5 top beaches with beach cafés in St Ives

No holiday to Cornwall is complete without a trip to the beach!

We’re so lucky in the South West to be surrounded by countless beautiful beaches – some of the best in the country – whose seas sparkle in the summer sun and crash in the winter storms, filling the air with salty spray. Whatever the weather, Cornish beaches are like no other. Whether you’re wrapped up in a hat and gloves for a blustery walk or diving in the water to cool off from sunbathing, a day at the beach is made even better by delicious food and drink. Cornwall is well-known for its quaint cafés and has built a reputation for being a foodie’s heaven. Combine a beautiful beach with a great café and you have a winning combination.

In this blog post, local blogger and beach lover, Holly Thornton, shares her top 5 Cornish beaches with beach cafés in the St Ives area. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-time Cornwall enthusiast looking for somewhere new to try, you’re bound to enjoy these handpicked suggestions during your next holidays to St Ives.

Porthminster Beach, St Ives

One of the best things about booking a holiday to St Ives is that the town is jam-packed with restaurants, shops and places of interest. Being surrounded by gorgeous beaches on every side means that the town has everything you could possibly want for a wonderful holiday, all in one place. It’s true that once you’ve arrived at your holiday cottage, you can park up and – in theory – not have to move your car the whole time (if you don’t want to). It’s compact, easy to get around and you’re never further than a 10-minute walk to the nearest beach. Now that’s what I call a holiday!

Perhaps the most iconic beach, seen as you drive into St Ives from Carbis Bay, is Porthminster. Located just below the bus and train stations and a large pay-and-display car park, this beach is easy to access however you’ve arrived. With soft, golden sand, sparkling blue sea and backed by colourful beach chalets, Porthminster really is postcard perfect. On a clear day, you have unrestricted views across to St Ives’ picturesque harbour with its fishing boats bobbing about and across the sea in the other direction you can see the iconic Godrevy lighthouse perched at the end of the long golden stretch of Hayle beach.

Porthminster is a firm favourite with families as the water tends to be flatter and calmer than the wilder Porthmeor beach (more on that in a minute!), lending itself to swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. As with many Cornish beaches, it’s usually lifeguarded through the busy summer months, too.

In the summer, Porthminster is often covered with beach towels, parasols and deckchairs as holidaymakers camp out for the day. In the winter, the beach is perfect for walking and admiring the views.

Porthminster Beach Cafe

At the top of the beach are several food outlets meaning you don’t have to go far to pick up some yummy food or refreshments. Among the buildings is Porthminster Café; although a café in name, this is a renowned restaurant, known for its sit-down meals and cocktails.

Perhaps better suited to a daytime beach trip are the other Porthminster Café offerings which include a Beach Bar & Takeaway. Located on the beach itself, the Beach Bar offers picnic benches with umbrellas tucked into the sand, perfect for those days when you need a little break from the sun whilst keeping your toes in the sand. There’s nowhere else quite like it. As well as their informal outside seating, the Beach Bar and Takeaway offer to-go options, too. From classic Cornish pasties to burgers and chips, their menu offers a great range of foods to suit any fancy. Little ones who love ice-cream? They’ve got that too! The perfect break between sea swims and suncream applications which can all be enjoyed without leaving the beach.

Porthminster Beach

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives

St Ives’ largest beach, Porthmeor is located to the North of the town, between The Island and Mans Head headland. The beach is a short walk from the centre of town and sits below the iconic Tate St Ives.

With its stunning white sands and blue sea, it’s no wonder this beach is so popular, with beachgoers in the summer and dog walkers in the winter looking to explore the South West Coast Path. Contrary to Porthminster, Porthmeor Beach typically sees much larger waves and is therefore known for being a great surfing beach – something which can be enjoyed year-round. Porthmeor is a consistent winner of Blue Flag status; a prestigious award which signifies excellent cleanliness, water quality, and environmental management. It’s also a fantastic sunset spot: there’s no better place in St Ives to relax of an evening, watching the sun go down and the sky change colour.

Porthmeor Beach Cafe

Settled just above the beach is Porthmeor Beach Café, an award-winning restaurant offering indoor and outdoor dining. With heaters in the outdoor booths and picturesque views across the beach, this is a perfect place to visit whatever the season. Whether you’re keeping warm in the winter, drinking hot chocolate whilst watching the waves and the seagulls battle the elements or cooling off out of the sun in the summer. From breakfast through to evening meals, Porthmeor Beach Café has plenty of options for any time of the day; whether you’re after a quick soft drink, cocktail or a full-on meal, they’ve got it all. They also have an on-beach takeaway hatch which offers to-go items in the summer, meaning you don’t have to stroll far from your towel to enjoy something tasty.

Photo Credit: Matt Jessop

Porthgwidden Beach, St Ives

Another great beach to explore during your holidays to St Ives is Porthgwidden. A tiny but idyllic cove surrounded by tall walls on either side, this beach is tucked away between The Island and Smeaton’s Pier. It’s also just around the corner from Bamaluz Beach – a tiny beach worth mentioning briefly as it’s the only beach in St Ives which is dog-friendly year-round, ideal if you’re booking a dog-friendly holiday cottage.

Porthgwidden is by far the smallest beach on this top 5 list. As the smallest, it’s more popular for sunbathing and swimming than walking. Because of this, you need to get there early on a summer’s day to grab your space as the sand gets claimed by beach towels, deckchairs and parasols very quickly! The beach is home to 36 colourful beach pods which form a picture-perfect backdrop. Equipped with 2 deckchairs each, these chalets are the perfect space to relax in the shade or store your belongings whilst you enjoy the sand and sea. Chalets can be hired on a daily basis.

Porthgwidden Beach Cafe

On the terrace above the beach sits Porthgwidden Beach Café. With both indoor and outdoor seating, the café at Porthgwidden offers fantastic views across the sand and sea come rain or shine. The Café has both an indoor restaurant, serving sit-down meals from a Mediterranean-inspired menu throughout the day and into the evenings, as well as an outdoor Bar and Takeaway. Their alfresco seating surrounds the beach on the terrace, so you can relax, watching the world go by and listening to the sound of the waves and laughter rising up from the beach below. Whether enjoying a quick bite, delicious meal or a drink, you’re bound to fall in love with this picturesque location and the delightful menu on offer.

Porthgwidden Beach

Gwithian Beach, Hayle

Gwithian is a huge, sandy beach, making it perfect for sunbathers and sand-castle builders alike. It’s a popular destination for swimming, body-boarding and surfing thanks to the soft sand underfoot and shallow sea entry. Even cautious paddlers will be drawn in by the sparkling sea and rock pools at Gwithian!

Famed for its iconic lighthouse set in the swirling sea and dramatic cliff top views, Godrevy beach (which connects to Gwithian at low tide) forms the final stretch of 3 miles of golden sand extending from Hayle. Only a 20-minute drive from St Ives, this beach is a must-visit during any holiday to Cornwall.

Between May and September, the beach has daily lifeguard cover, but it’s still important that you take care when in the water. Make sure to familiarise yourself with the colour-coded flag system to know which zones are safe for swimming and surfing, and pay attention to surf reports for information on currents and riptides. Need to learn more about staying safe on the beach? Read our blog on beach safety.

Gwithian Beach, Hayle

Gwithian Beach, Hayle

Godrevy Cafe

Just a short walk from the beach sits Godrevy Café. Set beside the National Trust car park, this café is the perfect location for a bite to eat, whether you’re just arriving, leaving or needing a pit stop during your day at the beach. Having been running for over 20 years, Godrevy Café is a staple for the local area and is always busy and bustling, whatever the weather. It’s easy to see why they’re such a popular destination; their delicious homemade cakes, bakes and lunches, always served with a friendly smile speak for themselves.

Godrevy Beach Cafe via a beach boardwalk

Perranuthnoe Beach, Nr. Marazion

Tucked away on Cornwall’s South Coast, Perranuthnoe Beach is a hidden gem, less known to tourists but no less worthy than the other beaches on this list. Situated between Marazion and Prussia Cove, it’s a perfect day out during your holidays to St Ives, being only a 20-minute drive away. From Perranuthnoe you can enjoy fantastic walking trails along the coast path in both directions. With stunning views across the horizon, Cornish cliff tops and St Michael’s Mount to the West, whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day to soak in the Cornish sun or a more energetic hiking route, Perranuthnoe is a great base come rain or shine.
The beach itself is favoured by locals for its golden sand and excellent surf. Unlike the other beaches on this list, high tide at Perranuthnoe completely swallows the beach and leaves very little sand. This means you definitely need to check the tide times ( before heading down.

The Cabin/ Tipsy Crab Bistro

Sat just above the beach is The Cabin Beach Café (or by night, The Tipsy Crab Bistro). Whether you’re enjoying a day at the beach or looking for a well-deserved refreshment after walking the coast path, The Cabin is the place to go. Open year-round, The Cabin offers great quality, locally sourced food and drink. From coffees and cakes to brunches and lunches, they have a great range on the menu. They also offer reasonably priced children’s options meaning there’s something for the whole family.

The Cabin has indoor and outdoor seating which boasts fantastic views across the golden sand to the sparkling sea. They welcome four-legged friends (when on a lead), too. The beach isn’t dog-friendly between July and August, but your furry friends will certainly love the nearby coastal walks instead.

Perranuthnoe Beach

We hope reading about these 5 Cornish beaches with beach cafés has inspired you to plan your future holidays to St Ives and made you excited to explore the surrounding Cornish coast and all it has to offer. Whatever time of year you’re planning to visit, these beaches and cafés are the perfect locations for you to create amazing memories with your loved ones so book your holiday cottage in St Ives and start making plans for great beach walks and delicious locally sourced and produced Cornish food and drink.

To read more from Holly, visit her Cornish lifestyle blog.



Article written by Holly Thorton

Share this article with friends and family