Cornwall’s north Atlantic coastline rocks. Whatever you desire it can deliver, from romantic picnic spots to rugged, adventure-packed coves. Select your favourite bays and beaches from our hand-picked selection, including sleepy beaches on the Padstow side of the Camel Estuary to surfy and stylish haunts around Rock and the eastern shores. This world-renowned region has it all, with way more than ‘seven bays for seven days’, as the local saying suggests…
- Mother Ivey’s Bay near Padstow
Soft, sandy Mother Ivey’s Bay never feels crowded, despite its idyllic, sheltered position. It’s hidden behind Trevose Head, near Padstow, and its golden sands have impressive cliffs to the rear – Mother Nature’s windbreaker. Low tide reveals copious little coves, separated by rough, rocky walls: hide-n-seek heaven. Perfect for: beach-goers who are self-contained on the snack front and who don’t need facilities (parking is a mile away). Come prepared and your reward awaits.
- Harlyn Beach
Crescent-shaped Harlyn Bay is backed by rippling dunes. It contains several beaches, each with its own identity. Take your croissants for a memorable brunch on Harlyn Beach – arguably the best of the Bay and a frequenter of ‘Top Ten Cornish Beach’ lists for many a year. At over 300m wide it’s super popular, accessible, family-friendly and flanked by colourful caravan and campsites nearby. Expect plenty of sun-kissed company on your visit. Perfect for: dog-walkers, surf-seekers, surfing newbies (it’s got a surf school) and paddle boarders. Parking and summer surf patrol are big bonuses.
- Porthcothan Bay Beach, Padstow
Often found luxuriating within the pages of ‘Good Beach Guides’, northwest-facing Porthcothan is a winning choice for families and sunbathers alike. It’s got a laid-back vibe, perfect for lazing in the dunes that frame this gorgeous spot. Pick a route around its dramatic rocks, caves and rock pools at low tide, then switch to swimming as the turning tide swallows the beach. Ideal for those staying in Padstow who’d rather spend their time AT the beach, than getting TO the beach. Perfect for: water sports fans and pasty aficionados, with a handy beach shop within easy reach.
- Polzeath Beach
Surf, surf and oh, did we mention the surf? Award-winning Polzeath is a true surfers’ paradise. Its Blue Flag beach draws wave-riders from beginners to pros, who surge in for its safe waters and slow-breaking waves that are flecked with surfers, dolphins and seals. At low tide, enjoy a mile of beckoning beach. As the waves lap closer, they’ll chase you into the local village – no bad thing. Browse its arty shops or grab an al fresco iced coffee or cool beer (while planning retirement to this beachside bolt-hole). Perfect for: learning to surf, perfecting your surfing…and just generally wishing you could surf. On-beach parking allowed.
In-the-know holiday makers absolutely love Trevone Beach, a quick five-minute drive from Padstow. If you have other activities planned and just need an hour or two to quench your sandy and salty thirst – Trevone will rise to the task beautifully. With implausibly clear waters, this compact and sandy cove is ideal for relaxing or rock pooling. You’ll need a quick wild dip in its turquoise tidal pool, of course. Perfect for: lovers of geological phenomena. Trek out on the coast path and keep your wits about you to visit Trevone Roundhole – a massive sinkhole carved out of the headland by the elemental force of the ocean below.
- Harbour Cove
Popping to or through Padstow on the South West Coast Path you’ll soon discover the lovely and often surprisingly quiet Harbour Cove. With expansive views, silky sands and circular walks to take in, it’s sheltered from the breeze by Stepper Point, and protected by rolling sand dunes. The low-tide sandscape stretches for a mile and a half, linking up with easterly Gun Point and Hawkers’ Cove to the north. Hawkers’ Cove is home to the area’s Lifeboat Station due to the infamous Doom Bar sands nearby, which have wrecked over 600 ships over the centuries. Perfect for: our four-legged friends who are allowed year round, and half-day hops from Rock or Padstow.
- Rock Beach
Rock is a small village with a big reputation on the eastern shores of the Camel, just opposite foodie Padstow. It’s carved out a name as a yachty, upmarket destination with a few royal fans…and a burgeoning cuisine scene of its own. The clear and sheltered waters hit Rock’s golden stretches of sand, which smudge into the undulating sand dunes beyond. Prestigious St Enodoc Golf Club is nearby. Even at the height of summer, walk far enough to find a sandy spot to call your own. Perfect for: wading bird watching; ‘Area of Outstanding National Beauty’ appreciation; and boat-spotting in this popular stretch of water. Oh and it’s proximity to Rock central, of course.
- Constantine Bay
Located on the rugged coastline a few miles west of Padstowe, Constantine’s sweeping arc of a beach is a huge hit with surfers and sunseekers alike. This world-class, west-facing wave zone isn’t a one-trick pony, either. The sea swimming is wonderful and its soft white sands frame endless rockpools waiting to be explored by curious little hands. Lie back with a chilled drink, a Kindle or simply an afternoon to while away, overlooking Trevose Head’s landmark lighthouse. The quintessential Cornish experience. Perfect for: peace of mind, with its lifeguard patrols in summer, and those taking a break from the spectacularly sited Trevose Golf Course nearby. .
- Hawkers Cove
Let the masses pick the low-hanging fruit: the peace and beauty of Hawkers’ Cove await those who make the effort to get there on foot. Hawkers’ Cove is north of Padstow, beneath the Lellizzick Cliffs and the commanding headland of Stepper Point. Enjoy lovely views across to Daymer Bay and Polzeath as you kitesurf or windsurf (on windy days) or paddle board or kayak (when it’s calm). Check out the coastguard cottages and Padstow’s original lifeboat station. Perfect for: those who prefer quiet, sea’s edge sojourns, surrounded by magnificent scenery. The small tea garden nearby might be open for treats if you’re lucky.
- Daymer Bay
You’ll find Daymer Bay between Rock and Polzeath, a glorious curved beach flanked by dunes and headlands that is another ‘best beach’ contender. The outgoing tide leaves a mirror reflection on its smooth, gradually shelving sands which, at low tide, link up with Rock itself. Blissfully peaceful and with safe waters for bathing, this is a magnificent spot to chew over the fat of an awesome Cornish weekend, before hitting the road for home. Perfect for: families and visitors who love arriving by boat from Padstow, to add a touch of drama to their Daymer day out. Find parking nearby, with steps down to the beach.