THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CORNWALL'S BEACHES
PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:21 30 August 2017
Cornwall boasts 422 miles of coastline and most of it is gorgeous sandy beaches, whether perfect for surf, sandcastle building or sunsets - here’s out guide to the best of the best
Food with a view
Let’s start with the two things Cornwall is famous for – its beaches and its food. Combine those together and you’ve got foodie heaven. Most of our restaurants from fine dining to the smallest of cafes and pasty shops pride themselves on using local produce – so a taste of Cornwall awaits to satisfy all your senses.
1. 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.
2. Gyllyngvase, Falmouth
A firm favourite, this sandy beach sits on the edge of Falmouth overlooked by Pendennis Castle, and we love Gylly Beach Café which serves up great food in a friendly, trendy atmosphere. The beach is one of Cornwall’s Blue Flag beaches.
3. Watergate Bay
Home to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year with a visit from the geezer himself. The beach is also great for surfing, walking and home to the annual Beach Polo tournament.
Keep an eye out for a mint and white converted horsebox selling an inventive range of salad pots.
Something for the romantic – or simply a chance to get the perfect family snap to remember your time in Cornwall (whether you live here or not). Head for any West-facing beach on the right night at the right time of year and get ready to go ahhhh as the sun goes down. Our favourites are:
1. Trebarwith Strand
Offers a dramatic sunset as it sets over the water between the granite that covers this small bay.
2. Sennen Cove
The sun will set here towards the edge of the land during the summer allowing you to see the pretty harbour bask in the extended golden hour a sunny day can offer up.
Gather with surfers and families in the hieght of summer to watch the sun drop into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. A truly stunning sight.
Martin Clunes once said of Cornwall, that children and dogs don’t lie - you only have to look on your local beach for proof of that. These beaches offer a safe haven, with soft curling waves perfect for splashing in relative safely, lifeguards on duty and sandy beaches and amenities like all-important toilets and takeaways close-by.
Ever popular with families, this beach offers great local amenities as well as some stunning coastline. Nearby Porthtowan is one of Cornwall’s eight Blue Flag beaches and loved by surfers.
2. Trevone beach, near Padstow
This stretch of golden sand and sheltered coves is also holder of a 2016 Blue Flag and has great amenities.
3. Praa Sands, Penzance
A 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.
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. Widemouth Bay beach nearby is great for rock-pooling and was awarded Blue Flag status last year.
5. Carbis Bay, St Ives
Another 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.
Kite surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, surfing or just plain swimming? How about sailing or frisbee golf (more on that later). Here’s our pick of the beaches to head for to try out some new activities.
1. Carylon Bay
The home to Frisbee Golf last summer – this bay has it all going on. There’s lots of food and drink events, and activities to keep children busy all summer long.
2. Fistral beach
A legendary surf beach and spiritual home to British surfing, this Newquay beach is a great landing spot for surfers – with the added attraction of night time surfing throughout the summer; nearby Holywell Bay Beach has plenty going on for the whole family.
3. Porthmeor, St Ives
Surfers can catch glorious waves on this famous beach which is also a Blue Flag beach denoting their international standard as the best beaches in the world.
4. Polzeath near Wadebridge
Award-winning Blue Flag beach and trendy resort destination for surfers, swimmers and the occasional dolphins.
While many beaches operate a dog ban through the summer months – which can be frustrating for holidaying dogowners, but there are still plenty of places - around 80 beaches in fact - 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. And remember 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
Cornwall’s 300-mile stretch of South West Coast Path, which has 250 miles of dog-friendly walks offering incredible views of the coast. See southwestcoastpath.org.uk for more.
Cornwall prides itself on being open to all – and through the fantastic charity DisAbility Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, some of our more accessible beaches now offer Sand Chairs or beach access wheelchairs which can be used in a range of outdoor environments.
Beaches boasting sand chair access include Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth, Porthminster Beach near St Ives, Fistral Beach in Newquay, Polzeath near Wadebridge and Crocklets and Summerleaze beaches in Bude. For full information head to disabilitycornwall.org.uk/sand-chairs
And finally…Our top secret beaches:
Harder to get to and often tucked away in the hidden coves and inlets, which would once only have been populated by smugglers and fisherman - many remain unchanged from those days .
Lying at the bottom of a sheltered wooded valley near Porthcurno, the National Trust has preser
ved it much as it was a hundred years ago.
2. Porthilly Cove
Porthilly Cove beach at Rock is a mile long sandy beach with dunes located across the Camel estuary from Padstow. A foot passenger ferries visitors between Padstow and Rock daily, a water taxi can take people after dusk. Great for water sports.
3. Sennen Cove
The most westerly surf spot in the country. A long, sandy beach, small harbour and unspoilt village centre (with an unofficial naturist beach at the far end, so we are told!).
4. 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.
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.
6. Kynance Cove
Snuggled under towering cliffs near Lizard point, this has sparkling turquoise water, pristine white sand, offshore stacks and islands and numerous interconnected caves to explore .
7. 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.
8 Whitsand Bay
Tucked away in Cornwall’s forgotten corner, here you will find four uninterrupted miles of golden beach is one of the longest in the south west and as one of our untouched gems.
9. Readymoney Cove
Near the mouth of the River Fowey and looking out over the Fowey Estuary, this pretty, sheltered sandy beach that largely disappears at high tide.
Not a secret for long, this small beach will have gone un-noticed before its appearance in the recent adaptation of Poldark.
Cornwall is awesome for rockpooling, our coastline has a wealth of fabulous rockpooling potential and for sheer diversity of life and quantity of species you find Cornwall’s rockpools are unrivalled anywhere else in England! Look under small stones on a low tide and see if you can spot a Broad Clawed porcelain crab – they are amazing creatures. Also look for Cornish Sucker fish and Spiney starfish!
6 Top tips for rockpooling
1. Always follow the seashore code, show respect for the animals you find, don’t over crowd buckets or drop crabs and injure them!
2. Be careful on the shore, when turning over stones always return them the way you found them.
3. Never leave litter.
4. Only take away memories or photos, return the creatures you find to the pools you found them.
5. Keep safe, watch out for the tide and for waves but the biggest danger is slipping over so go carefully and avoid walking on slippery seaweed!
6. Top ten best rockpooling sites in Cornwall:
North Coast: Trevone bay, St Agnes, Polzeath.
South Coast: Charlestown, Hannafore Looe, Readymoney cove Fowey, St Mawes, Gyllyngvase and Maenporth beaches, Falmouth, Mousehole.