10 Of The Best Beaches in Cornwall
As far as English beach holidays go, Cornwall is the prime destination for holidaymakers. The region comes alive in the summer months, with people flocking to the beaches to enjoy a surf, make the most of the annual few days of English summer sun and to hike along dramatic coastline and explore dainty fishing villages. Cornwall is the English county with the longest coastline, so it’s little surprise that it has a host of fantastic beaches to visit. In this article, we’ll introduce you to ten of the best beaches in Cornwall.
Regarded by many as the best beach in Cornwall, Porthcurno Beach is home to Caribbean-blue water, soft sand and tall cliffs, which protect visitors from the wind. There’s a small stream running down the beach which forms a natural paddling pool for young children to play in and the nearby Minack Theatre puts on a host of open-air performances all year round. Fans of the BBC drama Poldark will also recognise this beach, which featured heavily in the show.
Sennen Cove, Lands End
Sennen Cove boasts two drawcards that earned it a place on this list. The small fishing cove benefits from some of the most consistent surf in Cornwall and it is also within walking distance of Lands End. So a day spent surfing can be combined with magnificent views out over the coast from the most westerly point in mainland England. The beach itself links with its neighbour at low tide to offer more than a mile of golden sand, perfect for relaxing with the family or enjoying a stroll.
Harlyn Bay is located on the northern Cornish coast, not far from Padstow. The beach here is large and spacious, popular with both families and surfers. If you’d like to explore the area then there’s a coastal path leading you to the famous Bedruthan Steps, whilst back on the beach lifeguards ensure it is safe for swimmers. (A word of warning from personal experience – keep an eye on the tide if you visit Bedruthan, it can creep in very suddenly and a mad dash for the stairs with young children and a dog is not much fun). Speaking of dogs, unlike some beaches in the county, dogs are welcome at Harlyn Bay all year round.
Porth Joke Beach, Newquay
One problem with Cornish beaches is that they can get incredibly busy in the summer months. For a spot of peace and quiet, head to Porth Joke Beach, an isolated stretch of sand around 5 miles from Newquay. There are few facilities here so bring along a picnic and enjoy a stroll along the deserted beach, which can only be reached on foot. The conditions at the beach are ideal for surfing and there are holiday cottages available to rent nearby if you’d like to base your entire Cornwall holiday in the area.
Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth
At the heart of Cornwall’s second largest settlement, Gyllngvase Beach is perfect for families looking to combine a day at the beach with other activities in Falmouth. The beach itself is Blue Flag certified and there are plenty of amenities, as well as a good range of cafes and restaurants. There are always a number of ships to spot as they navigate Falmouth Bay and the large car park is found right on the beach, making it easily accessible for all.
A favourite holiday location for former Prime Minister David Cameron, Polzeath is one of Cornwall’s most popular attractions. The beach was granted Blue Flag status in 2019 for its environmental standards, and the car park stretches right onto the beach itself. Tall cliffs provide shelter from the wind and there are a range of facilities in the beachfront village, including a surf shop, fish and chip restaurant and a number of bars, pubs and independent shops.
An isolated, deserted sliver of sand surrounded by towering cliffs; Lantic Bay is the perfect escape for people wanting to get away from the crowds. Be warned, there is a very steep climb down to the beach and there are zero facilities, but the scenery is spectacular and you are quite likely to have the place entirely to yourself. Just please remember to take away any rubbish you produce, because otherwise it will end up in the ocean.
Whatever your ideal beach conditions, Cornwall is sure to have something for you. Bustling beaches surrounded by shops, bars and restaurants are offset by hidden gems where you won’t even find a toilet. There are plenty of good surfing beaches, and some of the most gorgeous scenery you’ll find in the UK. In the summer months, the main beaches can get very crowded, especially if there is good weather – so keep this in mind when planning a trip to any of the county’s famous beaches.
Kynance Cove, the Lizard Peninsula
In terms of raw natural scenery, Kynance Cove is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Cornwall. White sand, turquoise waters and rugged cliffs combine to create one of the most picturesque corners of England. Tennyson was a big fan, and some of his most famous poetry is said to have been inspired by the beach. There’s a charming National Trust café serving refreshments at the beach.
Porthpean Beach, St Austell
Another beach of Poldark fame, Porthpean Beach is famous for its calm waters, attracting windsurfers and sailors to make the most of the conditions. There’s an outdoor centre right on the beach, renting out kayaks and other equipment to allow thrill seekers to explore the jagged coastline, home to caves and seafront arches.
The highlight of Kingsand Beach is less the beach itself and more the charming village of Kingsand. Home to an iconic waterfront clocktower and the welcoming Devonport Inn pub, the shingle beach itself is small and popular with parents who can watch the kids play safely whilst sipping a glass of wine at the beachfront pub.
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