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A visit to the historic Cornish town of St Ives wouldn’t be complete without spending time on at least one of the area’s beautiful beaches. Find out which stretches of sand are not to be missed in our guide.

Porthkidney Sands Beach Cornwall

What’s to love: Otherwise known as Porthkidney Sands, this sandy beach to the east of the town of St Ives is perfect for those looking to get away from the crowds. Dog-friendly but with no facilities, it’s a popular place for a coastal stroll. An easy two-mile stretch of the South West Coast Path takes walkers alongside the railway line above St Ives Bay, and nearby Carbis Bay, which can be reached on foot at low tide. Avoid swimming near the mouth of the river because of dangerous currents.

Location: Around 3.5 miles east of St Ives town centre; 10 minute drive

Disabled access: Limited for those in wheelchairs because the footpath next to St Uny church slopes down through the sand dunes to the beach itself

Parking: Limited on-road parking; pay and display car parks in Lelant within a mile of the beach

Dog-friendly: Porthkidney Beach itself is dog-friendly all year round

Facilities: None

Lifeguard: July – September. See the RNLI website for more details

Surfing: Porthkidney Sands is not known for its waves. However, when conditions are right, Hawk’s Point at the western end of the beach can be popular among surfers

Porthgwidden Beach

What’s to love: A small sandy cove at the western headland of St Ives Bay, Porthgwidden Beach is particularly popular with families thanks to its small range of facilities, including the Porthgwidden Café. The beach is sheltered from the prevailing winds, making it a popular sun trap. Swimming in the buoyed area is safe here too, although care must be taken as there is no lifeguard.

Location: Western headland of St Ives Bay, close to The Island, just a few minutes from the town centre

Disabled access: Yes via a gentle slip road

Parking: Multiple car parks in town (the largest of which involves a steep climb on the way back from the beach). The nearest car park is The Island car park, although this can get particularly busy during the summer

Dog-friendly: Seasonal dog ban in place during peak season (usually from just before Easter to the end of September)

Facilities: Beach huts for rent, toilets, refreshments and the Porthgwidden Beach Café

Lifeguard: No

Surfing: Not a huge amount of surf here but you will find a few surfers on some weekends if the conditions are right

Porthmeor Beach

What’s to love: An extremely popular beach, Porthmeor is situated close to the heart of the town, right behind the Tate St Ives gallery. Both families and surfers love it here, thanks to the good waves, safe swimming and expanse of golden sand. You’ll also find all of the amenities of St Ives town itself within walking distance.

Location: Very close to the town centre, just behind Tate St Ives

Disabled access: Yes via ramps at either end of the beach

Parking: Limited. There are multiple car parks in St Ives but these can get extremely busy, particularly in the summer. Arrive early to avoid disappointment. Visit Cornwall suggests parking at either St Erth or Lelant Saltings station and catching the train into St Ives

Dog-friendly: Seasonal dog ban in place (usually from just before Easter to the end of September)

Facilities: Surf school and Porthmeor Beach Café on the beach itself, serving food and refreshments. All amenities of St Ives town very close-by, including Tate St Ives, other galleries, pubs and shops

Lifeguard: Daily from May – September. Some weekends, bank holidays and school holidays also. See the RNLI website for more details

Surfing: Porthmeor is a popular surfing beach, particularly suitable for beginners and those at an intermediate level, and can get very crowded in the summer. The beach faces north/north-west so is fairly sheltered from swells. You’ll also find St Ives Surf School at Porthmeor Beach

Porthminster Beach

What’s to love: So many of St Ives’ beaches could be described as picturesque, but Porthminster should probably take the crown, thanks to its white sands, crystal blue waters, palm trees and view of Godrevy Lighthouse. The mild climate, calm waters, selection of great facilities, and proximity to St Ives town centre make it an extremely popular beach, particularly with families.

Location: Less than five minutes’ walk from St Ives train station

Disabled access: Yes – although if parking in the St Ives station car park (the nearest one to the beach), the route to avoid steps involves going the long way round

Parking: There is a car park overlooking the beach but, as with all car parks in St Ives, this can get very busy, particularly in peak season

Dog-friendly: Seasonal dog ban in place (usually from just before Easter to the end of September)

Facilities: Mini golf, the award-winning Porthminster Beach café, takeaways, bars, other refreshments, watersports, children’s activities in the summer

Lifeguard: Daily from towards the end of May – September. See the RNLI website for more details

Surfing: Better for swimming than surfing – nearby Porthmeor (see above) is much more popular with surfers

St Ives Harbour Beach

What’s to love: As you might expect, the sandy beach of St Ives Harbour is at its best when the tide is out. The south-facing beach is sheltered by the harbour walls, making it the perfect place for a safe swim and for sunbathing. Thanks to its central location, you’ll find every facility you could want only a short distance away, not to mention some of St Ives’ many art galleries.

Location: Along the coast to the east of The Island and Porthgwidden Beach

Disabled access: Blue badge parking nearby, although spaces are limited

Parking: Car parks in St Ives but spaces can be limited, particularly in summer when the town is at its busiest

Dog-friendly: Seasonal dog ban in place (usually from just before Easter to the end of September)

Facilities: Refreshments, shops, galleries, cafes and pubs all nearby

Lifeguard: No, although St Ives Lifeboat Station is situated on the harbour. This is open to visitors in the summer

Find out more about the popular town of St Ives in our other guides:

If you’re thinking about experiencing what the town has to offer for yourself, take a look at our range of self-catering cottages in St Ives and start planning your trip.

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