PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 May 2014
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It's one of Cornwall's most famous harbours filled with arts, crafts and great food. CAROL BURNS discovers the joys of beachside living in St Ives
Overlooking one of Cornwall’s best beaches, Porthminster, Pedn Olva must have one of the best views in our county of great views. Pedn Olva – literally means Look to the Headland – and if I’m on honest I found it very hard to do anything else during our stay.
It seems almost redundant to write that St Ives is a pretty coastal harbour that has been attracting visitors for decades; artists loved its light, the opportunity for En plein air (the practice of painting outdoors) but it is they are not the only ones to be lifted by the brightness caused by light reflecting of the sea on both sides. The art scene in the tiny harbour continues to thrive, while a quiet revolution has been going on in its food scene, with a now dazzling array of restaurants offering the very best in Cornish food and drink.
But one of its main attractions remains the beautiful beaches that surround it. Pedn Olva perches 30 feet above the sea, sitting on blue-black granite rocks, surrounded by golden sands. An outdoor heated pool was the main attraction for my seven-year-old son, who measured the success of his stay by the amount of time he could spend frolicking in it. A fantastic antidote to poor weather, it meant when the sea on Porthminster below us was out of bounds, there was still warm water to play in. This allowed me to sit and enjoy the view, and the wonderful service of the hotel staff, who were happy to bring endless cups of warming coffee as I sat and drank in the view, chatting with other guests (who had travelled all the way from Truro).
The rooms are varied and we were lucky to get one of the rooms overlooking the coast, its style very much like a spacious cruise ship cabin and a light airy décor designed to never let you forget your proximity to the sea, while the restaurant continued the cruise ship feel, enclosed in glass to make the most of the views of St Ives Bay.
Owned by St Austell Brewery, you would expect good food and fantastic drink in the Pedn Olva restaurant: and you won’t be disappointed. Be seduced by lobster, crayfish and mango salad with citrus oil (£8.95) to start and a main of scallops, calamari and squid ink pasta served with crispy basil and asparagus (£17.50).
There is no shortage of great places to eat in St Ives, but here’s a few of our favourites:
Porthminster Beach café and restaurant offers fantastic food, from bags of chips at his beach level hatch (mind the seagulls!) to a fantastic terrace restaurant serving award-winning seafood – they even have their own recipe book.
The tiny but award-winning Blas burgerworks bar offers an array of gourmet burgers, side dishes and local drinks
Cornish Gems Coffee Shop is a new kid on the block, but run by luxury holiday lettings company of the same name it’s a great place to sit, enjoy local coffee, and plan your next Cornish stay.
The Hub is a lively bar with great food and enjoys a top spot along St Ives harbour to sit back and enjoy the view.
I once toured all of St Ives’ Bay’s beaches in one afternoon with visitors, but I recommend a more leisurely tour.
Popular with surfers, there is a surfing school here for you to have a go. Even if you don’t dip your toes, it’s a great place to stop and admire the view before heading in to the soon to be re-opened Tate St Ives that dominates the beachfront.
A fantastic little beach tucked away past the harbour, and its beach café is definitely worth a stop. Bring your camera or canvas, as this small enclosed beach protected by jagged rocks on both sides makes it a gorgeous visual spot.
Porthminster Beach café and restaurant
offers fantastic food, from bags of chips at the beach level hatch (mind the seagulls!) to a fantastic terrace restaurant serving award-winning seafood with uninterrupted views of the beach all the way to Gwithian Lighthouse – they even have their own recipe book.
The harbour has many artists working and selling their work, while the newly extended Tate St Ives is expected to reopen its doors in May. But in the meantime head to the Barbara Hepworth museum – the lush tropical garden of her former home is populated by her sculptures and is one of my favourite places to sit. Art fans should also head to the Millennium Gallery on Street-An-Pol, which is garnering an international reputation for its exhibitions.