The pretty fishing village of Coverack is one of those places that holidaymakers dream of – a crescent-shaped beach in a delightful cove, sparkling aquamarine waters and colourful fishing boats bobbing to and fro, bringing in the day’s catch to visitors waiting patiently at the harbour.
Tucked away in a sheltered bay on the eastern side of the rugged Lizard Peninsula, this archetypal Cornish village with its little old cottages, friendly locals and laid-back vibe is unsurprisingly, one of the county’s favourite holiday destinations.
If Coverack has been on your bucket list for a while, now is the time to do something about it. Read on to find out why.
About the Village
Steeped in Cornish history and legend, the village is centred around a beautiful harbour, dominated by white cottages and the old lifeboat house, now a fish and chip restaurant. Many of the cottages are thatched, as slate wasn’t available to the village until transport links were improved; this only adds to the charm.
A bay of shingle and sand is the focal point, easily accessed from the small car park at the edge of the village and if you walk along the coastal road to the harbour, you will find cafes and shops with essential beach items including buckets and spades, fishing nets and pretty postcards.
As the village is a popular seasonal destination like many of the little harbourside villages in West Cornwall, much is closed in winter. However, the pub and main shop do stay open all year round so you will always be covered for the essentials. Gazing down onto the bay below is the pretty 19th-century church of St Peter, almost chapel-like in appearance. Small in stature, it has a pulpit made out of the famous serpentine stone and charming stained-glass windows - pop in and see it if you can.
The Maritime History
The village is centred around the harbour, an important part of its history. Constructed in 1724 for the growing pilchard fleet, it is now home to a much smaller number of fishing boats, still retaining its allure with a nod to the past. A tricky part of the coast to navigate, it is the site of many shipwrecks, particularly on the Manacles Reef a few miles along the coast from the village which has seen more than 150 boats reach an unfortunate end.
Due to a particularly bad incident in 1898 when over a hundred lives were lost when the SS Mohegan hit the reef, a lifeboat was launched at Coverack. Active until the early 1970s when it went into a much-deserved retirement, the area is now looked after by the Lizard and Falmouth RNLI.
The West Cornwall stretch of coastline is particularly charming with the main beach in Coverack not letting the area down. A mixture of shingle and sand, it is the ideal spot to build sandcastles and go rock pooling at low tide with the little ones. As the bay is sheltered, it is a popular spot for water sports including windsurfing, snorkelling and scuba diving - there is, in fact, a centre for windsurfing and kayaking in the village if you want to give it a try.
The beach is a really pretty place to spend holiday afternoons – different to the great expanses of sand further along the coast and with vistas across to the Manacles at low tide, it retains its charm and begs laid-back afternoons of beach games and picnics. More than that, it is dog-friendly all year round so travelling canines won’t be left out.
The Food and Drnk
To get a taste of the village's maritime past with your supper, head to the old Lifeboat House which is now a fish and chip restaurant. Overlooking the harbour, you can imagine its past life, where so many men will have prepared for life-saving missions.
Walk along the harbour walls and find a spot to settle down and watch the boats. Finish with a pint of the local ale at the black and white Paris Hotel. Named after an American liner which hit the rocks off Lowland Point in the late 19th century, luckily with no fatalities, it allegedly has some parts of the salvaged ship throughout its interior. True or not, there’s nothing better than the feeling of being surrounded by a little part of history.
Everybody knows that the Lizard Peninsula is a walker’s heaven. Wherever you start, you are bound to find a piece of the South West Coast Path aching to be explored. You can go for a short scenic stroll, taking a picnic to enjoy while drinking in the marvellous sea views which stretch along the peninsula, or do some serious hiking.
The unique geology of this part of the coast has made it a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and this will be apparent as you discover the hidden coves and rocky outlets along the route.
A popular place to stop and take photos is Chynalls Point. Its Iron Age cliff fort gives a nod to the history of Cornwall and there is a little cove below which is excellent for a spot of quiet sunbathing. With lots of wildlife including seals and dolphins with even the odd pony grazing on windswept grass, this is a delightful area to explore.
If you really like your walking, the 10 miles down to The National Trust’s Lizard Point is one for you. Taking approximately eight-hours, this is a hike for serious walkers but if you want to see the Point without the effort, why not drive down and discover it at a more leisurely pace?
Being a tiny fishing village, there isn't much to do in the way of attractions. The beauty of the coast speaks for itself, and it's enough to come here to just be. That said, it's always nice to explore the local area and there are some wonderful places to visit on and around the Lizard.
If you want to see some of the larger local attractions, drive 20 miles north to the impressive 16th-century Pendennis Castle. A fortress commissioned by Henry VIII to protect the Fal Estuary from impending invasion from the continent, it has a fascinating history to discover, including underground tunnels, a Second World War battery and an original Tudor keep.
Make a day of it by popping into the gorgeous Trebah Garden, 26 acres of sub-tropical plants, trees and shrubs leading down to a private and secluded beach (please note the beach is closed for maintenance until 14th March 2019). If you have time, pop into the National Trust’s Glendurgan Garden on the way back, another beautiful sub-tropical garden leading down to the sweet fishing village of Durgan, just 15 miles north of Coverack.
If time isn't on your side, visit another day as its amazing selection of themed gardens including Holy Corner and its fabulous laurel maze have to be seen to be believed. Not only that, but you can head down to Durgan beach and hop aboard a ferry over to Helford Village.
If you have children with you, you can’t go wrong with the 12-mile trip to Flambards Theme Park. A great family day out, you can brave the sky-high scary rides and discover fossils and dinosaurs, as well as experience Victorian living in the life-size Victorian Village. An indoor soft play area is also on hand for tiny tots. Just 10 miles north of Coverack is the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek - this seal and sea lion rescue centre and cafe also has a collection of otters, penguins, ponies and goats.
Even though the pilchard shoals are long gone, the village stays true to its roots with a series of maritime events put on throughout the year. Coverack RNLI Lifeboat Day, Pirate and Mermaid Week and Coverack Regatta all take place in August, and Coverack Carnival is great fun slightly earlier in July.
Green-fingered visitors will love the Coverack Horticultural Show also held in August but not to worry if you're not a summer visitor, there is a packed calendar of smaller events throughout the rest of the year including theatre productions, charity events and wonderful wild-flower walks.
Have a look here for a full list of dates.
If you are visiting over the festive season, innocent visitors to the traditional Christmas Day swim are welcomed with relish by the locals, especially if they strip off and join them for a dip in the freezing harbour water. Dating back 50 years, this charity event will certainly earn you some points if you are brave enough to join in!
Renting a holiday cottage in Coverack is essential if you really want to become part of village life. Our cottages in Coverack range from contemporary apartments with sea views to stone cottages on farms, perfect for family holidays or coastal getaways with friends.