10 Beaches You Must Visit When in Cornwall: Part 1

“If you don’t live life on the edge, you will never see the view”

If you don’t already know that Cornwall is one of my favourite places in the entire world, then you soon will. Year upon year I return to the place and still find I’m discovering both new and exquisite places. As a destination it has everything, in fact if you could guarantee the weather it would be one of the ultimate travel destinations… That’s not to say it isn’t mind you.

Cornwall’s beaches which attract surfers and travellers alike are a thing of beauty, and there is no doubt about that. But what makes Cornish beaches so special?
They are of course beautiful and clean, but many destinations have beaches with this quality. Cornwall has picturesque beaches in abundance, some well-known, and others not so much, but what continues to grab my imagination in an illuminating fashion is the uniqueness of each beach here. Although only separated by mere miles, the differences are substantial. Just like humans, animals, and even places, they have a personality, a soul, a character which all differ from one another… something which makes you sit up and take notice.

Like I said Cornwall is a land of exploration, which even after the many years of visiting I continue to discover. In all honesty I have merely scratched the surface, but I’m of the opinion that when in Cornwall some beaches must be visited. Remember this is not a list of the ‘10 Best Cornish Beaches’. I genuinely think that would be an impossible article, mainly down to the subjectivity and the vast number of amazing coastline spots. Unfortunately, many incredible beaches will be missed out, but this does not mean that they are not a must to see. These beaches have been chosen as they hold something special personally, with a uniqueness or quirk which has given me some inspiration to share with yourselves and others.
So, time to begin with part 1, and the first 5 beaches you must visit when in Cornwall…

 

Lusty Glaze

Situated merely a stone’s throw away from the centre of Newquay lies a beach which not only epitomizes uniqueness, but revels in it. It is a personal favourite of mine for a reason, and you’d be foolish to write it off for its location alone. So, sit back and let me persuade you as to why Lusty Glaze is the place to be, especially on one of those sunny evenings in which we relish.

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Sunsets are a thing of beauty. Watching the sun gradually diminish on its trajectory towards the horizon before eventually it is no more, leaving a vast array of colours and views in its wake is somewhat captivating.
If you, like me are also captivated by sunsets then Lusty Glaze is sure to be a new-found favourite of yours too. This small alcove sheltered away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby town centre, is in fact situated in a prime position. Summer months are lucky enough to have the sun set in almost perfect symmetry with the beach, although don’t let this put you off visiting at other points of the year. A vivid sunset can be seen all year round, you just might have to position yourself at slightly varied angles to view it. The key for Lusty Glaze is that accompanying a knockout sunset, the beach has a somewhat exclusive feel. It’s like you’re closed off from the stress of life and the outside world. Quiet, peaceful and relaxing… an ideal scenario for those wanting to watch the sun go down.

As settings go its top of the range, no doubt, but what separates it from the rest? What gives it that unique touch? What sends it from being nice to special?
Well as you wander down the steps to this small privately-owned cove, you will find at the back of the beach set up on the rocks a restaurant and bar. It certainly is unique. With a rustic feel the décor is fantastically laid out. From cosy sofas to cuddle up by a blazing log fire, to a terrace where you can watch the sun disappear whilst listening to music. It’s stupendous, and if that doesn’t convince you then let me add that the food is top notch, with service to match anywhere I’ve been before. It gets better though. Lusty Glaze throughout the year (especially summer months) holds many an event. From chilled live music on an evening, to actual concerts. They even have their own accommodation on the beach. A few select cabins (once again immaculately designed and maintained) are available for those wishing to do something slightly special… Really this beach has it all!
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 LUSTY GLAZE, LUSTY GLAZE ROAD, NEWQUAY, CORNWALL, TR7 3AE
 CONTACT - +44(01637)872444 INFO@LUSTYGLAZE.CO.UK

Fistral Beach

Well the question is how could you visit Cornwall and not go to the home of British surfing?
A huge widespread beach with scenic views and big waves ensures Fistral is not only popular amongst the surf community, but nearly all who visit. Surfing is of course a big pull for the place, and from competitive competitions including the international Boardmasters event to amateurs just looking for the thrill, it is easy to see why it is a favourite for those who like to ride the oceans ripples.

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However, there is more to Fistral than the ripcurls which hit its shoreline. Go explore and you will find the wonderful Seaspray café with its timber structure, situated above a reef like area on the southern end of the beach. Whereas on the northern side you’ll find the new and rebuilt boardwalk. Washed away by a huge storm a few years back, now improved and home to some quaint bars, restaurants and shops. Both of which offer stunning angles of the beach if you like your views.

It is quite easy to miss one of Fistral’s best kept secrets though,  unless you continue to walk around the headland from the boardwalk. Only a short distance past the iconic Headland Hotel, hidden away from the hustle and bustle, is the imaginatively named Little Fistral. The tiny beach situated in a sheltered alcove is truly a work of art, and the cherry on top of the extravagant cake that is Fistral Beach.

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FISTRAL BEACH, NEWQUAY, CORNWALL, TR7 1HY

Pedn Vounder

If you’re looking for quirky then Pedn Vounder tops the lot. Situated in the south most tip of Cornwall this beach really is a sight which cannot be missed. This may not be a list of the 10 best beaches in Cornwall, but Pedn Vounder could quite easily make it onto any list of best beaches. However, it isn’t just its beauty which make it a must visit for all those travelling around Cornwall.
I stumbled across a picture of Pedn Vounder by mere coincidence before my latest trip, and I was immediately mesmerized by it. The trip being referred to was going to be quite important, as after years of persuasion it was the first time I would be taking my Spanish partner to this wonderful area of England which I held so dear to me. I remember sending her the photo not long after expecting her to be just as in awe as myself, but instead got the response “I haven’t got the money to go to the Maldives Joe…”

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In fairness to her, on reflection it did look like the Maldives, but surely this was just some very good photography and bit of photoshop… right?

Wrong. The sea which surrounds Pedn Vounder is both clear and turquoise in colour, and wouldn’t look out of place in a brochure for the Caribbean. But something quite spectacular occurs on this tidal beach which makes it so iconic, and different to any other beach around. When the tide turns the beach is engulfed with shallow water. Shallow water which with the clearness of the ocean and the white sands underneath gives you something truly beautiful. As a spit of sand rises above the water in the centre of the beach, an almost perfect illusion of a miniature desert island appears. Mystical, magical and totally awe inspiring.

To get to the beach is a challenge on its own. After taking a lovely scenic walk through countryside fields you reach the end of the land, where begins the treacherous descent to the beach. It isn’t for the faint hearted or those who aren’t nimble of foot that’s for certain, but ensures the beach is isolated and not overly crowded.
Due to it being slightly off the beaten track it might be worth mentioning at this point that it has become a bit of a naturist hotspot, and I’ll leave it at that. However, if you are willing to risk the dangerous road down and aren’t fazed by people in their birthday suits, you will certainly reap the rewards. If you aren’t up for this though then it’s not all doom and gloom. You can either perch yourself on the cliff face above which provides a fantastic birds eye view of the beach, or alternatively visit the Minnack Theatre. Both of which provide stunning views of Pedn Vounder and its coastline from a unique perspective.

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PEDN VOUNDER, PORTHCURNO, CORNWALL, TR19 6LF

 St Ives

St Ives… That little coastal town, home to a bunch of militant seagulls. Famed for its picturesque appearance and harbour, whilst being full of quaint shops and cafes has its beach overlooked more often than not by visitors (I hasten to add that this doesn’t mean it is not appreciated). So, whether you’re just thinking of visiting, or plan on making it your base for a trip let’s have a look at why more attention should be paid to the St Ives oceanfront.

Now don’t think I’m trying to distract you from the beauties of the town or it’s harbour, these are what give this beach that extra bit of special. For Cornwall and its beaches, the majority won’t be found literally on the edge of one of the most iconic places in Britain. With so much to see and do it’s understandable that the beach itself normally takes a bit of a backseat. However with clean sands, plenty of space, and waters which are delightfully clear, you can begin to wonder how often you’ll sit on such a beach and be in the shadow of somewhere so marvellous. To coin a phrase is it better to be inside something stunning looking out upon on the rest, or to be inside the rest and look out upon something stunning?… I paraphrased there a little. But hopefully you catch my drift. The beach is absolutely made by its location, and although the best views are probably found at the end of the harbour wall where you can view across St Ives like its popping out at you from a postcard, you can’t beat getting the sand beneath your feet.

Unfortunately, St Ives does have an issue with its Seagulls, and it brings into question whether that’s why people tend to sidestep the beach. It’s a very British thing taking a packed lunch to the beach, the only difference when in Cornwall is that you should probably swap the sandwiches for pasties. St Ives is perfect for it as well, with the number of places you can pick up some award winning fresh food to snack on. However, if you do take your food to the beach, speaking from experience you will instantly regret it. These birds are far more aggressive than you will have ever encountered, and to top it off they’re not daft, hunting in packs with distraction their key tactic. Many humans take refuge scattered along the harbour wall instead of the beach, taking a chance that the buildings and vast amounts of people will provide them refuge… in this case safety in numbers does not apply. All that being said, when the tides out take a walk past all the beached boats in the harbour, and around the corner to the right and settle yourself down. On a summers day, you can bask in the sun and maybe even go for paddle in the calm crystal coloured waters away from all the crowds which cram the streets around the harbour front. You won’t regret it, just remember ditch the food and don’t feed the birds!

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 ST IVES, CORNWALL, TR26, 1LG

Crantock Beach

There’s just something about beaches which can get your imagination running, especially as a child. Whether it’s the caves, rock pools, or sand dunes it’s a place where the mind can run free, and adventures can be had. As an adult your brain obviously matures, and that expansive imagination you once had starts to unfortunately be supressed. There is however an inner child in all of us just waiting to burst out of our adulthood shells, and for me beaches can still have that effect.

I’ve been visiting Crantock since my first Cornish trip, so I’ve been able to enjoy the beach both as a child and an adult. A wide beach with acres of space, set amongst some awesome dunes, which have provided me and many other youngsters endless fun throughout the years. A natural playground which sits as a perfect backdrop to a beach which is often open to the elements. This only seems to make it more exhilarating for young ones, for adults though a wind-break might be advisable.

However, Crantocks showpiece isn’t what most would suspect, and it goes by the name of the Gannel. A river estuary which weaves its way towards the Atlantic Ocean dividing Crantock from the town of Newquay. Make your way down from the Pentire Point side amongst an array of stunning plants and trees, taking in some of the breath-taking views which come at high tide. On a sunny day its quite easy to get lost in your imagination here, with views reminiscent of a tropical rain forest cut open with a large winding river.

By the time you make it to the bottom a little ferry awaits to transport you across the waters to the beach. On the other hand when the sea is out, all that’s required to get to Crantock is a tiny footbridge and a walk across the damp sand opposite which will be drying out in the midday sun. The Gannel comes and goes at a rate of knots, constantly transforming from a tame little stream into a deep current driven river… As beautiful as it is dangerous. There is much to discover here, but it’s worth exploring and finding out these hidden treasures for yourself. It’s certainly got intrigue about it, and for those who’ve heard the “Gannel Crake” even more so. A shocking sound heard both day and night which no one has yet been able to determine the cause of. There is of course both logical and mythical explanations for this phenomenon, it just depends on where you want to let your imagination take you.

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CRANTOCK BEACH, CRANTOCK, CORNWALL, TR8 5RN

10 Beaches You Must Visit When in Cornwall: Part 2

Boa Vista, Cape Verde

 

“Time does not change us. It just unfold us” — Max Frisch

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With the passing of every second our world is ever changing. From lifestyles to the latest trends modern pop-culture is on a continual shift, and with that comes development, progress, and inevitably change. What we consider the norm will eventually be consigned to history, with what we witness with our very eyes unable to be experienced again. Not only does this relate to the trends of our society or landmark moments though. It is important through our travels to observe how the world around is also going through significant changes, some of which can be seen in a positive light, whereas others most definitely negative. Cape Verde (or Cabo Verde as it’s known by its inhabitants), is one of those places which at this very moment in time you can observe change happening quickly before your very eyes.

 

These 10 volcanic islands situated in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Senegal had once been colonized by the Portuguese until independence in the 1970’s, and although Portuguese is widely used it is the culture and language of Cape Verdean Creole which you will find to be much more commonly associated with the country. A 3rd world country only 10 years ago now considered 2nd world, with tourism playing a key role in this. Island tranquillity is provided for a relatively cheap cost in comparison to other similar resorts due to its relatively unknown tourism status, and although it is becoming more aware of it’s certainly still a very up-and-coming destination… But the question is for how long?

 

On arrival to Boa Vista you get a real sense of how as a country it’s still very raw. An open top airport not much bigger than your local supermarket, with a structure which resembles that of a beach rum shack greets excited newcomers to the island. However, it is on the journey out from the airport that the landscape really grabs your attention. A landscape of rough barrenness for as far as the eye can see, which if it wasn’t for the considerable number of goats wandering about, you could be forgiven for thinking that you had in fact landed on Mars. The roads (or lack of) leave something to be desired, and might be all fun and games if you were Lewis Hamilton in a rally car, but it just isn’t the terrain for large coaches full of tourists or those who get easily car sick. If however you do survive the journey, it instantly becomes apparent as to why the islands stock is on the rise. As you reach the coast feast your eyes upon a crystal-clear ocean, accompanied by miles upon miles of untouched beach with sand as white as snow.

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The vast amounts of unspoilt beach and clear turquoise ocean is by far one of Cape Verdes biggest selling points. Not only that but because of the endless amount of coastline it’s far from crowded, and realistically you could quite easily walk to a spot of beach and not have a sole in sight if that’s what you wished for. With a warm sunny climate all year round, it provides an almost perfect travel destination weatherwise.
I say almost perfect because it is a windy island, ranging from gentle breezes to full on “batten down the hatches” style storms.  

 

Unfortunately, the amazing coastline does have its quirks as the Atlantic Ocean aggressively attacks the island with a vicious undercurrent, and ferocious waves which break right at the edge of the water. The major hotels do provide lifeguards and a designated swim area, although they will be red-flagged more often than you manage to over indulge in the all-inclusive bar. If you are lucky enough to land a day where the sea is relatively calm you must take advantage, as most of the time even paddling up to your knees can feel like a game of Russian roulette. If you’re able to be content and accept that you might not be able to spend your entire holiday bathing in the crystal-clear waters, and are more than happy to cool off in natural salt water swimming pools then it shouldn’t be an issue. To be honest, on some days where the ocean is at its most volatile my advice is take a seat, sit back, and enjoy the show. The awesome force of nature surrounded by tranquillity in its essence is truly spectacular.

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There is alternatively Santa Monica beach, named after its famous counterpart in California due to some striking similarities. A beach set amongst the desert sand-dunes, which unsurprisingly has been listed many times as one of the best in the world. Not only this but it literally seems like it’s the only place on the island where there is a lack of undercurrent, meaning going for a dip is possible… Just don’t expect a millpond, it still gets quite rough and requires caution for even the strongest of swimmers. The desert dunes which surround Santa Monica are in their own right a sight worth seeing. Untouched, unspoilt, and quite magnificent. My advice to see both would be to take a quadbike tour of the south organised by your tour operator. Instead of travelling by a hot stuffy tour bus, have yourself hours of fun driving through terrain which you wouldn’t normally be able to get too by any other means. It also allows you the opportunity to see the landscape of Cape Verde up close and personal, and it really is quite breath-taking.

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The issue Cape Verde currently has is that because of it being an up and coming country, getting around and seeing places can be difficult. Which plays into the hands of the tour operators, as your only way of really seeing the island is through their excursions. Excursions can be great like the quadbiking for example, but they can also be over priced and disappointing. An excursion to Sal Rei the capital of Boa Vista was something which was greatly anticipated, but ended up being a huge let down. Once again stuck on a coach with a large group of people and quickly ferried from place to place, with every move you make dictated by the groups tour guide. It really is a whistle stop tour of sights before you are hurried along to the next point of interest. Sal Rei was in fact a beautiful coastal spot, with plenty to see. From the architecture of the colour washed buildings giving the place a real Brazilian flavour, to the local fish and fruit markets. Thing is the locals aren’t particularly fond of this invasion of foreigners on their quiet day-to-day life. They aren’t rude or unwelcoming, but you do get a real sense of frustration, and who could blame them. When a coach load of loud and obnoxious tourists comDSC_0168e trapesing through the doors of their markets, or to stand around the tubs where they do their daily washing it disrupts normality. Personally I felt embarrassed, and I haven’t a shadow of doubt that if you were in a small group, or visiting on your own you would be welcomed much more openly. These excursions are happening on a regular basis, and I can’t help but wonder if the locals feel like their lives have been turned into some sort of a show, like animals caged in a zoo.

 

With this there has also come another problem. With tourists being led in large groups every day, around the same routes, at the same times it has attracted the African wheeler dealers to try take advantage. They wait in packs like hyenas, standing on the outside of the group, following you as you go, waiting for the weak or stragglers to pounce on. They aren’t threatening, just very annoying.
With their constant pestering, they’re like that fly which won’t stop harassing your head on a warm summers day. It sometimes feels like the tour guides are also deliberately taking you too them, being guided like a group of lemmings _DSC7772to their inevitable end. The merchandise they have isn’t all that bad. However, if you do decide to visit one of their shops there are a couple of important points…

Firstly, be aware that nothing is priced and they will try to make you pay over the odds for items, so bartering is required.
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econdly, don’t fall for the sob stories or be guilt tripped into buying anything. This is their go to move, and you will see more puppy dog eyes than down your local pet store.
And finally, every single Del Boy wannabe will tell you their stuff has been handmade by themselves or their family. Although the items you can find are nice souvenir material, this is very much a white lie and another technique they love to use. The more you venture around, it will become more apparent that you can find the same merchandise in every single shop you visit.

 

All that been said Cape Verde is a stunning destination, a destination of peacefulness tranquillity and relaxation. To say it doesn’t offer travellers the sights, or the opportunity for adventure though would be unfair. I think these little islands have the potential to have that in abundance. Even now if you have the resources available you could discover these unspoilt lands, whDSC_0141 (2)ere a minimal number of tourists will have ever stepped foot. The difficulty is the ease of access to places, and the ability to go off and explore. This I believe will come, my guess sooner rather than later. However, this poses a different set of issues. With the influx of money and improved development you will see greater numbers flock to these shores. This in turn will inevitably put prices up, resulting in the cost-effective alternative to places like the Caribbean not being that much cheaper anymore. Of course the journey would still be shorter, but I wonder if those price did become on par would you still pick Cape Verde over Barbados for example? … I know I wouldn’t.
At the moment in time this is all hypothetical, but something to keep in consideration. What it will do though is allow people to voyage from island to island with relative ease, experiencing the countries real culture for themselves. A Cape Verde where you’re not consigned to your hotel and the tour operators commercialised version must be viewed as an improvement. For me the islands have to find that balance between development and originality. A task many places across the world are currently battling with. It is vital to learn from both the good examples, and the bad.

On a whole Cape Verde is what it is… That little diamond in the rough, just waiting to be unearthed and polished off.

 

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Peaks & Waves Travel Blog Coming Soon!

Welcome everyone to Peaks & Waves, and thanks for taking the time to visit. The Blog is currently under construction, and I’ll ask for your patience as I get to grips with the world of blogging.

The first of Peaks & Waves blogs will be hitting your screens at 9:00 GMT this Friday the 19th of January,  with a destination review of  Boa Vista, Cape Verde. Until then make sure to subscribe to the blog and follow us on Instagram and Facebook. The plan is on putting a new blog out every Friday, although only time will tell if I can keep that up with a full-time job!

Many Thanks,

Joe