Best beaches in Cornwall
With 422 miles of coastline, Cornwall harbours an endless supply of islets, stacks, coves and bays between its dramatic cliffs. Many of the county’s beaches could easily be mistaken for tropical paradises, perfectly suited to relaxation, while others are battered by Atlantic breezes making them havens for water sports.
Whatever it is you want from your Cornish holiday, there’s a beach for you. From the long, exposed stretches of sand on the north coast of Cornwall such as Gwithian Towans Beach that provides excellent surfing conditions, to the bustling tourist beach at Marazion that is connected to St Michael’s Mount, or the remote natural wonders of Kynance Cove, there’s a beach to suit every mood. At Haven we love the Cornish Coast, so it was a tough ask to try and list the best beaches in Cornwall. However, we’re confident that there’s no way you’ll regret a visit to any of the following on this list.
Porthcurno Beach, Porthcurno
Nestled among a row of towering granite cliffs, Porthcurno stretches from the Minack Theatre to The Logan Rock, the site of an Iron Age cliff castle. The beach is also just around the corner from Land's End and is the place at which many transatlantic telegraph cables came ashore. These obsolete cables can still sometimes be seen poking up through the sand and are a local site of interest.
Porthcurno Beach is a curve of golden sand that is revealed by the low tide and it picks up more swells than other nearby beaches meaning there is good surf. The beach is also popular with families as it is easily accessible and protected by the cliffs from the northerly winds, although at high tide a steep shelf means that swimming can be dangerous so always take care!
Kynance Cove, near Helston
Kynance Cove is located two miles from Lizard Point in one of the prettiest sections of Cornish coastline. Thanks to its brilliant turquoise water, white sand, sea stacks, islets, caves and stunning serpentine rock formations, it has also become one of the most painted and photographed beaches in the country. At low tide, it is possible to explore the caves and islands up close, but it is possible to get cut off by the tide and there are no lifeguards operating at Kynance, so please exercise caution.
The cove has been talked of as one of the best beaches in Cornwall since the 19th-century, but it has since been made more accessible thanks to a National Trust toll road and car park. There is also the century-old Kynance Cove Beach Café situated above the beach for snacks - we recommend the crab sandwich, Cornish pasty, and/or a traditional cream tea.
Marazion Beach, Marazion
Marazion Beach has plenty going on; not only is the long sandy beach safe for swimming thanks to lifeguard cover throughout the summer months, but there is also sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and jet skiing all on offer. There is even a windsurfing school situated at the far end of Marazion beach to keep even the most energetic busy. Those simply wanting relaxation will not be disappointed, however, as a short walk along the sand dunes will ensure that you find a private sun trap to soak up some rays. There’s plenty for kids too, with the rock pools surrounding Chapel Rock and Marazion Harbour all teeming with life, as well as the nicely outfitted play park situated just above the beach.
The highlight of the beach is undoubtedly found at the Marazion end, the iconic St Michael's Mount rises magnificently out of the water. At low tide, access to St Michael's Mount emerges by way of a granite causeway - once walked by pilgrims - so you can see the castle, garden and island community up close. At high tide, there is also an option to take a boat ride out to the historic castle.
Gwithian Towans Beach, Gwithian
With a steady breeze coming off the Atlantic, the magnificent seaside at Gwithian Towans is spotted with colourful patterns of windsurfers and kites all day long. The beach is backed by marram grass-tufted sand dunes and low tide reveals an endless expanse of sand and rock pools to explore with the kids.
Full lifeguard cover is at hand for the summer months, with the northern section of the beach also being covered until autumn. This is a blessing as there are plenty of water-based activities to be enjoyed such as swimming and surfing. The waves conveniently get progressively bigger the further towards Godrevy you go, so surfers of all abilities can find a section of beach to suit their ability. You can even go wildlife watching as common seals and seabirds such as guillemots, razorbills and cormorants are regularly sighted. Access to the beach is found along a path through the sand dunes from the car park which is just over a 10-minute drive from Haven Riviere Sands.
Sennen (Whitsand Bay), Sennen Cove
Take a stroll over the cliffs from Land's End and you will find Sennen, a charming fishing cove that offers excellent swimming and reliable surf. In fact, on windy days huge blue rollers head shoreward meaning that Sennen is known as one of the best beaches in Cornwall for surfing. If the tides are out, the beach joins up with its neighbour and the wide golden sands extend to provide ample space for everyone to enjoy.
Surf lessons and board hire are available, and the beach is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months meaning that you can have peace of mind if your kids take a liking to the waves. There are a couple of cafes to relax in, as well as the Old Success pub and the small harbour with its lifeboat station and art galleries for those days when the sun is hiding.
Holywell Bay, near Newquay
Holywell Bay is a sandy beach just a 15-minute drive from Haven Perran Sands Holiday Park. It’s too often overlooked in favour of the more popular beaches to the north in Newquay, but we’re here to put it in the spotlight! This location is exactly what makes Holywell such a gem, it’s close enough to Newquay that you’re in range of excellent pubs and restaurants, yet far enough away that you can avoid the large groups of students that flood the main Newquay beaches. Whilst it does get a little busy in the summer, Holywell has a different vibe to the beaches above it on the map. It's a family-friendly beach with seasonal lifeguards that's also popular with surfers. There are plenty of facilities near the beach in the small village including plenty of car parking.
First impressions of Holywell Bay can be deceptive as the beach is obscured by sand dunes. However, once you venture over the grass, you’ll be met with an unforgettable sight: a mile-long stretch of glorious sand and the distinctive Gull Rocks, twin islets just off the coast. The bay takes its name from Holy Well, a cave at the northern end of the beach that is only accessible at low tide. If you get your timing right, you can enter the cave and witness the unusual rock formation which creates a series of spectacular basins.
Carbis Bay Beach, Carbis Bay
Conveniently located just a 15-minute drive west of our caravan park at Riviere Sands and one mile east of St Ives, Carbis Bay is the most sheltered in a row of sandy beaches that cling to the coast from St Ives all the way to Godrevy. The beach rarely gets any swell which means it’s a great spot for families with toddlers as the sea here is emptier and well-suited for swimming. Measuring around a mile in length, the sandy Carbis Bay Beach is bathed in the bright light of west Cornwall and surrounded by sub-tropical plants and turquoise waters which just might have you thinking you are in a foreign paradise somewhere much further south.
Carbis Bay has been one of the most popular beaches in Cornwall for over a hundred years, having been famously served by the picturesque St Ives branch line since the Victoria era. Furthermore, it is also within walking distance of Porth Kidney’s RSPB bird sanctuary, a wonderful place to witness sea birds in their natural habitat. Carbis is close to the amenities of Carbis Bay village and our Haven Riviere Sands Holiday Park.
Perranporth Beach, Perranporth
Perranporth Beach is one of Cornwall’s finest and neighbours with our Perran Sands park. An impressing serving of sand stretching for miles, you won’t be short of space on a visit to this famous attraction on the county’s north coast. Outside of high season, it feels like you have the place to yourself, such is the vast expanse of your surroundings, a feeling that is relatively rare even in the quieter corners of the UK.
When the tide is out, a two-mile walk or cycle down to Ligger Point is always a delight. The stroll is ideal for seeing the sights and taking in the fresh sea air. When you’re done with your beach towels, head into the village for a quaint snapshot of Cornish life. There is an impressive selection of cafés and restaurants on the way, with the wonderful Watering Hole pub perched right on the beach.
Godrevy Beach, Godrevy Point
Godrevy Beach is the northernmost section of the stunning three-mile sandy beach that stretches from Hayle to Godrevy Head. Godrevy takes the brunt of the Atlantic swells as one of the more exposed beaches on the north coast, yet this is exactly what gives the beach its rugged charm.
The beach terminates with a low rocky headland that offers great views of Godrevy Lighthouse, which was Virginia Woolfe's inspiration when writing one of her most famous novels - To the Lighthouse. Godrevy Beach is just a 15-minute drive from our excellent Riviere Sands Holiday Park and there is a National Trust car park found just behind the dunes, so Godrevy is highly accessible despite its secluded atmosphere.
Porthmeor Beach, St Ives
Porthmeor stakes a good claim to be the premier beach of St Ives. While the beach may feel the full force of the dramatic Atlantic Ocean waves, two rugged headlands flank the beach providing full protection from the prevailing south-westerly winds. The curved bay enjoys decent sized waves, making it popular with surfers of all levels. The long stretch of golden sand that makes up Porthmeor Beach is backed by artists' studios and the imposing Tate Gallery, which is also well worth a visit.
Just a 20-minute drive from Haven Riviere Sands and equipped with a small car park, Porthmeor is one of the best beaches in Cornwall to visit on a family caravan holiday. Porthmeor boasts all the facilities you could want such as a top-notch beachside café, a surf school and a seasonal lifeguard service and is also a consistent winner of the Blue Flag award.