Guide to wild swimming in Cornwall holiday cottages

Guide to wild swimming in Cornwall

Cath 21 July 2023

Cornwall has some of the best wild swimming spots in the country. Whilst some may define ‘wild swimming’ as only natural bodies of water, this guide will also include tidal pools. We believe that any outdoor swimming experience where you are exposed to the elements and surrounded by nature counts as a wild swim – and tidal pools are a great option for your first wild swim!

In Cornwall, wild swimming is one of the most affordable and easy-to-access activities available. The physical and mental benefits of wild water swimming are endless too and include improved circulation, enhancements to your brain power and immune system, a release of endorphins (the happy hormone) and a reduction in anxiety and stress. 

Check out some of our favourite wild swimming in Cornwall spots below – why not give it a go for yourself?

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Wild swimming in North Cornwall

Bude Sea Pool

 Bude Sea Pool with beach in background

Set behind Summerleaze Beach, Bude Sea Pool is a semi-natural tidal pool. The pool was created in the 1930s and is free for everyone to enjoy. The tidal lido is built into the cliffs and rocks that Summerleaze Beach backs onto. Bude Sea Pool is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months and an added bonus is that the water in the pool warms up quickly and is often considerably warmer than the sea (perfect for children or beginners!). If you are visiting Bude, read our full guide on other things to do in Bude too!

Location: Summerleaze Beach, Bude, EX23 8HN.
Where to park: The two closest car parks are either Summerleaze or Crooklets.
Stay nearby: Tregantle Cottage – sleeps 6

Porthtowan Tidal Pool

 Porthtowan pool with rocks and water

Photo credit: Explore Cornwall

This pool, fondly named by locals as Mermaid Pool at Porthtowan, has to be one of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets. Hidden amongst the rocks at Porthtowan Beach, many people who visit the area don’t even know it exists. This man-made tidal pool is only accessible at low tide, as at high tide the pool is completely submerged by the sea so be aware of tide times if you head here.

The easiest way to get to the pool is to approach it from the north at low tide with your back to the sea; this way you’ll see the concrete wall as you approach. 

Location: Porthtowan Beach, TR4 8AW.
Where to park: The closest car park is Porthtowan Beach car park.
Stay nearby: Tonga – sleeps 8 + 1 dog

Holywell Bay

 Sunset at Holywell Bay near Newquay

Holywell Bay is a stunning expanse of golden sands between Perranporth and Newquay. The beach is well-regarded among swimmers and is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months. The beach, which is dog friendly all year round, is backed by beautiful sand dunes and, at low tide, magical coves are revealed.

Free from any distractions, the beach is as nature intended with nothing but dramatic landscape and beautiful views. It’s arguably one of the best spots in Cornwall to watch the sunset as the sun slowly disappears beneath the horizon.

Location: Holywell Bay, Newquay, TR8 5PP.
Where to park: National Trust car park in Holywell village, near the beach.
Stay nearby: Ocean View – sleeps 8 + 2 dogs 

Wild swimming in West Cornwall

Mousehole Rock Pool

 Person swimming in Mousehole tidal pool with cafe behind

Photo credit: Explore Cornwall

Situated about a 5-minute stroll from Mousehole Harbour, this is a large, shallow 20th-century tidal pool. Mousehole rock pool is easily accessible, the perfect place for children to play whilst adults can sit back, relax and enjoy stunning views across Mount’s Bay towards St Michael’s Mount and the Lizard.

And as an added bonus, the Rockpool Café is just a few metres away with sandwiches, coffees and cakes – yum! If you fancy something a bit more substantial, The Old Coastguard restaurant is nearby too.

Location: Mousehole rock pool, Mousehole, Penzance, TR19 6QD.
Where to park: The Parade car park is the closest to the rock pool.
Stay nearby: Seahorse Cottage – sleeps 4

Jubilee Pool, Penzance

 Photo of Jubilee Pool

Opened in the 1930s, the Jubilee Pool is the UK’s largest and most celebrated saltwater lido. In 2020, the triangular art deco pool also opened a geothermal pool at the same site, the UK’s first, offering visitors the chance to bathe in natural salt water heated to 35 degrees by a hot water well – impressive!

Whilst here, why not treat yourself to a post-swim treat at the Jubilee Pool Café, serving locally sourced food and drink with views across Mounts Bay? If you are planning a visit, please book your tickets on the website in advance as it can get very busy, particularly during the summer months.

Location: Jubilee Pool, Battery Road, Penzance, TR18 4FF.
Where to park: St Anthony’s, just across the road, is the closest car park.
Stay nearby: Song of the Sea – sleeps 5

Prussia Cove

 A rocky beach with a body of water

Prussia Cove is a small, secluded rocky cove near Praa Sands. Far away from the 21st century, this is an old-world part of Cornwall where not much has changed over the past hundred years – perfect if you want some peace and quiet and to get away from it all. 

The cove is perhaps best known as the home of the Carters, a notorious family of smugglers in the 18th century who were highly efficient runners of contraband from Brittany. This is where the name comes from; it is said that John Carter earned the nickname "the King of Prussia" from a childhood game he played with his brothers.

Location: Prussia Cove Beach, Rosudgeon, near Marazion, TR18 3EL.
Where to park: The closest car park is a small field car park, just as you enter Prussia Cove, about a 5–10-minute walk from the beach.
Stay nearby: Uplands – sleeps 6 + 1 dog 

Wild swimming in South Cornwall

Lantic Bay

 Golden, sandy beach with ocean

Located on the south coast between Fowey and Polperro, Lantic Bay truly is a ‘hidden gem’. Owned by the National Trust, Lantic Bay offers crystal-clear waters and gorgeous white sands and due to its remoteness, it’s never crowded. 

The closest car park is around a 20-minute walk away from the beach via a steep path and due to its secluded location, you’ll find no lifeguards or amenities here, adding to its charm. It is dog friendly all year round and praised for its swimming conditions. However, strong rip currents can appear at certain tides so do always take care.

Location: Lantic Bay, near Polruan, PL23 1NP.
Where to park: The closest car park is the National Trust car park on the main road into Polruan.
Stay nearby: Lowarth Chi – sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Golitha Falls

 River flowing through Golitha woodland

Golitha Falls are one of the most popular natural beauty spots on Bodmin Moor. This area is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and with good reason; the combination of woodland, waterfalls and cascades here make for a very special experience. 

The area is managed by Natural England and stretches from Draynes Bridge in the east to Treverbyn Bridge in the west. Take a dip in the plunge pools at the bottom of the cascades, just be careful on the rocks. Golitha is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the county, discover more epic waterfalls in Cornwall in our guide.

Location: Golitha Falls, Liskeard, PL14 6RX.
Where to park: The closest car park is Golitha Falls car park.
Stay nearby: The Gatherings – sleeps 14 + 3 dogs

Safety first!

If you are new to wild swimming, here are some recommendations:

  • Go with other people or tell someone where you’re going
  • Start with beaches that are lifeguarded or in one of the tidal pools
  • Always wear appropriate clothing and bring a change of warm clothes for after
  • Make sure that you are always visible in the water
  • Always consider the depth of the water, the current, tides and surf conditions
  • Don’t swim if you are intoxicated in any way

Map of wild swimming spots

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Stay with us in Cornwall

Are you ready to book a holiday cottage in Cornwall and want to try some of these wild swimming spots for yourself? Browse our wide range of self-catering holiday homes and cottages today. From romantic cottages for a weekend escape just for two, to larger properties for the whole family, we have a great selection of cottages in Cornwall for your next break.

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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