Situated where the River Hayle meets the Atlantic Ocean in West Cornwall, Hayle is a town rich in history and natural beauty. It’s a haven for water sports enthusiasts and bird-lovers alike and is perfectly situated to explore the wild Cornish coastline, while also boasting a wide range of shops, cafes and activities within the town itself.
Find out all about this coastal town with our guide to things to do in Hayle
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Food and drink
About the town
With some historians dating the town back thousands of years, Hayle has certainly had an interesting past which is revealed by the layout of the town centre.
The town’s two main centres are joined by a road that runs along Copperhouse Pool, an RSPB-owned body of water rich in wildlife. The Foundry area south-west of the town is centred around Foundry Square and its viaduct over the estuary, formerly owned by Harvey & Co – where several other buildings from the foundry still remain. The Copperhouse area north-east of the town was the domain of the Copperhouse Copper Company, with many dwellings built using slag bricks – the waste material from copper smelting – still standing today.
Amongst these historical areas, you’ll find a bustling, vibrant town rich with many independent shops and lots of restaurants and cafes taking inspiration from both global flavours and those closer to home.
There’s also ample opportunity to take to the water here, whether you are an adrenalin-junkie stoked on surfing or kitesurfing in St Ives Bay or someone looking for a more sedate trip along the Cornish waterways.
With 3 miles of golden sand stretching at low tide from the estuary mouth west of the town to Godrevy Point in the north, Hayle is the perfect destination for a Cornish beach holiday.
The sandy stretch is backed by dunes, known as the Towans. These provide a stunning backdrop and some shelter for building sandcastles, playing games and exploring this wide-open space – although it’s not advisable to swim in the estuary itself, due to strong currents.
If you’re a wannabe waverider, head to Gwithian at the north end of the Towans. At this surfer’s paradise, you can hire equipment and wetsuits and take advantage of the area’s many surf schools. Kids will also love this beach due to the many rock pools just waiting to be explored. Due to the constant and steady breeze off the Atlantic, this area is popular with kitesurfers and windsurfers, too.
You’re also well situated for exploring the rest of the wild Cornish coastline. The Godrevy Heritage Coast stretches from Godrevy (5 miles) all the way to Portreath (10 miles), while St Ives’ Porthminster beach – often deemed one of the UK’s best – is 5.5 miles to the south. Cornwall’s south coast is within close proximity, too – Marazion beach is 5.5 miles away and looks towards the stunning St Michael’s Mount.
Whether you’re looking for a townhouse with a view of the estuary or a charming barn conversion that’s perfect for a romantic getaway, our Hayle cottages offer the perfect base for exploring this fascinating town. Whether you choose to spend all day on the beach splashing in the waves or want to learn more about the town’s rich heritage, a visit to this historic part of Cornwall will never be forgotten.
From seaside villas to quaint cottages, and everything in between, we have properties to suit everyone. Lots are dog-friendly, too, so your four-legged friend can join in all the fun!
Take a look at our full range of Hayle accommodation.
The food and drink
Foodies will love Hayle for both its unsurpassed traditional Cornish fare and its more cosmopolitan restaurants offering global flavours.
You can’t visit Cornwall without sampling a Cornish pasty, and you’ll be spoilt for choice in Hayle. The popular Philp’s bakery has two locations, by the harbour and Foundry, while Hampsons is also in the Foundry area. Whichever you choose, both use traditional methods and local ingredients to create an ‘ansom pasty. Let’s be honest, though – it would be rude not to try both!
While you’re around the Foundry and harbour, you’ll discover a wealth of cafes and restaurants offering something a little different from the usual Cornish flavours. Head to Harry’s Cali-Style restaurant for Mexican street food with West Country ingredients. And you can’t leave Hayle without a visit to Mr B’s Ice Cream Parlour, which has locations in both Copperhouse and Foundry. With tastebud-boggling flavours and made with Cornish and Italian ingredients, a visit to this Hayle institution is sure to delight guests old and young.
While the Industrial Revolution’s mark on Hayle is easy to see from its current layout, its more distant past has been harder to uncover.
Archaeological excavations in the town revealed it’s likely that Hayle was an important trading port for the Neolithic tin industry, between 6,500 and 12,000 years ago. This industry was still flourishing when the Phoenicians came to trade tin over 2,000 years ago.
Due to the town’s more recent historical importance in the copper smelting industry, Hayle’s harbour and townscape were granted World Heritage Site status in 2006.
Hayle Heritage Centre is the best place to visit to discover more about the town’s fascinating past, where you can hear tales told by real residents as part of the Oral History Collection. Or take the Hayle town trail and learn more on a walk through the historic parts of town.
Hayle is a great destination for those looking for an action-packed holiday to Cornwall, as it’s close to many of the county’s popular attractions, including Paradise Park (0.5 miles), Tate St Ives (6 miles) and St Michael’s Mount (6 miles).
Paradise Park, in the town centre, was set up as a tropical bird centre in the 1970s by the former Milky Bay kid, Mike Reynolds. It has since expanded to become one of Cornwall’s top attractions, with a petting zoo, a small railway and an indoor play area, as well as a collection of tropical birds.
For a fantastic view of Cornwall’s breathtaking scenery, walk 1.5 miles out of town to Lelant Saltings railway station. From here, you can take a trip to St Ives, which has often been described as one of the most beautiful train rides in the UK. It hugs the coast and passes above Carbis Bay beach towards its terminus at St Ives, where you can spend the day.
Literary fans will want to take a trip to the headland along the Godrevy Heritage Coast to spot Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance (5 miles). The lighthouse inspired Virginia Woolf to write To the Lighthouse, after she spent many childhood summers along this stretch of coast.
Discover some of the other great attractions in Cornwall by reading our comprehensive guide!
Like the rest of Cornwall, Hayle boasts some truly spectacular sights that are easily accessible by foot or by bike. Hayle is a great destination for walkers; it was the first town in the county to be awarded “Walkers are Welcome” status, which ensures footpaths are well maintained, making it easy to explore.
Set off on the King George V Memorial Walk in the town, where you can see subtropical gardens along the Copperhouse Pool. Take a seat on one of the many benches here to spot birds in the pool; along with Hayle Estuary, it’s an RSPB reserve so it’s a must-visit for keen twitchers.
Or take a walk up Trencrom Hill – around 175 metres high, it gives incredible views towards the coast, taking in the estuary and St Michael’s Mount.
And there’s always the South West Coast Path to explore if you’ve still got itchy feet. Pick up the 630-mile-long trail at Towans beach, only a mile out of town. Take a walk to St Ives, which follows the ancient pilgrim route, St Michael’s Way.
Hayle has a few independent shops worth visiting if you’re in need of some retail therapy.
Whether you’re a first-time board rider or a seasoned shredder, you’ll want to visit Down the Line – this surf shop has been open since 1993 and sells surfboards, wetsuits and clothing.
If you fancy a potter round one of Hayle’s most unusual businesses, head to Hayle Emporium. It’s packed with antiques, furniture, curios and much more, so you’re guaranteed to find a one-of-a-kind piece to remind you of your Hayle holiday.
Just out of town, you’ll find West Cornwall Shopping Park which is a great place to while away a few hours, with big-name retailers and a cafe too.
With barn conversions surround by countryside, stylish villas with views over the wild Atlantic Ocean and large houses with hot tubs that are perfect for a party, our holiday cottages offer the chance to enjoy everything Hayle and the wider area have to offer.
Whether you’re a couple with a four-legged friend looking for a peaceful getaway, or a larger group or family wanting some quality time together, we have self-catering accommodation to suit everyone. Take a look at our full collection and start planning your Hayle holiday.
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