Five of the Best Beaches in Cornwall, UK

Ellie Swain

Senior Contributor

The rugged region of Cornwall is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in England. Picture Caribbean-blue waters, pale white shores, and deserted coves. But with so much choice, which beaches are the pick of the bunch? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Make a beeline to one of these dreamy Cornish beaches on your next coastal trip.

1. Porthcurno beach

Set your eyes upon Porthcurno’s caster-sugar white sands, and aquamarine waters and you may believe you’re on the sun-soaked shores of Mexico rather than England.

Nestled against towering green cliffs, the sparkling pale sand contrasts beautifully with the vivid blue waters. Perched on the edge of the ridge to the right is the world-renowned open-air Minack Theatre. Book a show and pack a picnic dinner and a couple of bevvies and enjoy Shakespeare with the lapping waves of the Atlantic Ocean as your backdrop.

Home to a popular campsite spot, Porthcurno is an ideal retreat to embrace nature and get away from it all. When you’re not enjoying the Porthcurno’s tranquil sands, hike along the craggy clifftops and admire the sprawling views from sky-high heights. During the Spring and Summer months, the grassy hilltops come alive with a sprinkling of vibrant wildflowers.

If you’re staying in the area overnight, amble down to the beach on a summer evening and embrace the quietness and tranquillity of it all. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the entire beach to yourself. 

2. Whitesands Bay

The small, sleepy coastal village of Sennen Cove is blessed with a gleaming beach called Whitesands Bay. Popular with surfers, you’ll often find locals and visitors alike soaring across the crystalline blue waves in the distance.

Surfer or not, it’s hard not to be impressed by the pristine white sand, rolling green hills, and the crashing blue waves. After a splash in the sea, natter over a pint of Cornish cider and a tasty ploughman’s lunch at the quaint and cosy Old Success Inn with friends.

The cove is protected from blustery weather by the rocky headland Pedn-men-du, a much-loved local climbing spot. For more splendid sceneries, take a 30-minute coastal walk to the dramatic viewpoint of Land’s End. Surrounded by ferocious waves and stony cliffs, you may feel like you’re perched at the end of the earth.

3. Perranporth Beach

The charming seaside resort of Perranporth is home to buzzy cafes and restaurants dishing up plenty of stomach-satisfying hearty fare and a long, sweeping golden sandy bay.

A popular beach for families, surfers, and swimmers, lifeguards are out on patrol all summer to keep locals and visitors safe on the shores. The grass-covered cliffs provide shelter from the gales, making sunbathing easy and pleasant during the warmer summer months.

If you’re feeling too hot (or hungry), make a beeline for the aptly named Watering Hole pub that sits permanently in the sand, famous as the United Kingdom’s only bar on the beach. Or, head to the open-air seawater swimming rockpool to take a wave-free dip. The pool warms to a pleasant temperature during hotter temperatures.

During the summer, the beach often hosts vibrant and energetic live music festivals full of day drinking, dancing, and excitement. The beach can get busy, with most people flocking to the southern end of the beach. If the crowds get too much, head to the calm Penhale Sands for some quiet.

4. Fistral Beach, Newquay

Fistral Beach is the heart of Cornwall’s renowned surfing scene, featuring stretched crescent shores backed by verdant dunes. Waves often reach more than eight feet, and surfers and observers alike hit the shores to marvel at (or ride) the famous swells.

Visit Fistral Beach in August for Boardmasters, Europe’s biggest surf and skating festival. The beach comes alive with engrossing surf competitions, jam-packed beach bars, and a five-day music festival featuring bands, DJs, and artists from all over the world.

5. Kynance Cove

Home to a beautifully rugged coastline, moss-covered pillars, and dramatic rock formations, Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula looks like a scene straight from a fairy-tale. In fact, the beach is one of Cornwall’s most photographed and painted vistas, which says a lot considering how stunning the region is. The beach was a firm favourite of Lord Alfred Tennyson, one of Britain’s most renowned poets, who used to sit and gaze at the remarkable waves crashing against the stony cliffs.

Take a walk around the area and admire the pretty wildflowers, quaint houses, and striking landscapes. The beach features fascinating rock pools, spectacular sea caves, and excellent swimming conditions, making it a perfect pitstop for families, couples, and lone travellers alike.

For a break between swimming and exploring, retreat to the cosy National Trust Kynance Cove café perched on the hillside. From there, tuck into scrummy Cornish pasties and sip on a warming cup of tea as you admire a rosy sunset melting into the ocean.

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