Cornwall has long been synonymous with holidays and seaside fun, and it’s no secret that it is home to some of the UK’s best beaches. Its picturesque coast harbours sparkling golden sands, secluded coves and fishing villages which exude charm from every historic brick. With so many idyllic holiday hotspots vying for attention, it’s difficult to settle on a favourite - but we think there’s one gem which is more than deserving of a visit.
It’s not just the 3 miles of postcard-worthy beach which makes Perranporth an ideal destination for a Cornwall holiday, but its enviable location is close to everything the county has to offer. From the buzz and beaches of Newquay (8.5 miles away), to the boutiques of St Ives (25.5 miles), via the delights of the south coast, including spirited Falmouth (18 miles) and the quaint villages of the Roseland Peninsula, Perranporth isn’t far from anywhere.
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Set halfway along the rugged North Cornwall coast, Perranporth nestles against a backdrop of rolling countryside: the gateway to one of the county’s most beautiful beaches. Unsurprisingly, the beach has been the seed of growth for the village which dates back to the 19th century when it was a tin mining settlement. Nowadays, it’s a popular family resort, offering a good collection of cafés, restaurants and shops.
Just a couple of minutes’ walk from the beach, the pleasant centre has everything you’ll need for your stay.
Breathtaking and spectacular are just some of the words oft-associated with Perranporth’s greatest asset: its beach. At low tide, the beach at the village end links up with adjoining Perran Sands to present a 3-mile family-friendly playground of golden sand. Lapped by waves which have surfers visiting from far and wide, the beach is backed by Penhale Sands, an expanse of sand dunes which are a haven for seaside wildlife. Beach wheelchairs are also available to hire from Perranporth Garden Charities, meaning everyone can spend time on the sand.
There are few seaside pursuits which can’t be enjoyed on this glorious beach. Its sand is ripe for building sandcastles and pitching up for a family day of fun. There’s plenty of space for playing football and frisbee, rockpools to keep curious kids (and big kids) engaged for hours, and a natural tidal pool at Chapel Rock – the perfect tonic on a hot summer’s day. Stretch your legs with a stroll along the sand with the crowds dissolving into the distance as you wander its peaceful length. Dogs are allowed all year round on the beach, on leads between 10am and 7pm during July and August, meaning it’s one of Cornwall's best dog-friendly beaches - and a top choice for families with four-legged friends.
Rolling in from the Atlantic, the waves are frequently good for surfing in the summer, with the breakers being larger towards the sheltered end near Droskyn Point. There are numerous local surf schools which cater for beginners to improvers, including Ticket to Ride and Perranporth Surf School.
The coast path:
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Undulating its scenic way around the entirety of the Cornwall coast and beyond, the South West Coast Path entices walkers from all corners of the world with the promise of awe-inspiring views, fresh sea air and an unparalleled sense of freedom.
Perranporth is the perfect joining point. From here, trace the coast north to take in the sand dunes of Holywell Bay, the spectacular Crantock Bay and onwards to Newquay (11 miles) which rewards your efforts with an abundance of pubs and restaurants in which to relax and rest your weary legs.
To the south, a handful of small coves lie dotted along the coast. Drink in the panoramic cliff top views before wending your way past rugged Trevellas Porth Beach, the cliff-flanked beach of Trevaunance Cove, beautiful Porthtowan and the welcoming town of Portreath (12 miles).
Whether it’s a post-lunch stroll or a challenging 5-hour ramble, the Coast Path from Perranporth won’t fail to disappoint.
Without even leaving the village, you can enjoy an insight into the area’s fascinating history at the Perranzabuloe Museum which details the industries of fishing, farming and mining, as well as the lives and works of acclaimed local personalities, not least Winston Graham, author of the hugely popular Poldark novels.
Enjoy a round of golf at Perranporth Golf Club where awesome coastal views provide an inspiring backdrop as you take your swing. For a change of scenery, head 7 miles down the road to Holywell Bay Golf Club, which matches Perranporth for coastal views while offering first-class fairways with no dress code or booking required.
Perranporth Gardens is charity-owned land which incorporates a bowling green, boating lake (quirkily in the shape of a boat) and gardens where you can enjoy a pleasant stroll and a coffee from the café.
Just a short drive from Perranporth are several other attractions worth a mention. If you’re a fan of fishing, head for Gwinear fishing lakes (5.5 miles) which are well-stocked and open all year round.
Families are well catered for too. If you’re not making the most of the beach, hop in the car in the direction of Newquay (8.5 miles) and you’ll find no end of fantastic family attractions. The Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay Zoo and Pirate’s Quest are just a few entertaining days out.
There’s no need to leave Perranporth to keep your appetite satisfied! For a medium-sized seaside village there are a surprising number of eateries. Whether you’re looking to tuck into fish and chips while watching the breakers or to indulge in some of the finer things in life, there’s an establishment that befits you.
When it comes to location, you’d be hard pushed to find a more scenic spot for a meal than The Watering Hole, right on Perranporth Beach. Open throughout the year (Friday, Saturday and Sunday only in the winter), it serves up a mouth-watering menu which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner options which vary from burgers to Moroccan stews. The perfect location to enjoy a sundowner, The Watering Hole also has a fantastic programme of live music, so you can party into the night.
For a hearty grill, hunker down at Griffs Grill and Restaurant on the main street of Perranporth, or if it’s a bit of spice you’re looking for, make your way to Massala Indian Restaurant, which also offers takeaway for a cosy evening in your holiday accommodation.
If you’re feeling peckish during the day, sample one of Chrissy’s Tearoom's indulgent high teas, or for a slightly lighter option, treat yourself to a delicious cream tea.
Legend has it that St Piran, the Patron Saint of Cornwall, was washed up on this very shore after he was cast out to sea off the Irish coast, mercilessly tethered to a millstone. The oratory which he is rumoured to have built can still be visited amongst the dunes.
St. Piran didn’t stop there, however. He went on to discover tin, becoming known as the Patron Saint of Tinners, an industry which flourished in the area in the 19th century. Vestiges are still apparent all along the coast. Keep an eye out for holes drilled into the cliff sides which were used to drain the tin-mines.
Other fascinating historic sites include St Piran’s Round, a medieval amphitheatre which was used to host performances, and Perranporth Airfield which was a Spitfire Station during World War II.
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Making the most of the spectacular beach, Tunes in the Dunes has become an annual event: a festival which sees an eclectic mix of artists, from A-listers to lesser-known stars, gathering to deliver an unforgettable weekend of music.
The Watering Hole bar and restaurant on the beach puts on its own remarkable programme of events with national and international names.
For a comfortable base for your Perranporth holiday, take a look at our collection of North Cornwall cottages. With properties including cosy retreats for two, dog-friendly homes-from-home and luxurious barn conversions by the sea, there’s something for everyone.
Other nearby accommodation includes Perran Sands Holiday Park, placing travellers in an enviable position in the dunes on the coastline, and the Rose in Vale Country House Hotel, a wonderful retreat for those who wish to simply relax, but remain close to the area’s beautiful beaches and gardens.