West Cornwall Cottages
Dramatic vistas, wide-open spaces and an alluring end-of-the-world otherliness: West Cornwall presents a wild, breathtakingly beautiful and historic holiday destination. From the sweetly scenic beside-the-sea holiday hotspot of St Ives and the windswept remote villages of Zennor and Morvah to the end-of-the-line bohemian market town of Penzance, every corner of Cornwall's far wild west is crammed with a dazzling range of delights for all types of visitor.
Set foot in the castle atop Mounts Bay's iconic St Michaels Mount, spy the distant Isles of Scilly dotted in the Atlantic off Land's End, soak up some exquisite sun-baked shores and indulge in a Cornish cream tea in sub-tropical gardens: a supremely self-pampering holiday starts here.
Where are the beaches in West Cornwall?
In short: everywhere. The area is an almost-island-like peninsula that is practically surrounded by coastline. From St Ives Bay on the north sweeping west toward the craggy coves of Cape Cornwall, white sands of Sennen and eastward round to the softly lulling southern coast, there's a plethora to pick from.
For families, the northern coast presents miles of golden sands stretching from Gwithian across five, flat dune-backed towans towards the town and estuary of Hayle. Beyond the river mouth lies the expansive and dog-friendly Porthkidney Beach, and past the headland you'll discover the ultimate in sheltered, picture-postcard coves at Carbis Bay.
Round the headland, St Ives offers two main beaches at Porthminster and Porthmoer along with other sandy stretches at the harbour, Lambeth Walk, Bamaluz, Clodgy Point and Porthgwidden. The rest of the northern coast comprises mostly rugged cliff-lines and rocky coves until you reach the magically real Cape Cornwall and nearby Whitesand Bay – or Sennen Cove as it's commonly known.
A surfer's hotspot picking up the Atlantic swells, both beaches are lifeguarded, with Gwenver to the east being less family-friendly due to its lack of facilities and trickier accessibility. However, its neighbouring main beach and waterfront village has various cafés, toilets, shops and wetsuit/watercraft hire.
For those visiting or staying on the south coast, Porthcurno and Pednevounder are both soul-stirring backdrops, but do keep in mind the tidal movements that can on occasion create hazards for those not in-the-know. Penzance presents a long stretch of flat sands at Long Rock and Marazion – also the gateway to St Michael's Mount, while eastward toward the country's most southerly tip at The Lizard, there lies a meandering multitude of beaches including Praa Sands, Porthleven, Mullion and Kynance Coves.
Can couples find peace and quiet while also exploring the main sights?
West Cornwall is recognised as something of a sanctuary away from the hubbub of modern life. Paradoxically, its popularity as an escapist's destination doesn't mean that you can't find your own slice of solitude as there's a bountiful supply of moorlands, seascapes and secluded villages.
Even if you base yourself in one of the holiday hotspots, there's always somewhere off-radar in the vicinity. From St Ives you'll discover panoramic peace at Trencrom Hill or Zennor village, while wooded valleys like Lamorna and Cot Valley quietly wait in West Cornwall's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) around Penzance.
What are the best options for family days out?
Families can easily pack places to see and things to do into a single day, or stretch out their sightseeing over a week or two.
Land's End signifies the most westerly point of the country and is home to a small shopping village, farm park, free family exhibition, 4D cinema show and bar and restaurant. From here, embark upon the Land's End Heritage Trail, or jump in the car and head toward Porthcurno for some sublime beach time followed by an al fresco matinee show at the famous cliffside Minack Theatre and visit to the National Telegraph Museum.
Further along the coast, Mousehole's fishing village presents a picturesque must-see, while past Newlyn's famous fishing port and art gallery, you'll find its sister art space, The Exchange in Penzance. Take a dip in the art deco open-air lido of Jubilee Pool, discover vintage boutiques and shops in the small cobble-clad town centre and travel onward to Marazion for a walk or boat trip (tide depending) across to the stunning isle of St Michael's Mount.
Toward the eastern edge of West Cornwall lies The Lizard: the country's southernmost tip. Surrounded by beyond-beautiful beaches and crystal-clear coves - Kynance is one of the most spectacularly scenic - the surrounds spill with family attractions such as Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, Gweek Seal Sanctuary, Roskilly's Farm, Trelowarren House and the woodland valleys and creeks of Helford River.
Inland is choc with World Heritage Site (WHS) mining sites throughout Camborne, Redruth and Portreath, which is captured via the 'cultural candy' of central attraction, Heartlands. Here, exhibitions, gardens, art studios and galleries, markets and adventure playground will amuse both kids and adults. On the northern coast, St Ives offers everything from its beaches to Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum. Its variety of watersport tuition and hire includes the St Ives Surf School at Porthmoer and canoeing, snorkelling and stand up paddleboarding (SUP) at Carbis Bay's Ocean Sports Center.
What historical and cultural sites can we see?
If you're after history, it's here in head-spinning abundance. From Mesolithic monuments like Lanyon Quoit to Neolithic stone circles such as the Merry Maidens and Iron Age Settlements Bosporthennis and Bodrifty Round Houses - there's dozens of standing stones, hillforts, cairns and tombs to keep you fascinated and occupied.
In addition, the world-renowned artists colonies of the area include the Newlyn and St Ives Schools, with works showcased at Tate St Ives, Barbara Hepworth Museum, Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Newlyn Art Gallery, and The Exchange, amongst many others.
Where are the best places to drink and dine?
Traditional foodstuffs from pasties to saffron cake and cream teas are ubiquitous and guarantee a brilliant belly fill, especially for families or couples on-the-go.
But for something extra special, there's Michelin-starred chef Ben Tunnicliffe's brilliant (and dog-friendly) restaurant at Newlyn's Tolcarne Inn; the Seafood Café and Porthminster Café in St Ives; and Cornish-Asian gem, Kota Kai at the head of Porthleven's harbour, which is one of the south west's most celebrated, Michelin Bib Gourmant-awarded restaurants.
For award-winning and locally grown wine, cider and juices, Polgoon Vineyard on the sunny slopes outside Penzance presents vineyard tours, tasting and a fully stocked shop, meaning you can taste or take a tipple (or two) of Cornwall's finest flavour home with you.
And explore outdoors?
An abundance of uber pretty gardens and green spaces will allow you to while away some of your time in sweetly sublime style. Featuring various trails, cafés, interactive exhibitions and artworks, West Cornwall's gardens will be adored and appreciated by all of the family.
From the gorgeous Trengwainton Garden to Gulval's tropical-like treasure overlooking Mounts Bay at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, dog-friendly Chygurno Garden and Trevarno Estate (where they also produce a spectacular range of organic skin products) to the walking and cycling wilds of Tehidy Woods, you'll want to remain lost amongst the lush landscape long after your holiday ends.