Life's a Beach
PUBLISHED: 12:16 05 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:39 20 February 2013
Amanda Gough discovers top surf spots, secluded coves, perfect waves and family-friendly sands along Cornwall's 610-plus beaches.
Cornwall has over 160 beaches along its beautiful 300-mile coastline. So, from the rugged cliffs and rough sea of the north coast to the gentler slopes of the south, the golden sand stretches for miles, and with grassy dunes and fun rock pools, you are bound to find your ideal beach.
Catch the perfect wave
Cornwall is a surfers paradise, with many great beaches tempting wave-lovers onto their boards. Fistral Beach and Gwynver Beach in the west are both well-known haunts for the surfing community. Treyarnon Beach, on the north coast just south of the larger Constantine Bay, has a long stretch of sandy beach and low dunes. The gentler waves and great facilities at Polzeath Beach, also in the north, are perfect for beginners and boogey boarders, but the sea is quite a long walk out, so not so good for little legs, although there is plenty of sand to keep them amused while you catch some waves.
With children in tow, you need a beach that is fun, safe, and has good facilities. Daymer Bay, near Rock in north Cornwall, and Seaton Beach, near Looe in south-east Cornwall, are both fantastic family-friendly beaches with sea-view cafs. Daymer Bay has large expanses of sand, although Seaton is a bit pebbly, with plenty of naturally occurring tidal pools that are perfect for tiny feet to play safely. Daymer Bay is also attractive to older children as it is ideal for windsurfing. Summerleaze Beach and Crackington Haven in north Cornwall are popular beaches for families, as there are great facilities in the seaside town of Bude.
Just the two of us
There are some isolated beaches dotted around Cornwall perfect for
couples to spend time alone together. Talland Bay is a lovely quiet spot on the road to Looe; the beach is small and rocky but there is a pub that cooks fantastic barbecues in the summer. Porthallow Beach in southCornwall, known locally as Pralla, is a little-used beach, with nearby refreshments available at the Five Pilchards Inn. Hallane Mill Beach near St Austell is a quiet beach, as people tend to visit the larger beaches of Pentewan and Porthpean, and this small shingle stretch has a waterfall where you can take a romantic swim.
Wildlife & adventure
Perranporth has it all; great surfing and facilities but also adventurous cliff walks, caves to explore along its sandy beaches, rare birds and an array of colourful fauna to spot along the coastal path. For spectacular views you cant beat Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula. Gwithian Beach in St Ives Bay is a very picturesque and quiet three-mile stretch of sandy beach, popular for horse riding and where you can see seals.
Special swimming spots
Most of the beaches in Cornwall are ideal for safe swimming and havelifeguards on duty during the summer months. Many are very tidal, so check the local tide times and look out for beaches with Blue Flag awards. Popular large beaches like Newquays Towan Beach have clear safety flagsfor safe swimming. For a quieter swim, Porthminster Beach in St Ives or, further afield, Great Bay on St Martins Island on the Isles of Scilly both have a beautiful stretch of golden sand and calm sea.
There are plenty of beaches in Cornwall where dogs are allowed. On certain beaches dogs are permitted in allocated areas, while most beaches allow dogs at any time. A few fun beaches to take your dog for a walk include Great Western Beach in the west and the smaller Towan Beach close by. Padstow Beach is a long, flat, sandy beach which is good for letting the dogs run free, and Whitsand Bay has steep cliffs at the top of the beach, which add a great walk to your canines beach adventure.
After a long day catching rays or waves, where better to refuel or enjoy a sundowner than at a beach caf or restaurant? Gaze at the sunset through the large windows at the Blue Bar at Porthtowan Beach, or soak up the great atmosphere at the Watering Hole, right on the sand at Perranporth Beach. Best for a coffee and its fabulous views, especially after an early morning walk, it has to be Porthminster Caf at Porthminster Beach in St Ives. Another caf serving tasty locally sourced food and drink is the Gylly Beach Caf on Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth. If you are looking for a restaurant for dinner and cocktails try Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay, The Cove at Maenporth Beach in Falmouth, or The View in Millbrook, perched high on the cliffs at Whitsand Bay, among others.