Beaches in Cornwall

Cornwall's beaches are some of the best in the UK. Great long stretches of sandy beaches and turquoise sea...glorious!

So many of Cornwall’s beaches are next to large car parks so super convenient to visit with a car full of kids, dogs and beach toys. Others are secluded, sheltered and require a short hike to reach so often are exclusive to those who make the effort. Whichever is your favourite, here is a list of beaches and coves we highly recommend you visit from your holiday cottage in Cornwall.

Porthcurno Beach has to be THE most beautiful beach in West Cornwall. It has Orange Roofs’ vote anyway. Soft white sand, turquoise sea, sheltered bathing and lounging as well as wonderful snorkelling, it has so much to offer. It’s a sight for very sore and in need of TLC eyes!

There is a large long-stay car park about 500 metres away from the beach and it’s a pleasant walk via a marked footpath. The car park is run by Cornwall Cornwall and is a pay and display using coins only (it does not accept payment by mobile). If you plan to stay between 2 and 4 hours, the cost is £5, up to 2 hours is £2.30. There are public loos at the bottom of the car park where the footpath starts to the beach. Your dog is very welcome all year round but with some summer restrictions. Between 1st July to 31st August, you can enjoy the beach with your dog either before 10 am or after 6 pm. There is no activity or water sports provider on the beach itself so do take any water sports equipment yourselves. There is a beach cafe a short walk from the beach which opens seasonally and also has a shop selling sun cream, sunglasses, sun hats, towels, bodyboards, wet suits, buckets, spades, flip flops and lots more!

RNLI Lifeguards are on the beach between May and September and outside of those times, we urge you to take great care. The sea shelves from the beach fairly steeply so can get deep quickly. You will often see a seal bobbing around too! During low tide, you may be able to walk around the headland to the neighbouring cove and then onto Pedn Vounder Beach but be careful not to get cut off by the returning tide or stuck on a sandbank.

In summary, Porthcurno Beach offers:

  • Sandy beach
  • Dog-friendly apart from summer restrictions
  • RNLI Lifeguard May to September
  • Seasonal beach cafes
  • Public loos
  • Large long stay car park (payment by coins)

Perranuthnoe Beach is on the south coast of Cornwall between Marazion and Prussia Cove. It is a sandy beach at low tide and will disappear entirely at high tide so be sure to check tide times before visiting.

Perfect for families who need parking nearby and public loos to hand too! RNLI Lifeguards patrol this beach between July and early September so care really must be taken outside of these months. This beach is dog-friendly with some dog restrictions in place during the peak summer weeks. To check when the dog restrictions are in place, check out Cornwall Council’s website. The Cabin Beach Cafe is perched just above the beach and offers outdoor and inside dining serving coffee, cakes, warm food, salads, beer and wine as well as the obligatory ice-cream.

Known locally as Perran Sands, it’s not to be confused with Perran Sands near Portreath. It is well-known for being a great place to surf too. When the sea is calm, it’s a wonderful place to launch a kayak or go snorkelling.

The nearest car park is a 1-minute walk away and is an honesty box payment. During busier times, a small field is also opened up to cater for more cars. Take care as you drive through the peaceful village of Perranuthnoe as the road often has pedestrians crossing the roads between footpaths. The public loos are located at the car park.

Access to the beach is via a concreted slipway with a fairly big step down onto the beach (depending on how the tide has moved the sand) so may not be accessible for wheelchairs. There are also steep steps down onto the beach which are cut close to the rock face.

There is no activity or water sports provider on the beach itself so do take any water sports equipment yourselves.

In summary, Perranuthnoe Beach offers:

  • Sandy beach
  • Dog-friendly apart from summer restrictions
  • RNLI Lifeguard July to September
  • Beach cafe
  • Public loos
  • Car park (payment by coins in honesty box)

A protected cove with soft golden sand and awarded Blue Flag status so the sea is clear and clean.

Ocean Water Sports base their activities on Carbis Bay beach and so there is a choice of kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and even foiling!

There is a huge choice of what to eat and drink at the beach thanks to Carbis Bay Hotel offering a beach bar, cafe, restaurants and cocktail menus! Don’t worry, you can still buy a bucket and spade with your ice cream from the shop on the beach too.

There are public loos and a shower directly off the beach and it is dog-friendly with some seasonal restrictions.

RNLI lifeguards ensure your safety between July to September.

In summary, Carbis Bay Beach offers:

  • Sandy beach
  • Public loos
  • Cafes and restaurants on the beach
  • Lifeguarded between July to September
  • Seasonal dog restrictions

4km of unadulterated bliss! This beach stretches as far as the eye can see (which is St Ives to the west and Godrevy to the east).

Even at high tide, there is still ample beach to have lots of fun on. This has to be the best dog-friendly beach all year round in west Cornwall.

There is limited free parking at St Uny Church in Lelant and access to the beach is following a footpath that cuts through the West Cornwall Golf course. You can also park on lanes nearby or pay via Just Park or with coins at Dynamite Quay (the tide needs to be out/ half out to access the beach from this car park).

RNLI lifeguards ensure your safety between July to September – click here to see more information.

There are no public loos at Porthkidney Beach or cafes for refreshments but you may find ice cream, pancake or coffee vendors near St Uny Church on various days throughout the year.

In summary, Porthkidney Beach offers:

  • Sandy beach
  • No Public loos
  • No Cafes and restaurants
  • Lifeguarded between July to September
  • Dog-friendly all year round

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

The nearest beach to drive to from Zennor is Portheras Cove. It is between Morvah and Pendeen and takes around 10 minutes from Zennor. The drive is extremely picturesque along the coastal road between St Ives and Land’s End.

It is a sandy beach with a fairly steep ledge into the sea meaning it gets deep quickly. The waves can be big here and there is almost always a seal who is bobbing around observing activity on the beach from a safe distance. The beach can be very sheltered and offer excellent sun-bathing conditions but, by the same token, if the wind changes to due north, it can feel exposed and much like a wind tunnel. The beach is dog-friendly all year round and there is a stream that flows downhill to the sea so there is a constant source of fresh water.

The beach is at the bottom of a really pretty valley between two headlands and can only be accessed on foot so be prepared to carry belongings and refreshments for the duration of your stay. The nearest car park is at Chypraze Farm and be prepared to have coins to pay. The walk takes no more than 10 minutes to get to the beach and the walk only builds on excitement and anticipation as you walk past geese, ducks and chickens as well as incredible looking cows with big horns (don’t worry, they are behind a gate!). You may be lucky to spot and hear the Cornish Chough too, distinctive with its call and red beak.

There are no Lifeguards on Portheras beach and nor are there public loos and places to buy something to eat or drink so be prepared!

In summary, Portheras Cove Nr. Zennor offers:

  • Sandy beach
  • Dog-friendly all year round
  • No Lifeguard
  • No cafes
  • No public loos
  • Nearest parking at Chypraze Farm (private payment by coins)

A long stretch of soft sand becomes even more expansive at low tide so there is plenty of room for ball games, water sports activities, sunbathing, walking and general fun-filled times all at the same time!

The beach is accessed by driving down the fairly steep hill to Sennen Cove and then pulling into the large car park on the right which sits above the beach so extremely convenient. If that car park is full, there is one on a grassy area at the top of the hill so a short but steep walk down to the beach. The beach has a surf school called Sennen Surf Centre with lessons including really friendly instruction, foam boards and wetsuits if needed. There is a shower to rinse off all the sand from wetsuits and feet on a concrete area helping with keeping shoes less grainy! There is a cafe on the beach selling hot food, drinks and ice creams plus The Old Success Inn is a very short walk away from the beach serving gastro pub food and local beers. The beach has RNLI Lifeguards ensuring everyone’s safety from Easter to October and it is dog-friendly with some restrictions; May 15 to 30 September dogs are not allowed on the beach between 10 am and 6 pm so they can join in with evening frolics.

In summary, Sennen Cove Beach offers:

  • Sandy Beach
  • Public loos
  • Cafes and restaurants
  • Lifeguarded between Easter to October
  • Dog-friendly with some restrictions
  • Council Car park

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

Otherwise known as Gurnard’s Head beach, it’s not strictly speaking a beach but at low tide, there is a small stretch of sand and pebbles once you have scrambled down to the rocks.

It’s certainly not family-friendly but for active adventurers and agile dogs, it can be a fun escapade and certainly, the difficulty in reaching it will mean you will most likely have it all to yourselves!

There are no facilities to eat or drink neither is it life-guarded and nor does it have public loos. The Gurnard’s Head pub is a 10-minute walk from the cove which is both dog-friendly and extremely welcoming with exceptional food and drink and a warm log fire in chillier months.

Drive west from Zennor and The Gurnard’s Head pub is the beacon you are looking for a short while later. There you will find parking which they are happy for you to use if you intend to pop in for refreshments pre or post your walk.

In summary, Treen Cove Nr. Zennor offers

  • Small sandy/ pebbly beach
  • Dog-friendly all year around
  • No Lifeguard
  • Gurnard’s Head a short walk away
  • Gurnard’s Head pub is the nearest point to park (free if you pop in for a drink afterwards!)

A stunning cove nestled between the Gurnard’s Head and Bosigran headlands heading west towards Land’s End just a 10-minute drive from Zennor.

If you have a romantic image in your mind of Poldark riding his horse across the countryside to a sheltered and private cove, picture Porthmeor Cove. The best place to park up is at Carn Galva Engine House ruin at Bosigran which is just a mile west from the Gurnard’s Head pub. From the parking spot, follow the footpath down to the sea and the cliffs and head east back towards Gurnard’s Head for approximately 15 minutes (longer if you are stopping to take photos!). The cove is best visited at low tide and accessed via a scramble of some rocks and large pebbles. Perhaps not best for anyone who is unsteady on their feet or pushchairs but great for the energetic. Best to note that this cove is also designated a nudist beach!

In summary, Porthmeor Cove Nr. Zennor offers:

  • Sandy beach at low tide
  • Dog-friendly all year round
  • No Lifeguard
  • No cafes
  • No public loos
  • Nearest parking at Carn Galva Engine House/ Bosigran