While the rugged north coast of Cornwall has been carved and shaped by fierce Atlantic rollers, the south coast faces the calmer waters of the English Channel. This has resulted in many quiet sandy coves with tranquil waters that are ideal for safe swimming and family fun. South Cornwall has dozens of beaches along its 100 miles of coastline. Some offer car parking, beach cafés and equipment hire while others may be completely deserted. Here are our top 10 beaches in Cornwall, listed from East to West.
1: Whitsand Bay
Probably the best beach in southeast Cornwall, Whitsand Bay stretches for over three miles with perfect firm sands for walking. Access at the west end is through the Tregantle Fort firing range ‐ closed to the public when the flags are flying! Other access points are at Sharrow Point, Freathy and Tregonhawke, but all involve walking down fairly steep cliff paths. The bay is popular for surfing, but there are rip currents at certain times. There is a café and toilets at the Tregonhawke end.
There is something for everyone at Portwrinkle. The two sand and shingle beaches have numerous rock pools for poking around and a small harbour. The East Beach (Finnygook) is good for experienced surfers when the wind is right. There is a public car park, toilets and a beach café.
Definitely one of the easiest beaches to access with a short walk on the flat from the car park. The grey sandy beach is popular with families, surfers and dog walkers. It has a stream for damming, toilets, a café and beach shop.
4: Lansallos Beach
This small and sheltered beach is along a Â½-mile footpath from the car park in the small village of Lansallos. Unsuitable for pushchairs, it remains an uncrowded beach with no young children, but no facilities either. However, dogs are allowed all year round.
5: Lantic Bay
Said to be Cornwall's best kept secret, this stunning beach at the foot of steep cliffs has blue waters, usually with the odd sailing boat moored offshore. More Crete than Cornwall, it has gorgeous white sands and is fairly quiet due to the steep scramble down the cliffs. The National Trust provides two small car parks.
6: Carlyon Bay
A long sandy beach near St Austell with a car park nearby. Overlooked by apartments, it has good sports facilities and amenities which continue to be developed.
Another hidden gem, Portmellon keeps itself very quiet as few visitors want to drive through the tortuous streets of Mevagissey to reach it. Street parking is available and the small sandy cove has a slipway. Facilities are provided by the charming pub on the waterfront. At high tide, the sea comes right up the sea wall making the bay a wonderful natural swimming pool, although stormy seas close the road at times!
8: Carne Beach
Carne Beach is a one-mile long stretch of beautiful sand and a slipway in Gerrans Bay. There is a car park and toilets. Dogs are welcome.
9: Kennack Sands
This popular sandy beach has a car park right on the beach with a café and beach shop. There are plenty of rock pools to keep children amused for hours.
10: Marazion Beach
This long sand and pebble beach is best known for St Michael's Mount which stands just offshore. It has good parking, toilets, shops and cafés and you can walk to the Mount across the causeway at low tide.