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Ten best beaches in Cornwall

Inspired by Watergate Bay’s listing as one of the top 20 English beaches 2015 in The Telegraph, we compiled a list of the top 10 beaches in Cornwall.

It proved to be a bit of a challenge for just one person to pick. So instead we set about asking as many employees and friends of Watergate Bay Hotel for their favourites. It’s fair to say we were inundated with suggestions and reasons as to why their choice should feature in the list, however there were some clear, stand-out choices, and here they are, in no particular order…

Tidal pool at Perranporth

1. Perranporth

Perranporth beach stretches out for three miles on the north Cornwall coast, when the tide is out, perfect for walking your dog or finding a quiet spot to enjoy a spot of sunbathing. Because the beach is so long it can feel like you have the whole place to yourself.

The beach is flanked on one side by rolling sand dunes which make for an enjoyable walk or, for those of you who are into your fitness, a challenging run. Local riding stables also take rides along the beach and kitesurfers can often be seen towards the north end.

On top of this the beach bar/café, The Watering Hole, which is only accessible via the beach it serves food and drink throughout the seasons and plays host to some great live bands.

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2. Whitsand

Whitsands is a beach largely overlooked by visitors and tourists but the people of Plymouth and Cornwall have long cherished this beautiful stretch of coastline on the south coast.

Whitsands is accessible by a long set of stairs that passes the very popular Cliff Top Café, or by a series of cliff paths that seem as if they have been forged into the cliff over the years by eager visitors. It is a steep decline down onto the beach but well worth it – sometimes the best beaches are the most difficult to get to!

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Matt Jessop

3. Constantine Bay

This west-facing beach on the north coast is very popular with surfers and swimmers due to the great surf and because the water quality is frequently tested and approved by DEFRA. However, it is advised that only experienced surfers take to the waters at Constantine Bay due to the hidden rocks and strong rip currents.

For those of you who aren’t feeling a dip in the Atlantic but love to explore, Constantine Bay offers a multitude of rock pools abundant with sea life at low tide. Come rain or shine, rock pooling is a great family activity!

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4. Watergate Bay

It would be impossible not to mention our beautiful beach, Watergate Bay; two miles of fine sandy beach on the north coast of Cornwall. Watergate Bay is privately owned, dog-friendly year-round and accessible 24 hours a day. 

We are a great beach for water sports attracting world-class kite surfers and surfers alike. 

For those of you who aren’t necessarily ‘world-class surfers’, Watergate Bay is home to Wavehunters at the Extreme Academy Surf School who provide lessons to all standards of water sports enthusiasts  The bay is so popular in the water sports world that it hosts national competitions such as English Nationals Surfing Championships and European Long Board Championships. Other events that take place on our beach have included Polo on The Beach, the Ultra-Trail SW, and Silent Disco Yoga.

Watergate Bay also boasts some great places to eat, namely The Beach Hut and Zacry's.

Recently Watergate Bay has been included in England’s Top Ten Beaches compiled by The Telegraph and been awarded ‘Excellent Bathing Quality’ by the Marine Conservation Society.

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Watergate Bay Hotel Destination
Lusty glaze beach

Matt Jessop

5. Lusty Glaze

Just south of Watergate the privately-owned Lusty Glaze beach has a reputation for beach entertainment second to none; with a great beach-side restaurant, live music, surfing, a zip-wire, adventure centre and traditional beach huts. Summer sessions have seen Seth Lakeman and The Proclaimers perform on the beach plus the return of Beach Dodgeball and Beach Tag Rugby.

Lusty Glaze beach is situated just outside Newquay accessible by 133 steps or from Newquay town centre.

6. Crantock Beach

Crantock is a National Trust site offering a large expanse of golden sands sheltered by sand dunes. Popular for swimming, snorkelling, surfing and wind-surfing with board and canoe hire on the beach. Crantock gets the odd visit from a few dolphins too! Walking from Crantock the path leads to a sandy cove called Porth Joke known locally as Polly Joke.

Crantock at low tide

Adam Gibbard

Bedruthan steps in Cornwall

Adam Gibbard

7. Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps

Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps is also a National Trust site and an absolute must-see beach; the landscape is synonymous with shipwrecks and smugglers and spectacular clifftop views. A few miles north of Watergate Bay, it offers especially beautiful coastal walks between the two.

8. Porthcurno

Porthcurno, located in the far west of Cornwall, has been described by many as a ‘paradise’. The beach has won several awards for its fine, white sand and turquoise sea loved by families. Probably the most spectacular part of Porthcurno is the open-air Minack Theatre perched on top of the cliff, built in the 1920s; open all year round for you to visit.

The cliffs provide excellent shelter making the beach a real sun trap. There is a stream running down one side of the beach which is perfect for toddlers to paddle in.

There is nothing quite like watching the sunset from Porthcurno.

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Porthcurno in Cornwall

Adam Gibbard

Gwithian beach in Cornwall

Adam Gibbard

9. Gwithian Towans

Gwithian Towans, at low tide, is a vast expanse of beach just north of St. Ives, usually awash with kite and windsurfers due to the constant swell. Seals and sea birds are a common sight at Gwithian, as for many this is their breeding ground. Sealife is also present in the many large rock pools that are left behind at low tide, a firm family favourite.

The Sunset Surf café, open all year round, looks over the beach serving locally sourced food, where possible with great views of the Godrevy lighthouse.

The beach is accessible via a path through the sand dunes.

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10. Sennen Cove

Sennen Cove is known for being Cornwall’s most westerly surfing hub with top rated surfing conditions. Not only is it popular with water sports enthusiasts, but climbers are often drawn to Sennen Cove due to its protection form westerly Atlantic winds.

The beach lies beside Sennen village, a small, working fishing harbour only a few miles from Penzance. The parish of Sennen boasts a beautiful selection of sea-front galleries, cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops. Whilst the beach itself is very relaxed making it extremely popular with both tourists and locals.

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Sennen cove in Cornwall

Matt Jessop

So there you have it, our top 10 beaches in Cornwall. If you have any other beaches to add, which we are sure you will, let us know...

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