Miles of white sand, secret rocky coves, glassy clear water, surf-friendly swell and a fine line in ice cream shops – it’s no wonder that Cornwall is known as the home of some of the most beautiful beaches in Britain.
It’s nigh-on impossible to name the very best of Cornwall’s 300 official beaches, of course, as they’re all so different – and half the fun of exploring the county’s 422 miles of glorious wild coastline is deciding which is your own favourite. But some beaches do stand out as the best for a family adventure, for a cooling swim, for great surf or even as the best coastal spots for epicureans and culture lovers.
Many of the keenest beach-hunters in Cornwall are here with one thing on their mind – great surf. Consistent swell means that Gwithian’s miles of sand are a haven for surfers year-round, and the mile-long sandy beach at Praa Sands is also popular haunt, and often boasts surf when other beaches are flat. Smack bang in the middle of Newquay, it’s easy to see why the beach at Watergate Bay is a popular spot among the sun-bleached surfing contingent of Cornwall. After a truly beautiful place to get your fix of salt water? Head south to Sennen’s white sands and clean waves, just around the corner from Land’s End.
If you’re bringing little explorers, try one of Cornwall’s finest family-friendly beaches. A wide swathe of sand, rockpools and a laid-back beachfront café make Perranporth popular with small sea-lovers, and a tidal pool hidden among the rocks is ideal for kids to dip and play in when the sea is rougher. Treyarnon is another family favourite that also has a wonderful tidal pool, and older children can also try surfing here, or walk the coast path to Constantine Bay next door. Cawsand Bay and Crooklets also stand out for offering good wheelchair and pushchair accessibility.
Kynance Cove’s stunning sweep of cliffs and green serpentine rock make this pebbly beach a must for photographers and painters, and Porthcurno’s white sand and duck egg-blue water also have to be seen to believed – plus the Grecian Minack Theatre is tucked around the corner. Or if your idea of a good beach day involves great grub, visit Porthcurnick Beach in summer for a dip followed by some locally-sourced street food delights served up hot from the Hidden Hut (or nab a spot at one of their popular summer feast nights).
Wild swimmers should seek out sheltered waters around the Helford Passage, or make the pilgrimage to Pedn Vounder on the south coast near the Minack Theatre and Porthcurno Beach. Last but absolutely not least on our list, this stunning beach has sugary-white sand, uncovered with every low tide. It’s a scramble down to get to it but this is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Britain (and it’s skinny dipping friendly).