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Best beaches in Cornwall

Cornwall is a beach lover’s paradise, whatever your sand-between-the-toes preferences. We’re home to surf breaks, hidden coves, sprawling bays and mile upon mile of golden sands, meaning that whether you want to swim, surf, sunbathe or spend some scenic downtime with the family, you’ll find a world-class beach to suit. 

And since Cornwall’s unique island-like geography means that it boasts three coastlines, you won’t have to travel far to find a beautiful beach, wherever you’re staying…

Best for…families

On the North coast, Newquay is a firm family favourite, offering an array of beaches conveniently fringing the town, from famous surf hub Fistral to the picturesque Crantock, sweeping Holywell Bay and centrally located beaches of Towan, Tolcarne, Great Western and Porth.

Just outside Newquay, dog-friendly Watergate Bay and Mawgan Porth both provide oodles of space alongside a range of facilities required for a fun family day out; while further up the coast, Padstow’s surrounding coastline includes Constantine Bay, Harlyon Beach and Trevone, where families can sample various water activities such as surfing, snorkelling and rock pooling.

Nestled near the Devon border, Bude boasts a bevy of brilliant beaches as well as an all-year-round (and free) sea pool for swimming; or if you’re heading to south Cornwall, Gorran Haven is home to two sheltered (and dogs-on-lead friendly) sandy beaches: Vault, or Bow Beach and Great Perhaver Beach, which are especially suited to families.

Further east, and Pentewan boasts a large sandy beach and range of facilities, while St Austell Bay is home to a pretty plethora of places including film set favourite, Charlestown and nearby Carlyon Bay.

In West Cornwall, St Ives Bay sweeps west toward the craggy coves of Cape Cornwall, white sands of Sennen and eastward round to the softly lulling southern coast, giving oodles of choice.

For families, the northern coast presents miles of golden sands stretching from Gwithian across five, flat dune-backed towans towards the town and estuary of Hayle. Beyond the river mouth you’ll discover the expansive and dog-friendly Porthkidney Beach, while round the headland lies the ultimate in sheltered, picture-postcard coves at Carbis Bay, and further in to the town of St Ives you’ll find the two main beaches of Porthminster and Porthmeor.

For those visiting or staying on the south coast, Porthcurno and Pednevounder are both soul-stirring backdrops, but do keep in mind the tidal movements that can on occasion create hazards for those not in-the-know.

praa sands and hendra beaches

Penzance presents a long stretch of flat sands at Long Rock and Marazion – also the gateway to St Michael’s Mount, while eastward toward the country’s most southerly tip at The Lizard, there lies a meandering multitude of beaches including Praa Sands, Porthleven, Kennack, Mullion, Gunwalloe and Poldhu.

Best for…couples

Renowned for its wild sense of romance, North Cornwall’s rugged cliffs and concealed coves provide the perfect place for couples to indulge in some sweet and secluded downtime.

St Agnes and its surrounding areas spill with picture-postcard views, from Wheal Coates’ magnificent tin mine on the cliffs to the tropical-like Trevaunance Cove, Trevellas Porth and Chapel Porth.

Then there are Newquay’s lesser-known coves such as Polly Joke, Whipsiderry and Bedruthan Steps - all achingly beautiful alternatives to the buzz of the town’s beaches.

Quintessentially Cornish fishing village, Port Isaac (home to BBC’s Doc Martin) may captivate the high-summer crowds, but nearby Lundy Bay and Trebarwith Strand are trickier to get to, meaning the holiday hordes can be eluded as you experience some of North Cornwall’s celebrated sense of escapism.

West Cornwall is recognised as something of a sanctuary away from the hubbub of modern life. Escape to the likes of Cot Valley, Prussia Cove, Portheras, Nanjizal or Penberth for a wonderful away-from-it-all experience.

Best for…dogs

There are dozens of dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall, meaning that - like you - your furry friend will be spoiled with places to run free and relax (though always check local restrictions as they can change).

In West Cornwall, Hayle has three miles of beaches giving year-round access to dogs including Porthkidney, Beachview, Mexico Towans and Upton Towans, and in St Ives, there’s Bamaluz Beach.

In and around Penzance there’s a great selection such as Wherrytown, Long Rock, Prussia Cove and Porthleven, while The Lizard peninsula is awash with beautiful dog-friendly beaches.

Mid Cornwall boasts a bounty of dog-friendly beaches. From Crantock to Holywell Bay Beach and Mawgan Porth to Watergate Bay, while on the southern coast - Falmouth caters for dogs courtesy of Carne, Hemmick, Pothboer and Nansidwell Beaches, along with the deliriously pretty, Porthluney Cove.

Dogs will be eager to explore North Cornwall’s variety of offerings, from Bude’s Bossiney Haven, Northcott Mouth and Duckpool and Sandymouth Beaches, to Padstow’s brilliantly named Booby’s Bay as well as its string of stunning shorelines that also feature Constantine, Daymer, Harlyn, Porthcothan and Treyarnon Bay, along with Trebarwith and Port Gaverne Beaches.

Tintagel’s Bossiney Haven, Benoath Cove, Tintagel Haven and Merlin’s Cove will leave both you and your dog rapt with the rugged scenery and soul-stirring views.

Planning a seaside holiday? Check out our holiday cottages in Cornwall >

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