Cornwall’s coastline is unlike any other in the UK.

Cornwall has it all, whether it’s rugged and wild beaches with hair-raising surf or a tropical island vibe with crystal clear sea. From ancient coastal tracks with the UK’s best walks through to family-friendly beaches with all the facilities you’d need for a day out. From spectacular open views to cosy hidden coves and everything in between, there’s simply so much to uncover in Cornwall.

Cornwall has well over 250 miles of coastline (the longest in the UK) and over 300 beaches to discover. While it’s on the mainland UK, Cornwall really feels like its own island community.

This guide will walk you through Cornwall’s beaches and equip you with everything you need to know to enjoy them to their fullest. So, jump in, click around and explore Cornwall with us.

Cornish tin mine on the coast at St Agnes in Cornwall

Our Favourite Cornish Beaches

We’ve put together a list of our top 7 Cornish Beaches. At Westcountry Wanderlust, we’ve extensively travelled the Cornish Coast and had some of the best days of our lives on these beaches. We’ve distilled that knowledge into this highly-curated list.

  1. Porthmeor Beach – A lovely, popular sandy beach. Lifeguarded, with great surf and plenty of facilities nearby (including a fantastic beach cafe).
  2. Fistral Beach – Incredible surfing, a spectacular place to walk the dog and plenty of facilities (again, good beach cafe).
  3. Watergate Bay – This is the beach you go to to be seen. One for the in-crowd. Amazing facilities, plenty of parking (not on the cheap side though) and incredible surf.
  4. Mawgan Porth Beach – A gorgeous hidden cove with an excellent beach at low tide. A really pretty village with plenty of facilities and a really good holiday park with beach access.
  5. Polzeath Beach – Perfect for the kids. Massive beach with level access parking (great for buggies), good facilities and plenty of exciting rockpools.
  6. Charlestown Beach – Idyllic Cornish harbour village, a stone’s throw from St Austell and the Eden Project with a gorgeous little beach. Fun fact, they filmed scenes from Pirates of The Caribbean here at the harbour.
  7. Readymoney Cove – Another great family destination. Sheltered by cliffs on either side, it feels like a hidden gem. Clean (with bins on the beach) and safe for paddling. There are also some fantastic rock pools.

The Best Cornish Beaches for a Family Day Out

Photo by Greg Willson on Unsplash

There are so many options for families looking for a beach day out. Whether you want somewhere bustling with tonnes of facilities or a quiet, secluded spot that still feels safe, Cornwall has options for you. Cornwall is largely broken into 3 main regions:

The North Coast – This is the Atlantic Coast, rugged and wild with incredible surf and plenty of family-friendly options too.

The West Coast – Covering the tip of the Cornish peninsula. Spanning from beyond Hayle on the North, round to Falmouth on the South. Expect gorgeous fishing villages, spectacular golden sands, hidden coves and wild cliff faces. There are still plenty of family-friendly options.

The South Coast – Cornwall’s southern coast stretches past Falmouth to the border with Devon at the mouth of the Tamar opposite Plymouth. This coastline has incredible stretches of woodland and long pebbly beaches. If you’re looking for sand and sun, there are still plenty of options though.

Here’s our list of the best spots for a family day out on the beach:

The North Coast

If you’re looking for somewhere flat with good access for buggies and parking close to the beach, our suggestion would be Polzeath Beach, Fistral Beach, Perranporth Beach, Fistral Beach, Mawgan Porth Beach, Gwithian Beach, and Harlyn Bay.

If you’re after something for your young explorer or rock pooler, we’d suggest Widemouth Bay, Tintagel Beach, Trevone Bay, Treyarnon Bay, and Trevaunance Cove.

If you’re looking for some fun but safe surfing and bodyboarding for older kids, there are some great options. We recommend Widemouth Bay, Polzeath Beach, Constantine Bay, Watergate Bay, Fistral Beach, Holywell Bay, Perranporth Beach, Porthtowan Beach, Upton Towans Beach, and Hayle Towans Beach.

The West Coast

We’ll start with the accessible, sandy beaches the West is famous for, perfect for younger families on a beach day. We recommend Porthmeor Beach, Marazion Beach, Praa Sands, Maenporth Beach, Swanpool Beach, and Gyllyngvase Beach.

For the explorers, the West is full of hidden delights including Priests Cove, Gwynver beach, Porthgwarra Beach, Lamorna Cove, Mousehole Beach, Marazion Beach, Porthleven Beach, Poldhu Cove, and Maenporth Beach.

The South Coast

The South Coast is all about relaxation with the family. Lots of lovely accessible beaches to choose from including Pendower – Carne Beach, Pentewan Sands, Carlyon Bay, and East Looe Beach.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous place to go with the kiddos on the South Coast, you could try Porthluney Cove, Polstreath Beach, Polkerris Beach, Millendreath Beach, and Tregantle Cliff Beach.

The Best Cornish Beaches for dog walkers

Photo by Oscar Sutton on Unsplash

Cornwall is indisputably amazing for dog walking. Long stretches of empty coast, amazing footpaths spanning miles from the beach, and incredible year-round access. We think Cornwall is the country’s best coastal destination for dog walking.

Accessible dog walking

If you’re looking for beaches where you can pull up, be on the beach in moments and let your dogs loose for a run around without straining your legs, these are our top picks:

  • Harlyn Bay – Year-round access, great for a good game of fetch!
  • Mawgan Porth Beach – Sandy and dog-friendly year-round.
  • Watergate Bay – Another year-round sandy retreat for letting your doggo have a good old run around.
  • Towan Beach – A short walk from the car park, this beach is perfect for paddling pooches.
  • Porthluney Cove – Year-round access to a dog’s dream paddling destination.
  • Par Beach – Whether it’s running through the sea causing splashy chaos or a gentle paddle, this beach is perfect for your dog.

Check out some of our more specific guides to dog-friendly beaches here.

Cornwall’s best-kept secret beaches revealed

If you want to have a beach day like the locals, you’ll need to head off the beaten track and adventure your way to one of many of Cornwall’s secret beaches and coves.

Our favourites include Portheras Cove, Porth Joke, Rinsey Head Beach, Nanjizal Beach, Tregardock Beach, and Lantic Bay but shh keep it secret.

Compleat guides to Beaches in Cornwall

Click through this list to explore facts, figures and information about all the Cornish beaches in our database.