Whether you’re living in Cornwall, or visiting for your summer holiday, a day trip to the beach is a perfect day out for the whole family!
Cornwall boasts more than 200 beaches on a coastline of 400 miles, so there’s plenty to choose from depending on your locale or your family needs. We’ve compiled a list of our top spots so you can find your perfect beach.
Accessible Choice: Best for Buggies and Wheelchairs
If you’re visiting with babies and toddlers, or relatives who need wheelchair access or have a harder time walking, an accessible beach is essential. These choices all have level access from the carpark, sand chairs available to hire, and accessible toilets nearby. If you are looking to find a beach with a sand chair specifically, Cornwall Mobility have a handy resource to find one here.
Summerleaze has level access from the carpark and disabled toilets. A sand chair is available to hire by contacting the Summerleaze Beach Office (01288 352226). We would recommend calling to hire in advance if you are going during a busy period, but they can be available on the day in off-peak times. The waves can be quite powerful at Summerleaze, but there is a large outdoor swimming pool (Bude Tidal Pool) which is perfect for safer swimming.
Lifeguard Service: RNLI lifeguards are on duty 10am-6pm over the Easter school holidays and bank holiday, and then daily from 29 April – 24 September 2023
Postcode: EX23 8HN
Gyllyngvase is often considered the best beach around Falmouth. It is a great accessible location, with disabled toilets and level access from the car park. There are also rock pools to explore at low tide, with many crabs, shrimps, and squat lobsters. A sand chair is available to hire from Gyllyngvase Beach Cafe (01326 312884)
Lifeguard Service: RNLI lifeguards are on duty 10am – 6pm from 13th May – 24 September
Postcode: TR11 4PA
Pentewan Sands is a privately owned family-friendly beach that is open to the public. There are disabled facilities at the Pentewan Sands holiday park. The car park has level access to the beach. A sand chair is available to hire from Cornwall Watersports (01726 842939) on a first-come first-served basis.
Lifeguard Service: No lifeguard at this location
Postcode: PL26 6BX
Public Transport Choice: Best for Train/Bus Travel
If you’re not a driver, or don’t have access to a car, that doesn’t mean a Cornish beach trip isn’t a possibility for you!
Get the train to Newquay, and you will be within walking distance to several beaches already! Great Western Beach is the closest to the station, and is popular with both beginner surfers and families. This beach has plenty of rock pools for the kids to explore, and the high cliff towers give some protection from any strong winds – as well as some protection from the sun in the late afternoon.
Lifeguard service: RNL Lifeguards are on duty 10am-6pm from 13 May – 24 September 2023
Postcode: TR7 2NE
Visit Carbis Bay, a Blue Flag Award winning beach, by train. This beach is privately owned, but open to the public, and quieter and more tranquil than Falmouth or Penzance, which are both also accessible by train. Carbis Bay is perfect for families with teens and more adventurous kids, with facilities to try canoeing, kayaking, and other water activities, with boat tours put on for tourists which may suit older family members.
Lifeguard service: RNLI Lifeguards are on duty 10am-6pm from 08 July – 03 September 2023
Postcode: TR26 2AA
Visit Looe by train, with East Looe beach directly in front of the old town. This beach has something for all the family, with safe water for swimming if you avoid the river mouth, snorkelling opportunities, and plenty of facilities in the town. This is a very popular resort town, and can become very busy during the summer months.
Lifeguard Service: No Lifeguard service
Postcode: PL13 1HA
Best for Sandcastles
To build the perfect sandcastle, you need firm wet sand. These beaches are perfect for sand castling around two hours before low tide – so be sure to check the tide times in advance!
Perranporth beach, which at low tide joins together with its neighbour Penhale Sands to become one of the largest stretches of sand on the north coast, is perfect for sandcastles! It is a great all-round beach, boasting rock pools, a stream, and a cave! Sand dunes are present towards Penhale Point, which is a Special Area of Conservation. This beach is also accessible for buggies and wheelchairs, with step-free access, disabled toilets, and sand chairs for hire.
Lifeguard services: RNLI Lifeguards are on duty 10am – 6pm from 01 April – 29 October
Postcode: TR6 0JL
Praa Sands is a mile-long beach located between Penzance and Helston, and has beautiful fine golden sand. Praa is a perfect family beach, with nearby facilities and shops. This is a popular beach for surfers, as the waves can be quite powerful. There are many rock pools to explore on the eastern side of the beach, and the facilities and cafe are located on the west side.
Lifeguard services: RNLI Lifeguards are on duty 10am – 6pm over the Easter holidays and bank holiday weekend, and then daily from 29 April – 24 September
Postcode: TR20 9TQ
Best for Swimming
Swimming in the sea is expected in Cornwall, and while pretty much all beaches in this area are safe to do so, many are popular with surfers and body boarders. A more sheltered area is best for swimming as the waves are less strong in these areas.
Port Gaverne, near to Port Isaac, is a mixed sand and shingle beach in a narrow cove. The nature of the cove makes this a safe area for most swimmers, with no surfers to avoid, and gentler waves than the open seafront. This area also has plenty of rock pools and caves to explore. This beach can get busy as it is a popular family and dog friendly area.
Lifeguard services: No lifeguard on duty.
Postcode: PL29 3SQ
Porthmeor Beach is a large and sheltered family-friendly beach, with the prestigious Blue Flag award. It is overlooked by the Tate Gallery and several artists studios, with plenty of facilities nearby. It is popular with both surfers and swimmers.
Lifeguard services: RNLI Lifeguard on duty 10am – 6pm 01 April – 10 October 2023
Postcode: TR26 1JZ
Lansallos Cove is a pretty swimming beach in Polperro. The cove has a combined shingle/sand beach, and is semi-circular so you can avoid strong tides. THis area also has rock pools on the western side for exploring.
Lifeguard services: No lifeguard on duty
Postcode: PL13 2PX