Thousands of people visit Cornwall every year for their holidays and it’s no wonder really! From dramatic coastlines to quaint little fishing villages, there’s oodles of things to see and do.
But, we think the main reason why people love to come here every year is simply because of the amount of stunning beaches on offer. So with that in mind we thought we would list 20 of the absolute best beaches in Cornwall. Have you been to any of them?
1. Perranporth Beach (Perranporth)
An extremely popular beach during the summer season which is dog friendly and very clean. Easy to access, without any hills or steps, so if you’re pregnant, elderly or disabled you’ll find this beach the best to get to, but parking can be a bit of a nightmare during the busy months, so try to get here early in the day rather than later.
Toilets are situated quite close to the car park and beach so that’s another plus. For the kids there’s plenty of caves, rock pools and sand dunes to explore, and if you do get hungry or thirsty you can visit one of the many restaurants and cafes dotted around the area, such as the The Watering Hole which is the only bar in the UK that is situated right on the beach!
There’s literally miles and miles of sand to enjoy when the tide is out, and if it’s watersports you’re into, then you’ll be happy with the surf here. Lifeguards do operate during the busy summer months and you are advised to take care in the water.
The town of Perranporth is ideal for a bit of shopping and this is also where you can hire out surfboards, wetsuits and other items you might need. We mentioned earlier that this beach is dog friendly all year round but you must keep them on a lead between July and August.
Highlights: Clean, Family Friendly, Rock Pools, Dog Owners, Sand Dunes, Ice Cream, Great Pub, Beach Bar, Watersports.
2. Fistral Beach (Newquay)
What isn’t there to like about Fistral beach? Famous for the surf here, this dog friendly beach is one of many situated in and around Newquay. A very clean beach that has easy access from the pay and display car park which is quite close.
For those that enjoy walking, you’ll get some spectacular views from the cliff path, and if you fancy learning to surf there are lessons available for adults and kids at very reasonable prices.
Lifeguards man the beach throughout the summer season, but as usual common sense is a must as the sea can be very dangerous. Lots of restaurants, cafes and shops are just a stones throw away, and you’ll find that Rick Stein has a fish restaurant here too!
As with most Cornish beaches it’s best to get here as early as possible because it can get rather busy. Toilets are very near to the beach and children can enjoy exploring the abundance of rock pools found during low tide. All in all a beautiful beach with golden sands and panoramic views.
Highlights: Surfers Paradise, Parking, Fish & Chips, Surf Lessons, Lifeguards
3. Porthminster Beach (St Ives)
With clear blue sea and beautiful, clean, golden sand, Porthminster beach is a must visit if you’re with the family on holiday in Cornwall.
Your kids will love building sandcastles and digging here and depending on the weather they will also be able to play in the sea safely as the waves aren’t too rough and only come up to your knees.
Moms and dads can enjoy coffee, tea and ice cream served from the beach cafe, and should also be able to walk into St Ives harbour in bare feet at low tide. Be careful not to get stuck though if the tide does happen to come in fast!
Toilets are situated close by and there is a car park right next to the beach, but this can get very busy during the summer months. For those that are impaired there is a disabled beach wheelchair that can be used to transport you right down to the sea.
Kayak and wetsuit hire is available in St Ives town, and there are plenty of quaint little gift shops and galleries to grab a last minute present for yourself or someone.
Lifeguard cover is available during the summer months and dogs are not allowed onto the beach between Easter Day and 1st October.
Highlights: Deckchairs, Putting Green, Golden Sands, Great Cafe, Clear Water, Plenty Of Space, Lifeguards, Great For Families.
4. Porthmeor Beach (St Ives)
Another fantastic beach located in St Ives, Porthmeor beach ticks all the right boxes. Popular with families, surfers and swimmers alike, it has clean and soft sand (again!) no real big waves so safe for children to play in, and an excellent cafe that serves hot and cold food and drinks.
Follow the path by the beach that leads up to the hill to the old chapel and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the beach and coast. This is a great spot to sit and have a picnic as well.
Back on the beach there’s plenty of space to chill out with the family and enjoy the views and an abundance of rock pools just waiting to be explored by children, along with a mini waterfall where they can build and destroy as many dams as they want!
If you fancy learning to surf, you can take a few lessons at Porthmeor with St Ives Surf School, or why not let the kids have a go? Prices start from £35 for one hour.
Lifeguard cover is available throughout the busy summer months and dogs are not allowed on the beach between Easter and September.
For those that arrive by car, there is car parking available in the town, but make sure you get there early as the spaces fill up pretty fast.
Highlights: Surf Lessons, Watersports, White Sand, Lifeguards, Rock Pools, Great Food, Plenty Of Space.
5. Crantock Beach (Crantock)
If you love long walks with the dog then the gorgeous Crantock Beach with its large expanse of golden sand backed by dunes both to the east and west might be right up your street.
Crantock beach is not only popular with dog walkers, families love it here too as it provides a great place to swim, snorkel, surf and even canoe/kayak. You might even spot the odd Dolphin!
The beauty of this beach is there’s so much space that it never really gets overcrowded and if you get bored of lying in the sun, there are plenty of walking routes around to go and explore the breathtaking landscape.
Like most beaches in Cornwall the kids can enjoy having fun in a ton of rock pools and caves if they want, and also have a paddle in the estuary. (During the summer the water gets really warm, and it’s great to take your shoes and socks off and go barefoot).
Cafes, toilets and parking are all close by along with a camping site. Access can be difficult through the steep dunes for the impaired or elderly.
Highlights: Beautiful Beach, Dog Friendly, Rock Pools, Great For Kids.
6. Gwithian Beach (St Ives)
Yet again another stunning beach located in St Ives which is protected by lifeguards and is fantastic for bodyboarding or surfing due to the constant swell that can be found here.
If you’re coming by car, you can walk to the beach in 5 minutes from the car park, but make sure you get here early as it does get packed during the summer months.
Kids will be able to enjoy building sandcastles and exploring the rock pools and odd cave here and there. When they get hungry you can treat them to a cold drink or ice cream from The Sunset Surf Cafe.
Take a walk along the coast to the lighthouse if you fancy some exercise and you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of St Ives Bay and the chance to spot the odd seal or two.
Sadly, dogs aren’t allowed on the beach between May & September but in Winter months the beach is a great place to walk your pooch.
Highlights: Sand Dunes, Rock Pools, Sunsets, Body Boarding, Great Surf, Lifeguards, Quiet Spot, Surf Lessons, Great For Kids.
7. Porthcurno (Porthcurno)
With crystal clear waters that turn turquoise in the sun and soft white sand, Porthcurno is simply beautiful. Located near The Minack Theatre, it can become busy during summer, but if you get here early it’s well worth a visit.
Car park is located five minutes walk away, with toilets and cafe nearby. There is a bit of a walk down from the car park but it’s a gentle slope and a comfortable stroll during which you might be able to spot some basking sharks or dolphins in the sea, and on a hot summers day you could easily be believed that you were in the Caribbean!
On the beach there is a stream that floats down one side which is ideal for the kids to have a paddle in and you’ll be safe knowing that lifeguards also patrol the area during peak times. Dogs are not allowed on the beach during summer season though sadly.
An absolute must visit if you’re in Cornwall, and be sure to check out the Telegraph Museum and Minack Theatre while you’re here.
Highlights: Beautiful Beach, Clear Water, Basking Sharks, Stunning Place, Golden Sands Breathtaking Views, Lifeguards.
8. Hayle Towans Beach (Hayle)
Another amazing beach with crystal clear waters and 3 miles of golden sands, Hayle Towans could be mistaken for somewhere exotic on a hot summers day!
Plenty of parking available and never overcrowded, this beach is sure to be a hit with all the family. There is a bit of a trek from the car park, but once on the beach it’s more than worth it.
Not as safe as other beaches in this list, you are advised to treat the waters around her with respect, but there is lifeguard duty here during the summer season.
Plenty of surfing to be had and the chance to spot the odd seal or two if you’re really lucky. This beach is dog friendly out of season, so if you’re visiting between May & September they won’t be allowed on.
When the tide is out it’s perfect for little children to play on as there are a plenty of rock pools left to paddle in and a spot of beachcombing can be had as well. Sand dunes also surround the area which makes them great to play in and use as shelter, although the dads might fancy rolling down them instead.
Due to the amount of beach that is available you won’t find it hard to find a quiet spot to settle down and have a picnic or sunbathe, and with plenty of stunning views on offer amateur photographers should be able to get some good snaps.
Highlights: Golden Sands, Beautiful Beach, Sand Dunes, Rock Pools, Clear Water, Kite Flying, Soft Sand, Body Boarding, Lifeguards.
9. Carbis Bay Beach (Carbis Bay)
This beach really has it all and is a big hit with families visiting Cornwall for their holidays. If you’re travelling by car then we highly suggest you get here early as the car park can get full quite quickly.
Kids can enjoy building sandcastles, digging in the sand or bodyboarding as the waves are quite calm. There is also a stream that runs into the sea that they can have fun building dams. It’s a beautiful long stretch of sand to play on and little caves to explore in the rocks.
Food and drink can be purchased from the beach side cafe, including sandwiches, pizza, ice cream, alcohol, tea, coffee and cakes. Toilets are close by too.
Dogs are welcome on this beach except between Easter and 30th September when a seasonal dog ban is in place, however morning dog walks are allowed between 5-8am.
You’ll be mesmerised by the scenery on offer here, and this beach is another place where you’ll be able to spot seals and other wildlife you wouldn’t normally get to see.
Highlights: Golden Sands, Clear Water, Water Sports, Ideal For Families.
10. Watergate Bay (Newquay)
A stunning beach that doesn’t get as crowded as Fistral, Watergate Bay is family and dog friendly all yaer round, and is great for long walks, watching the sun go down, surfing, picnics and watersports.
There’s plenty of clean sand for the children to build sandcastles and when the tide is out they’ll be sure to find some rock pools to explore too, but make sure you keep an eye out for any Jellyfish as they sometimes wash up around this part of Cornwall.
Food and drink is available from the beach cafe, but if you’re feeling a bit flush, you can also book in at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant which is situated right on the front.
Watergate Bay also regularly hosts events, demonstrations, festivals (such as Boardmasters) and surf championships throughout the year.
Parking for vehicles is close by along with toilets and a wet room, and lifeguards patrol the beach during the busy summer months.
Highlights: Beach Huts, Great Beach, Body Boarding, Rock Pools, Large Beach, Dog Friendly, Soft Sand, Plenty Of Space, Clean Beach, Great Facilities, Great Surf.
11. Porth Beach (Newquay)
Being rather flat and only about half mile deep, Porth beach is ideal for families with young children. The lush golden sands provide a place for safe bathing, bodyboarding and the possibility of finding some washed up rare Lego! (after a container full of the stuff fell into the sea off Cornwall in 1997)
Porth beach is a very clean beach and the water around these parts is very shallow, so playing in the sea will be safe. Lifeguards are on duty during busy summer months, so that adds an extra level of security for moms and dads.
Kids will find plenty of rock pools and caves to explore and during low tide there is a stream that runs into the sea that children can use as a natural water flume (If they have an air bed).
If you do get bored of the beach then there are plenty of scenic walking routes around the headland where you can visit the ruins of an old iron age fort.
Parking is available on the beach (which is free after 4pm) and there is a pub called The Mermaid that serves hot and cold food and drinks all day right next to the beach.
Dogs are not allowed onto the beach between Easter and September if you’re thinking of coming here with your pooch.
Highlights: Rock Pools, Ideal For Families, Easy Parking, Soft Sand, Lots Of Space, Nice Cafe, Lifeguards, Dog Friendly, Caves.
12. Trebarwith Strand Beach (Trebarwith)
Trebarwith Strands is such a wonderful beach with so much to see and do. Come at high tide and be mesmerised by the waves, and at low tide you’ll be able to take a lovely walk on the beach, which is only visible for around 4-5 hours each day.
There’s plenty of caves for the little ones to explore and bodyboarding or surfing is ideal here for older kids and adults. Extreme care is needed around these parts though, because the waves are quite strong.
Surfing lessons are available with Trebarwith Surf School on the beach and cost around £30 for a 2 hr lesson with wetsuits and surf boards provided for free.
The Port William Inn which overlooks the ravine serves fresh food all day as well as hot and cold drinks. If you fancy calling in for refreshments you’ll be rewarded with some more amazing views of the coast!
Public toilets and pay and display parking are available close by the entrance, but as with all beach car parks in Cornwall, you might find it hard to get a space during busier summer months.
Highlights: Rock Pools, Lovely Beach, Nice Cafe, Dog Friendly, Caves.
13. Tolcarne Beach (Newquay)
A large stunning beach located in Newquay that could be excused as being somewhere in southern Europe. Plenty of clean sand for the kids to play in, great waves for surfers and certainly a brilliant place for long walks.
You’ll get some dramatic views of the coast from Tolcarne, and it’s a fab place to spend the day with your family. Enough rock pools and caves for the young ones to explore if they get fed up of building sandcastles, and lifeguards patrol the beach in the summer months.
There is a beach shop where you can grab whatever you need for the day, such as sun cream, wet suits, buckets and spades and various other items and you can also hire out beach huts windbreakers and loungers by the hour.
Individual and group surf lessons are available in the summer which are provided by ElementalUK, who run an activity centre on the beach. The centre also offers body boarding, stand up paddle-boarding, kayaking, archery, volleyball, bouldering and initiative tests.
If you’re in need of refreshments during the day you have the Venus Cafe located right on the beach serving up an excellent range of local and organically produced food and drink at reasonable prices.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach between May and September.
Highlights: Soft Sand, Rock Pools, Watersports, Surf Lessons, Beach Huts, Lifeguards, Caves
14. Porthgwidden Beach (St Ives)
A secluded beach located yet again in St Ives, Porthgwidden is ideal for young families. The beach is tucked away from the main harbour beach and there are plenty of amenities close by for toilets, ice creams, snacks and drinks.
Porthgwidden beach has been known to be visited by pods of Dolphins in the past, along with the odd seal, so don’t be surprised if you manage to spot one of these lovely creatures close to the shoreline!
Parking is situated at the top end, with easy access down to the beach, but get here early to avoid not being able to find a space.
You’ll find beach huts built into the cliff face and the cafe nearby offers not only great food and drink, but the option to hire out windbreakers and deckchairs.
Kep an eye out for the tide near the rocks as it can be very dangerous and there is no lifeguard cover here at all. Dogs are not allowed on the beach between Easter and September.
Highlights: Sandy Cove, Young Families, Sun Trap, Nice Cafe, Rock Pools, Deck Chairs, Great Sand, Beach Huts
15. Constantine Bay Beach (Padstow)
Constantine Bay is perfect for everyone, and deserves to be on this list. The beach itself is quite flat and sandy and offers magnificent views of Trevose Head and the coastline all the way down to Newquay.
You get decent sized waves for surfing and other watersports, sand dunes to slide down and kids can also explore the masses of rock pools that can be found at low tide.
Lifeguards are on duty during busy summer months but the sea isn’t the best for kids to play in as it can get dangerous due to currents.
Dog walkers love this beach as there is no ban, so head down here towards evening time for a nice long walk with the pooch whilst enjoying the views.
There’s a small car park close by and clean toilets available at the cost of 20p. Parking is free.
As mentioned earlier the massive waves at Constantine Bay means it has a reputation for being one of the best spots to go Surfing in Cornwall.
Not a lot in the way of food and drink, apart from a coffee van that sells hot and cold drinks and snacks along with ice cream.
Highlights: Rock Pools, Sand Dunes, Body Boarding, Surfing, Dog Walking, Great Coffee, Big Waves, Dune Surfing.
16. Summerleaze Beach (Bude)
Probably one of the most charming beaches in the whole of Cornwall, Summerleaze Beach is just five minutes walk away from the centre of Bude.
The beach is great for families with kids and is perfect for building sandcastles, kite flying, watersports, dog walkers and quiet evening strolls.
There’s a large car park with easy access to the beach and toilet facilities along with a RNLI shop and beach huts are available to hire on a daily or weekly basis.
Another great thing about this beach is that it has its own part natural sea pool for you to swim in which is cleaned daily by the incoming tide.
Lifeguard cover is provided throughout the busy summer months and dogs are allowed on the beach, but must be on a lead between 21st May to 30th September from 10am-6pm.
Plenty of sand dunes around which are ideal for sunbathing if you have a windbreaker and you can grab some food or drink from numerous restaurants and cafes in the centre of Bude which also offers plenty of shopping opportunities if you get bored.
Highlights: Rock Pools, Watersports, Sand Dunes, Sea Pool, Great For Families, Surf Hire ,Easy Access, Plenty Of Space, Dogs Are Allowed, Soft Sand, Lifeguards.
17. St Ives Harbour Beach (St Ives)
The last one in St Ives on this list, St Ives Harbour Beach is a must visit. Not only can you get to enjoy St Ives, but this delightful beach is perfect to relax on any time of the year.
It benefits being sheltered by the harbour wall and is ideal for the little ones to play in the soft sand. For the adults, the picturesque views this beach offers is the perfect way to wind down after a hard days shopping or sightseeing.
There is also the opportunity to take a boat ride out to sea along with hourly fishing trips and the water is safe for a bit of swimming if you fancy that too.
For refreshments there are a stack of eateries in St Ives that offer ice cream, Cornish Pasties, Fish & Chips and more, and those that like shopping will be happy with the amount of art galleries and quaint little gift shops on offer.
Due to St Ives being a working port you will often see local fishermen bringing the days catch into shore, and the lifeboat station which has been situated in the harbour for over 100 years is open to visitors during summer months.
Parking is available in St Ives but it might be hard to find a space later on in the day. Toilets are dotted around the town too and dogs are not allowed on the beach between the first Sunday before Easter and 30 September (08:00am – 07:00pm).
Highlights: Ice Cream, Lots Of Shops, Plenty Of Places To Eat, Fishing Boats Cornish Pasty, Lovely Place To Visit, Lifeboat Station, Art Galleries.
18. Harlyn Bay (Padstow)
A beautiful beach located in Padstow, Harlyn Bay is considered as one of the best family friendly beaches in Cornwall with wide open spaces and plenty of fine golden sand.
During the summer months you can relax here knowing it is a safe beach for children and provides them with plenty of fun. An abundance of rock pools to explore and sand dunes to play in, along with lifeguard cover.
Novice surfers will enjoy the waves here and for those that want to learn, there are surf lessons available on the beach with Harlyn surf school at around £40 per person.
If surfing isn’t your bag, Harlyn Bay is also good for sea kayaking and the walkers amongst you will love the walks around Mother Ivey’s Bay and Trevose Head.
Parking is in a field right next to the beach and isn’t too expensive. Refreshments are available and can be purchased from either the pub or food van on the headland and dogs are allowed all year round.
Highlights: Beautiful Beach, Body Boarding, Rock Pools, Family Beach, Surf School, Dog Friendly Beach, Plenty Of Space.
19. Godrevy Head (Hayle)
Located nr Hayle, Godrevy Head is a great place to visit and is perfect for a beach walk with your children, you’ll never get tired of the views of Godrevy Lighthouse and the coastline on a summers day or evening.
Bring along a portable BBQ and spend some time relaxing here and you’ll be rewarded with the possibility of spotting some seals or even Dolphins if you’re lucky, especially near the north eastern corner of the headland.
There are two car parks run by the National Trust which are free for members, with access to the beach via some steps. There’s even an ice cream van near where you park along with a cafe that sells hot and cold food and drink.
Godrevy is one of the most beautiful areas in Cornwall. Whether that be in the summer, when the beach is a haven for families playing in the rock pools left at low tide, or in the winter, when the wind whips the sea high up over the rocks and the Lighthouse. Just breathtaking.
Highlights: Rock Pools, Seals Basking, Sandy Beaches, Stunning Views, Great Walks.
20. Widemouth Bay Beach (Bude)
Last but no means least, Widemouth Bay beach in Bude is very popular with families and surfers. Located 3 miles south from Bude, the beach offers something for everyone.
At low tide there are literally hundreds of rock pools for kids to enjoy and the soft sand provides plenty of material for building castles. Surfers can experience a variety of conditions here, and as with lots of beaches throughout Cornwall, Widemouth Bay also provides surfing lessons for those that are less experienced via a number of different surf schools
For the walkers, you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery both on the beach and along the cliff paths, with Blackrock being a notable feature, especially when the sun sets.
Dogs are welcome throughout the year on the southern section of the beach. The northern part operates a seasonal dog ban between Easter and 30th September.
There is a medium sized pay and display car park costing 50p per hour and it is here you’ll also find the toilets, showers and a cafe.
Highlights: Rock Pools, Body Boarding, Building Sand Castles, Interesting Rock Formations, Lifeguards, Surfers Paradise, Great Place To Learn To Surf, Dog Walking, Surf Schools, Plenty Of Parking.
So there we have it! 20 of the best beaches in Cornwall that offer something for everyone. Whether you’re a family with young children, a couple who want a quiet place to relax and wind down, or a keen surfer who fancies a challenge, you’ll find all that you need to experience a fantastic time whilst visiting Cornwall on your holiday.
We have our favourite in the list, is yours there as well?