Discover the stunning beaches in and around Cornwall
Advise our guests about the top ten best Cornish beaches? Easy, we thought, we can do that. But when we started thinking, we realised that narrowing Cornwall’s stunning coast down to just ten beaches was nigh-on impossible. We managed eventually (by sneaking in a few other mentions…); so in no particular order, here are The Cornwall’s top ten Cornish beaches to add to your list when planning your holiday in Cornwall.
Porthminster Beach, St Ives
Porthminster is one of several beaches in St Ives. This sandy stretch has shallow waters for swimming (check the tide), and beautiful views across to the harbour. There are fabulous facilities, including take-aways, beach shops, lifeguards (high season) and one of West Cornwall’s best-located restaurants. It’s also just off the branch line station if you want to avoid parking in St Ives.
A National Trust-owned beach on The Lizard peninsula, Kynance Cove is famed for its crystal-clear waters and pale sands. It also has a café, where you can load up on calories before making the steep climb back up to the car park. While you’re on The Lizard, visit the beach at Gunwalloe, which you may recognise from BBC’s Poldark.
Another stunningly blue-and-gold beach, Porthcurno is way out west towards Land’s End. Find out about the beach’s role in global communications at the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum or walk up the steps from the sand to the famous Minack Theatre, where you can have a cream tea overlooking this beautiful beach. Follow the coast path west to Porthgwarra cove (another note for Poldark fans: this is where The Swimming Scene was filmed) or east to pretty Mousehole.
We’re still in the west with a trip to Sennen. This long sweep of sand is popular with families and is a great surfing beach with lessons available. The village at the cove has shops, galleries and places to eat, including a pub. The car park can get busy at peak times, but there’s extra parking above the cove if you don’t mind a steep walk.
Hayle boasts “Three Miles of Golden Sands” on its A30 sign – and indeed it has. Park at the National Trust car park at Gwithian, and head east towards Godrevy lighthouse for rockpools and a seal colony, or west for sweeping sands. You can walk the whole stretch to Hayle town and grab a sustaining pasty from Philps. It’s an exploring beach rather than a swimming one – so you can always try Hayle’s Lido in the summer…
Bay This large beach is near Padstow, and has a wonderful blend of sand, pebbles rockpools and dunes. It’s good for surfing and offers watersports. There’s a choice of beaches around Padstow, including St George’s Cove and Harbour Cove, which are a lovely walk along easy paths from the town. Catch the boat from Padstow to the beach at Rock, or Daymer Bay opposite Harbour Cove.
Fistral Beach, Newquay
Arguably the UK’s surfing capital and home of Boardmasters, Fistral is a large beach near Newquay. Book surf lessons here or shop at one of the many surf shops. It’s a lively beach, with a choice of places to eat and drink. If you’re not interested in surfing, this probably isn’t the beach for you: instead, try Great Western Beach in town.
We’re now a bit further up the county, near Port Isaac. Port Quin is a secluded cove owned by the National Trust. With few amenities save a car park, this is an unspoiled place where you can swim and scramble among the rocks. During the day, the kayakers and coasteering teams pass through; however in the evenings they melt away, leaving you to contemplate this quiet little former fishing post.
One of our lovely local beaches, Porthpean is popular with families and sailors (and seabirds). It’s sandy, with good swimming water, and rockpools to explore. There’s loos and a café, and there is a car park above the beach (although if you’re staying at The Cornwall, you may prefer to walk here). Take the coast path to Georgian harbour Charlestown, yet another Poldark location.
We couldn’t have a list without mentioning a beach in the famous Mounts Bay. Marazion is just east of Penzance and home to St Michael’s Mount. It’s a busy town with plenty of facilities, and the beach is large enough to take all the visitors who flock there in high season. Head around the coast to romantic Prussia Cove (narrow road alert) which is fantastic for snorkelling. Did your favourite Cornish beach make the cut? At The Cornwall, we’re always interested in top tips from our guests that we can share with other visitors, so if you have any seaside recommendations, we’d love to hear from you.