With over 200 miles of coastline, Cornwall has a huge variety of unspoilt beaches with a rich diversity of wildlife, birds and plants. There are peaceful, secluded coves, historic ports and ancient harbours, fun pebble beaches and wide open expanses of golden sand.
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Our nearest beach is a sheltered, west-facing, sandy cove in the tiny hamlet of Polkerris. It is within walking distance of Penhale Park, avoiding busy roads. There is a gentle sea-shelf, which makes it ideal for paddling and swimming, and the beach is small enough to be safe for those with young children. There is also a slipway for boats.
Polkerris is home to a popular water sports centre, offering windsurfing, sailing and kayak tuition and rental. They also have a water sports shop and a small cafe which sells tea, coffee and delicious local ice cream.
Also situated right on the beach is the Rashleigh Inn, a traditional Cornish pub, with a comfortable terrace, where you can enjoy drinks and food, and in the evening watch the sun go down over the bay. And, opened in 2009, Sams on the Beach is a great restaurant with a really good atmosphere and a contemporary feel. It is located in the Old Lifeboat House, and is glass fronted, to take in the spectacular view over the bay. Sams offers fantastic seafood and steaks, and pizzas cooked in their own wood-fired oven. There is a take away service available in the summer season.
For more information check out polkerris beach page.
Directions: Go left out of Penhale, on the A3082. Take the first left, signposted to Polkerris Beach. Then take the first right down the lane into Polkerris. Polkerris is also a pleasant to walk from Penhale, avoiding the A3082 and the road down to Polkerris. Walking maps are available free from reception. A torch is recommended for late night walks back from the pub!
Parking: There is a car park near the bottom of the hill in Polkerris, near to the beach. In peak season further parking is made available along the top road in fields opened by local farmers, which is preferable as the road down to Polkerris itself is very narrow and busy in summer. The pub also has its own small car park right by the beach.
Facilities: There are public toilets, the pub, restaurant and water sports centre.
Dogs: No dogs between Easter and October.
Distance: 1 mile
Popular with families, dog walkers, bird watchers and kite surfers, Par is a wide sandy beach. The sea is reasonably safe as it is shallow for a long distance.
When the tide goes out there is a large expanse of sand, and there are also sand dunes to explore, which back on to a local nature reserve. On the eastern side of the beach there is an opening in the cliff that is known as Little Hell Cove.
Beyond the sand dunes and parking area there is a large pond with swans, ducks and other water birds.
Friends of Par Beach are an active group who help to care for and manage the beach and reserve, as well as promote and provide recreational, educational, sporting and conservation activities. To find out more about the group and the regular events they hold, visit www.parbeach.com
Directions: Turn left out of Penhale onto the A3082 towards Par. At the bottom of the hill turn left, at the Ship Inn, and continue down this road to the car park.
Parking: There is a large car park right by the beach.
Facilities: There are public toilets, a small cafe and the Ship Inn pub at the turning, as well as an Indian takeaway. There is also a picnic area.
Dogs: Dogs are allowed all year.
Distance: 1.5 miles
Whitehouse beach is in the centre of Fowey, along the Esplanade. It is a very pretty but small, sandy beach, which is uncovered at low tide only. There is a sea water paddling pool adjacent to the beach.
Directions: Follow the signs for the main car park as you enter Fowey.
Parking: Use the main car park on Hanson Drive.
Facilities: Toilets, shops and refreshments can be found in Fowey.
Dogs: Dogs are not allowed on this beach between April and October.
Distance: 2 miles
Polridmouth is another real gem of a beach. It is a delightful, secluded cove with two sandy beaches, which join together at low tide. Along the coast between Polkerris and Readymoney, this beach is only accessible down a footpath, along the coast path, or by boat, and so usually remains fairly peaceful even in the height of summer. Well worth a look if you prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday crowds and you don't mind the walk, which can require stout shoes in wet weather.
You can walk up to Gribbin Head from Polridmouth, where you will see the red and white striped Daymarker, owned by the National Trust. This is open to the public on Sundays throughout the summer, so you can enjoy the spectacular views from the top.
Directions: Polridmouth is within walking distance of Penhale, or you can drive part of the way: Turn left out of the camp site, take the first left turn that is signposted for Polkerris, then continuing straight down the road, past the Polkerris turning, until you reach the Menabilly car park at the end.
Parking: The car park has an honesty box. The beach is a twenty minute walk from the car park, down the foot path that goes past the farm.
Facilities: There are no facilities at this beach.
Dogs: Dogs are allowed all year round.
Distance: 2 miles by car to the car park, then a further walk of approximately 1 mile.
Readymoney Cove is a small, sheltered, sandy beach on the outskirts of Fowey, close to the mouth of the estuary. The ruins of St Catherines Castle on the cliffs above the cove are worth exploring: a small artillery fort built in 1536 by Henry VIII to protect Fowey against French invasion. A path takes you up to the castle and St Catherines Point, where there are woodland walks or you can just sit and take in the view.
It is fairly safe bathing within the cove, but not in the Estuary. There is a small diving raft for more experienced swimmers and some interesting tidal rock-pools. Opposite the cove is The Old Coach House, which was the home of author Daphne du Maurier for a time.
It is possible to walk to Readymoney from the campsite. Details are in our walking guide. Alternatively it is a short walk from the centre of Fowey.
Directions: Follow the signs to Readymoney car park as you enter Fowey town. Aternatively you can walk from Fowey town centre along the Esplanade, following the signs to Readymoney.
Parking: About 150 car parking spaces are available at Readymoney car park, and there is further town parking on Hanson Drive. Both these car parks are above the town, avoiding congestion as the streets are very narrow and a one way system is in place.
Facilities: A slip-way is available for boats. Toilets are open in the summer season, as well as a kiosk serving drinks and ice creams.
Dogs: Dogs are not allowed on the beach from Easter until October.
Distance: 2.3 miles by car
Polruan is the small village on the opposite side of the river from Fowey. You can access Polruan by the foot or car ferries over from Fowey. The sand/pebble beach at the quay has gentle shelving and is fairly safe for swimming, as long as you are aware of boats coming in and out of the quay.The beach is only accessible at low tide.
Directions: Take the ferry over to Polruan.
Facilities: Shops, pubs and toilets in Polruan.
Parking: St Saviours car park, Polruan.
Dogs: Dogs are not allowed on this beach.
Distance: 2 miles (taking the ferry from Fowey)
An ancient port with little pebble beaches either side of the harbour. Charlestown is often home to a collection of large old ships, which are used for numerous film projects around the world. These make an interesting sight.
You will find some great places to eat in Charlestown, and some lovely galleries and gift shops. The Shipwreck and Heritage Centre is fascinating and well worth a visit.
Directions: Charlestown is about 1 mile from St Austell. Approach St Austell on the A390. Turn off at the Mount Charles roundabout, signposted to Charlestown and follow this road down. Just before the harbour there is a small roundabout. Turn right here for the car park.
Parking: There is one car park as described above, plus some (free!) on road parking as you approach the harbour, before the car park.
Facilities: Public toilets, pubs and food outlets, Shipwreck & Heritage Centre.
Dogs: No dogs are allowed on the beaches at Charlestown.
Distance: 5 miles.
Two miles of sandy beach. The area is currently undergoing redevelopment but is still open to the public. There is now a path that can take you down to the beach, as well as steps, which make it easier for people with mobility problems, or those with pushchairs and young children, to access the beach.
Directions: Left out of the park, head towards Par on the A3082, then towards St Austell on Par Moor Road. Turn left opposite Cornish Market World, signposted for Carlyon Bay. Go under the railway bridge, up to the junction then turn left.
Parking: There is a car park close to beach.
Facilities: There will eventually be all facilities. At present there are toilets but no cafe.
Dogs: Dogs are now not allowed between Easter and October.
Distance: 6 miles
This is a smallbay of white sand and pebbles, east of Polruan. Access is only possible down asteep footpath, but the walk is well worth at as this is a really beautifulbeach, with lots of wildlife and wild flowers to spot, and the view from thetop of the path is spectacular. It is often unsafe for swimming as there is asteep shelf and the currents can be very strong.
Directions: You can take either the car ferry from Bodinnick, or the foot ferry over the river from Fowey to Polruan. From the National Trust car park on the main road into Polruan it is a twenty minute walk across farmland and down a steep cliff path.
Parking: National Trust car park on the main road into Polruan.
Facilities: There are no facilities on this beach.
Dogs: Dogs are allowed all year round.
Distance: 6 miles (take the ferry over the river Fowey)
This sheltered, sandy beach near St Austell is popular with families. There are many rock pools to the west of the beach and it is safe for swimming and water sports.
Porthpean used to be a busy fishing village. Now the old fish cellars are used by the local sailing club. From Porthpean, it is an easy walk along the coast path to Charlestown.
Directions: Approach St Austell on the A390. Turn right onto the Porthpean road, just over the Mount Charles roundabout. Go down this road and take the second left, which leads down to Porthpean beach and car park.
Parking: There is a small privately owned car park opposite the beach.
Facilities: There are toilets and a snack bar on the promenade.
Dogs: Dogs are banned on this beach from Easter until October.
Distance: 7 miles
Directions: Approach St Austell on the A390, following signs for the town centre. Then turn (at Mc Donalds) onto the B3273 signposted to Mevagissey, and follow the signs for Pentewan.
Parking: There is only a very small car park in the village. The beach is a pleasant cycle ride from St Austell however, along the Pentewan cycle trail, which is flat and car free.
Facilities: There are no facilities on the beach itself, but there is a shop, tea rooms and a pub in the village.
Dogs: Dogs are banned all year round except weekdays between 8am and 4pm from November until Mid March.
Distance: 10 miles
This is a wide, sand and pebble beach which is accessed from the South West Coast Path. The steep climb down to the beach is unsuitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
Directions: Approach St Austell on the A390, following signs for town centre. Then turn left (at McDonalds) onto the B3273 to Mevagissey. Park in Mevagissey and take the coast path north towards Polstreath.
Parking: In Mevagissey. Follow the signs for car parking.
Facilities: There are no facilities at this beach, but you will find toilets, shops and refreshments in Mevagissey.
Dogs: You are allowed dogs on the beach at Polstreath all year around.
Distance: 12 miles