The best beaches in Cornwall holiday cottages

The best beaches in Cornwall

Ed Roberts 08 February 2023

Many of us visit Cornwall for its world-class beaches. There's no other coastal heaven quite like Cornwall, which delights thousands and thousands of visitors with its seemingly endless choice of beaches. From long sandy stretches to mysterious fabled coves sheltered by rugged cliffs, Cornwall has a beach to appeal to all tastes. 

When most people picture Cornwall's beaches, they will probably conjure up visions of surfers riding giants, colourful fishing boats at anchor behind the breakers, warm sands and long dune systems crested with marram grass - and they'd be right to! However, this far west, other tropes associated with a day at the seaside like piers and promenades are fairly uncommon. Instead, the beaches are often hidden away in coves close to picturesque fishing villages or adjacent to busy fishing harbours, and long stretches of sandy beach are located far out of town. What we can all agree on is that each beach in Cornwall is distinct from the next and we all have our own beloved Cornish beach. 

We have compiled a list of some of our favourite beaches in Cornwall, along with some handy 'good-to-know' tips for your visit. A brilliant way to visit more than one of these great beaches is to treat yourself to a holiday cottage break in Cornwall. We have Cornish coastal holiday homes to choose from all across The Duchy. Browse our collection of coastal accommodation in Cornwall by clicking on the button below.

Skip to:

Carne Beach

Carne Beach

Carne Beach is a picturesque beach on the Roseland Peninsula with a welcoming yet sheltered stretch of golden sand both spacious and dog-friendly year-round. Best enjoyed at low tide when the sea recedes to provide generous tracts of beach, this is the kind of place you can easily pop along to for an hour and end up staying for the whole day. Near to the beach, you will find Nare Head's cold war bunker as well as a decoy Second World War version known as a starfish. 

On your visit, seek out the ruins of the old fishing shack, Mallet's Cottage, which dates back to the 17th century - which is quite a bewitching site. Other highlights near Carne Beach are Veryan Castle and Carne Beacon; the King of Cornwall, Gerent is said to be buried at the latter.

  • Is Carne Beach sandy?: Yes | Postcode: TR2 5PF
  • Facilities: WCs, car park, slipway access
  • Is Carne Beach dog friendly?: Dogs on leads are permitted all year round
  • Lifeguard patrol: None
  • Stay nearby: Polsue Gardens | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Gwithian Beach and Hayle Towans

Gwithian Beach and Hayle Towans

With mile upon mile of sand, shelter from the wind and twinkling blue sea stretching as far as the eye can see, Gwithian Beach and Hayle Towans are magical. Popular amongst bathers, walkers, horse riders and sporting enthusiasts, it offers something for everyone and lends itself perfectly to many happy hours spent shoreside under the radiant Cornish sun. Get lost among the dunes that fringe much of the beach and take in the fantastic views across St Ives Bay.

To the north, you can see Godrevy Island with its lighthouse and the nearby headland, the Navox, where you can see Dartmoor ponies and a seal haulout. Godrevy is not far from Gwithian along the beach, it's a fair old trot but fear not as during the summer season you can find lots of places to enjoy an ice cream and a cool drink nearby. Hayle Towans includes a fantastic area called Mexico Towans which is popular with those who love sand yachting and kite buggies.

  • Are Gwithian Beach and Hayle Towans sandy?: Yes | Postcodes: Gwithian - TR27 5BT | Hayle - TR27 5AF
  • Facilities: Parking, WCs, seasonal cafes and beach shops 
  • Are Gwithian and Hayle Towans both dog-friendly?: Gwithian | Between 1 July and 30 September from 10am to 6pm dogs are not permitted on either beach  Hayle | There are no restrictions on dogs at Hayle Towans
  • Lifeguard patrols: Yes at both beaches - between mid-May and the end of September
  • Stay nearby: Bay Watch | sleeps 4 guests

Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth

Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth

One of Cornwall’s most popular beaches, Gyllyngvase can be found in Falmouth, close to from the historic town centre. Set in a picturesque bay with views of The Lizard's coast to the west and Pendennis Castle's peninsula to the east, it's pretty sheltered. At high tide, the sea comes right up to the sea wall promenade covering the maze of rock pools at the eastern end of the shoreline. To the western end, the sand remains for all to enjoy. There is a lovely cafe and bar at this end as well as a park. 

If you fancy a good stroll, the South West Coast Path isn't far away, winding around the coast to nearby Swanpool Beach and the gorgeous Maenporth Beach further around the bay. Gyllyngvase is a good town beach and is great for convenience. It is even close to the train station so you don't have to worry about parking fees.

  • Is Gyllyngvase Beach sandy?: Yes with rock pools galore | Postcode: TR11 4DP
  • Facilities: Parking, WCs, ramp access, cafes, bars, deckchair hire, showers 
  • Is Gyllngvase Beach dog friendly?: Dogs are not permitted between 15 May and 30 September from 10am and 6pm
  • Lifeguard patrols: Yes, between mid-May until the end of September
  • Stay nearby: The Anchorage | sleeps 6 guests

Holywell Bay 

Holywell Bay

Impossibly photogenic, Holywell Bay has long been considered by many to be one of Cornwall’s best beaches. Backed by ribs of dusty dunes and giving way to huge swathes of sandy strands, it is as perfect for energetic games of frisbee as peaceful afternoons curled up with a book or looking out to Gull Rock. At low tide, explore the magical Holywell Cave and spy the wreck of an old Argentinian coaster just offshore. 

Other highlights close to Holywell Bay are Bedruthan Steps which are an iconic set of rock formations that line a gorgeous beach at foot of towering cliffs - there is no access to sea level as the stairs were lost in a cliff fall back in 2021 but it was already a hard-won descent and climb back out. Holywell is also a short drive away from beautiful Crantock Beach and Polly Joke, which are similarly photogenic. 

  • Is Holywell Bay sandy?: Yes | Postcode: TR8 5PE
  • Facilities: Parking
  • Is Holywell Bay dog-friendly?: Yes
  • Lifeguard patrol: Yes - between mid-May and the end of September
  • Stay nearby: Ocean View - Holywell Bay | sleeps 8 guests + 2 dogs

Kynance Cove

Kynance Cove

Starting with probably the most photographed and painted beach in the country, let alone Cornwall, Kynance Cove takes some beating. A halcyon paradise featuring soaring islands, transparent waters, sea stacks and a maze-like network of beaches that come and go with the tides, it is truly a sight to behold. Located on the west coast of the Lizard Peninsula, Kynance Cove is one of the best known of Cornwall's beaches, drawing in thousands of visitors per day at the height of summer. Parking is extremely limited at these times so consider arriving early or walking around the coast path from a quieter part or from nearby Lizard village. 

Other great beaches and landmarks close to Kynance Cove are Mullion Cove and Kennack Sands. Don't miss a chance to visit the UK's most southerly point on the mainland too, the National Trust's Lizard Point. If you love Cornish beach view cafes then Kynance Cove Cafe is unbeatable.

  • Is Kynance Cove sandy?: Yes | Postcode: TR12 7PJ
  • Facilities: Limited parking, WCs, cafe 
  • Is Kynance Cove dog-friendly?: Dogs are not permitted between 1 July and 31 August
  • Lifeguard patrol: No
  • Stay nearby: Pendour - The Lizard | sleeps 6 guests

Perranporth Beach

Perranporth Beach

Idyllic Perranporth on the North Cornwall coast is home to superb wide beach, lined to the north by seemingly endless dunes and to the south with towering cliffs. At low tide, the beach seems to go on forever as the sea retreats a long way, giving it a surprising range when you visit at high tide. The small town of Perranporth forms a small crescent behind the beach and you can find everything there for a superior beach day with your loved ones. 

There is no shortage of places to eat and drink in Perranporth, there is even a pub / bar on the beach, The Watering Hole, which also offers live evening entertainment too. During the day time you can follow the South West Coast Path up over the cliffs through the ruins of old mines and military bases before dropping down into the historic Trevallas Cove and then St Agnes' gorgeous Trevaunance Cove where you can find another lovely beach.

  • Is Perranporth Beach sandy?: Yes | Postcode: TR6 0AQ
  • Facilities: Parking, WCs, cafes, shops, ramp access  
  • Is Perranporth Beach dog friendly?: Yes, but there are a few seasonal restrictions (however, dogs must be on leads on the promenade as far as Flat Rock Steps between July and August from 10am to 6pm)
  • Lifeguard patrol: Yes - between 1 April and 29 October
  • Stay nearby: No 34 The Dunes | sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Porthcurno Beach

Porthcurno Beach

Tucked away on at the southern end of West Penwith, Porthcurno is remote yet attainable. A white sand beach tucked between towering vegetation-clad cliffs, Porthcurno is unsurprisingly popular. Up there with the Cornish mega stars, raw beauty is in nothing but abundance at this unique beach. Made up of powdered seashells and kissed by turquoise waters, it is simply breathtaking. 

Porthcurno is great for a day out yet traditional facilities are very limited. Porthcurno is a sleepy village also known for its two high-profile visitor attractions. The first is the Minack Theatre which can be seen high up in the cliff tops above the beach. Book tickets for a play in the famous open-air amphitheatre, it's a wonderful experience. The other attraction in the village is the fascinating PK Porthcurno Museum of Global Communications, which is home to the eastern terminal of the world's first undersea cable.

  • Is Porthcurno Beach sandy?: Yes | Postcode: TR19 6JX
  • Facilities: Parking, WCs 
  • Is Porthcurno Beach dog friendly?: Dogs are not permitted between 1 July and 31 August
  • Lifeguard patrol: Yes - between 13 May and 24 September
  • Stay nearby: Three Blind Mice | sleeps 4 guests + 2 dogs

Porthmeor Beach in St Ives

Porthmeor Beach in St Ives

Descending through a rich thicket of trees from Mans Head and popping out on Porthmeor Beach is like falling through a trapdoor to another world. Benefiting from the extraordinary light that has made St Ives so famous, Porthmeor’s white sand and tropical blue waters quite simply beg to be enjoyed.

Located close to the centre of town, Porthmeor is the best of both worlds as you are close to lots of places for an ice cream (watch out for dive bombing seagulls - they are extremely smart!) or a bite to eat. You could also trade some beach time in for a bout of culture at Tate St Ives which stands above the beach. For variety, you can pop over the hill to the harbour for views across St Ives Bay to Godrevy and Hayle Towans, or spend time catching rays at Porthminster Beach if the sun has moved behind the hills. Check out our ultimate guide on things to do in St Ives here!

  • Is Porthmeor Beach sandy?: Yes | Postcode: TR26 1JZ
  • Facilities: Limited parking, WCs, nearby shops, ramp access 
  • Is Porthmeor Beach dog friendly?: Dogs are not permitted between 15 May and 30 September
  • Lifeguard patrol: Yes - between 13 May and 30 September
  • Stay nearby: Porthia Flat | sleeps 2 guests + 1 dog

Praa Sands near Penzance

Praa Sands near Penzance

One glorious mile of dazzlingly white sand, Praa Sands near Penzance should be on everyone’s list of must-visit beaches in Cornwall. The beach has hundreds of acres of space for everyone to spread out, it is a popular spot for swimming, surfing and simply relaxing in the sand, dozing in the sunshine. If you fancy a stroll, the South West Coast Path can take you to Prussia Cove to the north and Rinsey to the south, both are gorgeous. 

Praa Sands has wonderful views across St Michael's Bay and down the east coast of the Lizard Peninsula. It is fairly remote compared to a lot of Cornwall's other beach resorts but it's still popular with families and water sports lovers. Before you go, pop into Porthleven for provisions, as there are lots of interesting shops selling Cornish produce around its lovely harbour.

  • Is Praa Sands sandy?: Yes  | Postcode: TR20 9TQ
  • Facilities: Parking, WCs, beach shop, cafe
  • Is Praa Sands dog friendly?: Dogs are not permitted between 1 July and 31 August
  • Lifeguard patrol: Yes - between 23 April and 24 September.
  • Stay nearby: Mariners II | sleeps 4 guests

Daymer Bay near Rock

Daymer Bay near Rock

Daymer Bay near Rock is unique on the list because it isn't on the coast. This beach is found about 1 mile along the Camel River estuary on the north bank between Rock and Polzeath. Characterised by its giant green landmass, Braey Hill, that looms over the beach, it's a big hit with young families because of its rock pools and calm waters. 

From Daymer Bay you can see the waves break over the infamous Doom Bar, after which nearby Sharpe's Brewery named their best-selling ale! Beyond it, you can see the Atlantic Ocean out past the breakers. It's a classic place to relax and play with the family. The same families have been coming back for generations, it really is one of those places that people 'in the know' go to. 

  • Is Daymer Bay sandy?: Yes, it also has oodles of rock pools too. | Postcode: PL27 6SA
  • Facilities: Parking, WCs, unsuitable access for wheelchairs
  • Is Daymer Bay dog friendly?: Yes - there aren't any restrictions
  • Lifeguard patrol: No
  • Stay nearby: Rosemayne | sleeps 8 guests + 1 dog

Seaton and Downderry Beach

Seaton and Downderry Beach

Not to be confused with Seaton near Lyme Bay (in Devon), this long beach runs from the village of Seaton in the west to just below Downderry. It's a great wild beach which will remind some of coastal places in America, Australia or South Africa. It's an awesome beach for seeing a sunset too. 

Seaton is family friendly as there is a play park close to the beach, as well as several cafes near the water. The beach is very sandy and there are also rock pools for children to look for marine treasures in. When the tide is in, there is a concrete boardwalk behind the beach that takes you to even more cafes and pubs in Downderry where you can enjoy sea views from the cliff top.

  • Is Seaton and Downderry Beach sandy?: Yes also with rock pools | Postcode: PL11 3JD
  • Facilities: Parking, WCs, cafes 
  • Is Seaton and Downderry Beach dog friendly?: Yes - there aren't any restrictions 
  • Lifeguard patrol: No
  • Stay nearby: Ndaba | Sleeps 6

Watergate Bay near Newquay

Watergate Bay near Newquay

Watergate Bay, just 3.5 miles from Newquay is surfer central. Its sandy strand is massive, which gives surfers and sunbathers loads of room to enjoy this excellent view. Good news for dog owners too, Watergate Bay is also a year-round dog-friendly beach. 

Watergate Bay is also overlooked by some cracking restaurants and has beach shops and a few takeaways to ensure you aren't short of any provisions. You can hire surfboards and bodyboards - depending on conditions, this is a great place to get surfing lessons or teach yourself. Watergate is unmissable for a superb beach day. Beware, parking is very limited and almost exclusively on a pay-and-display basis. On summer days, it can get very busy, so plan an early arrival.

  • Is Watergate Bay sandy?: Yes. | Postcode: TR8 4AD
  • Facilities: Parking, WCs, cafes, restaurants, surf hire, surf schools, ramp access 
  • Is Watergate Bay dog friendly?: Yes - there aren't any restrictions
  • Lifeguard patrol: Yes - between 29 April and 24 September.
  • Stay nearby: Wren Cottage | sleeps 2 + 1 dog

Map of Cornwall's best beaches

Find all these great Cornwall beaches on our handy map.

Please enable cookies via the cookie preference centre to view this content.

Stay in a coastal holiday cottage in Cornwall

Whether you are planning a short break or a full-on family holiday with the kids and grandparents this year, we have a wide selection of coastal holiday cottages in Cornwall. From fisherman's cottages to chic, modern sea-view apartments, converted barns and restored farmhouses, we have the perfect property for you.

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.

Like it? Share it...

Read more like this

The 12 top things to do in Cornwall

From legendary castles to forgotten gardens, surf lessons to eco-adventures, here's our go-to list of the top things to do in Cornwall.

11 Castles in Cornwall (and the stories they tell)

Cornwall is home to a wonderful variety of castles which are the perfect day trip activity. Discover our favourite castles in Cornwall here.

The 10 best restaurants in Padstow

Padstow is the pearl in the oyster of Cornwall’s north coast and a widely revered foodie destination.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Cornish Horizons is an appointed representative of ITC Compliance Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (their registration number is 313486) and which is permitted to advise on and arrange general insurance contracts as an intermediary.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Cornish Horizons | The Travel Chapter Limited is registered in England and Wales. | Registered office Travel Chapter House Gammaton Road Bideford EX39 4DF Company No. 02431506 | VAT reg: 143053210.