Beaches in North Cornwall

North Cornwall has a variety of beaches to suit all types. There are broad sandy beaches and small, secluded beaches. There are beaches tucked away in small harbours, and there are those, such as Watergate Bay and Fistral, that are perpetually abuzz with surfers.

Fistral Beach surfer

Fistral Beach image by Tim Simpson is licensed under CC 2.0

Highlights: popular beaches in North Cornwall

  • Bedruthan Steps: The beach at Bedruthan Steps isn’t the easiest to access, but it is spectacular. The main attraction here is the tall granite stacks stood out at sea, but the beach itself is also quite pleasant. The path leading down from the car park is quite steep, but the walk is picturesque and the experience is worth the effort
  • Fistral Beach: Fistral is a surfer’s paradise. Whether you’re a professional or an absolute beginner looking to test the water, Fistral is the place to come and surf. It hosts a number of surfing competitions, and there are a number of excellent surfing instructors all keen to share their knowledge
  • Gwithian Towans Beach: This beach is popular with surfers, seabirds and seals. It’s impressive in size, and very picturesque. There are a number of rock pools and caves, and a convenient car park too
  • Perranporth Beach: The beach at Perranporth is huge. The flat golden sand stretches for miles, there are fascinating rock pools and sand dunes just waiting to be climbed. And then there’s the beautiful clear sea – great for surfing and snorkelling. All-in-all, Perranporth is a truly wonderful beach
  • Watergate Bay: Stretching for two miles, Watergate Bay is a glorious beach with flat sands and plenty of rocks to explore. It’s a prime location for water sports, and is also a firm favourite with foodies, with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant being nearby, along with the excellent dining options at the Watergate Bay hotel. Dogs are welcome here year round, and there’s an annual polo match, which is always a lively affair
  • Hayle Towans Beach: This vast beach is great for families, and has a lifeguard on watch during peak season; however swimmers should always take heed of any swimming restrictions in place as some areas have strong currents. Even during the height of the season, there’s plenty of space here for bathing and surfing
  • Port Isaac Beach: The beach at Port Isaac is charming. It’s nestled in a small cove with the town all around it, making it quite narrow; however at low tide the sea retreats as far as the two piers flanking the harbour providing more sand to go around. With it being an operational harbour, sun-seekers and boatmen share the beach
  • The Strangles: This sand and shingle beach is wide but narrow and backed by high cliffs, which make it somewhat tricky to access. At high tide the beach becomes two, as the sea reaches the headland. Swimming isn’t recommended at The Strangles, making it more of a sunbathing destination - and for that all over tan, head to the northernmost of the two beaches, which is a favourite spot for nudists

At a glance

Enjoy watching the surfers on the beautiful Watergate Bay beach, followed by some fine-dining in Jamie Oliver's nearby restaurant

Head to Fistral Beach, the home of surfing in the UK

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