It’s all a matter of opinion, of course, but of the hundreds of beaches in Kernow there are quite a few really stand out choices. We do like to feature some of the lesser-known bays and coves; here are the top five that we think everyone should experience at least once.
A quiet beach despite its location only a few miles from Newquay, Polly Joke (Porth Joke, Pol-Lejouack) has it all – clean golden sand, waves, pools and caves and a stream with a bridge. It would be a family beach, but the (three) nearest car parks are five to ten minutes walk, so it never gets too busy. It’s very peaceful and utterly beautiful.
This one is included on every list of pretty Cornish beaches, but it can’t be omitted here. Certainly, Kynance Cove is one of the most photographed in the Duchy. It’s also very popular with landscape painters. The beach is carved out of the unique serpentine geology of the Lizard and includes islands and sea-stacks as well as pools and caves. The water here is a stunning turquoise colour, because of the reflective nature of the sand which is formed from millions of crushed seashells.
Porthgwarra Beach is a little-known cove, just a few miles south-east of Land’s End. The small, sandy beach has lots of interesting rock formations, pools and caves. It’s replete with reminders of its fishing heritage, but there’s little industry to see now that small rowing boat fishing has been consigned to the annals of history. Most of the beach at high tide is reclaimed. A steeply cobbled slipway runs down to a snug cove with a beach of sand flanked by sheer cliffs. The eastern side can be accessed a tunnel, with a rope handrail for safety. Or you can walk down a (very) steep slipway from the top of the cliffs. A vast hole in the headland to the west of Porthgwarra drops right down to the sea, where the swell can be observed rushing in and out at the bottom. There is a small car park, toilets, and a café and shop.
Lantic Bay is without a doubt one of the most stunning beaches in Cornwall. It enjoys the same photogenic, clear blue-green water for which Kynance is famous, but Lantic is harder to find and to access. It’s not the kind of place one stumbles across, because it’s a twenty-minute walk from the car park at Polruan, across farmland and down a steep cliff path. There are two coves here – Little Lantic and Great Lantic Beach – which join together to form one wide expanse of sand a mid to low tide. The sand is white and delicate with some patches of coarser, pebbly sand. The beach shelves quite quickly, making any surf here (rare) a shore break but allowing good access and anchorage for larger boats. Indeed that’s how many of Lantic’s regular visitors get there.
Chelsea- (or Kensington) On-Sea, they call it; Rock has quite deservedly acquired a reputation as the playground of princes and an upmarket holiday destination bar none. But the beach is free, and most people would not believe such an incredible expanse of golden sand even exists in the UK. From Rock itself, where the historic Sailing Club building splits the sand, this winding strip of beach extends for miles towards the mouth of the Camel Estuary, eventually becoming Daymer Bay overlooking the Doom Bar. All of it is accessible on foot, and except on the highest tides, one can walk all the way from one end to the other.
If you’d like to come to visit the beaches that decorate movies, postcards and the work of the finest landscape photographers, or snap a few frames of your own, check out the holiday properties available to rent through Cornish Traditional Cottages at any time of year.
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