With more than 160 beaches in Cornwall, why go anywhere else this summer?

Cornwall has over 300 miles of coastline and more than 160 beaches. Ask any holidaymaker, and they would say that the beauty of these beaches is one of the main reasons they come to Cornwall. Here are some of Cornwall Life's favourites

With more than 160 beaches in Cornwall, why go anywhere else this summer? Lesley Double chooses some of her favourites

Cornwall is blessed with over 300 miles of coastline containing more than 160 beaches. Ask any holidaymaker, and they would say that the beauty, contrast and availability of these beaches is one of the main reasons they come to Cornwall. And those of us lucky enough to live here? Why go anywhere else when some of the best beaches in the world are right here on our doorstep?

This year’s Blue Flag beach awards go once again to Carbis Bay near St Ives, Gyllyngvase near Falmouth, Polzeath near Wadebridge, Porthmeor at St Ives, Porthtowan near St Agnes and Sennen Cove. Blue Flag is an international award scheme given to beaches that reach the highest quality in water, facilities, safety, environmental education and management. Thanks to South West Water’s Clean Sweep project, there is every chance that more Cornish beaches in the future will receive this prestigious award.

Family Beaches

With families needing facilities from a beach such as parking, lifeguards, toilets and shops all close by, Cornwall comes up trumps. Praa Sands, for example, which lies between Penzance and Helston on the south coast, is a huge sandy beach with two large car parks and a smaller one for short stay in the middle. Praa Sands has all of the facilities listed above and is a perfect spot for families of all ages, as not only is it relatively flat with easy access for younger children, but is good for surfing for the older ones. On the north coast, Bude’s two beaches, Summerleaze and Crooklets, both have similar facilities attached, while Summerleaze has the added attraction of a free tidal swimming pool.

Best for couples

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 There are many beaches that are hidden away and where you may be one of just a few individuals on the sand. Portherras Cove is a 20-minute walk from Pendeen Watch lighthouse near St Just. There are no facilities here, but the thrill of having the beach to yourself makes the walk all the more worthwhile. Gunwalloe is also quiet, and there are no facilities here either. This tiny cove is at the southernmost point of Porthleven Sands; you can park in Church Cove car park, but be prepared for a 30-minute walk.

Surfing beaches

There are dozens of perfect surfing beaches in Cornwall, from the far west at Gwynver, to several in and around Newquay on the north coast, such as Lusty Glaze, Tolcarne and Towan beaches, to the large expanse at Whitsand Bay on the south coast. Many of these, such as Fistral at Newquay, are internationally famous for the surf, with schools and competitions during the year to keep you busy and entertained. There are many smaller beaches with perfect surfing conditions too. Some 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.

A good all-rounder

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 three car parks, two sets of toilets, plenty of shops, caf�s, restaurants and pubs within easy reach, and lifeguards on duty throughout the summer. With an expanse of sand dunes, and almost perfect surfing conditions, what more could you ask for?

Best beaches for views

It may be closed during the winter months, you may not be able to swim there because of strong currents, it may be unsuitable for buggies and wheelchairs, and you could get cut off at high tide, but Bedruthan Steps still takes a lot of beating. This large, sandy beach punctuated with enormous rocky outcrops is one of the most photographed beaches in Cornwall.

Unusual beaches

The action of the sea and tides has ensured that beaches in Cornwall are very different one from another. For example, Porthcurno beach near Land’s End is made up entirely of tiny and broken shells, Stanbury Mouth, just north of Bude, has pebbles and rock pools to explore, and Lantic Bay, near Polperro, is covered in white sand, which makes it feel like the Mediterranean. Take care, as some beaches can disappear completely at high tide – at Housel Bay and Pedn Vounder, for example.

Beachside eateries

You really are spoilt for choice here! Whatever you fancy, from fish and chips or pasties to fine dining, can be yours, with spectacular views over some of the county’s most impressive coastal scenery. Many restaurants, naturally, specialise in fish dishes, and exciting local produce and fare is in evidence everywhere. Try The Beach restaurant at Sennen Cove: as its name suggests, it is right on the beach with views out towards the Longships Lighthouse and the Isles of Scilly. Or try Sam’s On the Beach, which is situated inside the old RNLI lifeboat station at Polkerris.

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