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Iconic Cornish Beaches

9 July 2024

Pothcurno Beach

With over 300 beaches to explore and the longest coastline in Great Britain (measuring 697 km), and the sea surrounding us on three sides; it makes sense to head to a beach when you visit Cornwall. But how to choose which ones to see? From quiet secluded coves ideal for wild swimming, to epic sandy beaches perfect to surf with waves that can reach 25ft. Some are dog friendly all year round, others are perfect for families with award winning cafes, beach huts and lifeguard cover. How to pick! Well we thought we would look at some iconic Cornish beaches and give you our top tips.

Starting with St Ives, a favourite on our tours of Cornwall, this Cornish town is known for the fabulous quality of light that has attracted artists over the years. The town boasts five beaches, with Porthmeor perfect for surf, Porthminster a hop and a skip from the train station (a stunning route I might add), Town Beach right by all the amenities and the two east facing beaches Porthwidden and the little Bamaluz.

We are focusing on Porthminster. The view across to the town from here, jutting out into the turquoise sea, is just lovely. You can rent a stripy deck chair, sip a cool drink from the cafe and with blue flag water it is a great child-friendly beach. You can even hire a charming beach chalet.

Kynance Cove beach guide

Kynance Cove has to be one of the most photographed beaches in Cornwall, the view that greats you is simply stunning as you wind the path down the cliffs. Protected by the National Trust this beautiful beach on the Lizard has a little cafe, toilets and a car park. In all seasons I have loved visiting here, one of the many beautiful beaches The Lizard has to offer.

Porthcurno in West Cornwall is another stunning beach to explore. Close to the fabulous Minack Theatre that has been carved out the cliffs, this sheltered beach has golden sands and a stream feeding a little pool ideal for kids. There is a cafe but this is still quite a remote spot, many like to bring a picnic. The waters are clear and in summer, perfectly turquoise.

Close by–harder to get to but truly special–is Pedn Vounder, with little islands of sand lapped by pristine waters it feels far-flung like a tranquil paradise. Though worth noting it is quite steep to get to and there are no facilities, but there in lies its charm. Just a warning, its seclusion does make it a popular spot for naturists.

When it comes to surfing beaches we really are spoilt, Newquay boasts some great ones, Perranporth is a favourite too, but Polzeath might just come out on top. Easy to access, great surf (and plenty of schools to teach you). It’s safe and even though it does get busy that is all part of the vibe. Cafes and bars offer great views, and nothing beats watching a Polzeath sunset over the dunes.

Sennen Cove at Land’s End has soft white shimmering sand surrounded by gentle hills and fishing villages. The grassland behind is full of wildflowers and butterflies and you’d be forgiven for thinking time has stood still as you gaze across the Atlantic.

Nanjizal beach, photo by ©Ian Woolcock Shutterstock via Cornish Secrets.

Nanjizal Beach, about an hours walk from near-by parking (you need good footwear) is worth the trek, it is one of the most special places in Cornwall. When the light shines through the cliffs, Zawn Pyg (Song of the Sea) honestly you’ll think you might have found paradise! Definitely one for low tide, there are caves to explore and clear waters to swim in. No lifeguards or facilities, this is wild Cornwall. A good place to spot seals as well.

Constantine Bay, image from Visit Cornwall.

For sand dunes and rock pools Constantine Bay is a lovely pick. Near the popular Padstow this wide sandy beach is well-suited for families, or romantic evening walks. A great place to surf for the experienced, but the currents are a little strong for swimming. Also a good place to gather some shells.

Finally, though our list is far from exhaustive, is a little one on the south coast, Ready Money Cove. Just outside Fowey this special little beach has a tiny shop, handy loos and is great for swimming. There is a carpark a short walk up a hill and you can also explore a ruined castle. It has old-world charm and is a loved by families, locals, and when times allow, dogs.

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