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20 of the best beaches to visit in Cornwall

With over 300 to pick from, Cornwall’s beaches are world-renowned for a reason. The 422 miles of coastline not only presents sandy stretches to rival more exotic locales, but also boast some of the widest variety to be found in the UK and beyond.

Craggy cliff lines spilling into the wave lashed Atlantic, white sands backed by wild dunes, picturesque coves flanked by historic harbours and fishing ports, and gorgeously sheltered estuaries and riverbanks: we have it all.

And the biggest beauty of Cornwall’s beaches? You never have to travel far to find one as the county is literally surrounded by them. 

In no particular order, here’s our top 20 of the best beaches to visit in Cornwall to help fill your bucket list...


Looking down on the golden sands and turquoise seas of Sennen in West Cornwall

Located just 1.5km from Land’s End, Sennen is the most westerly beach along Cornwall’s northern stretch of coastline, presenting a crescent sweep of sand that runs from the village’s harbour to its neighbour, Gwenver Beach. Both are prime surf spots and home to the Smart Surf School: a family-run business replete with local knowledge and experience. With plenty of access points and facilities, including the uber-relaxed Surf Beach Bar that gazes out at the ocean, Sennen is ideal for couples or singletons searching for somewhere stunning to escape, or families keen for activity-based fun.


Turquoise seas and rugged cliffs at Porthcurno beach in Cornwall

The sheltered south-facing cove is simply jaw dropping. Imposing granite cliffs give way to soft powder sands that extend the aquamarine waters, on a low tide, along Green Bay and Pednevounder. Jutting into the Atlantic to the eastern end is the rugged headland of Logan’s Rock, while to the west stands the famous cliff-carved open-air attraction that is, the Minack Theatre. Walk the uber scenic cliff path, visit the Museum of Global Communications, PK Porthcurno, or just sink into the picture-postcard views of Porthcurno's unbelievably sublime locale.


Looking across Marazion beach at St Michael's Mount

With the iconic tidal island and castle of St Michael’s Mount within causeway-walking distance (tide permitting), Marazion presents the perfect beachside stop-off. Backing onto the village and its smattering of cafés, pubs and shops, whether you wish to enjoy the flat safety of the beach and its bay (kite and windsurfing, supping, and kayaking are popular pastimes here), or explore its exquisite surrounds on foot, Marazion is a spoilsome choice.

Praa Sands

Golden sands and dunes along the beach at Praa Sands

Praa Sands is a southern gem: golden sands protected by the granite headlines of Hoe Point and Rinsey Head fringed by low-lying cliffs and dunes, all of which – and more – can be explored by walking the coast path. There are plenty of on-shore facilities including a café, beach shop, pub and toilets, while the mile-long flat expanse provides the perfect territory for a family day by the seaside. 

Kynance Cove

Turquoise waters and dramatic cliffs at Kynance Cove in

If your idea of a beach day involves natural beauty of the otherworldly kind, then Kynance is a top choice. Located west of the country’s most southerly point of The Lizard, Kynance’s craggy rock formations and crystalline waters is the stuff of dreams. Tuck into a Cornish cream tea with to-die-for views at the cliffside café, immerse yourself into the cerulean sea, and just sit with those staggering views.


Sand dunes leading down to the golden sands of Gwithian beach with Godrevy Lighthouse in the background

Gwithian sits at the eastern end of Hayle’s 3-mile stretch of golden sands, giving visitors plenty of room and choice to stake their own prized piece of beach. A walk further east will reward you with the awe-inspiring seal colony of Mutton Cove and Hell’s Mouth as you glance seaward to Virginia Woolf’s famous muse, Godrevy Lighthouse. In short, whichever way you turn you’ll find somewhere to surf, walk, swim or lounge amongst some soul-stirring scenery.


The white sands of Porthmeor beach with St Ives behind

St Ives’ surf hub is a special treat. Dine within stone hurling distance of the shore at Porthmeor Beach Café, visit the renowned Tate St Ives across the road (or any of the array of galleries scattered nearby throughout the town), hire a board and hit the waves, or sprawl yourself on the sands and treat your senses to sweet abandon. Visit Porthmeor beach wherever you are with our handy live webcam overlooking the beach!

Carbis Bay

Looking over some grass at the golden sands and blue seas of Carbis Bay in Cornwall

Famous for its crystal-clear waters that take on a brilliant turquoise hue in the sunshine, Carbis Bay boasts a simply stunning beach. The often-calm waters are great for watersports, with SUP boards a common sight along this stretch of tropical coast. Spread out across the golden sands, run into the azure waters for a refreshing dip, or visit nearby The Bean Inn for a delicious veggie feast.


Looking across the golden sands of Fistral beach towards the headland

Dubbed Cornwall’s surf capital, Fistral’s Atlantic rollers have spawned some champion wave riders while welcoming visitors keen to sample a slice of the surfer’s life. A buzz of summer activity including festivals like Boardmasters, Fistral is home to a heady mix of cafés, cocktail bars, shops and fine dining restaurants, but sprawling enough for the whole family to find space to enjoy an unforgettable day at one of Cornwall’s most celebrated beaches. Enjoy a sneak peek of the golden sands and famous waves with our perfectly placed live webcam.


Golden sands and dramatic rock formations at Holywell Bay in Cornwall

High-rising sand dunes spill onto the beach of this especially enchanting bay just west of Newquay, providing the recent TV adaptation of Poldark with some of its favourite filming locations. Explore the Holywell cave at low tide, dive into the ocean, or sprawl yourself on the golden sands or grassy dunes for a sunset picnic as it dips behind the dramatic Gull Rocks out to sea.


Surfers walking across Polzeath beach with the sea in the background

Another of Cornwall’s world-renowned surfing destinations, Polzeath is the place to be whether you’re a seasoned pro or a surfing newbie. Seasonal lifeguard cover and good conditions make the beach great for swimmers as well as surfers, while the giant expanse of sand that emerges at low tide promises space for every kind of beachgoer. The lovely village of Polzeath sits behind the beach, with lots of great eateries and shops to explore during your stay.

Widemouth Bay

Looking down the cliffs at the massive sandy beach at Widemouth Bay in Cornwall

A wonderfully wild beach on North Cornwall’s rugged coast, Widemouth Bay offers an untamed beach day, with 2 miles of sandy haven to explore. The rolling swells of the Atlantic make this a great spot for anyone looking to catch a wave or two. A Blue Flag winner, there is everything you’ll need for a fun-filled day at the beach, from cafés stocking ice creams galore to lifeguards in the summer months that ensure safe bathing for all. The little ones can spend hours exploring the rock pools at the southern end of the beach, while the dog lovers out there can rejoice in the knowledge that the beach between Black Rock and South Beach is dog friendly all year round.


Looking across water at Summerleaze beach in Cornwall

The gem in this particular coastal crown has to be Bude Sea Pool, which is proudly nestled under the rocks in the centre of this beautifully scenic beach. Another striking feature is the river, which flows on the western side into the ocean, giving Summerleaze a natural variety of waterside spaces to pick from. If that’s not enough, there’s a host of nearby attractions including Bude Castle, Bude Pitch and Putt, Bude Canal and a recreation ground; while a sandy play area, shops, café and toilets are all conveniently located beachside.

Watergate Bay

A white building perched on the cliffs above the golden sands of Watergate Bay in Cornwall

North of Newquay lies the sweeping, dog-friendly sands of Watergate Bay, a surfer’s haven that glances back toward the town for an alluring away-from-it-all feeling. With striking cliffs situated either side, the rambling 2-mile expanse merges wild beauty with top-notch facilities including a range of beachside cafés and restaurants. Then there’s the Extreme Academy, who will teach you the ropes in a range of exhilarating activities including supping, surfing, kite surfing, wave skiing, traction kiting, handplaning and body boarding.


The South West Coast Path running above the golden sands of Perranporth beach in Cornwall

Boasting the UK’s only bar on the beach, The Watering Hole, Perranporth provides the perfect place for anyone wanting to hit – and stay on – the sands. Easily accessible and primed for beach life, whether you wish to picnic, drink or dine within pebble skimming distance of the shore, surf the waves, walk the South West Coast Path (or the beach on a low tide up to Ligger Point), or simply recline and relax, this is the destination to be. A stream of cafés, bars, restaurants and shops should satisfy your needs and whims, while nearby must-sees include St Agnes and Holywell Bay.

Mawgan Porth

Golden sands and towering cliffs at Mawgan Porth beach in Cornwall

Situated on the Atlantic Ocean coast between Padstow and Newquay, Mawgan Porth is a magnetic mix of rugged beauty, coolly laidback charm and adventure playground. If you tire of rock pooling and exploring the caves, Kingsurf Surf School will help you hone your wave riding skills with lessons for all levels in addition to special surf camps. Fill your bellies at the pub, café - or dodge the seagulls with takeaway fish and chips, or venture slightly further afield for the gastronomy of Scott & Babs at Retorrick Mill for rustic wood fired food cooked with culinary love and flair.


Looking across the water at the golden sands of Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth

One of Falmouth’s many sun-soaked beaches, Gyllyngvase (otherwise known as Gylly) beach is a popular swimming spot throughout the year. The waters are also popular for watersports enthusiasts, with supping and kayaking frequent pursuits in the area. The beach is nice and big, with a volleyball net at the back, offering space for all beachside activities. Pick up the coast path from either end and spend a few hours exploring Falmouth’s beautiful coastline.

Lantic Bay

Looking down the green cliffs at the golden sands of Lantic Bay in South Cornwall

Lantic Bay might require a bit of a scramble down the coast path, but the beautiful golden beach is certainly worth the effort. The shingle bay is absolutely stunning on a sunny day, with the waters turning cerulean with even the slightest hint of sun in the sky. Enjoying an equally scenic coast path, Lantic Bay is perfect for walkers looking for a breathtaking stroll near Fowey.

St Mawes

Looking down the beach at the sea and St Mawes harbour beyond

With an endlessly picturesque harbour at its heart and a selection of pretty beaches running along the coast, St Mawes is the place to be for a spot of sun, sand, and sea. A number of cafés, bakeries, and delis line the waterfront, while the Idle Rocks offers cocktails aplenty, perfect for a sundowner by the sea. Spend your beach day lazing in the white sands, dipping in the water, or gliding across it in a kayak or boat.

Carlyon Bay

Palm trees and a rocky outcrop reach out of the sand at Carlyon Bay in South Cornwall

The stunning trio of beaches (Crinnis, Shorthorn, and Polgaver) can be found in all their glory near St Austell on the south coast’s Cornish Riviera, where visitors will be rendered speechless by 2 miles of curving sheltered sands. As well as ocean pursuits (look for Cornwall Waverunner Safaris), this is prime walking territory should the urge take you. And, of course, there’s a bounty of beautiful beach bars and restaurants including Edie’s Kitchen, a Michelin recommended family-run restaurant.

Where to find them:

Dreaming of a visit to Cornwall? Take a look at our holiday cottages and start planning your beach-filled stay!

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