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The ultimate Cornwall beach guide holiday cottages

The ultimate Cornwall beach guide

Shannon 20 May 2019

Just like the pasty, beaches are synonymous with Cornwall, and the Cornish coast is a joy to explore when you start your holiday in Kernow. All the way along the three coastlines of Cornwall, you will find inlets and coves used by smugglers to store their loot many years ago, as well as the many sweeping golden sandy beaches that Cornwall is famous for. If you’re looking for dog-friendly beaches, somewhere to take the family during your holiday or the best surfing beaches in the UK, you will find it with our guide to the crème de la crème of Cornwall’s beaches.

Secret beaches in Cornwall

Boshan Cove, a beach in Cornwall

With a unique and magical coastline that houses more than 400 beaches, it's unsurprising that some have gone unnoticed. But the fact of the matter exists - there are PLENTY of wonderful, untouched and unspoilt beaches that are accessible on foot along the coastline, and upon arrival, you may well discover that you are alone to enjoy them.

These are the kind of beaches that you’ll hardly believe are in the UK. Armed with our interactive map showcasing ten of our favourites, including details on the location, whether it's dog-friendly or not, accessibility, the nearest amenities and more, you’ll be able to explore them for yourself. 

Peruse the map and read our guide to secret beaches in Cornwall here. You can thank us later.

Secret beaches in Cornwall

Our top three secret beaches:

Portheras Cove in Cornwall

Portheras Cove - Find nearby cottages in Penzance

Hemmick Beach in Cornwall

Hemmick Beach - Find nearby cottages in St Austell

Fox Cove, a beach in Cornwall

Fox Cove - Find nearby cottages in Padstow

We have a great selection of coastal cottages dotted along Cornwall’s beautiful coastline. Explore our collection of coastal cottages in Cornwall to start planning your escape today.

Coastal cottages in Cornwall


Dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall

A dog-friendly beach in Cornwall

During the summer, it can be difficult to find areas that allow your four-legged friend to join you for a classic beach day. If you’re booking one of our dog-friendly cottages in Cornwall, you’ll want to know where to go, and luckily we’ve got a handy map graphic to help you out. Featuring our top 20 beaches that allow dogs all year round, and the best dog-friendly activity while you’re there, it makes choosing your beach destination an absolute breeze.

Best dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall

Our top three dog-friendly beaches:

Harlyn Bay beach in Cornwall

Harlyn Beach - Find nearby cottages in Padstow

Nanjizal beach in Cornwall

Nanjizal - Find nearby cottages in St Just

Porthkidney

Porthkidney - Find nearby cottages in St Ives

We have a pawesome selection of dog-friendly cottages in Cornwall for you and your four-legged friend to enjoy, so start planning your holiday today.

Dog-friendly cottages in Cornwall


Lifeguarded beaches in Cornwall

Lifeguarded beach in Cornwall 

Those who are thinking of heading to Cornwall with children, or to test out the water sport opportunities available, will definitely want to know which beaches are lifeguarded. Although we hope that you don’t need their services, you’ll have a better time in the water knowing that you’re safe under the gaze of the lifeguards. You will also be pleased to know that there are more than 52 of them in total, dotted all over the coast. Head to our lifeguarded beach guide to see the full list and all the facilities available at each one.

Lifeguard beach guide

Our top three lifeguard beaches:

Lusty Glaze beach in Cornwall

Lusty Glaze - Find nearby cottages in Newquay

Trebarwith Strand beach Cornwall

Trebarwith Strand - Find nearby cottages in Newquay

Crantock beach Cornwall

Crantock - Find nearby cottages in Newquay

We have a fabulous collection of family-friendly cottages in Cornwall to retreat to after a fun day at the beach, so start planning your family seaside holiday today.

Family-friendly cottages in Cornwall


The best beaches in Cornwall

North Cornwall’s best beaches

Watergate Bay in Cornwall

North Cornwall has some of the most renowned beaches in the whole of the UK - and the world! 

The popular town of Newquay is located on the north coast of Cornwall and offers beaches suitable for all people, seasons, and holidays. Newquay is renowned as England’s surfing Mecca and is home to numerous beaches either located in the town itself or within an easy-to-reach distance, including Fistral beach, Mawgan Porth, and Watergate Bay. 

Padstow is a popular harbour town in North Cornwall with strong links to the coast, which is evident in the local food here. There is also a fabulous stretch of sand nearby which follows the west bank of the Camel. 

Perranporth is a lovely sandy beach that stretches for around 2 miles and is extremely popular with surfers. To the north of Perranporth are Holywell Bay, Porth Joke, and the lengthy Crantock beach. 

Other beaches to note in the north of the county include the unique Summerleaze beach, just 5 minutes from the centre of Bude, Bedruthan Steps, Polzeath, and Crackington Haven, which has some remarkable cliffs as a stunning backdrop.

North Cornwall’s best beaches

Our top three beaches in North Cornwall:

Crackington Haven in Cornwall

Crackington Haven - Find nearby cottages in Crackington Haven.

Fistral Beach in Cornwall

Fistral - Find nearby cottages in Newquay.

Summerleaze Beach in Cornwall

Summerleaze - Find nearby cottages in Bude.

Browse our fantastic collection of coastal cottages in North Cornwall and discover your perfect base for exploring these fantastic beaches.

Cottages in North Cornwall

West Cornwall’s best beaches

Godrevy Head

Working anti-clockwise around the county, West Cornwall is one of the most picturesque and sought-after holiday destinations in the UK. 

Close to the small town of Hayle is Godrevy Head with its dramatic coastline and lighthouse as well as Gwithian Towans beach and Hayle Sands, which are great at all times of the year. Take a captivating summer walk around Godrevy Head to see the lighthouse, and if you are lucky, you may also spot some seals. 

Further along the coast of West Cornwall is the chic town of St Ives, featuring a bustling harbour filled with designer shops and charming cafes. St Ives is home to two larger beaches, Porthminster and Porthmeor, as well as three smaller ones, Porthgwidden, Bamaluz and Lambeth Walk, which are ideal for families. They are also dog-friendly but please check carefully before visiting as some restrictions do apply. Close to St Ives is the beautiful sheltered beach of Carbis Bay, a gorgeous white sand beach with facilities within easy reach. 

Sennen Cove is another fantastic beach that is found in West Cornwall, close to Land’s End, and also renowned for its surfing. Sennen Cove has good facilities and is relatively easy to access, and at low tide, it is also possible to reach Gwynver Beach. You can take a scenic walk along the South West Coast Path from Sennen Cove to Land’s End with breath-taking coastal views. 

Moving along the south coast from Land’s End, you will find four beaches in close proximity: Nanjizal, Porthgwarra, Porth Chapel, and Porthcurno. The latter of these is the pick of the beaches as it is a perfect sandy beach right next to the unique Minack Theatre. The coastal views and glistening azure waters of Porthcurno mean that on a sunny day you could be forgiven for thinking that you are in the Mediterranean! 

Other West Cornwall beaches to visit during your holiday in the county include Marazion close to the imposing St Michael’s Mount, as well as Mousehole, Praa Sands, and the beaches around Prussia Cove.

Our top three beaches in West Cornwall:

Porthcurno beach in Cornwall

Porthcurno - Find nearby cottages in Penzance.

Porthgwarra beach in Cornwall

Porthgwarra - Find nearby cottages in Penzance.

Praa Sands in Cornwall

Praa Sands - Find nearby cottages in Penzance.

We have a fantastic range of coastal cottages in West Cornwall for you to choose from for your perfect coastal holiday.

Cottages in West Cornwall

South Cornwall’s best beaches

Lantic Bay

South Cornwall is a great location for a coastal break as there are some small, attractive beaches found here, many of which are coupled with charming fishing villages. 

Close to the unspoilt fishing village of Polperro, you will find the beach at Lansallos and Cornwall’s best-kept secret, Lantic Bay. Like the beach at Porthcurno, there is a Mediterranean feel here and the white sand is great for families. However, Lantic Bay is difficult to reach and bathing can be hazardous. The village of Polperro is also widely regarded as a must-visit location!

A little further along the coast from Polperro is the seaside town of Looe which has a popular family beach. Unfortunately, dogs are banned all year from the beach in Looe, but in West Looe, there is a dog-friendly beach at Hannafore. 

Whitsand Bay is a 3-mile stretch of golden sand in the south of the county and thus is extremely popular with surfers and families alike. 

Other beaches worth a visit during your South Cornwall holiday include Talland Bay, Samphire Beach, and Portnadler Bay.

South Cornwall’s best beaches

Our top three beaches in South Cornwall:

Whitsand Bay in Cornwall

Whitsand Bay - Find nearby cottages in Torpoint.

Lantic Bay in Cornwall

Lantic Bay - Find nearby cottages in Fowey.

Talland Bay in Cornwall

Talland Bay - Find nearby cottages in Looe.

We have a great selection of cottages dotted along South Cornwall’s fantastic coastline. Explore our collection of cottages in South Cornwall to start planning your next escape.

Cottages in South Cornwall


If you want to stay as close to the sea as possible, you’ll want to take a look at our luxury cottages with sea views, they are stunning and many are just steps away from the sandy shores. Alternatively, scroll our full collection of cottages in Cornwall and start planning your summer adventures to the Cornish coast!

Share your adventures with us on Instagram using #DiscoverTheSouthWest, or through our Facebook photography group The South West Through a Lens.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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