The most beautiful beaches in Cornwall

Sun, surf and its own subtropical climate are just some of the reasons why Cornwall's beautiful beaches are recognised as being the best in the United Kingdom

There is a reason people flock to Cornwall in the summer months and that’s because it has many of the country’s most beautiful beaches. From large sweeping sands to secluded coves, there are over 300 beaches to choose from – many of which have deep blue water, soft yellow sand and dramatic cliffs that offer natural shelter for swimmers and sunbathers alike. Surfers of all abilities flock to the North Coast so they can ride the North West Atlantic Swell; the county’s subtropical climate and more hours of sunshine mean the beach is a way of life here. Pretty coastal villages, surf schools, boat trips and excellent beach cafes and restaurants make for plenty of things to do around the beach. Here are our recommendations.

The best beaches in Cornwall

Porthminster Beach

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For a chic vibe head to Porthminster Beach, a short stroll from the centre of St Ives and conveniently located near the train station. Flop in a stripy deckchair and watch the boats bobbing in St Ives Bay with Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance. Children love building sandcastles and jumping the waves on this clean beach, which has been awarded a prestigious international blue flag award. Everything has been thought of here, from the hireable beach chalets, to the beach bar, ice cream parlour and takeaway fish and chips. Those wanting laidback luxury should book lunch at the award winning seafood restaurant The Porthminster Cafe. When the beach gets too much there are all the attractions of St Ives to visit, such as The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden and The Tate St Ives.


kathleen white / Alamy Stock Photo

For pure drama it is hard to beat Porthcurno Beach in West Cornwall with its high cliffs, yellow sand and blue sea that turns turquoise in the sunlight. The open air Minack Theatre is carved into the cliffs above whilst down below the curved shape of the beach makes for a sheltered spot. A stream runs down one side creating a natural paddling pool for children, so this is a popular destination for families. There is a cafe in the car park for simple snacks but most people bring a picnic and revel in the beauty of this remote spot. The nearby Museum of Global Communications is worth a visit and tells the story of how the first telegraph cable was brought ashore here over 150 years ago and connected Britain to India. It's a great place for those not wanting the hustle and bustle of beachfront cafes and shops.

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G Scammell / Alamy Stock Photo

This spectacular, long, sandy beach near Newquay in North Cornwall is owned by the National Trust and is kept in peak condition. The undulating dunes are backed by rich grasslands and the slopes above nearby Polly Joke Beach are known for their pretty and vibrant wildflowers in early summer. Popular with families, surfers and dog owners who are seeking an uncommercial beach experience. The Big Green Surf School offers surf and paddle boarding lessons for those wanting to hit the waves in this beautiful setting.


S43Y16 A view over Trevone bay, off the Harlyn Bay coastal footpath, Cornawall.lukekiely / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo

Trevone is the type of place you'd rather not tell anyone about, as it's really quite spectacular and on certain hot British summer days, it can rival the best beaches in Greece and Mallorca. There are two sides to it (both blue flag accredited) – an expanse of golden sand where children run riot making sandcastles, families enjoy picnics and people catch the rays, and a rocky side with a natural bathing pool. Both are worth a trip alone and the pool is popular year-round with hardy swimmers (it's absolutely freezing, even in high summer). The sunsets from Trevone are second to none and there's a pizza restaurant, bar and shop near the car park – which you forget about as soon as you step foot on the sand – meaning you can stay there long after your supplies run out.


E8EED3 The wide sandy beach at Sennen Cove in Cornwall, UKKevin Britland / Alamy Stock Photo

Surfers delight at Sennen beach with its Atlantic-driven waves, making it a popular spot all year round. On calmer summer days, it's good for swimming of course, but generally the force of the Atlantic Ocean makes it a surfers' paradise. There are plenty of facilities in the village just up from the beach, so if you simply want to sit on a sheltered spot and watch the surfers in action, you can grab a coffee and while away the day.


EP6NXW Looking along the beach at Harlyn Bay on the north coast of Cornwall in England.Carl Whitfield / Alamy Stock Photo

If long expanses of sandy beach appeal, Harlyn on the north coast of Cornwall – and walking distance from Trevone bay – is a slightly more sheltered option to head for. It has a bohemian feel and plenty of kids running around the sand dunes, rock pools and in the gentle waves. There's a beach shack for food, or The Pig at Harlyn Bay is a five minute walk down the lanes and welcomes sandy guests at its lobster shack.


Miroslav Kral / Alamy Stock Photo

Holidaymakers, surfers and families flock to Polzeath Beach which is situated just north of the Camel Estuary and two miles from Padstow. This satisfyingly large beach reveals a quarter of a mile of sand in every direction when the tide is low. Like Porthminster this also has a blue flag and is clean and safe for children thanks to its gently shelving sand. It's lovely place to spend a sunny day thanks to the cool surfer vibe, quirky shops and beach cafes. Make sure to arrive around 10am on a hot day to grab a parking spot in one of the four car parks.

Kynance Cove

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One of Cornwall’s most famous beauty spots, this National Trust Beach is well known for its caves, serpentine rocks, blue water and white sand. Located on the west side of the Lizard, it has the added thrill of a tricky 10 minute descent from the car park at the top of the cliff, but it’s worth the journey. At low tide explore the interconnected caves with endearing Victorian names such as The Ladies Bathing Pool and the Drawing Room. Note there is no lifeguard on duty here so this is one for those who like a natural beach experience.  Britain’s most southerly point, Lizard Point, is a scenic two and a half mile walk along the coast past.

Whitesands Bay

AJTFoto / Alamy Stock Photo

This large crescent shaped beach which bravely faces the full force of the Atlantic Ocean is a mecca for surfers. The sand is truly white and the water an inviting turquoise, so that families, sun worshippers and surfers flock to its mile-long sands near Lands End. The Award winning Sennen Surf School is right there on the beachfront and there are plenty of places to eat, from the Surf Beach Bar and The Old Success Inn to the Blue Lagoon for fish and chips. Take a break from the sun for a nose around the Round House and Capstan Gallery and the Lifeboat Station and Shop in the harbour.


Mint Photography / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo

With its huge surf, sand dunes and three miles of golden sand there is a reason that Perranporth beach is one of Cornwall’s most popular spots. Named after Cornwall’s patron saint, St Piran, it is thought to be the place where he stepped ashore from Ireland. Located eight miles south of Newquay, it also has something of a scene thanks to the Watering Hole beach bar right there on the beach itself, as well as numerous cafes and independent shops nearby. Children love exploring the rockpools, caves and swimming in the Chapel Rock tidal pool created by a huge granite rock helpfully situated in the middle of the beach. Perranporth is an especially good place for dog owners as canine friends are allowed on the beach all year round.