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Things to do in and near St Mawes

Situated in the impossibly picturesque Roseland Peninsula, the stunning village of St Mawes is nestled on the eastern edge of Falmouth Harbour on the bank of the Carrick Roads, merging country and coast to jaw-dropping effect.

The beautiful harbourside village of St Mawes in Cornwall

Disappear here for a couple’s retreat, or bring the family for an action-packed holiday as you explore the area and its plethora of offerings, from activities and days out, to dining and attractions.

Jump aboard the ferry to Falmouth, head to the Helford River, enjoy some quality beach time, or take a road trip around the Roseland for a stay that’ll linger in your memory long after you return home.

Here’s our top pick of things to do in and near St Mawes...

Must-visit sights and attractions...

St Mawes Castle

The historic St Mawes Castle, one of the best things to do in St Mawes

Castle Drive, St Mawes TR2 5DE

A spectacular and well-preserved example of King Henry VIII’s seaside fortresses, St Mawes Castle gazes over the Fal Estuary to present expansive coastal views alongside a fascinating historical insight. Inside, admire the elaborate decorations of this unique clover-shaped structure and the sea views from the castle keep, before roaming the grounds – the perfect place for a picnic, or grabbing a coffee and homemade cake from Bear Cornwall’s coffee van.

Lamorran House Garden

Looking through the trees of Lamorran House Garden at the sea where a boat sails

Lamorran Upper Castle Road, St Mawes TR2 5BZ

The Italianate inspired garden sits on a sheltered south-facing slope practically surrounded by the sea, proffering staggering oceanic views and exquisite blooms for a sensory feast like no other. A huge range of plants from across the globe can be found here, from woodland and a Japanese style water garden to exotic florals and lush foliage. Meanwhile, a guided walk will take you from Koi pond to the walled garden, tree ferns, stream and temple. Enjoy light refreshments and drinks at La Terrazza, expand your own botanical collection by stocking up on plants grown from the garden, and lose yourself to the tranquillity of this beyond-beautiful place.

Other exotic realms to discover in south Cornwall nearby include Trelissick on the Fal Estuary, Trewithen near Truro, and Trebah, Glendurgan and Enys Gardens in Falmouth.

St Just in Roseland Church

An ancient Celtic cross at St Just in Roseland Church with the estuary behind

St Just in Roseland TR2 5JD

A majestic two-mile walk will take you from St Mawes to what former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman described as “the most beautiful churchyard on earth”. Teetering over a creek for the most magical of waterside settings, the church and gardens are a rare beauty to behold. A path winds through towering bamboos toward the Holy Well, while the views extend from the boatyard to the gardens and the church, which sits on the site of a 6th century Celtic chapel. Take a detour to Miss V’s teashop to gaze at the church’s gardens while tucking into a Cornish cream tea or delicious homemade cake.

Outdoor activities...


A couple walking along the waterside road in St Mawes

With so many different habitats to explore in this part of Cornwall, walkers will be spoiled with routes ranging from riverside to coastal to rural. Nip over to Falmouth to roam the townscapes including the National Maritime Museum and dockland before extending your route to the stupendously scenic, Flushing and Mylor; or take a stroll round the Pendennis headland and on to Pendennis Castle that sits on the opposite side of the estuary to St Mawes.

From St Mawes, join the famous South West Coast Path at the Ship and Castle Hotel for a sublime 4.6-mile leg stretch skirting the water and rounding at St Just in Roseland Church; or embark upon the staggeringly beautiful walk round St Anthony Headland for a 5.1 mile coastal ramble crossing cliff-lines, beaches and woodland while passing a lighthouse, church and Second World War battery and camp.

You can also follow the seafront to St Mawes Castle along the coast path, inland to the Percuil River and back again for a short, 3.5 mile circular walk; or diverge left from the fork in the path to visit the stunning St Just in Roseland Church before returning to the village. Alternatively, extend your walk from the church by venturing further north for the fabulously quaint 15th century Smuggler’s Cottage that presides over the water at Tolverne.

Boat trips and fishing

St Mawes Ferry sailing across the Helford

From St Mawes, jumping aboard a boat is one of the easiest and most adventurous ways to see the area’s myriad offerings. The St Mawes ferry will take you across the estuary to Falmouth (from here, find Enterprise Boats for a Fal River cruise) while the Place Ferry will transport you to Place Creek on the Roseland Peninsula (where you can discover a bounty of walks, beaches and St Anthony’s Lighthouse all located in one spectacular Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

The King Harry Ferry connects St Mawes and the Roseland with Feock, Truro and Falmouth, allowing visitors access to a series of stunning waterways in order to pick a place and plan a schedule to suit their whim. You can also hop onto a boat for a trip up the Helford River for a day out with a spectacularly scenic difference.


Someone paddleboarding along the harbour in St Mawes

With Falmouth widely considered to be Cornwall’s maritime capital, St Mawes isn’t far behind when it comes to coastal and aquatic spoils. From wild swimming and sailing to stand up paddleboarding, there’s oodles to do in and on the water. From the quay, St Mawes Kayaks provides hire and guidance to ensure a safe and fun excursion on a sit-on kayak (single and double); and SUP hire is available from Ebb & Flow on Summers Beach. Meanwhile, if you visit Feock you’ll find Loe Beach Watersports, who offer kayak and SUP hire and lessons, as well as lessons in powerboats and sailing dinghies.

From Falmouth, join Orca Sea Safaris for a stint of wildlife watching and the chance to spy whales, dolphins, seals, seabirds and basking sharks; or take little ones to the Rock Pool Project at Castle and Gyllyngvase Beaches for an exciting and educational safari that can be enjoyed either day or night.

St Mawes Recreation Ground

Place View Road, St Mawes TR2 5BT

Situated at the very top of the main car park in St Mawes, the site covers several acres including gorgeous woodland (with an adventure trail) for families to roam or relax in. The play park itself features an array of amenities such as a skate park, football goals, slides, play ship, climbing frames, treehouse and hopscotch, while a tennis court is ideal for older ages.

Beaches galore...

With south Cornwall’s divine selection of blue and green spaces to roam, St Mawes’ plethora of beaches and gardens offer visitors the most scenic backdrop to their stay, whether you remain in St Mawes or venture further afield to Falmouth, or beyond.

Summers Beach

People enjoying the sand and sea at Summers beach in St Mawes

The shingle beach is southwest facing and the largest in St Mawes, providing a fabulously sheltered spot to relax and watch the world go by. The pontoon is the perfect place to swim to, while a collection of rock pools are revealed by the low tide. Note that there’s a seasonal dog ban in place.

Harbour Beach

The little sandy cove of Harbour beach in St Mawes

On the other side of the harbour in the centre of the village lies this diminutive stretch, which isn’t accessible at high tide. Close to a host of shops and amenities, the beach is especially suited to people- (and boat) watchers – and is dog friendly all year round.

Tavern Beach

The rocky cove at Tavern beach in St Mawes

Located at the far eastern (castle) end of St Mawes, Tavern gazes out over St Anthony Head and Pendennis Castle, though virtually disappears with the tide. Great for a spell of rock pooling at low tide.

Great Molunan and Little Molunan

The two sandy coves of Great Molunan and Little Molunan

Nestled under St Anthony Head across the water from St Mawes and with views across to Pendennis Castle, these twin beaches are beautifully positioned away-from-it-all for a real Robinson Crusoe feel. It’s dog friendly (but with no lifeguard service), while toilets and a café can be found in the National Trust car park at St Anthony Head.

Porthbeor Beach

The sandy cove at Porthbeor beach near St Mawes

A roam to the far reaches of the Roseland Peninsula will reward you with the wild expanse that is Porthbeor Beach. The 500-metre long beach boasts golden sands backed by gently sloping cliffs, with a car park (but no other facilities) nearby. You won’t find lifeguard cover, but dogs are permitted year-round.

Whether you’re a couple searching for a romantic retreat or family looking for accommodation to suit all ages, discover our spectacular range of holiday cottages in St Mawes and start planning your blissful waterside holiday.

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