“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…
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.
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!
LUSTY GLAZE, LUSTY GLAZE ROAD, NEWQUAY, CORNWALL, TR7 3AE CONTACT - +44(01637)872444 INFO@LUSTYGLAZE.CO.UK
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.
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.
FISTRAL BEACH, NEWQUAY, CORNWALL, TR7 1HY
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…”
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.
PEDN VOUNDER, PORTHCURNO, CORNWALL, TR19 6LF
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!
ST IVES, CORNWALL, TR26, 1LG
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.
CRANTOCK BEACH, CRANTOCK, CORNWALL, TR8 5RN