What are the best beaches in Cornwall for surfing, families and dogs?


CORNWALL has over 400 miles of beautiful coastline, with beaches to meet every need.

So whether you are a keen surfer or looking for a place for your dog to go paddle boarding, here are the best Cornish beaches for you.

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Cornwall has over 400 miles of breathtaking coastline

Where are the best beaches in Cornwall?

No matter where you are in Cornwall, you will never find yourself more than 20 miles from the sea.

Here are some of the best multi-purpose beaches, where you can enjoy a bit of everything.

1. Holywell Bay

This National Trust site has a mile-long stretch of sand nestled among towering dunes, just 10 miles west of Newquay.

It’s good for surfing and swimming, close to village amenities – including a pub – and has parking for just £ 8 for the day during the busy summer months.

Additionally, eagle-eyed fans may recognize the beach as one of the sets for the BAFTA-winning BBC drama series Poldark.

2. Mawgan Porth Beach

Also near Newquay, this large sandy bay is sheltered at the foot of steep cliffs.

There are some great pools and rock caves, and quite a bit of surfing.

This is the closest beach to Newquay Airport and, close to a small non-commercial village, so is perfect for a more peaceful getaway.

3. Pendower Beach

This beautiful stretch of golden sand with magnificent views has been described as the most beautiful beach on the Cornish Riviera.

For explorers, there is a small stream to follow to incredible rock pools, sand dunes, and food trucks that park at the end of the beach.

Where are the best surfing beaches in Cornwall?

The north Cornish coast is generally wilder and windier – so this may be where you will want to head to catch the best surfing waves.

1. Polzeath Beach, aka Hayle Bay

This sandy north coast beach is mostly covered at high tide, but has some of the best surfing and can be enjoyed by non-surfing vacationers as well.

There are many shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants in the village, which is located near Plymouth and 10 km north of Waderbridge.

It is a supervised beach under the blue flag and recommended by the Marine Conservation Society. Dogs are prohibited from Easter to September.

2. Porthmeor beach

This beach is nestled between spectacular rugged headlands and sheltered from the southwest winds, but the full force of the Atlantic provides great waves for surfers.

It’s not great for parking, but there are apartments and beach huts right on the beach, and it can be found in St Ives with fantastic train connections – and the Tate Gallery is nearby.

This blue flag beach of golden sand has a surf school and is supervised from May 5 to September 30, as well as weekends and holidays in April and October.

Dogs are prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from May 15 to September 30.

Cornwall has over 300 beautiful beaches

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Cornwall has over 300 beautiful beaches

3. Godrevy beach

This sandy and rocky beach is wild and exposed, with a rugged coastline. It’s very windy and great for surfing.

There is ample parking which helps if you need to bring a lot of gear, and a great cafe if you need food after hitting the waves.

The beautiful view of the lighthouse from the north end inspired Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel, At the Lighthouse.

The beach is lifeguarded, has dog restrictions from Easter through September, and is recommended by the Marine Conservation Society.

4. Fistral beach

This one is central to the surf scene: experienced surfers enjoy the eight-foot waves, while learners can take lessons at the hotel’s academy.

The National Surfing Center surf school is also located on Fistral Beach.

And in August, there’s a five-day surf and skating festival with live music and lively bars.

5. Porth joke beach

This beach has crystal clear waters with fantastic waves, and there are vacation homes nearby.

It is a very quiet beach sheltered between grassy headlands, and the village of Porth Joke is only accessible on foot.

Where are the best family beaches in Cornwall?

1. Kynance cove

This beautiful National Trust beach with its white sands and turquoise water is another featured spot in Poldark.

It has islands and caves to explore and breathtaking views, and is famous for its green and red serpentine rock formations that characterize the beaches of the Lizard Peninsula.

It’s not particularly close to any villages or towns, but The Beach Cafe serves Cornish pies, cream teas, and crab sandwiches.

There are restrooms and parking just a ten minute walk away – but the beach is unsupervised, so while the sea is generally calm here it is unpredictable, be careful.

Dogs prohibited from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from July 1 to August 31.

2. Porthcurno beach

This beautiful beach near Penzance has golden sands, turquoise water and high, breathtaking cliffs that shield from the coastal winds.

A stream runs along the beach forming a swimming pool, which is a safer paddle than the rapidly stretching seashore.

The Minack Theater, carved into the cliffs, is a nice walk on a steep path, offering a nice view.

This beach is ideal for families, swimmers and surfers, and is supervised from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., from May 19 to September 30.

There is parking nearby and dogs are prohibited in summer.

3. Praa Sands beach, aka Hendra

This long beach of golden sand on the south coast is ideal for families in summer because the sea is calm.

The beach has easy access to parking, shops, cafes, toilets and many campsites.

There is a surf shop on the beach, and it’s a good place for novice surfers outside of the summer, when there are good, manageable waves.

This beach is supervised from May 5 to September 30, and weekends and holidays in April and October.

The canine family unfortunately cannot accompany you from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., from July 1 to August 31.

What are the best beaches for dogs in Cornwall?

1. Harlyn Bay

This beach welcomes dogs all year round in its large bay of mixed sand and pebbles, sheltered for swimmers and with good waves for surfing.

This crescent shaped bay has a reputation as one of Cornwall’s safest beaches. It’s guarded, near a pub and near Padstow.

2. Perranporth beach

It’s a beautiful dog-friendly beach, only requiring you to put your dog on a leash between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in July and August.

The village is full of shops, cafes and pubs, and the beach is lively at this end.

Further along the two miles of sand it connects to Penhale Beach and Penhale Point, where you can avoid the crowds.

There is a saltwater pool for those who don’t feel like taking a dip in the open sea.

There are also stunning rock pools, sand dunes and caves to explore, as well as a beach pub.

This beach is supervised from May 5 to September 30. There is full disabled access, a toilet and even a sand chair.

3. Watergate Bay

This is a very large beach near Newquay, described as dog friendly.

It faces northwest, so the Atlantic swell is great for surfing and there is good wind for kite surfing as well.

The cliffs are striking, but be careful because most of the beach disappears at high tide.

It’s monitored and recommended by the Marine Conservation Society, and there is parking outside the Watergate Hotel.


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