Top Five Beaches in Cornwall

Gunwalloe Church Cove is one of the best Cornish beaches

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Gunwalloe Church Cove is one of the best Cornish beaches

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1. Northcott Mouth, near Bude

The rugged North Cornwall coast attracts throngs of campervans packed with eager surfers. Popular spots like Fistral or Polzeath may come with handy hire shops, over-priced pasties and people watching, but don’t expect to have those waves to yourself. For a chance of that, head up the coast to the more remote Northcott Mouth.

At high tide this may look like little more than a pebbly cove, but as the sea draws back it reveals a generous sandy beach – and even the wreck of SS Belem, which foundered on this rocky coast in 1917. It’s not just a surfer’s secret: there are plenty of rockpools to explore too. And while amenities are as light as the crowds, treat yourself to a proper Cornish cream tea or ice cream at local institution The Rustic Tea Garden.


The waves at Northcott Mouth near Bude.

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2. Porthtowan, near St. Agnes

Between the hotspots of Newquay and St. Ives lies a beach that has managed to retain a strong community feel amid the inevitable tourist influx. Yes, it gets busy, but this scenic, sandy, beautifully maintained beach attracts generations of families for a reason. With a lifeguard and surf school, it’s perfect for active types and children, but you can also get the day off to a serene start by joining a sunrise beach yoga session here.

Sustain yourself with spot on fish and chips from local family business Seasmiths, but don’t head home too soon. There’s no finer place to soak up that glorious sunset over the breaking waves than Blue Bar, perched on the cliffs above the beach. Tasty tacos, crisp Cornish lager and regular live music make for maximum atmosphere with minimal pretension.


The beautiful sandy Porthtowan beach

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3. Porthcurno, Penwith Peninsula

Land’s End may be more famous, but leave the UK’s official most south-westerly point to the crowds: this spot just around the corner is far more magical. For starters, there’s the white sand, and – when the weather plays ball – turquoise sea, but those sheltering rugged cliffs hold an even greater attraction: the Minack Theatre.

Painstakingly cut out of the rocks by Rowena Cade, who moved here in the 1920s and dedicated the rest of her life to this astonishing creation, the theatre is a dramatic spot even when no performance is taking place. Booking ahead is essential, but well worth it. An exhibition here tells the full story of the Minack, but don’t forget to wander the sub-tropical gardens that bring another element to this unforgettable paradise.


The Minack Theatre at Porthcurno

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4. Gunwalloe Church Cove, Lizard Peninsula

The beautiful Lizard Peninsula is home to dozens of attractive beaches, but there’s something particularly romantic about this one. Walk through the grassy dunes to this sandy beach and pay a visit to the tiny mediaeval church of St. Winwaloe tucked into the rocks here.

Named after a 5th century Breton saint, the church’s oldest remaining parts are thought to date to the 13th century. Thanks to restoration work, St. Winwaloe has withstood the ferocious weather that has given it the nickname “church of storms” and is still used as a wonderful spot for weddings today.


Gunwalloe Church Cove with the tiny medieval church of St Winwaloe

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5. Porthcurnick, Roseland Peninsula

A short walk from the picturesque fishing village of Portscatho on the unspoilt walker’s heaven that is the Roseland Peninsula lies this sandy, sheltered beach. Popular with kayakers and paddleboarders, it’s a pristine spot for a swim or pottering through the rockpools.

Keep your eyes peeled for The Hidden Hut, which rustles up freshly grilled mackerel, tasty chowder and oven-fresh cakes for your beach picnic. It’s a favourite of Olga Polizzi, who runs the nearby Hotel Tresanton in St. Mawes. Treat yourself to a luxurious stay here and take advantage of the hotel’s elegant 8-metre yacht, Pinuccia, to discover even more secluded Cornish coves in enviable style.


Porthcurnick is popular with kayakers and paddleboarders

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