The 6 best Cornwall beaches to visit in your motorhome or caravan
It’s no secret that Cornwall’s beaches are some of the best in the world. With more than 300 spanning the 250-plus miles of coastline, you are spoilt for choice.
From vast, sandy beaches that are popular with families to secluded tiny coves, there are coastal delights here in spades.
The north coast of Cornwall is more exposed to the winds from the Atlantic Ocean and therefore more rugged with sheer cliffs and steep valleys. The south coast is more sheltered with hidden coves, wooded valleys and popular fishing ports. Wherever you choose to take a coastal walk or set up your deckchair, you’ll not be disappointed. And if you fancy seeing the whole of the Cornish coastline, you’ll be pleased to know that the South West Coast Path runs around the entirety of Cornwall’s coast.
Things to do in Cornwall
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St Austell PL26 6EN
Heligan’s 200 acres are a paradise for the explorer, garden lover and wildlife fan. Lost to the wilderness since the outbreak of World War I, the gardens were rediscovered in 1990 and have become Europe’s largest garden restoration project. Call 01726 845100 or visit heligan.com
Tintagel Castle, Castle Road, Tintagel PL34 0HE
Lose yourself to history, myth and legend among the ruins of this castle with links to the legend of King Arthur. With a 1500-year history and stunning coastal scenery this is one castle not to be missed. Call 0370 333 1181 or visit english-heritage.org.uk
St Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Cornwall TR17 0HS
A tidal island linked to the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway that can be crossed at low tide or you can reach the island by boat. Greeting you for exploration is a medieval castle, sub-tropical gardens, a village and harbour. Call 01736 710265 or visit stmichaelsmount.co.uk
The top six beaches in Cornwall
ST IVES BAY
The golden sands that hug the waters known as St Ives Bay, comprise of several beaches stretching from Hayle Beach in the south to Gwithian Beach to the north, with Mexico Towans and Upton Towans in the middle. Three miles of soft sand await you and there is plenty of space for everyone.
The beach is backed by dunes offering shelter and is lifeguard patrolled in high season. The north end is popular with surfers and large areas of rockpools and caves are uncovered at low tide. Dog owners should head for the central part of the beach where pets are welcome all year round, seasonal bans apply in other areas.
How to find St Ives Bay
From the A30 between Redruth and Penzance turn onto the B3301 just south of Loggans Moor roundabout. Turn right at roundabout signed Portreath. For the more central and southern part of the beach, turn off at beach car park sign. For north end of beach, head for Gwithian Towans Long Stay Car Park (TR27 5BT) where there are toilets and a café a short walk away.
Where to eat near St Ives Bay
Sunset Surf Café & Bar, 10 Gwithian Towans, Gwithian, Cornwall TR27 5BT
Sitting above Gwithian beach, the café overlooks the sand dunes and there is also a shop and surf school here. The café offers a range of home-cooked food and drinks, there’s outside decking and dogs are welcome.
Photo courtesy of VisitEngland/Minack Theatre
The beach at the National Trust’s Porthcurno is like something more akin to the Caribbean. This award-winning beach has fine, white-washed sand and a sea that turns turquoise in the sun.
The beach is ideal for families as the stream that flows down one side provides a safe place for children to paddle, there’s lifeguard cover in high season, and the cliffs on both sides of the cove provide shelter.
Up on one of the cliffs is the renowned outdoor Minack Theatre and Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is just up from the beach’s car park. Porthcurno Beach has a seasonal dog ban and is a good spot for looking out for birds, basking sharks and dolphins.
How to find Porthcurno Beach
Porthcurno car park (TR19 6JX) is next to the beach with a five-minute walk down a path to the beach and toilet facilities. Leave A30 onto Penzance Road (B3283) signed St Buryan/Minack Theatre. Continue onto B3315 into Trethewey and turn left for Porthcurno. Follow road to car park on left.
Where to eat near Porthcurno Beach
The Minack Theatre Café, Porthcurno TR19 6JU
Famous for its open-air theatrical performances on the cliffside above the sea, the Minack Threatre is also open daily for visitors to have a wander, visit the subtropical gardens and take in the view with refreshments at the café.
The beach at Pentewan is somewhat unique – it is privately owned by the holiday park that sits behind it. The beach stretches for over half a mile, is east-facing and consists of fine sand. At low tide there are rockpools for kids to explore and shallow pools around a bank of exposed sand that becomes cocooned by the sea.
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Cornwall Watersports on the beach offers expert sessions in everything from paddle boarding and kayaking to windsurfing and boat rides to go wildlife spotting. There’s also equipment hire and a slipway for launching your own watercraft. There are toilets and refreshments located at Pentewan Sands Holiday Park that are open to non-residents. No dogs are allowed on the beach between February and November.
How to find Pentewan Beach
Free car park in Pentewan village (PL26 6BX) or pay and display at The Showfield Car Park (PL26 6BT). From St Austell: On A390 turn at roundabout onto B3273, signed Mevagissey. In 3.5 miles turn left after the Texaco garage at sign for Pentewan village. Follow road and car park is on right. For alternative parking stay on B3273 and car park is signed on right.
Where to eat near Pentewan Beach
Hubbox Pentewan Sands, Pentewan, St Austell PL26 6BT 01726 844189
Describing itself as a ‘laid-back shack’ this beach café and bar is literally located on the sands of the beach so you won’t need to move far for refreshments.
Photo courtesy of AdobeStock
This popular beach in Bude is a great hit with families since it’s less than five minutes’ walk from the centre of Bude and all its facilities. The beach has easy access to toilets, a shop, play area and café, and beach huts are available to hire, either daily or weekly.
A wonderful part of the beach is the sea pool that’s located at the foot of the cliffs. Showing itself at low tide, this part man-made and part natural rock pool is cleaned daily by the tide and swimmers have been enjoying it since 1930. For those that like some activity there are local surf schools, kayaking and sea fishing available and dogs on leads are welcome year-round.
How to find Summerleaze Beach
From Bideford: Take the A39 south, signed Camelford/Bude. At roundabout just after Stratton turn right onto A3072 to Bude. Follow signs for Town Centre then Summerleaze Beach. Summerleaze Long Stay Car Park (EX23 8HJ) is right by the beach.
Where to eat near Summerleaze Beach
Life’s a Beach, 16 Summerleaze Crescent, Bude EX23 8HN
Nestled above Summerleaze Beach close to the shoreline and with sunset views. This is a bar and restaurant with a takeaway option, too, serving drinks and small bites up to full main meals.
A popular beach, especially with families because of the expanse of soft sands and low waters. At low tide there is a large area of fine sand framed by cliffs and dunes. To one side of the beach are lots of rockpools, teeming with shrimps, crabs and small fish.
The beach is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with small, sheltered coves ideal for sunbathing. At the top of the beach are public toilets and a seasonal shop. The coast path above the beach provides memorable views to Trevose Head in one direction and Newquay in the other.
A main feature of the bay is Treyarnon island – a large rock topped with grass that is separated from the mainland by a narrow gully and is a nature reserve home to breeding sea birds.
How to find Treyarnon Beach
From Padstow: Take the B3276 towards Newquay, passing through St Merryn. Just over a mile after St Merryn turn right for Treyarnon then follow signs for Treyarnon Bay. In the village turn left at YH sign onto dead-end road to car park area.
Where to eat near Treyarnon Beach
The Cornish Arms, Churchtown, St Merryn, Padstow PL28 8ND
This is Rick Stein’s pub in St Merryn. Based on Rick’s famous recipes, you can enjoy a simple British pub menu that even includes breakfasts at weekends. There’s a large free car park and a beer garden, too.
Possibly the most well-known of Cornwall’s beaches, Fistral is the surf capital of the UK. The sandy beach is backed by cliffs and sand dunes and a walk along the top of these cliffs (the path is part of the South West Coast Path) leads past a golf course and down to the beach’s shops, restaurants and bars.
The north end of the beach is where the car park and food outlets are located and if you want to watch the surfers do their thing then this is the place to be. You can even bag yourself some surf lessons here or hire the gear to take to the impressive 6 to 8-feet waves yourself. For a more sedate activity, take a walk up from the beach out onto the Towan Headland for stunning coastal views.
How to find Fistral Beach
From the A392 heading south from Quintrell Downs, follow signs for Newquay and stay on A392. Follow signs for Newquay Golf Club. Carry on past golf club and at roundabout turn onto Beacon Road and then left onto Headland Road. Car park is at the end of this road (TR7 1HY).
Where to eat near Fistral Beach
The Fistral Stable, Headland Road, Newquay TR7 1HY
The perfect spot with a panoramic view of Fistral Beach. This is a cider-serving and pizza-making haven with over 50 ciders to choose from, freshly made pizzas and live music.
Looking for more UK beaches to visit on your motorhome, caravan or campervan holidays? Check out our guide to the top 7 beaches in Devon here. And you can find the perfect campsite for your Cornwall holiday using our Campsite Finder.
This feature is brought to you in association with Bailey, the Bristol-based motorhome and caravan manufacturer. Find out more about Bailey — and their range of motorhomes and caravans — on their website, or join them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.