With more than 300 miles of coastline – there really is a beach for everyone in Cornwall - from sports to golden sands, suntraps to secret hideaways, rockpooling and walking to riding the waves - the only question is: which one are you? Carol Burns dons her shades and tours Cornwall for some if its best spots

It is perhaps no surprise that a recent world city beach ranking put three Cornish towns in their top 100. Newquay, Falmouth and St Ives were three of only five UK beach destinations singled out by travel specialist

But of course – these famous towns and their famous beaches are just a tiny number of the sandy spots along Cornwall’s stunning coastlines and the wide and varying beaches it has on offer, from the wide golden sands and Atlantic breaks on the north coast to the tiny harbour beaches of Mousehole and Port Isaac.

The world ranking looked at travel convenience, watersports, nightlife, type of beach and summer (air and water) temperature to pick the top 100 destinations on its 2017 list. So well done to our three famous towns – but with more than 160 beaches on offer - here’s a few more that get our vote.


There is no such thing as a beach without water play – but at some beaches that play is more serious than others with surfing, stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding, widsurfing, sea swimming and kayaking among them. If you are looking for some hardcore activities – good breaks make all the difference. Most good surf beaches can be found along the Atlantic coast – for obvious reasons.

St Agnes is famous for bellyboarding – once home to the biennial bellyboarding competition, and this enclosed beach remains a popular spot for the ancient craft.

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When it comes to surf Fistral Beach in Newquay is king, as the recognised home of British surfing. But its neighbour Watergate Bay is also famed for their great breaks. The attraction of these beaches is that the remain equally friendly to first time surfers and bodyboarders.

Other beaches worth trying are Perranporth Beach, Polzeath Beach near Padstow, Porthmeor Beach, St Ives and Praa Sands, Helston. You might also want to try Whitsand Bay on the south coast – bare in mind some beaches require a scramble down a well-worn surfers path, such as at Porth Chapel near St Levan. Look out for signs giving information on undercurrents and breakers.


Usually recommended for their easy access, amenities and young swimmer-friendly water, there are plenty of beaches on offer for families. You might want to consider parking, lifeguards, toilets and shops all close by.

We love Gylly Beach in Falmouth, Porthminster in St Ives and the wide expanse of Praa Sands, which lies between Penzance and Helston on the south coast. All boast relatively flat water, easy access and great amenities.

On the north coast, Bude’s two beaches, Summerleaze and Crooklets, are famous for their family-friendliness. Summerleaze has the added attraction of its free tidal swimming pool.

Perranporth has got to be one of the best beaches for facilities: the sandy beach stretches back almost into the town itself, and then for two miles to the north. There are car parks, toilets, shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs within easy reach, and lifeguards on duty throughout the summer.


Looking to take a quiet walk hand-in-hand on the beach, or want to discover somewhere far from the madding crowds of summer? There are plenty of hidden hard to get to beaches that help to make Cornwall such a romantic destination. Most are out of the way, lack facilities, such as car parks and are less accessible – but after the scramble you are rewarded with a deserted dream beach.

Try Portherras Cove lighthouse near St Just, Gunwalloe is a tiny cove is at the southernmost point of Porthleven Sands. For sunsets try out Gwithian near Hayle and Bedruthan Steps: this large, sandy beach is punctuated with enormous rocky outcrops is one of the most photographed beaches in Cornwall.


Conventional wheelchairs are not good on sand, and the beach environment (sand, grit and stress) can cause serious damage, so increasingly Cornwall’s beaches now come with sand chairs. These special wheelchairs can be hired for use during holidays – or at a number of beaches, such as Polzeath, Fistral Beach in Newquay and Gylly Beach in Falmouth.


Beat the seagulls and head to our pick of quieter beaches to enjoy your lovingly handmade lunch (or there are several delis in Cornwall who will prepare picnic baskets ready for you. We love Picnic in Falmouth’s hamper )…

Harlyn Bay is a hidden gem found along the North coast of Cornwall and only a short drive from the popular seaside town of Padstow. It is dog-friendly throughout the year, so you can bring your four-legged friends along to the picnic. Find a nice spot for your deck chairs, put up the windbreak and enjoy lunch whilst the children play in the freshwater stream and rock pools of Harlyn Bay.

The wonderfully white sandy inlet of Rock beach is perfect place to pitch up your picnic blanket and enjoy everything Cornwall has to offer. The gentle waters of the Camel estuary make it a great safe space for young families – just beware friendly dogs investigating your lunch.

Godrevy Beach is a small sheltered cove off the coastal path where you can enjoy the view of the lighthouse made famous by writer Virginia Woolf. If you want to top up your lunch, head to the nearby café run by the National Trust who own this section of coastline.


At the height of summer, many of Cornwall’s beaches become dog-free zones during the day – but there are still plenty of places to take your pooch for a swim. Around half of Cornwall’s beaches operate a daytime dog ban - beaches are clearly signposted with the rules as you enter.

Porthkerris Beach

This shingle beach is popular for rockpooling and spotting marine life – including basking sharks and dolphins.

Flushing Beach

Once used to smuggle contraband from the Fal Estuary, Flushing Beach is relatively small and sits at the foot of a field where you can also walk dogs. The beach is part of a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a mixture of sand and rocks.

Watergate Bay

This two-mile long beach has stunning views, and plenty going on. Take the dog along the coast and watch out for the surfers and family bathers who flock here.

Lantic Bay

Access to Lantic Bay can only be reached via a walk through fields and a steep descent onto the beach, but it is worth the effort for the white sand and turquoise sea. Beware that there is a risk of rip tides and getting cut off at high tides.

Mexico Towans

Part of a glorious four miles of sand that starts from the mouth of the Hayle estuary and reaches out to the lighthouse at Godrevy Point, Mexico sits between Hayle Towans and Upton Towans and is backed by magnificent sand dunes.