The rugged Atlantic coast of North Cornwall has some of the best beaches in the country.
From small romantic coves backed by dramatic cliffs to wide, family-friendly expanses of sand, there are so many fabulous beaches for you to choose from.
So to help you plan your holiday, here’s a teaser of just 5 of the best beaches in North Cornwall to get you started.
And they’re all just a stone’s throw from your holiday cottage.
The 5 Best Beaches in North Cornwall
1. Trebarwith Strand
One of the closest beaches to the farm and it’s an absolute stunner. This has to be the best beach in North Cornwall.
Its wide expanse of sand is just perfect for sandcastles. And you’ll find rock pools so deep you can swim in them. Plus there are caves to explore and a stream running down to the sea just waiting to be dammed. And with a huge bank of boulders for kids to clamber over, it’s no wonder this is one of the top beaches in North Cornwall for families.
It’s great for surfers and bodyboarders too and very popular with wild swimmers. And, as a bonus, dogs are allowed on the beach all year round.
Just out to sea is the iconic Gull Rock and there are spectacular views along the coast towards Tintagel, The sunsets are truly magnificent, making it a popular spot for keen photographers and romantic evening walks.
The popular Strand Café and beach shop is a great place to grab a burger or an ice-cream. And nestled into the cliffs overlooking the beach you’ll find the family-friendly Port William Inn, where you can grab a beer and have a bite to eat with one of the best views in Cornwall.
From Trebarwith there are some fabulous walks in both directions along the coast path. The walk north to Tintagel Castle is a favourite and after the initial climb you’ll find it’s an easy stroll with stunning views.
There are several car parks to choose from in Trebarwith, including an overflow, so parking isn’t usually a problem. And there are public toilets right by the beach. Lifeguard cover is provided during the holiday season.
The beach is tide dependent, so do check the tide times before you set off. You’ll find a tide timetable in your cottage or you can check tide times and surf conditions at magicseaweed.com.
To get here, stick to the main road from Camelford towards Tintagel and take a left to Trebarwith Strand. Avoid the shorter route signposted from Delabole, which is very narrow and windy if you’re not used to Cornish lanes.
At the entrance of the Camel Estuary and with fantastic views across to Stepper Point, Polzeath, alongside its little sister Baby Bay, is one of the most popular beaches in North Cornwall.
You’ll find a large expanse of gorgeously soft sand at all states of the tide. There are plenty of rock pools to explore and some are deeper than you’d think (yes, I speak from experience).
This is a favourite beach for surfing and bodyboarding and there are several schools where you can book a lesson. Or you can just hire the equipment for a few hours from a stand on the beach and have a go. It’s fantastic fun year-round (thanks to the invention of wetsuits) and a great activity when it’s raining because you’re getting wet anyway!
If you have younger children, or you just like to dip your toes in the surf, it’s the perfect place for paddling too. So kick off your shoes, roll up your trousers and enjoy.
There are lots cafes, bars and restaurants for you to choose from but the gelato and coffee from the Beach Box Cafe on the beach is hard to beat.
If masochism is your thing, at Baby Bay you’ll find Saunas By The Sea. Enjoy(?) a hot sauna in a converted shipping container on the beach, with a gorgeous view out to sea, followed by a dash across the sand and into the freezing surf. Rinse and repeat.
Walkers can choose to head off along the coast path in either direction. Head left for a relatively flat and easy walk to Daymer Bay and Rock. Or head right for more of a rollercoaster ride to Pentire Point and The Rumps.
This is a Blue Flag beach so dog restrictions are in place, but only between 10am – 6pm from 15th May to 30th September. There’s plentiful parking available on both sides of the beach and also on the beach itself. Public toilets can be found behind the beach.
Watch out for spring tides if parking on the beach. Every year there’s at least one holidaymaker’s car featured in the local rag, floating out to sea…
3. Daymer Bay & Rock
Okay, technically two beaches but they join at low-tide.
Daymer Bay is just around the corner from Polzeath but has a very different feel due to its sheltered location just inside the estuary. This makes it ideal for families with small children, who can paddle in the sea without fear of being taken out by a wave. The sand is perfect for sandcastles and there are lots and lots of rock pools to explore.
It’s a very pretty beach, with views over to Stepper Point and Padstow across the infamous Doom Bar. According to Cornish myth and legend, this sand bar was created by a frustrated mermaid when she failed to lure a local sailor into the water. It’s been the location of many a shipwreck and sadly still catches people out to this day. We can certainly recommend the local Cornish ale named in its honour though, brewed right here in Rock.
At low-tide Daymer Bay forms one long sandy stretch of beach with Rock. At high-tide the beaches are connected via the sand dunes behind the beaches, so you needn’t worry about getting cut-off.
Behind the beach is the picturesque St. Enodoc’s church, which was, until fairly recently, buried in sand. Rumour has it that once a year the vicar and his parishioners were lowered in through the roof for their annual service. A favourite of the late poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, who holidayed here for many years, you’ll find his gravestone in the pretty churchyard looking out to sea.
Daymer Bay has a café and public toilets during the summer season. At Rock you’ll find more extensive facilities. These include the Mariner’s Arms, a gastro-pub overlooking the water, run by Michelin-starred chef Paul Ainsworth. The food is fab.
If you fancy making a full day of it, catch the little foot ferry from the beach at Rock across to Padstow.
There are public car parks at both beaches.
A great place for celeb-spotting. Both David Cameron and Gordon Ramsay have houses here and it’s a favourite holidaying spot for the rich and famous.
4. 7 Bays for 7 Days
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat I admit, as it’s 7 different beaches, but we had to squeeze them in as they’re fabulous!
Harlyn is a gorgeous wide expanse of golden sands that’s very popular with families and dog-walkers. It’s also a great place to have a go at surfing as it’s the most sheltered of the 7 bays.
Trevone is the only one that has dog-restrictions in the main summer period. It’s a very popular sandy beach with a great cafe and plenty of parking. Take a walk up onto the headland, the views are gorgeous, and you can see the giant hole created by a collapsed sea cave. Keep dogs on leads though – every year at least one has to be rescued or recovered sadly.
Treyarnon is a beautiful sandy inlet with a tidal pool that’s great for swimming. There are a couple of cafes behind the beach. Watch out for rip currents if venturing into the sea. Not sure what a rip current looks like, or what to do if you find yourself in one? Check out the RNLI’s guide here.
Mother Ivey’s is a pretty sandy beach best known for being the location of the striking Padstow RNLI Lifeboat Station. You can pitch up and watch their training sessions, the boat’s launched at 6pm every Wednesday evening and is a sight to behold.
Constantine is a huge stretch of sandy beach, very popular with families and surfers, whilst neighbouring Booby’s Bay is a great place to find sea glass. The stunningly situated Trevose Lighthouse is a short walk from both.
Porthcothan is an absolute stunner of a sandy beach with a rugged backdrop of granite cliffs and sea stacks. It’s another one that’s prone to rip currents though, so take care if paddling or swimming.
5. Tregirls, Padstow
Just a short walk from the bustling harbour of Padstow is this wonderful beach, which is always quiet, even in the height of summer.
Consisting of three separate coves, Tregirls, Harbour Cove and Hawker’s Cove, linked at low tide to form one fabulous stretch of sand that’s perfect for walkers and families.
They’re backed by the coast path too so, if the tide’s in, it’s still possible to walk between them. For the more energetic the path continues on to the headland at Stepper Point and around to Trevone, one of the ‘Seven Bays for Seven Days‘ around Padstow. It’s a breath-taking if strenuous stretch but there’s a bus back to Padstow if required (do check timetables).
Refreshments and public conveniences can be found in Padstow. And there’s a wonderful café at Hawker’s Cove, by the old lifeboat station.
On the beach there’s a small stream for dam-building and plentiful rocks for clambering over. The sheltered and shallow mouth of the estuary also makes the beach popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers.
Limited parking is available at Hawkers Cove and Tregirls but there’s extensive parking to be found in Padstow itself.
Pick up a picnic from one of the excellent delis in Padstow, or a famous Chough’s pasty, and enjoy watching the boats go by whilst the kids enjoy the sea and sand.