16 best beaches in Cornwall

Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall

Nothing quite beats a sunny day at the beach with your loved ones. If you’re looking to find the best beaches in Cornwall to add to your itinerary, then you’ve come to the right place! Find golden sands and crashing waves, along with fascinating birdwatching and some unbeatable Cornish scenery. 

Whether you’re looking for watersports and rock pooling or sunbathing and dolphin spotting, Cornwall beaches have it all. From the prettiest beaches to dog-friendly beaches, I’ve rounded up 16 of the most wonderful beaches to visit in Cornwall. 

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North Cornwall beaches

Summerleaze Beach, Bude

Best for: Dolphin spotting

Postcode: EX23 8HN

Summerleaze Beach in Cornwall

Summerleaze Beach in Cornwall is a wide, sandy beach that stretches for miles. Surfers and swimmers will be in their element here, as it’s a popular spot for getting immersed in the bracing English waters.

There are stunning cliffs nearby and the beach is sheltered from the wind. This makes it a wonderful spot for sunbathing and picnicking for those who prefer to stay on dry land.

Unusually for an English beach, Summerleaze is home to a variety of marine life, including dolphins, seals, and turtles. Aside from spotting these beautiful creatures, visitors can enjoy a number of fun-filled activities, such as fishing, kayaking, and windsurfing. 

The beach is situated just outside the town of Bude, and it’s easy to walk there from the centre. Whether you’re looking for a place to paddle in the sea or take a long walk, Summerleaze Beach is a wonderful spot.

Browse hotels in Bude or discover the best seafood restaurants in Cornwall.


Greenaways Beach, near Polzeath

Best for: Quiet contemplation and listening to the waves

Postcode: PL27 6TE

Greenaway Beach

Greenaways Beach is a hidden gem on the Cornish coast. Tucked away between Polzeath and Pentire Head, it’s a dreamy spot for a quiet day by the seaside. Perfectly positioned away from the hustle and bustle of the busier neighbouring beaches, Greenaways Beach is secluded and intimate. 

The beach is mostly rocky, with a few patches of sand interspersed. It is well known for its awesome rock pools, which are teeming with marine life. The cliffs that surround the beach are a haven for seabirds – and on a clear day, you can even see all the way to Lundy Island!

Discover hotels in Polzeath.

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Crooklets Beach, Bude

Best for: Family fun

Postcode: EX23 8LE

Crooklets Beach in Bude

Crooklets Beach is a small, family-friendly beach located in the town of Bude, Cornwall. The beach is situated close to the Crooklets Holiday Park, making it a popular spot for visitors to the area.

Crooklets Beach was awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Award in 2021. So you can be safe in the knowledge that it meets high standards for water quality, lifeguard coverage, and environmental management. 

The beach is also a great place for surfing and hitting your adrenaline high, as the Crooklets surf break is one of the most popular in Cornwall. Visitors can sit back and enjoy stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean from the Crooklets Beach cliffs.

Whether you’re looking to relax on the sand or catch some waves, Crooklets Beach is the perfect seaside spot.

Find hotels in Bude.


Watergate Bay, Newquay

Best for: Tasty quick bites nearby

Postcode: TR8 4AA

Watergate Bay in Cornwall

Watergate Bay is a stunning stretch of golden sand on the north coast of Cornwall. It’s well-known for its surf, but it’s also a great place to relax and take in the incredible Cornish views.

Situated just minutes from the town of Newquay, it’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. There are plenty of restaurants and quaint cafes in the area, so you can grab a bite to eat after a day well spent enjoying the glorious sun. 

Watergate Bay is one of the best dog-friendly Cornwall beaches, so it’s a great place to bring your four-legged friend for a walk and splash in the sea.

It’s also home to some of the best luxury hotels in Cornwall.


Harlyn Bay, Padstow

Best for: Photographers

Postcode: PL28 8SQ

Harlyn Bay Paddleboarding in Cornwall

Harlyn Bay is a much-loved beach for surfers and families alike. The wide, sandy beach is perfect for picnics and games. While the rock pools are an intriguing place to explore for both the little ones and the adventurous big ones.

There are fabulous walks from Harlyn Bay to both Mother Ivey’s Bay and Trevose Head – who said one beach is enough for one day? 

Located near the town of Padstow on the coast of Cornwall, Harlyn Bay is regularly visited by dolphins and seals, which can be seen swimming offshore in the summer months. Harlyn Bay is a beautiful location for a day of relaxation. Its stunning views and magical dolphin sightings make it a popular spot for photographers and little explorers.

Browse hotels in Padstow.


Bedruthan Steps Beach, near Padstow

Best for: Folklore and giants

Postcode: TR8 4BU

Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall

Bedruthan Steps Beach is located in Whitsand Bay, Cornwall. The beach is owned by the National Trust and is a popular spot for visitors to the area wanting to observe the natural beauty the county has to offer.

The beach is situated at the base of the Carnewas cliffs and offers stunningly unique views of the coastline. There are also a number of walking trails that lead from the beach up to the cliff top. Here you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of Whitsand Bay.

Its name comes from the huge slate outcrops scattered along the beach – not how many steps you need to walk down! Local folklore said that the outcrops were put there by a giant named Bedruthan who used them as stepping stones.

Be sure to explore the charming town of Padstow while you’re in the area, one of the best towns in Cornwall


West Cornwall beaches

Porthcurno Beach, Porthcurno

Best for: Insightful history

Postcode: TR19 6JX

Porthcurno Cornwall Beach

Porthcurno Beach in Cornwall is a stunning stretch of azure water and soft white sand. It’s flanked by cliffs that are dotted with wildflowers, and there are several caves to explore.

The beach is also home to the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, which tells the story of how Porthcurno became an important communications hub in the 19th century. 

Today, Porthcurno is one of the prettiest beaches in Cornwall, and an ideal location for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and admiring the Caribbean-esque clear waters. Visitors can also enjoy a hearty meal or a drink at one of the beachside cafes.

From a day of fun in the sun or taking the chance to learn about Porthcurno’s rich history, Porthcurno Beach is sure to delight.

Browse hotels in Porthcurno.


Pedn Vounder Beach, St Levan

Best for: Adrenaline-hunting surfers

Postcode: TR19 6LF

Pedn Vounder Cornwall Beach

Pedn Vounder Beach is a charming stretch of sand located in St Levan, Cornwall. This beach is well known for its clear turquoise waters and scenic cliffside views.

Visitors can find a number of small caves and rock pools to explore, or simply relax on the sand and soak up the sun. There is also a café located near the beach, which is perfect for grabbing a bite after a day in the sun. 

Pedn Vounder Beach is popular with surfers and bodyboarders, as the waves here can reach up to six feet high. 

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Carbis Bay, St Ives

Best for: Sheltered sunbathing

Postcode: TR26 2NP

Carbis Bay Paddleboarding in Cornwall

Carbis Bay is a small cove located in southwest Cornwall, just a short distance from the larger bustling town of St Ives. The bay is sheltered by cliffs on either side, and a sandy beach stretches out before the alluring clear blue water. Carbis Bay is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike. 

The beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and simply taking in the breathtaking views. It’s also an excellent spot for surfers, as the waves often break just offshore.

In the evening, the bay takes on a new enchanting quality as the sun sinks into the sea. Carbis Bay is truly a special place, and it’s no wonder that so many people flock to this corner of Cornwall each year.

Want to stay nearby? Book the luxurious Carbis Bay Hotel or discover the best spa breaks in Cornwall.


Praa Sands, Breage

Beat for: Pretending you’re abroad

Postcode: TR20 9TQ

Praa Sands Beach

Praa Sands is a secluded beach located in the small village of Breage on the southwest coast of England. It is a beautiful spot, with golden sand dunes that stretch for miles and crystal-clear turquoise water.

The beach is very popular with both locals and visitors, as it is only a short drive from the city of Plymouth. On a sunny day, the sand glitters in the light and the waves sparkle like diamonds – you might as well be basking in the Spanish sun! 

Praa Sands is the perfect place to build sand castles, fly kites, or simply take a well-earned break from work in the sunshine. The beach is also a great spot for surfing, as there are often good waves. 

Discover places to stay in Breage.


The Lizard and Falmouth beaches

Kynance Cove, Lizard Peninsula

Best for: Nature lovers

Postcode: TR12 7PJ

Kynance Cove in Cornwall

Kynance Cove is a popular tourist destination located on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, England. The cove is known for its striking rock formations, crystal-clear water, and white sand beaches. Today, the cove is managed by the National Trust.

Visitors can explore the caves and cliffs, go for a swim, or simply relax and take in the picturesque views. Kynance Cove is also home to a variety of plant and animal life, making it a popular spot for nature lovers. 


Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth

Best for: Paddleboarding

Postcode: TR11 4NA

Gyllyngvase Beach Falmouth Cornwall

Gyllyngvase Beach is one of Falmouth’s most popular beaches, and it’s easy to see why. The sparkling waters and soft sands are a perfect backdrop for a day of relaxation, and the beach boasts stunning views of Falmouth Bay.

Gyllyngvase (known as Gylly Beach by the locals) is also a great place for watersports, with plenty of opportunities for surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. 

The beach has been awarded a Blue Flag for 2022, so you can be sure that it meets the highest standards for cleanliness and safety – both beach-side and sea-side.

Whether you’re looking for a fun day out with the kids or a relaxing break, Gyllyngvase Beach should have a firm place on your list.

Browse hotels in Falmouth.


Dollar Cove, Helston

Best for: Treasure hunting

Postcode: TR12 7QE

Dollar Cove Near Helston

Dollar Cove might be secluded, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a wonderful beach you should have on your list. The beach is well known for its abundant shipwrecks, which makes it a popular spot for metal detecting.

The cove is also a dog-friendly beach in Cornwall. So bring along your four-legged friends for a walk and a treasure hunt. 

Dollar Cove is believed to be named after a shipwreck that occurred in the 18th century. The ship was carrying a large amount of treasure, and much of it is still believed to be buried in the sand.

In addition to shipwrecks, Dollar Cove is also home to an old lifeboat station. The station has been abandoned for many years, but it still provides an interesting glimpse into the past. 

Be sure to stop by Polurrian Bay Hotel for one of the best afternoon teas in Cornwall.

Find hotels in Helston.


South East Cornwall

East Looe Beach, Looe

Best for: Birdwatching

Postcode: PL13 1HA

East Looe Beach in Cornwall

East Looe Beach is a beautiful sandy beach located in the old town of Looe, Cornwall. The beach is situated at the base of Mount Ararat, and it offers stunning views of the coastline.

Visitors can enjoy plenty of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and windsurfing. East Looe Beach is also a great place for birdwatching, as there are many different species of birds that can be seen in the area. 

The beach is well-maintained and it is always clean and safe for swimming. There are also plenty of facilities nearby, so visitors can find everything they need for a perfect day by the sea.

Unfortunately, East Looe beach has a dog ban, year-round – so make sure you leave your furry friends at home! 

Discover hotels in Looe.


Readymoney Cove, Fowey

Best for: Exploring castle ruins

Postcode: PL23 1EB

Looking towards Readymoney beach and St Margaret's castle

Ready Money Cove is a sheltered and secluded beach located on the River Fowey Estuary in Cornwall. The cove is only accessible at low tide, when the river recedes to reveal a sandy beach flanked by cliffs. It’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking, with several small boats moored offshore. 

On the headland above the cove is St Catherine’s Castle, a 16th-century artillery fort built to defend the estuary from French invaders. Today, the castle is a ruin – but its stunning views of the cove make it well worth a visit.

Ready Money Cove is a peaceful oasis where visitors can relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Cornwall. For those who like to take to the water by SUP, the River Fowey is also one of the best places to go paddleboarding in Cornwall.


Whitsand Bay, East Cornwall

Best for: Mini beaches

Postcode: PL10 1JT

Whitsand Bay in Cornwall

Whitsand Bay is a stretch of coastline in Cornwall that is renowned for its rugged beauty and sweeping beaches. The bay is home to a number of small beaches, each with its own character. Uncover sandy coves, sheltered bays and dramatic cliffs. 

However, Whitsand Bay is also notorious for its strong rip currents. These powerful currents can quickly sweep swimmers out to sea, so it’s important to be aware of them before entering the water.

Despite the dangers, Whitsand Bay remains a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Its unique combination of natural beauty and wild weather makes it an unforgettable place to visit.


Looking for more Cornwall inspiration? Discover the best waterfalls in Cornwall or the best thing to do in Cornwall when it rains.

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