The Beaches of Cornwall
Top Ten Cornish Beaches
From wide golden sands to secluded suntraps, from surfing meccas to wildlife havens, or from beach cricket to rock pool hunts, there's something for everyone on the Cornwall coast.
World-class water sports and fine dining
Over 2 million people flock to Cornwall every summer and the majority take at least one day out of their schedule to visit the seaside. Due to the shape of Cornwall, the beach is never all that far away. Many beaches have recently improved their facilities, a kiss-me-quick hat and a bag of chips have been replaced by fine eateries and excellent restaurants. There are some world-class surfing venues and other watersports such as wind surfing, sand yachting and even coasteering, are now well organised and accessible.
166 Cornish beaches
With 166 beaches to choose from, all types of visitors are catered for. Explore below to find the best place to surf, the most family friendly beach and much more.
North Cornwall's beaches are amongst some of the best in the Duchy. Open to the Atlantic storms the dramatic cliffs have been eroded over the years into a number of coves and bays offering stretches of fine sand. Some are backed by towering cliffs, others by rolling sand dunes or towans. The beaches of North Cornwall offer some of the best surfing spots in the Southwest. There are family friendly beaches with large expanses of sand on which to play. There are a number of excellent restaurants overlooking the beach such as at Watergate Bay. Several small coves are accessible if you are prepared to stretch your legs along the coast path. Our Top 3 beaches are Harlyn Bay, Watergate Bay and Daymer Bay.
West Cornwall also has some of the best beaches in the County. The majestic granite cliffs of West Cornwall have been pulverised into fine golden sand. Many beaches stretch for miles along the coast such as between Hayle and Gwithian and at Perranporth. Sennen Cove offers the westernmost beach in Cornwall, whilst St. Ives is ringed by beaches - each offering something a little different. At the eastern end of this section lie the beaches of Newquay, another town with a wealth of beaches on its doorstep. There are secluded coves such as at Polly Joke and Chapel Porth. Rolling sand dunes back many beaches, their undulating nature offering shelter in which to 'catch some sun' or hold that family barbecue. The Atlantic Swell is at its strongest here and surfing is an integral part of most beaches: Fistral Beach at Newquay and Gwenver Beach at Sennen being possibly the best surf venues. Several resorts have upgraded their facilities to offer fine places to eat overlooking the beach, such as at the Porthminster Cafe at St. Ives. Our recommended beaches are Porthminster, Great Western Beach and Sennen Cove.
The beaches of South Cornwall including the Lizard Peninsula, offer a variety of styles. At the western end of the section lie the beaches of Porth Chapel and Porthcurno, with their fine golden sand, to the east near Penzance, the sand becomes a little coarser due to the sheltering affect of Mount's Bay. The westerly aspect of the beaches between Praa Sands and Lizard Point has coated the beaches once again with glorious fine golden sand, ending in arguably the most spectacular beach in Cornwall at Kynance Cove. To the east of Lizard Point, the beaches are more sheltered and so many see a return to shingle graduating into pebbles although there are some sandy beaches, notably at Kennack Sands and Maenporth, near Falmouth. The Helford and Fal Estuaries at the eastern end of this section offer river beaches of fine shingle, and the many creeks often have secluded beaches of their own. This area in general offers a gentler style of beach for those visitors requiring relaxation or solitude. Some of the best beaches are Kynance Cove, Porthcurno and Gyllyngvase.
The beaches of East Cornwall include an area stretching from St. Mawes, near Truro to Cawsand and Kingsand near Plymouth. Encompassing the coast of the Roseland Peninsula, through Mevagissey and Fowey to Polperro and Looe, entering the beaches that comprise Whitsand Bay as they arc around to the Rame Peninsula and ultimately Plymouth. In general, at the western end of the section, the beaches are largely sandy but trend towards shingle as you progress eastwards. There are some sandy beaches, notably at Pendower west of Nare Head, Porthluney Cove, near Caerhays and at Pentewan. The beaches at the eastern end of this section that make up Whitsand Bay are also sandy and well worth a visit if staying in South East Cornwall. Suggested beaches to visit include Pendower, Pentewan and Long Sands Beach.
Explore Cornwall's beaches
THE BEACHES OF CORNWALL. Use the controls to pan or zoom, and click on a yellow marker to view the beach details.