Cornwall; one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK where, if the weather is in your favour, can feel like part of the Mediterranean, has an endless amount of beaches to choose from. So whether you’re looking for a spot great for surfing, a family friendly white sanded beach perfect for playing with your children, or somewhere with nearby facilities and amenities, this article covers it all.
If you’re also looking for family friendly accommodation in Cornwall, we already have an article here where you will find plenty of fabulous options. Here are our top 10 best beaches in Cornwall:
1. Kynance Cove
Located on the west side of Cornwall and one of the most photographed and painted locations, Kynance Cove boasts white sand, dark red and green rocks and breathtaking views, making it impossible not to be included in our top 10 best beaches in Cornwall. From the car park at the top of the cliff, there is a steep 15 minute walk down to the cove and there are uneven and slippery rocks at the bottom so be extra careful, however it is all worth it when you experience its beauty. The Cove is owned and looked after by the National Trust and at low tides, you can explore the towering rock stacks and caves such as The Parlour and The Drawing Room. If you are hungry or thirsty, there is an Eco-friendly café above the beach which sells everything from traditional Cornish pasties to homemade cakes. Dogs are welcome on this beach except during July and August between 10am to 6pm.
2. Polzeath Beach
This Blue Flag Beach offers a huge expanse of sand where you can spend your day building sandcastles, soaking in that summer sun or taking part in water sports such as body boarding or surfing. At low tide the sand extends a quarter of a mile in either direction, but when the tide comes in the beach is almost covered so make sure to check the tide, if you find yourself not able to walk on the beach, there are plenty of shops, cafés and pubs that line the village street for your family to explore. For walkers, there is an easy two mile walk from the beach to nearby Daymer Bay and Rock which sit at the mouth of the Camel Estuary, or if relaxing is what you’re interested in, you can hire sand chains from Wavehunters Surf School. Dogs are allowed apart from between the 15th May and the 30th September between 10am and 6pm.
3. Watergate Bay
About three miles from Newquay on the North Cornwall coast, this large beach consists of two miles of golden sand at low tide which stretches towards Newquay and out to sea enormous waves come in from the Atlantic. Because of this, this beach is popular for surfing and kite surfing, so whether you’re an experienced surfer or wanting to give the sport a try, there are plenty of options, with several surf schools being present in Newquay. This bay is vast and open and is popular with families with several access paths down to the beach, there are also two beach side car parks and from the 1st May to the 26th September there are RNLI lifeguards present so you and your children can be sure to feel safe. Another great thing about Watergate Bay is that dogs are allowed all year round so you can bring them along on your summer day out.
4. Holywell Bay
Another gorgeous beach protected by the National Trust, Holywell Bay is on the north coast and has a huge sweep of golden sand backed by grass tufted dunes and large enough for both locals and tourists, to enjoy. Amongst the dunes, which rise up to 60 feet tall, there is plenty of room to set up a picnic or lay a blanket down and enjoy one of the gorgeous sunsets that Cornwall has to offer. Another reason why this is one of the top 10 best beaches in Cornwall is its history which you can discover, including the remains of an Iron Age castle on Kelsey Head, a Bronze Age barrow on Cubert Common and of course, the holy well in a cave on the beach. Some things to note is that there is a car park which is free to National Trust members, they do not allow overnight camping, the nearest toilets are in Holywell village and between May and September there is lifeguard duty.
5. Kingsand Beach
Located on the remote Rame Peninsula and in the small fishing village of Kingsand, is this stunning beach. As a south east facing beach, backing right onto the village, it has fantastic views of the ships coming and going, it is also sheltered and reveals some great rock pools at low tide. Kingsand Beach is also home to the iconic seafront Kingsand clocktower, built to commemorate the coronation of King George V and was actually almost destroyed by winter storms in 2014. It is very popular with families, so if you are seeking tranquility or want to spend a morning at the beach and the afternoon exploring the village or popping into a traditional pub nearby, this may be the ideal beach for you! Be aware there is no lifeguard service here and dogs are allowed all year round.
6. Porthpean Beach
Said to be the best beach in St Austell, this beach is backed by steep tree-topped cliffs and boasts clear blue water, likening it to a Mediterranean beach on a hot summer’s day. As it is relatively sheltered and easy to get to, Porthpean Beach is popular with families, this may also be because of the café and shop on the beach as well as toilets. Although swimming here is considered safe generally, there isn’t a lifeguard, so just be aware. If you are interested in trying out some water sports, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing and snorkelling are all common here. If you are thinking of stand up paddle boarding, we have an article here reviewing the best paddle boards for kids. To the east there are cliffs where you may spot nesting birds, and to the west there are lots of rock pools. There is also a coastal footpath which runs past Porthpean and is an easy walk to the Georgian port of Charlestown.
7. Porthcurno Beach
This beach, unsurprisingly, has won many awards for its outstanding beauty and turquoise sea, and is really a haven of paradise. With stunning fine soft white sand and boasting high cliffs on both sides providing shelter, it without a doubt is one of the top 10 best beaches in Cornwall. Porthcurno Beach, popular with families, is located in the far west of Cornwall and has a stream that flows down one side which is great for the kids to paddle in. If you’re interested in learning some history regarding the area, there is Porthcurno Telegraph Museum just before you get to the main car park which tells the story of Cornwall’s role in the pioneering days of global communications. This beach is in a great place with many attractions nearby such as the Land’s End Landmark just three miles away or Minack Theatre about 100m away. You will find a lifeguard here between May and September however be aware dogs are not welcome between July and August from 10am to 6pm.
8. Summerleaze Beach
Just a five minute walk away from the resort town of Bude, which has lots of accommodation options such as self catering cottages, B&Bs or campsites, and offers plenty to do including water sports, adventure parks, shops and places to eat and drink, is Summerleaze Beach. With a car park that leads directly to its sand dunes and a river with bobbing fishing boats, this wide, sandy beach is a great place to visit on your family holiday this summer. You can also book Beach Huts which are available daily or weekly from £10- £20 per day, to find out more contact the Bude Tourist Information Centre, their number is 01288354240. Another reason why Summerleaze Beach is one of the top 10 best beaches in Cornwall is that it has a flat viewing area, toilets, a RNLI shop and beach café so you can definitely spend a whole day here. During the summer months, there is a lifeguard, and dogs are allowed but only on the lead.
9. Fistral Beach
Backed by high cliffs and sand dunes and known as one of the world’s top surfing destinations, Fistral Beach is a surfer’s paradise.Every year you will see flocks of people enjoying the big waves and top UK surf competitions such as the the Famous Night Surf, Boardmasters Surf Championships and the Groms taking place at this location. So whether you’re a pro or a beginner, this beach is perfect for taking a dip in the ocean and riding the waves. This beach, on the north coast of Cornwall and situated half-a-mile west of Newquay, also has a variety of cafés, takeaways and shops so you can enjoy a tasty ice cream while watching the surfers do their thing! Due to its popularity, this beach does have lifeguard cover from Easter until the end of October and sand chairs are also available from Fistral Surf Hire shop.
10. Constantine Bay
Last but definitely not least on our top 10 best beaches in Cornwall is Constantine Bay. Located close by to the beautiful fishing village of Padstow, which boasts a traditional English harbour and lots of places to eat and drink, Constantine Bay also holds a reputation as one of the best surfing beaches in Cornwall, offering a sweeping arc of gently shelving soft pale sands. This beach is west-facing and is lovely for a swim or paddle, and also has numerous rock pools to explore, so the kids are sure to love it. Only 900m away you will find the South West Coast Path and just 1.2 miles away is the Harlyn Surf School. If you are staying in or near Padstow, Constantine Bay is a must, even if you just want a long walk or an afternoon sunbathing while your children build sandcastles, this beach is ideal and will make you feel like you’re abroad. Dogs are allowed all year round and there are lifeguards on watch during the summer season.