Our Guide to 5 of the Best Beaches in North Cornwall
It was no easy task choosing just 5 of the best beaches in North Cornwall to talk about, we can tell you.
Situated on the Atlantic, the dramatic coastline of North Cornwall features arguably some of the finest beaches in the country. Whether you prefer small romantic coves backed by dramatic cliffs that bring to mind shipwrecks and pirates, or wide family-friendly expanses of sand where dogs and children can roam free, there are just so many to choose from. So we've put together a guide to hopefully help you enjoy what we think are 5 of the best beaches in North Cornwall that are all just a stone's throw from your holiday cottage to get you started. Here they are in no particular order...
1. trebarwith strand
One of the closest beaches to Tredarrup Holiday Cottages and what a cracker! Dog-friendly year-round and with a gorgeous expanse of sand, rock pools, great surf and big rocks to climb this is a favourite for families and walkers. Looking out to the iconic Gull Rock it’s also popular with photographers - the sunsets are magnificent. However it is very much tide dependent – at high-tide the beach disappears completely (you’ll find a tide timetable in your cottage). There’s a surf school, the popular dog and children friendly Strand Café and shop right by the beach that’s perfect for ice-creams and light lunches and above the beach, looking out across the coastline, is The Port William Inn. This is a lovely pub/restaurant, with a large terrace and amazing views, serving a selection of family friendly meals including a good selection of seafood. For inclement weather there’s the conservatory or the bar area with log fire – they’re very dog-friendly and family friendly throughout. From Trebarwith there are some lovely walks in either direction along the coast path – we particularly enjoy the walk to Tintagel, after the initial climb it’s a nice easy walk with wonderful views. Several car parks are available (some are free out-of-season) and public toilets by the beach. We advise taking the main road from Camelford towards Tintagel and taking a left to Trebarwith rather than the shorter route from Delabole (which although perfectly accessible is very narrow and windy if you’re not used to Cornish country lanes).
2. polzeath and new polzeath
With fantastic views across to Stepper Point and beyond and famous for being a favourite of ex-Prime Minister David Cameron who has a holiday home here (but don’t let this put you off) this is one of the most popular beaches in North Cornwall, with perfect sand and some fabulous rock pools to explore. Some of these are deeper than you would expect, as we have found to our cost, so do take care before wading in. This is a fantastic beach for surfing and bodyboarding and there are several schools where you can book a lesson or just hire the equipment for a few hours and have a go. It’s a fantastic activity year-round (thanks to the invention of wetsuits, whoever invented those should get a Nobel Prize in our opinion) and great when it’s raining – after all you’re getting wet anyway! For small children and those of us a little less supple it’s the perfect place for paddling too, having a shallow slope into the sea, so kick off your shoes, roll up your trousers and enjoy. Dogs love Polzeath too and enjoy chasing each other around the beach and into the surf – they’re welcome from October to Easter. There are several cafes, bars and restaurants around the beach and we can personally recommend the excellent gelato and coffee available at Wavehunters on the beach itself. Plentiful parking and lovely walks. Public toilets by the beach.
3. daymer bay and rock
Just around the corner from Polzeath but with a very different feel due to its protected location inside the estuary, Daymer Bay and Rock form one long sandy stretch of beach at low-tide, whilst at high-tide they are connected via the coast path which runs along the sand dunes behind the beaches. Very pretty, with views to Stepper Point and along the estuary to Padstow, this is where the infamous Doom Bar is located. According to Cornish myth and legend this sand bar was created by a mermaid as revenge and has been the location of many a shipwreck. We can certainly recommend the local Cornish ale named in its honour! You can park in the public car parks at either end. Out of season a limited amount of free parking is available at the side of the road at Daymer Bay (right outside Gordon Ramsay’s house in fact). Behind the beach is the beautiful St. Enodoc’s church, until fairly recently buried in sand. Rumour has it that once a year the vicar and his parishioners were winched in through the roof for their annual service. A favourite of the late poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, who holidayed here for many years, his grave can be found in the pretty churchyard looking out to sea. The beach is very popular with families with small children as it’s sheltered and shallow. The sand is perfect for sandcastles, the sea is perfect for paddling and at Daymer Bay there are lots and lots of rock pools to explore. Another beach that’s dog-friendly year-round, Daymer Bay has a café and public toilets during the summer season whilst at Rock there are more extensive facilities, including Nathan Outlaw’s fabulous pub The Mariner’s Arms. Catch the foot ferry from Rock to Padstow for a real day out.
Although tide dependent, this is a beautiful secluded sandy beach just the other side of Tintagel. Fairly inaccessible and therefore relatively quiet there’s limited parking at the head of the beach (with public toilets) on the Boscastle to Tintagel coast road or you can walk along the coast path from either of these lovely locations. There are steep steps down to the beach but you will be rewarded with a magnificent and atmospheric stretch of sand surrounded by steep cliffs on either side. Dog friendly year round, you can enjoy a lovely walk along the sand to neighbouring coves but do be careful not to get cut off by the tide. There are fantastic walks along the coast path to Rocky Valley in one direction and Tintagel in the other (the scenery here is stunning) – not too taxing but it does get muddy in wet weather so be sure to bring your walking boots or sturdy wellies. No café but its isolation is its appeal. Bossiney is very close to the atmospheric St. Nectan’s Glen with its beautiful waterfalls, well worth a detour and with a good café.
5. padstow and the seven bays for seven days
A short and very accessible walk from the harbour at Padstow is a wonderful stretch of sand on the opposite side of the estuary to Rock and Daymer Bay. Three separate coves, St. George’s Cove, Harbour Cove and Hawker’s Cove, are linked at low tide to form one fabulous stretch of sand that’s perfect for children and walkers. St. George’s is dog-friendly from October to Easter and the others are dog-friendly year round. They are backed by the coast path, so if the tide is in it's still possible to walk between them. Indeed for the more energetic the walk can be continued to the wonderful Stepper Point on the headland and around to Trevone, one of the ‘Seven Bays for Seven Days‘ around Padstow (a breath-taking if strenuous stretch, there is a bus back to Padstow but do check timetables). Refreshments and public conveniences can be found in Padstow and there is also a wonderful café at Hawker’s Cove if you make it that far by the old lifeboat station. The sheltered and shallow mouth of the estuary also makes this stretch popular with windsurfers and it’s a great place to set up camp with a picnic, perhaps bought from one of the excellent delis in Padstow, or maybe a Chough’s pasty, and enjoy the views of boats and watersports whilst children and dogs enjoy the sea and sand. There’s a small stream for dam-building and plentiful rocks for clambering over and it's no wonder we've included it in our guide to the best beaches in North Cornwall. There's limited parking available at Hawkers Cove and more extensive parking to be found in Padstow itself.