Where to go wild swimming in Cornwall  holiday cottages

Where to go wild swimming in Cornwall

Sarah P 14 January 2021

Wild swimming isn't just a wellbeing trend that sees adventurous swimmers take to the coolest and wildest waters of the sea, rivers, and lakes. It also gives explorers the chance to experience captivating scenery from a completely new perspective. Whether it’s for mood-boosting reasons, or to experience the UK’s finest natural settings, wild swimming in Cornwall certainly unearths a plethora of unique experiences for visitors. While typically wild swimming means actively seeking some of the most remote and secret places to go swimming, there are also plenty of places for families to give it a go too! We’ve put together a list of the best places to go wild swimming in Cornwall, as well as safe tidal pools that are perfect for building up your confidence.

Golitha Falls, Liskeard, North Cornwall

Hidden away in an ancient oak woodland on the River Fowey, you’ll find one of Bodmin Moor’s best-known beauty spots, and for good a reason too. A series of spectacular waterfalls cascade majestically towards a shaded secret plunge pool - a beautiful spot for wild swimming in Cornwall. Golitha Falls is a National Nature Reserve and a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its fascinating woodland flora, and the incredible wildlife that makes the woodland its home.  

  • Location: just over a mile west of St Cleer village, near the market town of Liskeard
  • Where to park: about half a mile along the river, in the car part at Draynes Bridge. 
  • Facilities: toilets and Inkie’s Smoke House BBQ in the car park. 

 Stay nearby: The Fox's Den | Sleeps 6

Goldiggins Quarry, Bodmin Moor, North Cornwall

Image credit: hannahmarieh_xo on Instagram


You’ll feel like you’ve uncovered one of Cornwall’s most precious secrets when you stumble upon this clear blue, spring-fed quarry. After hiking across the moor to find the peaceful lake, you’ll want to jump from the flat ledges into the deep water to cool off. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, and views of Bodmin’s granite tors, this sheltered wild swimming spot in Cornwall is the perfect place to combine a long walk, with a picnic and refreshing swim! Be aware that it can get busy here in the summer, but for those who dare, a refreshing winter swim is sure to leave you feeling invigorated. 

  • Location: about 1 mile from the village of Minions
  • Where to park: Hurlers car park in Minions. Walk past the Hurlers stone circle – it’s about a 20-minute walk from here. 
  • Facilities: none

Stay nearby: The Coop | Sleeps 4

St Nectan’s Kieve, Tintagel, North Cornwall

This awe-inspiring waterfall is in a majestic woodland on the banks of the Trevillet River. Considered to be one of the UK's most spiritual sites, it is said to have healing powers, and even today you will find photographs, inscriptions, crystals and ribbons, among the foliage on the rock walls near the waterfall. Local myths suggest that this magical woodland is also home to fairies, piskies and spirits, so where the waterfall flows into a small plunge pool (the kieve) wild swimmers can embrace the magic of this wild and mystical location.  

  • Location: in an area of woodland in Trethevy, near Tintagel
  • Where to park: there is a free car park just off the road in Trethevy, follow the signs on foot. 
  • Facilities: shop, café and toilets at the official St Nectan’s Glen attraction. 

Stay nearby: Atlanta | Sleeps 8

Respryn Bridge, Lanhydrock, North Cornwall 

Like something out of a fairy tale, this magical location along the River Fowey on the Lanhydrock Estate is the perfect place to cool off on summer days, where the sun reflects magically off the water. Combine a riverside walk with some wild swimming where you can swim against the current in the deep water, sunbathe bankside on the decking and children can play safely on the shingle; it's  a beautiful spot for family days out. 

  • Location: National Trust Lanhydrock Estate
  • Where to park: in Respryn on the Lanhydrock side of the bridge, cross the bridge and turn right, following riverside walk. 
  • Facilities: café, shop, and toilets at Lanhydrock. 

Stay nearby: Bridge Lodge | Sleeps 2

Kynance Cove, West Cornwall 

Popular with writers and artists, the azure waters, flower-clad stacks and serene white sands of Kynance Cove make it one of the dreamiest locations in Cornwall, and possibly one of the best wild swimming spots too! Bask in the clear blue waters, explore hidden sea caves, fascinating rock pools and, if you’re brave enough, try cliff-jumping. The area is popular for water sports so if you’re keen to build your confidence in wild sea swimming, why not book a coasteering adventure? Although a fairly remote beach, it can get busy and, while you can swim away from the crowds easily, early morning is the best time to go. 

  • Location: on the west side of the Lizard Peninsula, approx. 2 miles north of Lizard Point. 
  • Where to park: in the National Trust car park on top of the cliff before enjoying the beautiful stroll down to the beach. 
  • Facilities: toilets, and a seasonal National Trust café in the cove. 

Stay nearby: Trenoweth Villa | Sleeps 5

Portheras Cove, West Cornwall 

This secluded sandy cove isn’t the easiest to find, but that’s what makes this hidden gem one of the best swimming beaches for wild swimmers. Considered as a ‘locals’ beach, you can escape the crowds and soak up the captivating scenery along this wild stretch of Cornish coastline, complete with cascading waterfalls and dramatic cliffs. After venturing out into the shallows and beyond, you’ll feel refreshed and invigorated in no time. Depending on how long you’re out in the water, and how far you venture from the beach, you may even spot some seals!

  • Location: a 30-minute drive from St Ives, between Morvah Village and Pendeen. 
  • Where to park: follow the signs for Rose Valley and park in the car park – there is a footpath through the farm and down the valley. Alternatively, park at Pendeen Lighthouse and take the coast path 1 mile east, then down some steep steps to the beach.
  • Facilities: none  

Stay nearby: Little Zandras | Sleeps 2

Pedn Vounder, Porthcurno, South Cornwall 

Don’t tell too many people about this one; it is perhaps one of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets. The hidden gem of Pedn Vounder is a remote cove with crystal-clear waters, sand bars and shallow lagoons – a dream-like destination for wild swimming in Cornwall. This is just a taste of what’s on offer along this stretch of coast though; continue another mile, and you’ll stumble across more secret beaches like the jumping ledges at Porth Chapel or the secret tunnel at Porthgwarra. These awe-inspiring destinations are some of Cornwall’s wildest swimming spots, so access to families and the less abled is limited. 

Go in search of the very best secret beaches in Cornwall.

  • Location: along the coast from Porthcurno. 
  • Where to park: either in one of the car parks in Porthcurno and take the 15-minute walk along the coast path, or the village of Treen and walk for 5 – 10 minutes. 
  • Facilities: toilets beside the National Trust car par at Porthcurno.   

Stay nearby: Lizard Apartment - Porthcurno | Sleeps 2

Prussia Cove, West Cornwall

Swathed in secret smuggling history and boasting enticing clear-blue waters, Prussia Cove is another hidden gem for wild swimming in Cornwall. Made up of four small coves known as Piskies, Bessie’s, King’s and Coules’ Cove, experienced swimmers can glide in and out of these hidden spots like mermaids. This peaceful spot is perfect for wild swimming in Cornwall because it is often only frequented by a few visitors at one time, giving you space to swim and clear your mind completely. 

  • Location: on the coast of Mount’s Bay to the east of Cudden Point, near Penzance.  
  • Where to park: find the car park at TR20 9BA and follow the path downhill for approximately half a mile to find the beach. 
  • Facilities: none 

Stay nearby: Riverside | Sleeps 2

Tidal pools in Cornwall

Tidal pools make excellent wild swimming spots in Cornwall for families and children who wish to build up their sea swimming confidence. These isolated pockets of water are refilled by the sea each day, and as the tide pulls back, they leave behind the perfect outdoor pools. As the tidal pool rests in the sun each day, the water naturally heats up, making it much warmer to swim in. Here is where you can find the best tidal and bathing pools in Cornwall. 

  • Bude Sea Pool 
  • Polperro Bathing Pool
  • Treyarnon Bay rock pool
  • Porthtowan Tidal Pool 
  • Chapel Rock, Perranporth 

Water sports in Cornwall

If you’re looking for even more extreme activities and water sports to try, check out these guides: 


Book a cottage in Cornwall

Are you ready to discover some of these captivating wild swimming spots in Cornwall? We hope we have inspired your adventurous side and helped you on your way to planning your next Cornish escape. Book one of our cottages in Cornwall to base yourself close to one of these fabulous places to try wild swimming in Cornwall. 

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.

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