25 of the Best Beaches in Cornwall

Hemmed by over 400 miles of coastline, punctuated by more than 400 pearly coves and bays, Cornwall is a beach-lover’s paradise. Where British charm meets the Californian surf vibe, on the shores of the wild Atlantic, you can step foot on some of the best beaches not only in the UK but in the world. Whether you’re a surfer or sightseer, a walker or watersports fan, seeking bucket-and-spade days or a beach to bare all, here are 25 of the best beaches in Cornwall.

The Best Beaches in North Cornwall 

Trebarwith Strand, nr Tintagel - one of Cornwall's best beaches
Trebarwith Strand, nr Tintagel

1. Bossiney Cove, nr Boscastle

Between the crowd pullers of Tintagel and Boscastle, the North Cornish coastline is wrapped in myths and legend. But nowhere is more bewitching than this sparkling cove where green-topped cliffs slide into emerald waters. At low tide you can dive headfirst into the magical scenery, feel the sand between your toes, and explore the cave and waterfall. Or at high tide, take in the eye-popping views while enjoying a lip-smacking ice cream from the vintage van in the car park. 

2. Trebarwith Strand, nr Tintagel

A low-tide beach backed by rugged cliffs, Trebarwith Strand is a domain of caves, rock pools and sugary sands that beg for barefoot exploration with crabbing nets and buckets. When the tide reclaims the beach, retreat to the wave-side Port William Inn, or stroll over the cliff tops to Tintagel, where you’ll be rewarded by eye-popping coastal scenery and the sea-lashed ruins of King Arthur’s castle

3. Daymer Bay, Rock

Sandwiched between the popular beaches of Rock and Polzeath, the golden crescent of Daymer Bay is beloved of families, sea dippers, kitesurfers and sun-worshippers. Climb the perfectly-formed grassy knoll of Brea Hill for a bird’s eye view of the scenery that inspired late Poet Laureate John Betjeman, or pad along the sand to Rock and board the ferry for an adventure to foodie Padstow. 

Treyarnon Bay - one of Cornwall's best beaches
Treyarnon Bay. Image by Hayley Lawrence.

4. Treyarnon Bay, nr Padstow

The stretch of coast path from Padstow to Porthcothan serves up bucketfuls of stupendous scenery and a string of sandy coves to play in. The sandy horseshoe of Treyarnon Bay is the perfect spot to ride the Atlantic rollers on a bodyboard, go rock pooling and unpack a picnic on the sand. When the tide ebbs, take a wild dip in the natural pool carved into mussel-clad rocks, then warm up with coffee and cake in the shoreside YHA café.

5. Mawgan Porth, nr Newquay

Just a hop, skip and jump from Newquay’s busy beaches, this sandy runway flanked by dramatic cliffs is a year-round Mecca for families, dog walkers and surfers. Exposed to the full force of the Atlantic swells, it’s advisable to hit the waves under the tutelage of the experts at King Surf. And once you’ve worked up an appetite chasing waves and frolicking in the sea foam, there’s a huddle of shoreside eateries for everything from picnic supplies to fancy seafood feasts. With plenty of places to stay by the sea in Mawgan Porth, it’s a beach lover’s dream.

swimmer floating in the sea at Mawgan Porth Beach
Blissed out at Mawgan Porth. Image by Hayley Lawrence.

6. Watergate Bay, nr Newquay

Surfers, dog walkers and diners hog the beach year-round at Watergate Bay, lured by two miles of golden sands made for saltwater adventures. For surf lessons and wellness sessions, tap up the beachside Wavehunters, or if you prefer a beach to yourself, take a low-tide wander north or south and dip in crystal-clear pools with only wheeling gulls and the roaring ocean for company. For hungry tums after a day surfing, fuel up at the cluster of seafront eateries where you can dine in style at the water’s edge.

Watergate Bay - one of Cornwall's best beaches
Watergate Bay. Image by Hayley Lawrence.

7. Lusty Glaze, Newquay

Hemmed by towering cliffs, the buzz of Newquay feels world’s away from this private cove tucked at the northern reaches of Cornwall’s surfing capital. A serene retreat from the busy seaside resort, here you can hit the waves, explore the caves and sip sundowners with a front-row view to the ocean. It’s all very dog friendly, too. 

8. Fistral Beach, Newquay

The UK’s unofficial surfing capital, Fistral Beach is where many of the UK’s pros cut their teeth and the world’s pro surfers meet at the annual Boardmasters competition. A natural playground for the whole family, including the dog, pack your boards and balls for a fun-packed day on the sand, then fuel up in one of the beachside venues, which include The Fish House, Rick Stein’s, and the buzzing Fistral Beach Bar. 

9. Holywell Bay, nr Newquay

As soon as you crest the golden dunes of this stunning beach tucked six miles south of Newquay, you’ll recognise the iconic twin peaks of Gull Rock from the BBC’s Poldark or even the Game of Thrones. Once a secret beach reigned by seabirds, surfers and a handful of dog walkers, Holywell Bay has become one of Cornwall’s megastars. What with giant sand dunes for tumbling down, a stream to paddle in and Atlantic waves pounding the shore, there’s plenty of playground for all. However, not everyone who visits finds the holy well hidden in a cave at the north end of the beach. 

Holywell bay -  - one of Cornwall's most scenic beaches
The iconic Gull Rocks at Holywell Bay. Image by Hayley Lawrence.

10. Perranporth Beach

Legend claims that it was on Perranporth that the patron saint of Cornwall, St Piran, arrived on a millstone intended to sink him. He couldn’t have happened upon a more divine spot to be washed up than these two miles of dune-backed sands, where you can dive into the surf scene, saddle up and go horse riding, or tuck into ice cream and pasties from the characterful seaside town.

The Best Beaches in West Cornwall

View of St Ives Bay from Gwithian
St Ives Bay from Gwithian

11. St Ives Bay

Stretching three pearly miles from Godrevy lighthouse to Hayle river mouth, St Ives Bay is made up of a string of beaches – namely, Godrevy, Gwithian, Mexico Towans and Hayle Towans – that link at low tide. Bathed in the ethereal St Ives’ light, blessed with waves year-round, home to a seal colony and backed by wildlife-rich dunes, it’s captured hearts worldwide and deservedly been listed in ‘the Most Beautiful Bays in the World’ club. Whether you meander in the maze of dunes or dip in the cobalt seas, this beautiful beach is bound to capture your heart, too. 

12. Carbis Bay, nr St Ives

Hop off the scenic St Ives Railway and step right into Cornwall’s ‘Caribbean’. At Carbis Bay you’ll be greeted by white sands lapped by calm, aquamarine seas, and backed by sub-tropical flora. Cast off on a sea-bound adventure from the watersports centre, don a snorkel to spot silver pipefish and seals, or bask in its beauty while tucking into Michelin-starred cuisine under the spell of Adam Handling at the Ugly Butterfly

Gwynver near Sennen is one of Cornwall's most beautiful beaches
Gwynver, Sennen looks like a scene from another country. Image by Hayley Lawrence.

13. Gwynver Beach, Sennen

Wild, remote and gob-smackingly beautiful, Gwynver is paradise for bona fide beach lovers. Only those committed enough to tackle a thigh-burning flight of steps reach its powder-white sands and dip their toes into the clear, cerulean ocean, where hardy surfers play. Others simply gawp from the clifftops and fill their Insta-feed with its beauty. At low tide you can pad along the shoreline from neighbouring Sennen Cove, where civilisation, surf schools and surf-side eateries await. 

14. Nanjzal Cove (Mill Bay), Land’s End

Whether you stroll just over a mile from Land’s End or across the countryside to reach this wild and rocky little cove, it’s worth the walk off the beaten track. Once the territory of just a trickle of coast path hikers, these days it’s become a popular spot with wild swimmers, walkers and photographers, who marvel at the rock arch, explore the sea caves and dip in the rock pools.

15. Porthcurno Beach, West Penwith

The site of the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable laid between the UK and the USA, Porthcurno doesn’t strike you as a hub of global communications. In fact, you’ll be lucky to get any 5G signal when you step foot on the crushed-shell beach overlooked by the Minack Theatre. You can find out all about its history at the nearby Porthcurno Museum, or simply bask in the landscape drama and keep your eyes peeled for seals, dolphins and basking sharks that are often spotted just offshore. 

Iconic Pedn Vounder is one of the favourite beaches in Cornwall
It’s no surprise that Pedn Vounder is one of the most photographed beaches in Cornwall. Image by Hayley Lawrence.

16. Pedn Vounder, Treen

Despite being next door to Porthcurno, Pedn Vounder warrants its own mention in the best beaches in Cornwall. One of Cornwall’s most photographed beaches, here an indigo lagoon glimmers beneath the 80-tonne Logan rock, teetering on the cliffs above. At low tide you can brave a knee-wobbling descent to step foot on the white sands, and bare all in some of the clearest waters in the whole of Britain. There’s plenty of crannies to bathe naked in the sunshine, just make sure you climb back up before the tide comes in.

The Best Beaches in South Cornwall

Tide in at Kynance Cove in Cornwall
Sunset over Kynance Cove

17. Dollar Cove, Lizard Peninsula

Search for lost treasure on this wild cove where a Spanish ship foundered in 1802 losing two tonnes of silver coins overboard. Aside from hunting for your fortune as you pad along the shoreline, explore the granite outcrops and play in the waves that break along the sandy bay. 

18. Kynance Cove, Lizard Peninsula

Revered as one of the best beaches in the world, Kynance Cove boasts shimmering serpentine rock formations that rise from chalky-white sands and emerald-green seas. Get there early to behold the scene without the crowds, and no doubt you’ll be seduced to plunge into the turquoise pools before taking sanctuary in the National Trust Beach Café. However, on a stormy day watch the ‘glorious grass-green monsters of waves’ from the clifftops, a favourite spot of poet Lord Alfred Tennyson. 

19. Kennack Sands, Lizard Peninsula

Tucked in a nook just east of Lizard Point, this beautiful stretch of sand is popular with families, watersports enthusiasts and dog walkers. With easy access from the car park, it’s an easy spot to launch a kayak or paddle board for coastal adventures afloat, and for families to lure tots to the pools that hem a spit of rocks splitting the bay into two. You can get ice cream in the beachside cafés, but why not visit nearby Roskilly’s for a fresh cow-to-cone treat? 

20. Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth

There’s no need to pack anything but your beach towel for a day out at this calm, horseshoe bay just a pebble’s throw from Falmouth town centre. Fuel up in the cool beach bar and bakery, get all your beach gear from the shoreside shop, hire a SUP, join the fraternity of year-round sea swimmers or ramble in the low-tide rock pools. 

21. Porthcurnick Beach, Roseland Peninsula

Tucked away on the shores of the Roseland Peninsula, this secluded cove has become one of Cornwall’s best-known beaches. And while it is indeed a sublime spot for swimming and rock-pooling, its fame is down to the feast nights hosted by the shoreside Hidden Hut, which has become one of the county’s top foodie destinations (and one of our favourite beach cafes in Cornwall).

The Best Beaches in Southeast Cornwall

Vault Beach in Cornwall
Vault Beach, Cornwall. Image by Hayley Lawrence.

22. Vault Beach, St Austell

Looking for a secret beach in Cornwall where you can leave the crowds behind? Tucked in the shelter of Dodman Point, this arc of sand and shingle lures just a trickle of walkers from the South West Coast Path, and paddle boarders on their jollies from neighbouring beaches. Aside from a few naturists on its northern reaches, this really is one of Cornwall’s hidden gems as just under half a mile away, Gorran Haven has its own sandy beach with plenty of amenities. 

23. Polkerris Beach, nr Fowey

Watersports fans roll up. You can castaway from this sandy, sheltered beach by sailing boat, stand-up paddleboard or kayak. Or ramp it up and buzz out of the harbour by powerboat. Whichever you prefer, the experienced crew at the watersports centre offer personalised tuition in small groups. And when you’ve worked up an appetite, you can fuel up at the trendy Sam’s on the Beach. There are wonderful seaside cottages at Fowey and nearby Par.

24. Lantic Bay, Polperro

Could this be the most beautiful beach in Cornwall? Unless you’ve got your own boat, it’s a 20-minute walk from the National Trust car park to this dreamy oasis nestled between Fowey and Polperro. Which, thankfully,  deters the crowds, even on the sunniest of days. However, once you catch sight of its glistening shoreline flanked by verdant cliffs, you’ll no doubt forget about the step count to reach its pearly shores and deep-blue ocean. 

Lantic Bay near Polperro - one of the area's best beaches
Lantic Bay, nr Polperro

25. Whitsand Bay, Southeast Cornwall

Stretching for five sandy, shingly miles from the foot of Rame Head, Whitsand Bay is a beachcomber’s paradise at low tide. Comb the shoreline for shells and driftwood, pause for a brew in the Eddystone Beach Cafe, and, if the tide’s on your side, make it all the way to Portwrinkle’s Finnygook Beach, where the ghost of smuggler Silas Finn is said to haunt the cliffs.

Book a Beach Holiday in Cornwall

Ready to for a sandy-toed break on the best beaches in Cornwall? Pack your flip-flops and swimmers, and book one of our seaside holiday cottages close to Cornwall’s top beaches.

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