Looking for the best beaches in Cornwall? I have you covered!
When you think of pristine beaches, clear water and white sand, the first place that comes to mind is unlikely to be England. Yet, I can assure you there are many beautiful beaches in Cornwall that in fact fit that description. More than that, Cornwall is actually quite famous as a beach holiday destination – which you can pair with lovely, quaint villages, art galleries, fabulous dining opportunities, and unique accommodation options.
Are you curious to find out more? Good, because I am about to highlight the best beaches in Cornwall, so that you can pick one or all for your perfect holiday. All you will have to do is rent one of the beautiful cottages in Cornwall (the best provider for that is Aspects Holidays, by the way) – there even are some with sea views! What’s more soothing than that?
Make sure to also read my post The Best Things To Do In Cornwall.
The Best Beaches In Cornwall
Marazion in an ancient market town from where you can access St. Michaels Mount. The beach is a fabulous place to get views of that! Try to time your visit at low tide so you can walk along the causeway to access the castle and the gardens, or else you can hop on a ferry boat.
The beach itself is a great place to relax. There are sand dunes and rock pools and even a play park in case you are traveling with children. For the most active ones activities such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, jet skiing and sailing are available.
A lifeguard is on duty at the beach from mid July to the beginning of September. Access to dogs is forbidden between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm in July and August.
If you have a thing for small coves, then Kingsand Beach, in the rather remote Rame Peninsula, is the place for you. Accessed by the village that shares its same name and facing south-east, this beach features fair sand and incredibly clear water. Another highlight of this beach is the sunset – best enjoyed with a drink from The Davenport Inn.
The village is a charming place too: you will find the Kingsand clocktower – a perfect place for a photo opportunity. It was built in honor of King George V and his coronation. It was unfortunately almost destroyed by a storm in 2014.
Head over to my post The Nicest Villages In Cornwall.
Among the most beautiful beaches in Cornwall, Porthcurno Beach is a nice small cove with the finest white sand and incredibly turquoise water. Nicely sheltered from the wind, there is a natural pool perfect for children to play and swim – though beware there is quite a surf that makes it hard to swim otherwise, especially if you are not an experienced swimmer. The beach is accessed via an easy trail.
The area is packed with other interesting places to visit, too! Not far from the beach you will find Minack Theater, in case you want to catch a show there! There also is a Telegraph Museum and a network of tunnels carved in the granite rock that date back to WWII, when the area was the base of an international submarine communications cable station.
Pedn Vounder Beach
This gorgeous beach is a short distance from Porthcurno. The main downside is that it’s not easy to access – but I guess that is part of its charme. You will have to park your car up at the Treen parking lot – there’s a small fee to pay for the day – and then find your way to the beach via a trail. Don’t worry though, it’s nothing that you can’t do! Just wear a good pair of hiking shoes and the trail is actually quite easy to follow.
Dogs are allowed on the beach throughout the year, but there is no lifeguard on duty.
Together with Godrevy Beach (which is actually easy to reach at low tide), this is one of the most popular surf and windsurf Cornwall beaches. You will find plenty of waves to ride, and sand dunes where you can walk (in fact, access to the beach is via a trail that goes through the dune from the parking lot).
Not far from the beach it’s possible to spot seals and there is a breeding ground for seabirds including cormorants.
A lifeguard is on duty every day between May and September included, and at weekends in October. Much like in other beaches in Cornwall dogs are banned from accessing the beach in July and August from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Owned by the National Trust, this beach features beautiful natural rockpools where it is safe to splash for children, making it one of the best beaches in Cornwall for families. When the tide is low, you can easily walk to nearby beaches too – so you have the chance to check out more places.
One of the main draws to this beach is actually the Hidden Hut, a nice café serving excellent fish and seafood dishes.
As an added bonus, this is one of the few dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall throughout the year.
Easily one of the best beaches in Cornwall, Kynance Cove is located about 3.2 km (2 miles) north of Lizard Point, on the eastern side of Mount’s Bay, in the Lizard Peninsula (South Cornwall). This stunning beach features incredibly white sand, beautiful rock formations (known as the serpentine stone), moss-covered stacks, wildflowers, and clear water.
Make sure to walk along the Lizard Coastal walk (it’s an 11 km or roughly 7 miles trail) for beautiful views. If you head north to Asparagus Island you will find rock pools and sea caves too. For the best views of the beach, there is a hillside café property of the National Trust that is also an excellent sunset spot.
Praa Sands Beach
So many Cornwall beaches are great for surfing, but if that’s not your thing you’ll be happy to know that there are places where you can enjoy tranquil waters and have a peaceful swim. Not far from Helston, on the south coast between Lizard and west Penwith, Praa Sands is just this kind of place.
Sand at Praa Sands is incredibly white – it’s actually made of pulverized seashells that have been eroded by the action of the wind and the sea. The beach stretches for about 1.6 km (1 mile) and is nicely sheltered by sand dunes. Thanks to the water that is mostly calm, it’s a good beach for families with children who will definitely enjoy playing in the sand.
The beach is accessed via an easy walk that starts right in the parking lot. There is a lifeguard on duty every day between May and September, and at weekends in October. Dogs are not allowed on the beach between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm in July and August.
This small cove is one of my favorite beaches in Cornwall. You will love how it is surrounded by cliffs covered in vegetation, and appreciate the golden sand and clear water. If you are the active kind of traveler you will make good use of the outdoor center where you can rent all sort of equipment – kayaks, SUPs, windsurfs and what not.
This is a particularly popular beach for families with children, since it is well sheltered. Comes the summer and a café, a shop and toilets will also pop up on the beach. However, there is no lifeguard on duty.
It’s not far from Charlestown, a quaint small village which can be reached via a coastal trail.
One of the best beaches in Cornwall for families, Gyllyngvase Beach is easy to access from the nearby parking lot, incredibly clean, well equipped with anything you may possibly need, it features beautiful golden sand and clear waters that attract swimmers of all ages and abilities.
There is a lovely on-site café – the Gylly Beach Café – which serves earthy portions of seafood and fish dishes. A mere 10 minutes walk you will find the lovely historic Falmouth’s town center.
Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed to access this beach between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm between mid-May and the end of September.
A mere 5 minute walk from St. Ives (home of the famous Tate Museum), this is known to be one of the best beaches in Cornwall, and for all the good reasons. It’s a beautiful, pristine, safe and easy to access sandy beach that is a good place for swimming and surfing.
You will find plenty of space to park your car nearby – though if you are visiting by car plan to be there nice and early as the parking spots in St Ives get packed fast (you may want to try the parking lots in St Erth station or Lelant Saltings for more availability).
Close to the beach you will find a plethora of cafés, ice-cream shops and pubs – just in case you get hungry. There are nearby shops and art galleries. There even is a café right on the beach!
Unfortunately dogs can’t access the beach between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm from mid May to the end of September; but on the plus side there is a lifeguard on duty from Easter until the end of October.
One of Cornwall’s best beaches, Perranporth is found about 13 km (8 miles) from Newquay, in the north coast of Cornwall. It’s a small seaside resort packed with amenities for a wonderful holiday. The beach is made of fine golden sand and stretches for 3 km (around 2 miles). Depending on the day, you can enjoy swimming or surfing – and do that in all safety thanks to the safe swimming areas and the presence of lifeguards on duty.
Porth Joke Beach
This is a relatively undiscovered beach, because it is hardly serviced and it can only be accessed on foot (the nearest car park is the National Trust one on Cubert Common, but there also is a private one at West Pentire).
Known as Polly Joke, it’s a cove surrounded by cliffs and sand dunes covered in grass where sheep often graze. The beach features fine, golden sand and clear waters and there are rockpools and caves you can explore. It is an excellent place if you like swimming, surfing, bodyboarding and even fishing.
Not far from the beach, in Newquay or Holywell Bay, you will find some of the nicest cottages for rent in Cornwall.
Located between the Pentire Headland to the west and the Gannel river to the east, quite close to Newquay, this National Trust beach is quite a find! With golden sand and dunes, this is a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing and surfing.
It’s a fully equipped beach with cafés, toilets and a good parking lot from where you can easily access the beach via a short walk. The National Trust parking lot is where you will also find surfboards for rent.
This is one of the few Cornwall beaches that is dog friendly throughout the year. A lifeguard is on duty from mid May until the end of September.
No post about the best beaches in Cornwall would ever be complete without mentioning Fistral Beach, known to be the surf capital of England. This long, sandy beach is a favorite spot for surfers who come here to ride the waves. Comes August and Boardmasters, Europe’s largest surf and skating festival, takes place and Fistral and Watergate Bay become incredibly busy.
At the beach you can get anything you need to surf – from board rentals to lessons at the local surf-schools. And there obviously are cafés and restaurants, as well as toilets.
A lifeguard is on duty on Fistral Beach from Easter until the end of October, whereas there will be one in South Fistral Beach from mid July to the beginning of September.
This beautiful Cornwall beach is located about 5 km (3 miles) from Newquay, on the northern coast – a quick 15 minutes drive or a 45 minutes walk, if you aren’t put off by the many up and down-hills. It’s a nice, long sandy beach that stretches for more than 3 km (2 miles) and where many go to enjoy the massive waves that make it an excellent surfing (and kitesurfing) destination. If you want to swim you will also find a few rockpools.
You will find two large parking lots on each side of the beach. A lifeguard is on duty every day between May and September, and at weekends until the end of October.
If you are looking for an action packed beach in Cornwall, then Summerleaze will be your spot. An easy walk from the center of Bude, and easily accessed from the parking lot via a trail on the sand dunes (there even is disabled access), this is a good place to surf; but if that’s not what you are into you can also go coasteering, kayaking and even climbing.
Located at the beach you will find a 1930s pool that fills up with seawater – though you won’t be able to spot it at high tide! The beach is equipped with anything you may need for a fun day – including cafés, shops, toilets, a play area in case you are traveling with children.
There is a lifeguard on duty from May to September (every day) and in October (weekends only). Dogs are allowed too, but must be on leash from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm between the end of May and the end of September.
Not nearly as accessible as other Cornwall beaches and for this reason never crowded, Whitsand Bay is considered one of Cornwall’s hidden gems. The beach is located in the south-east of the region. This stretch of sand that measures almost 5 km (3 miles) is backed by tall cliffs and scattered with scenic rock formations. It runs from Rame Head to Portwrinkle.
Visit at low tide and you can enjoy a walk or even a run along the beach. At other times of day, the tall waves will keep surfers entertained.
The beach is also home to various rockpools populated with unique marine life – in fact, the area is a famous diving location. Swimming is otherwise not ideal as the currents can be really strong in this stretch of coast!
Albeit being isolated, there are lifeguards on duty between May and October.
Another fabulous surf spot, Sennen Cove is located in western Cornwall, not far from the fishing village of Sennen. Its setting – incredibly white sand, clear waters, scenic hills – make it an easy favorite. Come at low tide, and you’ll be able to enjoy it even if surfing is not your thing – there are designed and well marked sunbathing spots.
If you enjoy rock climbing, the cliffs of the Pedn-men-du promontory will be fun to tackle. From the beach you can also follow the coastal walk that takes you all the way to Land’s End, on the Penwith coast.
A lifeguard is on duty from Easter until the end of October. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm from mid May till the end of September.
Porthcressa Beach, Isles of Scilly
Last but definitely not least in this selection of the best beaches in Cornwall is Porthcressa Beach, found in the Isles of Scilly 56 km (around 35 miles) away from the coast of mainland Cornwall and south of the capital Hugh Town. Head there for a day or two (it’s a 2-hour ferry fide from Penzance) to enjoy this pristine beach with clear, shallow waters (perfect for snorkeling) and fine white sand that make it a favorite of families with children.
On the walk that leads to the beach you will find a café, toilets and a tourist information center. Keep in mind there is no lifeguard on duty.
Legal Disclaimer: This post was written in cooperation with Aspects Holidays. Needless to say, the views expressed are my own.