10 of the best beaches you wouldn't believe are in Cornwall

Beaches, Coastal, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Ed Roberts on 17th January 2024

Cornwall beach

Come to Cornwall to experience some of the best beaches in the UK. Why catch an aeroplane to the Continent or the Far East for a beach holiday when there's so much beauty closer to home? Spare yourself the rigours of passport control and the boredom of long and short-haul flights, and check out some of these British beaches. The ones in this guide may just get you questioning if you really are in the UK or somewhere exotic.

With a coastline spanning 422 miles, there are some outstanding beaches to enjoy while you discover Cornwall - some of which you wouldn’t believe are actually in the UK. Check out these beautiful Cornwall beaches, you'll be surprised to find out where they are. Grab your bucket and spade, swimming cossie, towel and sun lotion, and come and have a fabulous beach-hopping holiday in Cornwall!

Coastal cottages in Cornwall 

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Beautiful beaches in South Cornwall

Sennen Cove

Sennen Cove (Whitesands Bay)

Sennen Cove is the most westerly beach in the UK; with sand dunes and cool waves, it's a surfing hotspot with sunsets to remember. Not to mention, one of the most beautiful beaches in Cornwall. You may think you've been transported to South Africa or Western Australia, such is the magnificent beauty found at Sennen. On a clear day, you can see the Scilly Isles in the distance too, standing in for a Greek archipelago.

The turquoise water and the long stretch of sand make this Cornish beach seem like it should be in the Mediterranean. In fact, it’s just a stone's throw from the most westerly point in the UK, Land’s End. A recent storm in the area caused water to splash nearly 200ft into the air - while this doesn’t happen very often at all, the Atlantic swell makes this a great spot for surfers.

  • Dogs: Seasonal restrictions from May until October
  • Lifeguard: Daily from Easter until the end of October. See the RNLI website for exact dates.
  • Local information: There are restaurants and cafes within a short walking distance of the beach. You will find WCs at the beach car and harbour car park, and there is also a slipway down to the sands.
  • Stay nearby: Tremoor, Sennen (sleeps 4)

Sennen cottages



Exotic plants line the beach, making this Cornish shoreline seem like it’s in a more tropical location. With 300 metres of sand at high tide, there is plenty of room for everyone on this Blue Flag status beach. Put your towel down and enjoy watching the shipping activity in the busy bay in front of you or get your snorkel on and explore the many rock pools on the beach. It's also very close to Falmouth's buzzing town centre, so you have facilities galore just around the corner, making it one of the top beaches in Cornwall. 

With its promenade, this beach is also one of the top accessible beaches in Cornwall, a real treat for the elderly and those who don't fancy a scramble to reach the sands. It's the ultimate Cornish beach for an easy-going day out.

  • Dogs: Seasonal restrictions from May until October
  • Lifeguard: Daily from May until the end of September. See the RNLI website for exact dates.
  • Local information: There is a beach cafe and restaurant at the beach, as well as roadside parking and a car park close by. WCs, level access and beach equipment hire are available too. 
  • Stay nearby: Waterside, Falmouth (sleeps 4)

Falmouth cottages



When you first take steps onto this Cornwall beach, your eyesight is instantly drawn to St Michael's Mount, which dominates the views out to sea. The ancient island can be reached by foot at low tide by walking the 360-metre causeway of granite setts. 

One of the best beaches in Cornwall for families, Marazion is protected from the wind and tends to be quiet even during the summer months, creating a tranquil atmosphere. You would be forgiven for mistaking St Michael's Mount for its lookalike, Le Mont-Saint Michel, found at the mouth of the Couesno River near Avranches in Brittany.

  • Dogs: Seasonal restrictions from July until August
  • Lifeguard: Daily from July until September. See the RNLI website for exact dates.
  • Local information: There are up to four car parks in Marazion at the height of summer, shops, cafes, restaurants, WCS, and easy beach access. 
  • Stay nearby: Blythswood, Marazion (sleeps 5)

Marazion cottages

Kynance Cove

Golden sands and clear water surround the stunning formation of rocks at Kynance Cove on The Lizard, making this one of our favourite places in Cornwall that look like abroad. Wait for low tide and explore these curious formations including Asparagus Island, Gull Rock and ‘The Bishop’. Two natural pools are formed when the tide goes out, leaving great spots for diving. This untouched Cornish beach is a must-visit.

Kynance resembles the beaches on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island with its craggy landforms and blue seas. The South West Coast Path winds past the cove and its blue waters make for a transportive spot.

  • Dogs: Seasonal restrictions from July until August
  • Lifeguard: No
  • Local information: There is a car park that is free to National Trust members, WCs and an NT approved (seasonal) cafe in the cove.
  • Stay nearby: Woodpeckers Cottage, Mullion Cove (sleeps 2)

Kynance Cove cottages



Cliffs standing at 70 metres high surround this beach on all sides, while the bay that the beach sits in has been regularly voted as one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Turquoise water and white sand are a feature of this beach which is overlooked by the world-famous Minack Theatre. Sheltered from the wind in most directions, Porthcurno can become a real hot spot in the summer.

If you find yourself in Porthcurno with no memory of how you got there, you may think you'd been whisked off to the Algarve. So jagged and striking are the rocky landforms along this section of the coast, you may be forgiven your disorientation. We think that Porthcurno really is a British beach to treasure.

  • Dogs: Seasonal restrictions from July until September
  • Lifeguard: Daily May until September. See the RNLI website for exact dates.
  • Local information: Parking, cafe and WCs.
  • Stay nearby: Capricorn, Porthcurno (sleeps 2)

Porthcurno cottages

Great British Coast

Beautiful beaches in North Cornwall

Carbis Bay

Carbis Bay

This striking beach is located near St Ives but you wouldn’t be surprised to find it in St Lucia in the Caribbean. A paradise for swimmers and snorkelers alike, this long beach is well sheltered on the north coast of Cornwall. Flowing down from the Carbis Valley, a stream crosses in the middle of the sand adding to the spectacular nature of this stretch of coast. 

Carbis Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in Cornwall, and it draws in flocks of sunseekers each summer to its powdery sands and deep blue views across St Ives Bay. Look south and you will see St Ives in the distance and then take a look north to the graceful Godrevy Lighthouse. It's an exceptionally attractive part of Cornwall to escape to - you'll be glad you avoided the airports after a visit here.

  • Dogs: Seasonal restrictions from May until October
  • Lifeguard: Daily from July until September. See the RNLI website for exact dates.
  • Local information: Carbis Bay has a car park, WCs, and a restaurant at the beach. There is a larger car park 5-10 minutes' walk up the hill from the beach if the main one has filled up.
  • Stay nearby: Rivington, Carbis Bay (sleeps 4)

Carbis Bay cottages

Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor Beach

The magic of St Ives strikes again with this stunning stretch of golden sand that lies 500 metres long at high tide and significantly further at low tide. The beach is lined with residential properties and bookmarked by rugged headlands on either side. Cornwall’s premier art gallery, The Tate St Ives, sits just off the Blue Flag status beach. Porthmeor is one of the best Cornwall beaches for both sunbathing and culture!

Catch a tan and stretch out as if you were on a beach in the Far East; there are no mosquitoes in Cornwall so you can lie back and listen to the waves roll in and out. It's one of the best Cornwall beaches for views, long walks and beach games too.

  • Dogs: Seasonal restrictions from May until October
  • Lifeguard: Daily from Easter until the end of October. See the RNLI website for exact dates.
  • Local information: There is a car park, a surf school, a beachside cafe and WCs at Porthmeor Beach.
  • Stay nearby: Little Riviere, St Ives (sleeps 4)

St Ives cottages

Watergate Bay Beach

Watergate Bay Beach

For California vibes, head to Watergate Bay Beach and channel your inner surfer at this geographical magnet for all things water sports-related. For novices, there are surfing schools galore and places where you can hire wetsuits and good quality surfboards and boogie boards. 

Located a few miles north of surf central, Newquay, this beach is a popular location for kite surfers, water sports and sand art. The National Surfing Championships were held at the beach in 2007 and it is still a surfing hot spot today - it's easily one of the best beaches in Cornwall for water sports holidays. And if you like the idea of Cornwall as a surfing destination, then check out our guide to surfing holidays in Cornwall.  

  • Dogs: Dogs are allowed all year round
  • Lifeguard: Daily from May to October. See the RNLI website for exact dates.
  • Local facilities: Pay and display car park, surf hire, surf schools, WCs, cafes.
  • Stay nearby: Beach House, Newquay (sleeps 4)

Watergate Bay cottages

Crantock Beach

Crantock Beach

Another Cornish beach within a stone’s throw of Newquay makes the list - last year it was chosen by BBC Coast as Britain’s best beach. The main strip of Crantock Beach is over 900 metres long, with sand dunes backing onto the beach, creating a place to admire the high tide. As with many of the beaches in Newquay, this is a great place for surfing. It's also one of the top dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall.

Also visit Crantock Beach's quieter neighbour, Holywell Bay which shares many of the same cool attributes - a westerly aspect for magical sunsets and a large swathe of sand to play and relax on. It's easy to make believe that you are a few miles outside of Sydney, Australia, along this part of the North Cornwall coast.

  • Dogs: Dogs are allowed all year round
  • Lifeguard: Daily May to October. See the RNLI website for exact dates.
  • Local information: There is a cafe, beach shop, car park and a WCs at Crantock Beach. Car park is free to National Trust members. 
  • Stay nearby: Ocean View, Holywell Bay (sleeps 8 + 2 dogs)

Crantock cottages



Tall cliffs and sandy shores evoke thoughts of Northern California and Oregon - the western aspect also conjures visions of the Pacific Ocean, but behold, you are really in gorgeous North Cornwall close to St Agnes and the beauty of Tehidy Country Park.

Welcome to Porthtowan, which is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This Cornwall beach has plenty of history set around the cliffs that played a great part in the county's mining industry. Today the beach has Blue Flag status and a bathing pool that is accessible at low tide, proving a favourite for children when the tide is out - it's one of the best family beaches in Cornwall. Why not check out some more fun-filled days out for kids in Cornwall with our guide?

  • Dogs: Seasonal restrictions from May until October
  • Lifeguard: Daily May to October. See the RNLI website for exact dates.
  • Local information: Porthtowan is home to beach restaurants and cafes, WCs, pay and display parking and there is slipway access to the beach.
  • Stay nearby: Forge Manor Cottage, Portreath (sleeps 4)

Porthtowan cottages

FAQs about Cornish beaches

Along its 250 miles of coastline, there are over 300 beaches in Cornwall.

The sea is generally rougher with better surf in the north of Cornwall, while the south offers more sheltered sands with fewer waves and the clearest bathing water.

Cornwall's best beaches on a map

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Stay with us in Cornwall

Impressed? We're sure that you can’t wait for your holidays, so make the most of these beautiful beaches in Cornwall and stay in one of our cottages by the sea. Cornwall has so much to offer everyone who visits, from young to old as well as friends and family groups - a memorable holiday will be had by everyone. No need to plan it all out either, just book a Cornwall holiday cottage and see what takes your fancy while you are down here. Check out our full collection of Cornwall cottages below.

Cornwall cottages

The Great British Outdoors

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.