February Half Term Holidays to Cornwall

Christmas has been and gone. New Year celebrations are now a blurry memory and maybe even you’re taking part in Dry January. What this means is you need something to look forward to. The next school holiday to aim for is February Half Term and so, we thought we would help in making a UK holiday to St Ives a positive glimmer of hope. It’s only 5 and a half weeks away! 

February Half Term breaks in Cornwall are a breath of fresh air after the long slog of January. January nights are still long with darkness consuming us soon after 4 pm, the mornings are dark still at 8 am and our bank accounts are still feeling the effects of Christmas. But, in just 5 weeks, schools break up, the days are lighter for longer and the fields of Cornwall are a burst of bright yellow with the first daffodils signalling Spring is on its way. The sea temperature is still a chilly 8.5 degrees in February but the sunshine can be warm in protected coves and the sea an uplifting bright turquoise. Why book a holiday cottage in Cornwall over a winter sun European destination?

We live here, we know the seasons inside out. Our winters are less cold than the rest of the UK. You only need to see that during BBC weather forecasts. Where Oxford is 6 degrees, St Ives is normally double that! We have exotic plants that thrive in this climate and we promise you will thrive too if you book a February Half Term holiday to Cornwall.

We share some reasons why you will march into Spring in a far better mood if you stay in St Ives!

Photo courtesy of Matt Jessop via Visit Cornwall

Holiday Cottage in St Ives rental prices

It really doesn't cost a lot for one week in February in St Ives!

Like any holiday destination, staying at a holiday cottage in Cornwall can change in price depending on the time of year you visit. Summer, Whit week and New Year prices are the most expensive in St Ives due to the demand for accommodation during those periods. The cheapest time to stay in Cornwall is typically in November, early December, January and February. For any Orange Roofs’ holiday cottage in St Ives or West Cornwall, the price increase between January and February Half Term is minimal. Take 4 Lyonesse for example, stay at the beginning of February and a week costs just £84 a night. Stay for the school holiday in February and it’s just £87 a night, just £3 more a night! That works out to be just £152.25 per person for the week. Now compare that to a holiday abroad..

It's easy to get to Cornwall

The road network to Cornwall is being improved and the A30 will be a dual-carriageway all the way from Exeter to Hayle. The works are taking place now with minimal disruption and look to be completed by the end of 2023/ early 2024. Traffic for the February Half Term holidays is a lot less than peak weeks meaning far fewer queues!

Fly to Newquay airport from Gatwick, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, East Midlands and Heathrow and Aberdeen. February Half Term flights from East Midlands Airport cost £137.98 return and you don’t need a passport!  Car Hire is as little as £26 a day so forget driving for 5 hours or more, take a quick flight then a 45-minute drive to arrive in St Ives stress-free.

Travelling by train has become a little more stressful with all the recent train strikes so we should perhaps refrain from saying that the Great Western Railway has a station in St Ives…

For more information on getting around St Ives, follow this link to our St Ives Area Guide – Getting Around

So many things to do in February

February can be a mixed bag weather-wise, it can range from spectacular stormy seas and clouds to dry, settled and warm weather. These two photos below were taken by me in two different years in February for example.

Porthmeor, St Ives, February 2021

West Coast of Cornwall, Pendeen, February 2022

Below are a few suggestions on what you could do whether it’s wet and wild or settled and warm. We would recommend booking a holiday cottage with sea views if you fancy storm-watching from the comfort of your home.

Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! Be prepared for everything so pack your waterproofs and wellies and a pair of shorts too.

Our suggestions mix between costing nothing at all to a family few hours of fun for less than £200 so we hope this helps you see why coming to St Ives this February Half Term can be a great option to escape everyday worries on a budget!

Walk amongst the daffodils

Cornwall grows the most spectacular fields of daffodils which start flowering as early as the end of January and continue into February. Take a walk in the countryside and you will be sure to walk through an expanse of yellow. Yellow is the colour that best represents happiness, hope and spontaneity. It will grab your attention and fill you with hope and positivity. Maybe head to the top of Trencrom hill and get a 360 degree view where you will be sure to see fields of yellow!

My nephew Sam Gollegde who went on to win a school competition for St David’s Day photo in school (shhh they didn’t know the photo was in Cornwall and not Wales!) 

Beach walks and beach cafes

A feast for the eyes and feasts for tums – Cornwall can offer that in abundance! You don’t need to spend a fortune either. When we need a pick-me-up, our team often heads for the beach. A walk on the softest of sand, feeling the fresh sea air on our faces and the rhythmic sound of the sea ebbing and flowing on the shoreline. Couple this sense of well-being with a cosy beach cafe serving up the most delicious seafood, Cornish wine or even yummy hot chocolates and you will return to your holiday cottage feeling relaxed, satiated and a whole lot better.

Here are some beaches and beach cafes we strongly recommend you try!

Porthmeor Beach is a Blue Flag beach on the west side of St Ives.  It is the best beach for surfing and so that is where you will find St Ives Surf School which runs lessons for all ages and sizes of groups.

The beach stretches between The Island where St Nicholas’ Chapel presides and Man’s Head (called such because you will see the shape of a man’s head in the rock stack on the headland cliff!) so there is a large expanse of soft sand. There are public loos at the beach, a shower to rinse off after being in the sea and a beach cafe too. In fact, there is a beach cafe on the beach, then above the beach is Porthmeor Cafe which offers indoor and heated dining-in booths serving the most delicious breakfast to dinners. On the other end of the beach is West Beach cafe that serves pizza, Pimms and seafood (open seasonally). We love Porthmeor Beach because you can walk your dogs on it all year round. It is tidal but even when the tide is high, there is still a lot of beach to walk and have fun. Granted, there are times of the day during seasonal bans when you aren’t allowed to go on the beach with your dog but every day you can share special moments with your best friend whatever the month. Click here to see when the seasonal bans are for Porthmeor Beach.

A great addition to Porthmeor Beach is the Porthmeor chalets which can be booked for the duration of your St Ives holiday. If you plan to spend every day on the beach and have buckets, spades, beach breaks, tents, surfboards, bodyboards, wet suits and so on, a chalet will be a godsend rather than carrying everything to and from your holiday cottage. To enquire and to book ahead of your stay, click here

RNLI lifeguards watch out for everyone’s safety so much fun and relaxation can be had for all the family. The lifeguards are on Porthmeor beach between April and the end of October. To find out specific dates, please visit RNLI Lifeguard’s website.

In summary, Porthmeor Beach in St Ives offers:

  • Sandy beach
  • Beach cafes
  • Public loos
  • Surf school
  • Beach shower
  • Lifeguarded between Easter and October half term inclusive
  • Seasonal dog restrictions

Boasting the best sunset views in the west, Porthmeor Beach Cafe is a must visit for anyone staying in St Ives!

With panoramic views over Porthmeor Beach and the Island, this is the perfect spot to enjoy alfresco dining after a day on the beach, or wave watch over a hot chocolate in the winter months. Offering a selection of tapas options and plenty of freshly caught seafood dishes, you can share with friends and get a taste of what St Ives has to offer. If you’re an early riser we would highly recommend their ‘Build your own’ breakfast, because there isn’t a better way to start your day than with a fantastic breakfast on the beach!

  • Dog friendly – On their outside terrace only
  • Children’s menu
  • Vegetarian options
  • Vegan options
  • Local produce
  • Sea views
  • Outside seating
  • Nearest car park is Porthmeor Beach car park

Visit their website by clicking on their name above or call them on 01736 793366

On hot, sunny, balmy days you may be mistaken in thinking you are on a Caribbean island when visiting Porthminster Beach.

Lined with palm trees, the sand is almost white and oh-so soft. The sea colour is turquoise or a very light blue and is most often calm being in a sheltered position. It’s a favourite with couples and families as it has a beach cafe and a restaurant that takes in the full sea views of St Ives Bay looking across to St Ives harbour. There are public loos at the beach and also welcomes dogs all year round except at certain times of the day when they aren’t allowed to be walked on the beach, click here to find out about seasonal dog bans on Porthminster Beach.

Porthminster Beach also hosts St Ives Food Festival and is a wonderful location for many to come and try the most delicious local Cornish food. Click here to see our gallery of photos of the food festival.

St Ives Surf School chooses to teach SUP boarding (Stand Up Paddle) as well as sea kayaking from their watersports centre on Porthminster beach as the waves reaching the shore are normally far gentler and much easier to get to tranquil water in an attempt stand up on the SUP board as well as paddle the kayak around nearby headlands leading to Carbis Bay in an easterly direction or St Ives harbour if heading west.

RNLI lifeguards are on Porthminster Beach between mid-May and the end of September. To find out specific dates, please do visit RNLI Lifeguard’s website.

In summary, Porthminster Beach in St Ives offers:

  • Sandy beach
  • Beach cafes
  • Public loos
  • Watersports centre teaching SUP paddle boarding and sea kayaking
  • Lifeguarded between mid-May and September inclusive
  • Seasonal dog restrictions

You’ll struggle to find a better location for a restaurant than Porthminster Beach Cafe! Located right on the sands of Porthminster Beach, sit out on the patio and take in the glorious panoramic views of St Ives Bay.

Even in the winter months, this is a dreamy spot to watch the storms, with the cafe now having an enclosed heated terrace! Serving beautiful dishes inspired by Asian and Mediterranean influences, Porthminster Beach Cafe uses the freshest ingredients as well as its own garden-grown produce!

  • Dog friendly – on the outdoor enclosed & heated terrace only
  • Children’s menu
  • Vegetarian options
  • Vegan options
  • Local produce
  • Sea views
  • Outside seating
  • Nearest car park is St Ives Train Station

Visit their website by clicking on their name above or call them on 01736 795352

A stupendous beach which is vast when the tide is out!

On a decent day, it’s a feast for the eyes with all the amazing colours and clean clear water with St.Ives, Carbis Bay and Godrevy on the horizon. The beach is dog-friendly but sadly with some restrictions in July and August where dogs are allowed on the beach before 10 am or after 6 pm. RNLI Lifeguards patrol the beach between Easter to September and there is a wonderful cafe called The Cove Cafe if you walk between The Bluff part of the beach and Mexico Towans Beach. For refreshments, you can also access The Bluff Inn and Lula Shack from the beach. There are no public loos on the beach. The best place to park is on North Quay and walk through the Towans or via Lula Shack (be careful with any steep sandy dunes!) or at Harvey’s Towans car park which is accessed off North Quay and via a bump, uneven track so not great for sports cars with hard suspension!

  • Sandy beach
  • RNLI lifeguards between Easter and end of September
  • Seasonal dog ban
  • Parking at Harvey’s Towans and North Quay
  • Beach Cafe – The Cove Cafe
National Maritime Museum, Falmouth

National Maritime Museum, Visit Cornwall

This one is for a rainy day. Take shelter from wet weather and get involved with Science of the Sea. Bristol Explorer Dome hosts this family-friendly exhibition suitable for children aged 5 years and older. The adults will be equally mesmerized. Book in to take part and explore the science of water, the nature of atoms and molecules whether they are solid, liquid or gas. You will investigate otherworldly seas of fire and ice as well as split H2O into an explosive mixture. The future of hydrogen as a fuel is explored and so, all you need to do is take along your curiosity and questions as the Explorer Dome’s experts LOVE to present facts and blitz myths.

On top of Science of the Sea, the museum will have other activities to take part in from the 19th of February such as creating mythical sea creatures using Chromatography or becoming a scientist and discovering which sea animals use bubbles to survive. Follow the clues to find six lab coats around the museum and the answers will be revealed and a prize on offer for all six coats found. Roll on February!

Castles and Forts

St Mawes Castle, Courtesy of Visit Cornwall, Matt Jessop

There is nothing quite like a castle to fire up the imagination! Whether you are six or sixty, a trip to a castle can evoke so much emotion particularly if those castles or forts were once the places that defended our shores from the Spanish, French or Germans and were built as far back as Tudor times. Pendennis Castle is a huge fort that played just that role with its sister castle St Mawes Castle defending the Falmouth estuary from invaders. Both castles were built as part of a chain of fortresses by Henry VIII between 1539 and 1545 on headlands just above the cliffs defending the South Coast of Cornwall and Falmouth. The enemies then were the French and Spanish Catholics who wanted to invade and take England at all costs. St Mawes Castle and Pendennis Castle’s jobs were to defend the important anchorage of Carrick Roads and thankfully they served us well! Both castles are cared for by English Heritage offering fun family days out from as little as £32.50. I have personally been to both castles and the atmosphere is very evocative and the history is really well charted and easily understood. The views from both castles are simply stupendous; a real feast for your eyes. Seeing the castles from the sea is also spectacular having done that in the summer so if the sea is calm, this is highly recommended to get the whole picture of the history of this coastal region.

For more information from the English Heritage website about St Mawe’s Castle and Pendennis Castle click here. 


Adrenalin junkies!

As the weather is getting better and the days longer, we recommend trying some outdoor activities that will get the blood going. Why not try visiting the Via Ferrata just outside Penryn. Via Ferrata is translated as the iron-way and it’s essentially a safer way to try rock climbing and traversing cliffs. We know that sounds a bit bonkers but trust us, it’s exhilarating. The experience takes place in one of Cornwall’s heritage granite quarries where you climb cliff faces, cross wire bridges and then zoom back down to earth on a zip wire taking in views last seen 100 year ago by the men who worked the quarries. The site is 60 acres big so it’s enormous value for money and the routes cater for children from eight years old to thrill-seeking pensioners! There is a choice between 1.5 hours for £25 or 3 hours for just £20 more. If you are with the emergency services, you get 10% off.

Book on Via Ferrata’s website now! 

Rainy Days ideas for the whole family

There is no getting away from the fact that in February it might well rain in Cornwall. What we do down here is don the waterproofs and hit the beaches anyway for those bracing walks that fill the soul back up. Having said that, we don’t spend all day on the beach so to entertain the family, you may need some wet weather ideas. Here are a few we suggest that won’t break the bank and will guarantee hours of fun for all for just £20 more.

Paradise Park is a wildlife sanctuary in Hayle, with tropical birds in exotic gardens and a huge JungleBarn indoor play area for children. The entire family will love a day in Paradise…!

This is an award-winning sanctuary with tropical birds set within sheltered Victorian gardens with the added bonus of a JungleBarn indoor play centre for those wet weather days. They have over 1,200 colourful birds including flamingos, penguins, macaws, and toucans, plus, beautiful Red pandas, rare Red squirrels, playful Asian otters, cute donkeys and also they have a pet corner with rabbits and guinea pigs.

Stop off at the Otter Pool Café for refreshments during your visit and then visit the ‘Tropics’  which is the new open-air development home to tropical birds in spacious flights.

The JungleBarn Indoor Play Centre with giant slides, spinning discs, rope bridge, ladders, Astra Slide, the Big Blue, Drop and Double Drop slides and much more means you can tire out your little ones while you stop and sip a coffee!

Visit their website for a list of daily activities that will wow the whole family!

Cornwall’s Great Escape Rooms is a great way to pass a few hours with your friends and family when the weather takes a turn and sunbathing is scuppered!

Do you have what it takes to escape? It’s a game of mental strength with clues and puzzles designed to really make you think yourself outside the box! Choose from the ‘Family Business’ game suitable for families with children aged 12 or older and save a kidnapped father from being ‘terminated’ or ‘The secrets aboard the Jolly Roger’ game where you are transported back to the 18th Century and your mission is to find where the smugglers have hidden the ship…

Each of the games has a difficulty rating of 4 out of 5 but the Jolly Roger came can be made easier for younger members of your crew if you contact them in advance.

Visit their website for more information and to book your game

Ever wondered what life behind bars looked like in the 18th Century? Discover the life of a prisoner held in Bodmin Jail, in the heart of Cornwall, on the edge of Bodmin Moor.

The convicted were rebels, soldiers, debtors and some of Cornwall’s most notorious criminals from the 18th century onwards. Visit this world-class attraction and immerse yourself in the Dark Walk, a state-of-the-art experience bringing some of the grittiest tales of Cornwall’s criminals vividly to life. Experience the paranormal, peek into Cornwall’s darkest underbelly and learn what life was like for those accused of heinous crimes. See inside the Jail cells and explore artefacts from prison life.

A daring experience for all the family, Bodmin Jail shows Cornish history as you’ve never seen it before.

Visit their website for more information or call them on 01208 76292

The Eden Project’s home in Cornwall used to be a barren landscape – a former clay mine with no soil or plants. It’s a complete transformation to be marvelled and inspired by!

This magnificent ecological project has transformed the huge crater into a beautiful global garden, which presents you with an extraordinary day out where you’ll rediscover the natural world as you’ve never experienced it before (at least not here in the UK!).

With the family, explore massive covered Biomes and trek through the world’s largest indoor rainforest and immerse yourself in the calm fragrance of the Mediterranean Biome. There are extensive outdoor gardens that can be visited with your dog on the lead, contemporary artworks as well as scheduled performances and storytelling. At The Eden Project, you will find places to rest, play and eat, and come away inspired with arms full of ideas to take home for your own gardens plus come away more knowledgeable on how to care for the planet that nurtures us.

For more information on the Eden Project, call them on 01726 811972 or visit their website

Kidz R Us Theatre loves the pizzazz of show business, musicals and young talent.

Kidz R Us is an award-winning youth theatre company, dedicated to getting young people involved in the performing arts, supporting their development and also the wider community. The rave reviews and standing ovations are a bonus! The theatre works with around 100 children, teenagers and young adults a year, and since its inception in 1994, has produced more than 100 shows and won numerous awards. Keep your eyes peeled for unmissable musicals during half-terms and holidays, and a traditional family pantomime at Christmas.

Visit their website by clicking on their name above or call them on 01739 797007

Geevor Tin Mine is a Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. As seen on BBC’s TV series ‘Poldark’, for centuries Cornwall’s main industry was tin and copper mining and the remains of the industry can be seen throughout the county.

Cornish miners and engineers were recognised as the world’s finest in the development of hard rock mining. Discover their stories and that of the Cornish tin and copper mining industry at Geevor Tin Mine. Geevor was the last mine to work the famous St Just Mining District once the site of the largest number of undersea tin and copper mines in the world! Visit the mine buildings and dip your toe into 18th-century Wheal Mexico Mine where men and boys worked 200 years ago.

Follow in the footsteps of Cornish miners! Geevor Tin Mine allows you to visit a real mine and learn what life was like for a Cornish miner. Be brave and put on your hard hat and explore the mine!

Stop fr a spot of lunch at the Count House Cafe and enjoy the stunning seascapes from your table.

Visit their website for more information and to book online

February holiday reviews

Take a look at some reviews on our website from guests who have come to stay in a holiday cottage in St Ives or West Cornwall and thoroughly loved their affordable week stay with the family in a stunning part of the UK

We had such a magical time in 2 Harbour House. We were blessed with fine weather to explore St Ives and the surrounding area. The property and whole booking experience was faultless. Views to die for! Thank you.

What a super holiday property. Spacious and nice furnishings. Well equipped with everything you will need on holiday. The location is superb. Seconds away from the fabulous Porthmeor beach and minutes from the harbour, Portgwidden and the town. Our dog loved being able to run straight on to the beach. We were there in February but the house was lovely and warm. The wood burner is great feature although we did not need it as we had fantastic weather. Great restaurants and shops nearby. We had great breakfast and lunch at the Porthmeor beach cafe.

What a happy find. St Ives is my go to place and this cottage fills all my expectations. We have stayed at Pendynas 3 times now with a fourth booked in spring. So convenient to soak up the atmosphere and within walking distance of pubs and eateries. Weather was interesting due to storms but made for some amazing photos.

We stayed at Rose Cottage in late February and loved it! It’s a real home from home with all mod cons and yet successfully retains the feel of a cottage. The rooms are beautifully appointed and have been tastefully decorated with a seaside theme and the kitchen wants for nothing. The location of the cottage is perfect, access to the towns many bars, coffee shops and restaurants is never more than a few minutes walk, and not forgetting the beautiful beaches and the harbour. We had a wonderful time and would definitely recommend Rose Cottage.

The truly fantastic view is the obvious benefit of Sea Spirit but there are several others too. The proximity to the town centre is one, it being just a few minutes to get to various parts of Fore Street, the harbour and Porthmeor beach – albeit steep on the way back! The flat itself is great, everything worked, the showers were excellent and the kitchen well-appointed. The view is the star of the show though and I spent many hours watching the sunrise, the comings and goings in the harbour and the waves crashing on the island – wonderful, and the photos on the website do not do it justice.

The verdict?

Have we sold the idea of a February Half Term holiday in Cornwall?

Whether the sun is out and it’s milder than home (which it invariably is in Cornwall) or the storms are whipping up the sea and offering up some spectacular views, there is one thing for certain and that is you will get a warm welcome if you choose Cornwall as your February holiday destination.

At Orange Roofs, we love the great outdoors and only today before finishing this article, I headed out to Porthkidney Beach with the office dogs and enjoyed some settled and mild weather (14 degrees in January!). Here is Shep, Hops and Toast having a rest after a 3 mile walk. Yes, you can walk for 3 miles of beach at Porthkidney Sands when the tide is out. Just amazing! Call us on 01736 806100 for a chat about staying in St Ives this February, we will be delighted to share great tips and suggestions with you.

Article written by Sam Sheppard

Share this article with friends and family