Simple crop (small A)
Simple crop (small A)
Simple crop (small A)
Simple crop (small A)
Simple crop (small A)
Simple crop (small A)
Simple crop (small A)
Simple crop (small A)
Cornwall-family-holiday-trebarwith

Best Family Beaches in Cornwall

Cornwall is special. It gets hold of you like a big sandy hug, and won’t let go. If you went there on holiday as a child, you’ll be wanting to take your own children there. Here's our pick of the 10 best family beaches to visit on your next family holiday.

Whitesand Bay Just shy of Land’s End, mainland Britain’s most westerly beach has child appeal by the bucket load: a mile-long swathe of sand, turquoise sea white-ribbed by breakers and the cutesy fishing village of Sennen Cove with its surf school, fish and chips and lifeboat station. Scrawl your name in house-size letters across acres of rippled sand, learn to surf, play beach cricket or frisbee, build a dam to hold back the tide and befriend a shaggy 14-stone Newfoundland called Bilbo – the adorable canine contingent of Sennen Cove’s beach lifeguard crew (you’ll probably see him riding around on the back of a quad bike). You could also try dipping a net in the rock pools near the lifeboat ramp, spotting seals by the harbour, walking across the bay at low tide to Gwynver Beach (where the surf is usually at its wildest) or striking out in the opposite direction, across the cliffs, to Land’s End. You’ll need to arrive early during high season if you want to bag a space at Sennen Cove’s main car park overlooking the beach. This is also where you’ll find the Sennen Surfing Centre and Beach restaurant; an ice cream van is usually parked by the slipway, while just across the road is the Old Success Inn. If this car park is full, try the one at the other end of the village, near the Round House Gallery. Otherwise, you’ll have to park at the top of the hill and walk down to the beach.

Kynance Cove The rough diamond in the Lizard’s crown, Kynance is the stuff of childhood fantasy. The moment you first glimpse this wild beach on the half-mile walk down from the National Trust car park, countless beach adventures surge to mind – from delving in caves and rock pools to exploring the serpentine stacks and pinnacles that rear above this extraordinarily beautiful cove.Facilities are limited to a single beach café, but it’s the remoteness and solitude of Kynance that makes it so compelling. Aim to get there at least three hours before low tide, when sugary sand envelops the bases of the rock formations. Take care when swimming, as strong currents strafe the cove.

Polkerris A small crescent of sand, partly sheltered by a stone quay, Polkerris combines an idyllic Cornish cove with excellent watersports at the Polkerris Beach Company

Porthcurno The best family beaches hold secrets back, revealing them one by one as the tide ebbs and flows – and Porthcurno is a master of suspense. Stunning even by Cornish standards, it nestles beneath the stone ramparts of the cliff-top Minack Theatre, brilliant turquoise waters lapping its sweep of white sand or pounding the cliffs in a magnificent procession of curling, spray-whipped breakers. Then, as the tide drops, the beach slowly creeps along the rocky coast, stranding an enticing string of rock pools and knee-deep lagoons. Tiny coves appear and, if you’re lucky, a spit of sand emerges to form the perfect ephemeral wicket for beach cricket – best played as the tide turns again and fielders are sent splashing into the encroaching waves in pursuit of the ball. Porthcurno’s most unusual secret is that it was once the site of the first transatlantic submarine cable telegraph station – a museum in the village reveals all. Keep your eyes peeled for basking sharks near Porthcurno – particularly if you venture west along the coast path towards Land’s End.

Hayle Sands Hayle Sands is the collective name for the beaches stretching three miles from Godrevy Point to Hayle Estuary. Approaching from the east, the B3301 skirts dramatic cliffs at Hell’s Mouth before dropping down to St Ives Bay. A right turn leads to a National Trust car park and the excellent Godrevy Café. Stretching away to the south are the unblemished, surf-strafed sands of Gwithian Towans and Hayle Towans (also accessible across dunes and from various holiday parks further south). Continue past Godrevy Café towards the lighthouse and the coastline becomes rockier and more varied, with secluded coves that are wonderful for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking in calm conditions.

Harlyn Bay Tucked into the lee of Trevose Head, Harlyn Bay is often sheltered when west-facing beaches are being pummelled by breakers. A perfect family beach, it has gorgeous golden sand, shallow streams to dam, a surf school and snack bar.

Summerleaze Bude’s spectacular downtown beach, Summerleaze has all bases covered. Sea too rough? Opt instead for the large saltwater pool scooped from the base of the cliffs. It overflows into shallow sandy lagoons that are quick to warm under the sun. Then it’s just a short sprint across hard, rippled sand to a stretch of lifeguard-patrolled surf. There’s no shortage of surfing schools, if you feel like tackling the big stuff, but the beach is so wide and flat that even young children can have fun riding bodyboards in the frothy remnants of spent breakers. Higher up the beach, the sand gets softer, rucking up into dunes by the main beach car park and RNLI shop. To the north, Summerleaze blends with Crooklets; to the south it wraps around the harbour where the remaining mile or so of Bude Canal (dug in 1823) delves inland. Here you’ll find Bude’s gentlest waters, with rowing boats for hire, cafés, craft shops, Bude Castle and a lovely, grassy canal-side walk – the perfect way to get the sand off your feet.

Trebarwith Strand With no sand at high tide, beach-goers stake out the flat rocks at Trebarwith waiting for the tide to ebb. Families with young children might find getting across the rocks tricky (wetsuit booties are recommended), but once you’re on the beach at low tide, Trebarwith is a gem with plenty of sand, excellent surf, rock pools and natural paddling pools. Right behind the beach there’s a cluster of beach shops, cafés and a surf shop with wetsuits and bodyboards for hire. After a long surfing session, bundle the kids up in towels and stop by the Shop in the Strand Café for freshly made doughnuts dunked in steaming hot chocolate. Holiday heaven!

Watergate Bay This glorious stretch of surf-raked coast sees stylish Cornwall riding the crest of a wave. Not only is it home to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, but the upmarket Watergate Bay Hotel and adrenaline-charged Extreme Academy also preside over its two-mile stretch of pristine sand. Watergate Bay is not a particularly pretty beach – there are no interesting nooks and crannies and it’s backed by crumbling cliffs that march austerely northwards – but it is one of those run-wild-and-free Atlantic beaches that are a signature of north Cornwall. The B3276 loops down to the beach at the Watergate Bay Hotel and a car park that backs onto the main beach complex – a grandstand-style building that houses the excellent Beach Hut and Venus Café as well as Fifteen. You certainly won’t go hungry at Watergate Bay. Burning off calories shouldn’t be a problem either – the Extreme Academy organizes surf lessons, there are trampolines set up by the lifeguard station and you can also try your luck at kite surfing. Newquay’s attractions, meanwhile, are just a few miles away across the bay.

Isles of Scilly Two particularly gorgeous beaches worth spending a day on can be found on St Martin’s and St Agnes. Great Bay on St Martin’s is like a slice of the Bahamas slipped beneath heather-flushed hills on the island’s north coast. The sand is like fine granulated sugar; granite boulders form dramatic bookends to the beach and the water is so clear that snorkellers get goggled-eyed with excitement. Comb the strandline for tiny periwinkle shells and don’t forget to bring a picnic – there are no facilities whatsoever. If anything, The Cove on St Agnes is even better. Located on the south side of The Bar that links St Agnes to the smaller islet of Gugh (pronounced Goo), it has squeaky-clean sand, glittering with fine grains of mica. At low tide, long whip-like strands of seaweed are drizzled like honey over the rocks – shallow pools trapped between them crying out for a shrimping expedition. Sheltered from westerly winds that can batter the Atlantic shore of St Agnes, The Cove also has sheltered swimming, and there’s always the added excitement of the tide coming in and submerging the sand bar (just make sure you’re on the right side of it come high water).