlantic Ocean. A must for photography enthusiasts, it has endless possibilities.

Lamorna Cove Beach, Penzance

The backdrop for the 2013 movie Summer in February, the Cove has a small pebble beach beside the harbour and quay with lots of large granite boulders especially at low tide.

Godrevy

This National Trust beach set at the end of St Ives Bay offers stunning views of the lighthouse of the same name – which inspired Virginia Woolf’s novel To The Lighthouse.

Marazion Beach

Marazion Beach offers a spectacular view of St Michael’s Mount and the bay beyond, Mounts Bay, recently voted one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

Trebarwith Strand

At high tide the beach is completely submerged by waves crashing on the rocks and the high hills on either side frame the stunning sunsets which bring people in their dozens to this spot.

Bedruthan

Bedruthan Steps are dotted across the beach, takes a lot of beating in the drama stakes. This large, sandy beach punctuated with enormous rocky outcrops is one of the most photographed beaches in Cornwall, and according to legend, the rocks are the stepping stones for Bedruthan the giant.

The unspoilt Whitsand Bay does it for me. Tucked away in Cornwall’s forgotten corner, the four uninterrupted miles of golden beach is one of the longest in the south west and as one of our untouched gems, boasts a true authentic Cornwall atmosphere.

The dramatic scenery, high cliffs and sense of calm combine to make it one of my favourite spots.’

Malcolm Bell, Head of Tourism

at Visit Cornwall – visitcornwall.com

It’s really hard to choose just one favourite beach, but I would have to say Pedn Vounder, near Porthcurno. My husband and I stumbled upon it a couple of years ago, and it’s just the most stunning beach, really peaceful and sheltered with beautiful turquoise waters. It’s a bit of a scramble down the rocks to reach the beach, but it’s definitely worth it. We can walk our dog Sheppy there all year round, and it’s also good for kayaking and quiet picnics – a real hidden gem.’

Sam Sheppard, Property Manager for Aspects Holidays

I love many of West Cornwall’s beaches but my favourite is probably Prussia Cove. I grew up in Cornwall and spent a lot of time there, so know it really well; all the gullies, caves and rock pools. There’s a lovely walk along the cliffs to get there, and because it only has a small car park it’s normally a lot quieter than other beaches, like a private cove. The sea is fantastic, great for snorkelling, and it’s a brilliant beach for children on holiday. I go whenever we get beautiful weather – hopefully that will be every weekend in the summer!’

Philippa Penney, Property Manager for Classic Cottages

Latest Articles

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most Read

A+ Education

It's Christmas

Great British Holidays

South West Attractions

Pure Weddings E-edition