What to do at the Weekend: Explore Our Top 10 Beaches in Cornwall
Cornwall is always a good idea!
With some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in England, there are plenty of incredible spots to visit.
To provide some inspiration, here are our top 10 beaches in Cornwall.
Whether you’re popping down for a long weekend, or are spending a couple of weeks exploring what Cornwall has to offer, you definitely won’t be disappointed.
Tanith is an avid Cornwall-goer (yes, we’re making that a word), having visited every year since the young age of (about) 10.
It’s her favourite place to be…and with good reason.
Ben visited for the first time a few weeks ago, and it’s safe to say he’s converted.
Watching the Waves Crashing
We both come from landlocked parts of the UK, so getting to be by the sea is something pretty special for us!
Finding the perfect spot on a beach and simply watching (and hearing) the waves crashing against the shore is mesmerising.
Watching it with a pint in hand at a beachside pub is even better!
A Cornish Beach for Every Mood
One thing we love about Cornwall is the variety of the coastline.
From the choppy, surfer waves of the north west coast, to the calmer seas of the south, you don’t have to travel far to see something different.
The list of amazing beaches in Cornwall is extensive…but we’ve (tried) to narrow it down to our top 10.
There are many more that we love, but we thought a 10,000 word blog post may be a tad much!
So, here goes nothing…
First up on our top 10 beaches in Cornwall – Kynance Cove.
If you’re doing a quick Google search on beaches in Cornwall, you’re definitely going to come across Kynance Cove.
And with good reason!
Situated along Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula, Kynance Cove is arguably one of the most spectacular beaches the county has to offer.
On a sunny day, the cove boasts turquoise waters that give you the feeling of being abroad.
That, combined with the white sandy beach creates a haven that just has to be explored.
You’re even in with the chance of spotting some lively seals exploring the bay if you look carefully!
Caves at Kynance Cove
Although sunny days definitely show Kynance Cove at its best, it is still an amazing place to visit whatever the weather.
At high tide, there is less for you to explore, however if you time it right when the tide is out, there are many islands and caves to be discovered.
Timing your visit with low tide is preferable, as the water comes in far up the beach and so at high tide there is only a smaller area available to access.
Getting to Kynance Cove
The cove is approximately a 15-minute walk from the car park, with a steep incline for you to enjoy on the way back up (it’s worth it, we promise).
The car park itself is owned by the National Trust and has limited spaces – something to be aware of at peak times.
If you are a National Trust member you’ll be able to enjoy free parking by scanning your membership card. If not, simply pay for parking on arrival.
This is definitely somewhere you don’t want to miss out on seeing!
Mawgan Porth was always going to be high up in our top 10 beaches in Cornwall.
As the spot where she spent all her family holidays growing up, Mawgan Porth has an extra special place in Tanith’s heart.
Many an afternoon has been spent sitting on the beach eating ice cream, or venturing into the sea to body board.
So, no matter which fantastic spots we explore in Cornwall…Mawgan Porth will always draw us back in.
Mawgan Porth beach is the centrepiece of the village, situated on the rugged northern coastline of Cornwall.
The place itself is pretty small…but it still has a lot to offer.
The wide sandy beach is dog friendly, and is the ideal location to hit the waters for a surf.
With a couple of coffee shops, spots to get ice cream and an excellent beachfront pub – The Merrymoor – Mawgan Porth ticks all the boxes.
One bay round from Mawgan Porth you’ll find Watergate Bay, another great surfing spot.
If you fancy checking out both places, there is a stunning coastal walk that takes you from one beach to the other.
A Popular Beach for Surfers
One of the longest beaches we’re mentioning in this post, at low tide Watergate Bay spans an impressive two miles in length.
Another golden sandy beach, it’s a popular one with every visitor – from those wanting to relax, to those seeking adventure.
This beach is a very common spot to find surfers, kite surfers, kayakers and kite boarders.
Watching them provides a great source of entertainment for those less active of us (or those not wanting to venture into the cold sea)!
Check out the Caves
Watergate Bay is a very open beach, unlike the more closed cove feeling of Mawgan Porth.
This means it often gets a great swell from the Atlantic ocean.
A wander along the beach is highly recommended, as there are many caves and crevices to explore.
Just beware of falling rocks, and keep an eye on that pesky tide coming in and blocking your path.
Bedruthan Steps (Carnewas)
A short trip around the coast from Mawgan Porth in the opposite direction will lead you to Bedruthan Steps.
One of the more dramatic looking beaches on the northern coastline, Bedruthan Steps beach is scattered with large slate rock formations that are quite a sight to behold.
The beach gets its name from the numerous steps you have to climb down (and back up) to reach the sandy shore.
Another story says that the rocks were put there by a giant, Bedruthan, to travel across the beach.
Believe whichever reason you choose!
Sadly, following a major rockfall in 2019 and a landslide in 2021, the beach itself is currently inaccessible to visitors.
That being said, the spot is definitely still worth a visit as you get fantastic views over the bay from the clifftops.
The high vantage point shows the scattered rock formations in all their glory.
It’s unlike many of the other beaches that Cornwall has to offer.
You can tie in a visit to Bedruthan Steps with a stunning coastal walk, or simply park at the Carnewas National Trust car park.
It’s only a short walk down to the main viewpoint over the beach.
Over on the east cost of Cornwall you’ll find Porthcurnick Beach.
Tucked away just north of Portscatho on the Roseland Peninsula, Porthcurnick beach is the perfect spot to relax.
With calmer waters than the north west coast, this large sandy beach is the ideal spot for a swim.
If hitting the water isn’t your thing, then the beach also offers numerous rockpools to explore.
The Hidden Hut at Porthcurnick
Sheltered by cliffs to the rear, Porthcurnick is nestled into the land, providing a place to soak up the sun in the warmer months.
One of the hidden gems of this particular spot is the aptly named ‘Hidden Hut’.
From the beach, if you turn to face away from the sea and look up, you’ll spot a little green hut blending into the grassy hillside.
This is the perfect place to treat yourself to some delicious food or hot/cold beverages (depending on the weather)!
Throughout the day, the Hidden Hut serves up an incredible menu of soups, dhals, stews, chowders, chillis and salads.
Ice Cream by the Sea
For those rare hot British summer days, you can also treat yourself to an ice cream or sorbet (what holiday is complete without one?)!
The hut has no indoor seating, but their friendly team pack your order to takeaway and enjoy as a picnic on the beach or cliffside.
It really is an incredible spot for lunch!
The cool caves at Perranporth puts this firmly into our top 10 beaches in Cornwall.
If you like exploring rocks and caves, then a trip to Perranporth at low tide is a must!
An already long beach, when the tide is out, Perranporth beach actually connects up to the neighbouring Penhale Sands…giving you even more space to explore.
The beach is backed by extensive sand dunes, teeming with nature – so keep your eyes peeled for lizards!
As well as giving you some fascinating rock formations, caves and wildlife to look at, Perranporth Beach is also a great spot for surfing, body boarding, swimming and snorkeling due to its location on the north coast.
The beach does get quite busy, but due to its size there is always plenty of room to bag yourself a spot.
The Watering Hole at Perranporth
One of the stand-out landmarks on Perranporth beach is the ‘Watering Hole’, a pub which is actually located on the beach itself!
This is only one in the UK, so it’s a pretty rare find – even more reason to visit.
What’s better than enjoying some food and drink while being immersed in the beauty of a beach?
Not much we’d say.
If you’re heading further south towards St Ives, then you should add Carbis Bay to your Cornwall bucket list.
Taking the coastal path east from St Ives will lead you to this stunning Blue Flag award-winning beach.
It is actually privately-owned, however luckily it’s open for the public to enjoy.
“Carbis Bay Easily Makes it into Our Top 10 Beaches in Cornwall”
Spanning around a mile in length, Carbis Bay beach enjoys golden sand a relatively still waters.
As with Kynance Cove, here you’ll get that feeling of being abroad, with the turquoise waters and surrounding sub-tropical plants.
Carbis Bay very rarely gets any surf, so it’s a great place for a swim and a spot of relaxation.
For its sheer beauty and feeling of being abroad, Carbis Bay easily makes it into our top 10 beaches in Cornwall.
Seen as the home of British surfing, Fistral Beach is situated in Newquay on Cornwall’s north west coast.
With fantastic waves almost all year round, it’s no surprise that Fistral Beach is fully embedded in the Cornish surfing culture.
Fistral Beach – The Home of British Surfing
All major UK surfing competitions take place at this particular spot, including the famous Boardmasters Surf Championships and also the National Surf Championships.
As with most beaches on the north west coast, why not hire a surfboard and give it a go?
Or book yourself a surf lesson with one of the beach’s expert instructors?
Surfers and spectators flock here all year round, and it’s easy to see why.
Due to its popularity, Fistral Beach has a lifeguard presence from April until October, advising surfers, body boards and swimmers on the best (and safest) spots to enjoy the surf.
Some of the Best Sunsets in Cornwall
This west facing beach gets arguably some of the best sunsets in the area, with incredible, uninterrupted views.
There are plenty of spots to grab a bite to eat or a drink here too.
So, whether you’re after an adrenaline-filled day, or want to watch the sun go down with a beer (or cider) in hand, Fistral is the place for you.
Polzeath is another Blue Flag recognised beach (one of only five in Cornwall).
At low tide when the sea is out, this sandy beach is expansive, spreading around a quarter of a mile in all directions.
Beach Town Feel
During high tide however, the sea comes really far up the sand, with only a small patch available to walk on.
The village itself has that proper ‘beach town’ feeling, with a few small shops and a relaxed atmosphere.
There are a few car parks in the area, but the main car park is on the beach itself.
You don’t see that very often these days!
The furthest north of all the beaches we’re mentioning in the post, Polzeath is only around two miles south of the harbour town of Padstow.
Last but definitely not least on our top 10 list of Cornish beaches – Porthcurno Beach.
On the very south west coast of Cornwall you’ll find Porthcurno beach.
A beautiful soft (almost white) sanded paradise, Porthcurno beach is another treasure boasting turquoise waters not regularly found in the UK.
Sheltered by high granite cliffs on both sides, it is slightly protected from the elements.
This makes it a popular beach for families and those wanting to soak up the sun without the strong winds of the northern coast
An Idyllic Spot to Laze Around
At low tide, you can venture around the protruding cliffs to Pedn Vounder cove – just be sure your path back doesn’t get cut off by the sea.
It’s an idyllic spot to spend a day lazing around!
One of the key attractions of the area sits up on the clifftop just above the beach – the Minack Theatre.
This is an open-air theatre with incredible sub-tropical gardens set in the most picture-perfect landscape overlooking the ocean.
Carved into the cliffside, this is a must-see spot for all visitors to Cornwall.
Catch a Show at The Minack Theatre
While it may appear to be thousands of years old, Minack Theatre has actually only be around for less than a 100 years!
Why not go and enjoy one of the theatre’s regular performances, or simply explore this breathtaking spot at your own leisure?
It’s not one to miss!