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Stunning coastal scenery with Newquay beach in North Cornwall, England, UK.
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 14 best beaches in Cornwall

From sweeping sands to thrill-factor waves, these are the absolute best beaches in Cornwall

Written by
Sammy Jones
Becky Dickinson
India Lawrence

Cornwall, what is it good for? Well, it's got Cornish pasties, quaint fishing villages, and of course, stunning beaches. And let us tell you, the Cornish coastline has an insane variety: there are sprawling sandy surfing spots, tiny, rocky coves, and hidden bays with crystal clear waters.

But with so many stretches of sand to choose from, it can be hard to know exactly where to head for a day of sea, sun and sand in Cornwall. Luckily, we've rounded up the very best beaches in the county below. Take your pick. 

🏖️ The best beaches in the UK
🥧 The best things to do in Cornwall
🏘️ The best Airbnbs in Cornwall
🏨 The best hotels in Cornwall

This guide was recently updated by Time Out writer India Lawrence, who is originally from Cornwall. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

Best beaches in Cornwall

Kynance Cove

1. Kynance Cove

One of Cornwall’s most Instagrammed locations, Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula feels almost magical. Pyramids of rare serpentine rock (ask a geography teacher) rise from the water like marbled red and green ancient beasts. A stunning sight, set off by the pale sand and turquoise sea. Inevitably, it gets packed in summer (cheers, social media), so get there early, or wait until September. Whenever you visit, ordering a crab sandwich or a cream tea (jam first, FYI) at the café is highly recommended.

Porthcurno Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Porthcurno Beach

Culture meets coast in this oasis of natural beauty with clear turquoise water and soft white sand, just along the coast from Penzance. The renowned open-air Minack Theatre is carved into the cliffs above for Shakespeare with a view. Performances often sell out but are rarely rained off. There’s also the Museum of Global Communications to visit if that fits your holiday vibe.

Discover the best things to do in Penzance


Holywell Bay

3. Holywell Bay

Away from the bustle and trappings of Newquay, Holywell has masses of appeal – without the hordes of visitors. You won’t spot a hotel in sight. The glorious mile-long beach is backed by a network of sand dunes (if you haven’t tried sandboarding, now is the moment). Rock pools and shallow streams are perfect for paddling and playing. With toilets, lifeguards and cafés, this one’s a no-brainer for families, too.

Constantine Bay

4. Constantine Bay

Constantine Bay, near Padstow, is a children’s paradise with low grassy dunes, a scattering of rock pools and a beautiful wide beach. It’s also a top surfing spot, though that’s best left to the pros due to strong rip currents. There are toilets, a small car park, toilets and lifeguard cover in the summer. If it’s busy, park at Treyarnon Bay and walk for ten minutes along the coast path.

Discover the best things to do in Padstow


Watergate Bay
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Watergate Bay

It’s time to don your wetsuit and get into water sports. Three miles outside Newquay, Watergate Bay is an adrenaline-seekers playground. Think Alton Towers on the sea. There’s surfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and wave skiing on offer. Sand lovers can rent a kite buggy or a landboard. Sign up at The Extreme Academy. Afterwards, refuel at The Beach Hut for funky food and exceptional sunsets.

Discover the best things to do in Newquay


Gwithian Beach

6. Gwithian Beach

Boundless and breathtakingly beautiful, Gwithian rivals anything you could find in the Med. It’s also remarkably uncrowded given its credentials – miles of clean golden sand, jaw-dropping views, pristine water, fascinating rock pools, seals and surf. It’s beach perfection near pretty St Ives, with bags of room for people to spread out. Tear yourself away for cheesy chips at the Sunset Surf Café – part surf school, part beach café. Go on, you know you want to.

Discover how to spend a perfect day in St Ives


Sennen Cove
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Sennen Cove

Sennen is another one of Cornwall's rugged and windy surfing beaches. It's famous for its capricious waters, often having strong riptides and dumping waves. But whether it's in blazing sunshine or its chucking it down, Sennen is unbelievably beautiful. 

Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Sandymouth

With uninterrupted golden sand, dramatic cliffs and waist-deep rock pools, Sandymouth feels properly cut off from ‘real life’. It’s easily accessible, with a car park, café and toilets. In peak season, visitors tend to plonk themselves on the first bit of sand they get to – keep walking, and you’ll find plenty of space. At high tide, sit on the rocks or hike the South West Coast Path. The views are extraordinary.

Fistral Beach
Photograph: Obs70/

9. Fistral Beach

The iconic Fistral Beach is Britain’s answer to an Australian surfing paradise, Bondi (minus the temperatures – you’re going to want to keep that wetsuit on!). The waves are among the most consistent in Europe, with big swells and some cracking barrels. It’s the setting for various surfing competitions, plus Boardmasters Festival in August. Surfing aside – although with so many surf schools, it would be rude not to try – it’s a popular family beach too, with parking, toilets, showers and cafés galore. Treat yourself to some Rick Stein fish and chips.

Bossiney Haven

10. Bossiney Haven

Slap-bang in the middle of historic Tintagel and Boscastle, this hidden cove is easily missed. It’s tucked under towering cliffs, so wear sturdy footwear to tackle the steep steps. With your mission accomplished, you can revel in the tranquillity: there’s pristine sand, clear water and a tumbling waterfall. Look out for Elephant Rock – a rock that looks like an elephant drinking. At high tide, the inlet disappears, but at low tide, it opens into an expanse of sand that joins up with neighbouring Benoath Cove.

Porthtowan Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

11. Porthtowan Beach

At low tide, Porthtowan Beach really is stunning. When the water is at its lowest, you can stroll along the sand all the way to the neighbouring Chapel Porth. Or take the coast path and check out the abandoned tin mines. Proper Poldark vibes. The beach itself is a real spot for local surfers, and there's a surf rental shop that runs lessons for wannabe kooks too. Grab a drink at the Blue Bar after a day on the waves. 

Porthcurnick Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Porthcurnick Beach

You’ll find sublime views, a sheltered beach and possibly the world’s most sought-after beach café – aka The Hidden Hut – at Porthcurnick. This isolated seaside shack punches way above its culinary weight, with locally sourced, outdoor cooked dishes including chowders, dhal, paella and seafood, plus ridiculously popular Feast Nights. Bring your own booze and plates. Be quick because tickets sell out faster than Glastonbury

Charlestown Beach

13. Charlestown Beach

Star spotters step this way. The Georgian port of Charlestown (even the name sounds theatrical) has more credits than Aidan Turner. Besides Poldark, it also appeared in Doctor WhoTreasure IslandAlice in Wonderland and Mansfield Park. Mooch around the Grade II-listed harbour, check out the Poldark Exhibition and mosey on down to the Shipwreck Treasure Museum. Oh, and don’t forget the beach.

Readymoney Cove

14. Readymoney Cove

Fowey rhymes with joy, and what a joy this place is. It’s an ancient fishing port with quaint shops, colourful cafés and myriad opportunities to scoff pasties and ice creams – including the excellently named Game of Cones. Hire a boat on the estuary, or walk to Readymoney Cove – a nugget of sand flanked by woodland, just ten minutes from the centre. Swim or paddleboard out to the pontoon and soak up the postcard scenery.

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