Cornish beaches are probably the main reason a lot of people visit Cornwall and with good reason. We are seriously proud of our beaches and dramatic coastline. On a hot summer day, I wouldn’t be anywhere else in the world. From large stretches of beautiful sandy beaches to small coves with caves and rock pools, the beaches in Cornwall have everything covered. Swim, surf, jet ski, sunbathe, BBQ, play, eat, drink, walk, fish or simply just lap up the incredible views that each one of our gorgeous beaches has to offer. Here at Cornwall Holidays we have put together our favourite beaches based on our own experiences living here for you to use as your ultimate guide.
Probably one of the most famous beaches in Cornwall and the capital of surfing in the UK and with good reason as it has a consistent set of waves. This long sandy beach sits in the heart of the popular and lively tourist town of Newquay and plays a huge part in the culture of the town. Open all year and dog friendly all year there is also a large complex on the beach so you can spend all day and evening down there if you wish to.
In the complex they have everything from surfing shops and clothes shops to bars and restaurants. The Beach Bar has live music throughout the evenings often and you can dance the night away watching the sunset. Rick Stein’s fish and chips and The Stable Pizza and Pies are very popular with locals and tourists, affordable dining with an unbeatable view.
There are Lifeguards on Fistral beach during peak times and this is a good place if you want to try your hand at some water sports. Obviously swimming and surfing are available here but you can also look into kayaking and windsurfing. No need to buy your own equipment because Fistral Surf Hire have you covered from wetsuits to surf boards and everything in between.
It’s always good to check the schedules at Fistral beach because there are events on year round. There are many surfing competitions as well as the famous Boardmasters competition which partners with the festival in Newquay. A lively beach for the whole family to enjoy. We have some great places to stay in Newquay so you will be within walking distance to the beach.
Polly Joke Beach, West Pentire
This stunning beach is a firm favourite with locals and is tucked away and a bit of a walk to get to so it is quite often fairly quiet if you time it right. The beach is large and has walking trails all around it so perfect for a long walk with your dog or letting them have a run out.
One of the most pictured scenes in Cornwall is the poppy fields overlooking the beach which you walk through to access the beach. This really is a hidden gem in Cornwall, near Crantock so I would highly recommend it. A couple of things to consider, there is no cafe on the beach so take supplies and it is a walk down some steep fields to get there so consider this if you have small children or maybe less mobile people in your party.
Every year when the poppies flower our Facebook pages are filled with pictures from locals taking a walk to Polly Joke to get stunning pictures of the gorgeous fields. It really is worth checking out when this happens throughout the year so that you can time you trip to this beach to be able to see it for yourself.
There is a car park at the top of the cliffs that is open to the public but you will need to pay and display. Across the road from the car park is the Bowgie pub and restaurant which has a phenomenal view also over Crantock beach which is the other side of the road from Polly Joke. You can get a relaxed lunch or dinner here and chill out with a beer and that view.
This beach is a real treasure because although it overlooks St Michael’s Mount and is in the village of Marazion which is popular in its own right it never gets over crowded. This is a great beach for families and has a lot of amenities nearby. The beach itself is roughly a mile long so plenty of space even in the busier summer months.
The beach is ideal for families because it is mostly sandy with just a few pebbly areas, the water is ideal for swimming as it’s clean and safe and there are lifeguards patrolling throughout the peak seasons.There is also a kids playground behind it so you can keep them entertained all day. Just one thing to note though, there is a seasonal dog ban which means you can’t take your dogs on the beach from Easter Day until October 1st.
There is plenty to do in and around this beach. This is the perfect spot for Stand up paddle boarding or windsurfing and you can hire all the gear as well as an instructor in and around this beach. Marazion is not too far from Penzance and here at Cornwall Holidays we have some great places to stay including a holiday park which leads into Marazion beach itself and some more options in Penzance and St Ives, neither too far away.
One of the most picturesque beaches in Cornwall this gorgeous bay with turquoise water and fine sand is very popular with locals and tourists. The high cliffs provide shelter so it really does give you the most amazing place to spend the day with your family or friends. There is also a small river on one side which is ideal for smaller children to paddle in and safer option than the sea, but to be fair the sea here is not as rough as other locations.
There are lifeguards as well during peak periods. Just be aware there is a dog ban between 10am and 6pm from July 1st to August 31st. The rest of the time dogs are very welcome. One of the most famous things about Porthcurno beach is the world famous Minack Theatre which is a theatre built in the 1920’s which sits on the cliff above the beach. If you can see a show here I highly recommend it as an exhilarating and unique experience.
Adding to this already stunning and famous beach is it’s ties with the series Poldark. This beach was chosen by the location manager to be the location of a scene where Demelza and Ross are walking along the beach in a dream sequence. If you can see this scene it is easy to understand why people flock to this outstanding place of beauty. Check out episode 2 of the first series if you need any more inspiration but it’s quite clear to see why this beach is referred to as paradise.
My favourite beach in Cornwall and another favourite with locals. This is great for all sorts of reasons, easy flat access from the car park, amazing for families as it has an estuary which gives a river for the kids to play in as well as creating rock pools when the tide goes out. The sand dunes also create a place to play as well as the long sandy beach and the sea.
There are a lot of water sports as well for instance kayaking and stand up boarding. Dogs are welcome all year round. During most months you can hire wetsuits and surf equipment from the place in the main car park, you can also buy all sorts of beach supplies such as buckets and spades etc from the shop in the cafe which is in the other car park.
Cractock can also be accessed from Pentire in Newquay and the Gannel in Newquay as the estuary goes through the 2 places. So you can walk easily from Newquay or Crantock to this beautiful beach. There is a cafe near the beach as well as ice creams on the beach and there are toilets to use as well on this beach. To access from Newquay you can use the ferry boat that comes over the estuary when the tide is high or the bridge when the tide is low.
This beautiful beach is in the Bay of St Austell, close to Mevagissey so easy to get to but in a quiet area. Stretching for around half a mile this beach is very popular as there is also a holiday park that backs onto it. The beach is next to Pentewan Village and this is where you access it from. The village itself provides free car parking too giving you easy accessibility particularly if you have a large family.
Pentewan is also a great beach to try your hand at watersports, although it is not patrolled by lifeguards there are areas set out and marked by buoys to display safe swimming areas. Surfing, windsurfing and kayaking are all possible too. Just beware that there is a seasonal dog ban from April to November so bear that in mind if you have your furry friends with you.
In the village of Pentewan there is a cafe and shops so you can get supplies throughout the day, a nice cold drink or ice cream if needed. There are also public toilets as well for you to use. The harbour is no longer working but it is a lovely place to explore. A great family friendly beach where you can enjoy the gorgeous views and have lots of fun all year around.
You may have seen some amazing footage on social media or on line of a beautiful cove with dreamy turquoise water and a load of people saying they cant believe that this is a picture of Cornwall, well that is Kynance Cove. This beach is simply stunning and is a firm favourite among locals and tourists. The gorgeous water and fine sandy beach are a little slice of paradise down by the Lizard Peninsula.
There is a National Trust car park near the beach but you cannot access it by car, so be prepared to leave the car and walk down a coastal path to the beach, just something to consider when packing your beach bags particularly if you have small children. This is a popular beach for good reason and the car park will more than likely be full by 11am during peak months so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
The cove itself is a perfect spot for exploring the many caves and for rock pooling if you get the tide times right. People enjoy swimming here too because the water is so inviting. If you do swim please take care as there are no lifeguards patrolling this beach. Kynance Cove is a place of beauty and a lot of people just want to sit and enjoy the view from the cliff tops, whatever suits you and your family you will not be disappointed by the view when you visit this incredible beach.
Harlyn Beach, Padstow
This sizable beach is a great place to take your family and your dog. Near Padstow, Harlyn beach is dog friendly all year round and there is loads of room for the dog to run around and get wet. The beach itself is a decent size and there is plenty of room even in the summer months when it gets busy.
The beach itself is easily accessed from a car park right next to it and there is also a pub and shop right over the road so you can sit and have some lunch and a pint after your walk or morning at the beach, the atmosphere is very relaxed and they have extensive outdoor seating. Popular for water sports as well you can try your hand at surfing, windsurfing or just have a swim. Highly recommended for those with dogs too because it is fairly enclosed, no busy roads nearby.
Mawgan Porth Beach
This stunning beach is set in the village of Mawgan Porth, there is car parking across the road from the breach and this means its a 2 minute walk from your car to the beach. The beach itself is large when the tide is out which makes for the perfect place to let your dog have a run out. There is also a stream of water so this is also a great place for small children or small dogs, my sausage dog loves playing in there.
Across the road from the beach there is a cafe and pub and facilities to use. Mawgan Porth is one of our very sought out locations to stay in Cornwall and we have some fantastic accommodation options there from camping to amazing hotels.
This beach and coastline provides fantastic cliffs for walking and there are some beautiful walks along the coastal paths all around this beach. Please keep your dogs on their leads though if doing these walks. Down on the beach there is anything from swimming, surfing, kayaking to jet skiing, you name it i have seen it there. Be sure to check out the tide times to make the most of the space while to tide is out.
In the West of Cornwall, near Land’s End this amazing cove is a fantastic place to visit for all the family. The most westerly surf spot is capable of producing some awesome waves and giving the surfers an amazing place to ride some waves. There is a small harbour and the sand will provide a great place for the family to chill out and play all day if you get the tide right.
There is lifeguard cover here in peak months but aware there is also a dog ban during the peak months too, so no dogs between 1st May to the 30th September between 8am and 7pm. You are welcome to bring your dogs after that time though so if you fancy an evening walk or BBQ on the beach then that’s fine.
This is a great beach for climbing as it has cliffs that also provide shelter to those on the beach from the Atlantic. Swimming and surfing and any type of watersport can be done on this beach, look out for the flags if you are swimming so that you are in a safe area.
This incredible beach is famous for many reasons, this coastal area is where Boardmasters is hosted, and the complex in and around the beach is awesome. The Watergate Bay Hotel has many different accommodation options and there is a stunning bar and restaurants literally on the beach called the Beach Hut, in addition to this there is the Watchful Mary with Cocktails and sundowner sessions which is a fabulous place to watch the sunset.
This dog friendly beach is very popular with families and groups looking for some adventure. There is the Extreme Academy where you can do watersports and learn to surf. The beach is also a popular spot for Kite Buggying due to the positioning of the beach. You can hire everything you need from the complex down on the beach.
There are 2 decent sized car parks right by the beach so you won’t have too far to walk and the beach itself is massive so there is normally plenty of space for everyone even if it is busy. There are lifeguards patrolling this beach during periods as well. A great action packed beach with fun for the whole family.
Accommodation Near to the Cornish Beaches
All of Cornwall’s beaches have an amazing range of accommodation options nearby. Whether you are looking for a holiday park, a sea-view hotel, a cute secluded cottage or a cheap budget hostel, you can find it in Cornwall – just a stones throw away from the ocean.
Have Your Say
What’s your favourite Cornish beach? Let us know in the comments below!