A blinding white sandy beach backed by sand dunes, turquoise seas and huge waves for surfing are just three of the reasons you’ll want to visit the Cornish resort of Praa Sands. Situated in Mount’s Bay on the southern coastline, between the famous Lizard and the sparsely populated peninsula of the Penwith Heritage Coast, it’s not only a surfer’s dream but also a brilliant base for families and groups of friends who want to explore the rest of the south of Cornwall, including the breathtaking St. Michael’s Mount, the pretty village of Mousehole and Poldark country along the Lizard Heritage Coast.
Pack your flippers and snorkels, throw some flip flops into a bag – you’ll need little more to enjoy the vibe of Praa Sands. Before you go, have a flick through our guide to the village.
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Food and drink
About the village:
Praa Sands is more a beach than a resort as such. Sheltered by huge cliffs and backed by sand dunes, the huge expanse of sand is the reason people come from far and wide to experience beach life at its best. However, this little coastal village has its own charm. Just off the road between Helston and Penzance, it’s a tranquil place in winter which comes alive as the sun starts to shine – it’s also a great place to base yourself if you want to explore the rest of Cornwall and Devon.
In terms of facilities, you have pretty much just the essentials. There’s a surf/beach shop right on the beach, a fish and chip shop, a post office and general store and the Sandbar - the beachside pub which has a fabulous terrace boasting superb ocean views.
Without a doubt, the huge stretch of white sand is the selling point of Praa Sands. Backed by undulating dunes and leading out to sparkling azure waters, this beach is a true Cornish idyll. The sand is such a brilliant white due to the seashells on the beach being pulverised by wave action over millions of years, giving off a glittery, sparkling appearance. Coming to Praa Sands feels gives the impression you are on a tropical island – not bad for an English seaside resort!
The mile-long beach has something for everybody. Water sports are a big thing here, especially surfing due to the wave quality. It’s equally as welcoming to families and is just a short walk from the car park, ideal if you have tiny tots and loads of equipment. You can spend hours having fun on this beach – little ones can splash about in the shallows collecting buckets of water for their sandcastles and older children can play beach volleyball or swim, all coming together for a traditional British picnic in the shade.
There’s lifeguard cover too throughout the summer and on some weekends at other times of the year, which is one of the reasons why it’s so popular. The family hound is welcome too, just bear in mind that there are daytime restrictions in the summer.
As an alternative to the west of the village, there’s another little beach at Kenneggy which you can get onto from the cliff path at low tide. Beyond that, you’ll find the hidden Prussia Cove, once the hideout of John Carter, Cornwall’s most notorious smuggler, famously nicknamed the ‘King of Prussia’.
There’s no doubt that this beach was made for surfing. It’s a huge draw at all times of year with the surfing crowd a mix of beginners and experts. It’s one of the best-known surf spots on the south coast, especially in the winter when it boasts some excellent waves: much bigger and more powerful than on many other Cornish beaches.
The sands do get busy at high tide as many surfers come here to find the best waves, but the beach is big enough for all. If you want a little peace, head to the eastern end of Hendra which is much quieter (probably because the car parks are at the western end) and you can watch the surfers ride the waves from a more tranquil spot. You never know – it might inspire you to book a surf lesson and join them on the waves yourself! Book a lesson at Global Boarders Surf School to see if it’s for you.
Everywhere you look around Praa, you’ll be met with spectacular ocean and country views. The village lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and no wonder, as both the beach and surrounding countryside are truly beautiful. The western side of the beach is home to Folly Rocks Site of Special Scientific Interest. It has some fascinating geology and has been recently recognised as a Regionally Important Geological Site.
Snaking around Praa Sands is the ubiquitous South West Coast Path. Leading eastwards, its cliff-top walks head towards the Lizard Heritage Coast which is dotted with impressive ruined engine houses. Poldark fans should look out for the mine building at Wheal Prosper which was featured in the series. To the west, you can walk towards Marazion and visit the romantic castle-topped island of St. Michael’s Mount. A popular walk is from Praa Sands to Rinsey Head to see the butterflies – 23 species have been seen fluttering above the rock formations and it’s a gentle stroll, so ideal for those who don’t want a coastal hike!
The green behind the beach is home to an interesting piece of history: a memorial dedicated to the crew of a British warplane which crash-landed on the beach in 1943, during the second world war. Damaged by German bombers over the Bay of Biscay, the plane was beached without loss of life, with the kind villagers of Praa Sands taking care of the shaken crew.
Also book a tour of the castle and gardens at the 16th-century Pengersick Castle, set back from the beach. It’s said to be haunted, though locals say that this rumour was spread by smugglers to keep nosy visitors away! Ghost hunters disagree and say that the bedroom in the tower is one of the most haunted rooms and that there is also the ghost of a black-robed monk who wanders the grounds to watch out for.
The food and drink:
While fish and chips is everybody’s favourite seaside supper, you might want to see what else is out there. Enjoy some fabulous home-cooked food with a Mediterranean twist at Sandbar, which sources its produce locally. You can dine in the restaurant, sample real ale in the bar or head out to the terrace which has superb views of the sea. There’s a pool table, air hockey table and gaming machine for pre-dining entertainment, especially handy for occupying children whilst you wait for food. You can also easily get onto the coastal path from below the terrace if you fancy a stroll after lunch to work off those calories.
Slightly further afield in Marazion and Porthleven are lots of fabulous places to eat – try the Godolphin Arms on the water’s edge which has a great pub menu and is ideal for families – it looks over St Michael’s Mount too so is perfect if a visit to the castle is on your schedule. Still in Marazion, Ben’s Cornish Kitchen is a family business serving excellent food using fine local ingredients, or why not pop over to Porthleven to Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant and Amelies at The Smokehouse for one of its famous burgers.
Come and stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages in the area. Families will love our beach houses on the beach where children can chuck on their swimmers and head straight down to the surf, and the family hound will love our dog-friendly coastal cottages too. Just minutes from the beach and coastal path, they will be sniffing out new adventures in no time. Try Sandy Cove At Praa Sands or Praa View for some fabulous beach living.
Weekenders will be able to wind down in one of our cosy cottages or barns – choose one with a hot tub if all you want to do is relax under the stars at the end of a busy day, or perhaps a retreat with a wood burner for cold winter evenings. Stay at Crofty or Levant for some cosy country living. We have some seriously stylish boltholes for those with romance on their minds and some huge houses for celebrating in style. Have a peek through our range of accommodation in and around Praa Sands to find your next coastal escape.