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.
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.
With a unique and magical coastline which houses more than 400 beaches, it's unsurprising that some have gone unnoticed, as opposed to the likes of Fistral in Newquay, St Ives or Kynance Cove. 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, and armed with our interactive map showcasing ten of our favourites, including details on location, whether it's dog-friendly or not, accessibility, the nearest amenities and more, you’ll be able to explore them for yourself. Take a read of our guide to secret beaches in Cornwall here and thank us later.
Browse our collection of coastal cottages in Cornwall.
Our top three:
Portheras Cove, find nearby cottages in Penzance
Fox Cove, find nearby cottages in Padstow
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 around, and the best dog-friendly activity while you’re there, it makes choosing your beach destination an absolute breeze.
Browse our collection of dog-friendly cottages in Cornwall.
Our top three:
Harlyn Beach, find nearby cottages in Padstow
Nanjizal, find nearby cottages in St Just
Porthkidney, find nearby cottages in St Ives
Those who are thinking of heading to Cornwall with children, or for 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 lifeguarded beach guide to see the full list and all the facilities available at each one.
Browse our collection of family-friendly cottages in Cornwall.
Our top three:
Lusty Glaze, find nearby cottages in Newquay
Trebarwith Strand, find nearby cottages in Newquay
Crantock, find nearby cottages in Newquay
The best beaches 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, England’s surfing Mecca 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 through the local food here.
There is a fabulous stretch of sand nearby which follows the west bank of the Camel. Perranporth is a popular sandy beach that stretches for around two 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.
Browse our collection of coastal cottages in North Cornwall.
Our top three:
Fistral, find nearby cottages in Newquay
Summerleaze, find nearby cottages in Bude
West Cornwall’s best beaches
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 the 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, yo 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 also relatively easy to access and at low tide, it is also possible to 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.
Browse our collection of coastal cottages in West Cornwall.
Our top three:
Porthcurno, find nearby cottages in Penzance
Porthgwarra, find nearby cottages in Penzance
Praa Sands, find nearby cottages in Penzance
South Cornwall is a great location for a coastal break as there are some small, attractive beaches found here and they 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 here is great for families, however, Lantic Bay is difficult to reach and bathing here 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.
Browse our collection of coastal cottages in South Cornwall.
Our top three:
Whitsand Bay, find nearby cottages in Torpoint
Lantic Bay, find nearby cottages in Fowey
Talland Bay, find nearby cottages in Looe
If you want to stay as close to the sea as possible, you’ll want to take a look at our luxury cottages with a sea view, 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.