Here at Cornish Traditional Cottages we do like to achieve the impossible on a weekly basis. Of course there are hundreds of pubs in Cornwall, many of which are by the sea – that’s the nature of the beast in a county that has so much coast. And in these competitive economic times, particularly for the pub industry, being rubbish just isn’t an option. Rural pubs aren’t rubbish – they’re closed. With so many great pubs to choose from, picking the top ten might be a big ask. So of course we’ve picked twelve.
The Seaview Inn
Right in Falmouth town but commanding spectacular views of the Fal estuary, you can soak up Falmouth’s maritime, nautical/bohemian atmosphere. Big ships and small go past The Seaview Inn as we enjoy a pint or a glass of wine and absorb the local colour of this very iconic Cornish town.
The Old Coastguard
The Old Coastguard is a seaside hotel near the fishing village of Mousehole. It’s high up above the sea in a mouthwateringly beautiful location, and they’ve been sure to create a restaurant and bar that do it justice. Bar Humbug at The Old Coastguard is just lovely, and their attention to detail extends to every drink on the menu as well as the warm and natural wooden décor. It’s superb.
The Port William
With a mile or so of golden sand stretching forth in front of it, this elegant pub at Trebarwith Strand enjoys a magnificent location. The secluded cove below is fun to explore, too with views of “Rugged Gull Rock” 600m (650yds) offshore. The Port William pub itself has a nautical theme, serves fresh local produce not fast food, in their own words, and has a fine selection of wines, spirits and real ales.
The surf sub-capital of Polzeath would not be all that it is without a remarkable, vibrant, busy and potentially crazy pub scene, and The Oystercatcher provides this essential service almost singlehanded. There are other drinking spots but the Oyster is the only real pub, and with outdoor seating and a car park overlooking the surf it’s the place of choice for local and visiting surfers alike.
The Rashleigh Inn
This “Inn on the Beach” at Polkerris is in a quite exceptional location, with sand, surf, sailing and stunning sea views all somehow rolled together in one location. Polkerris is one of Cornwall’s lesser known havens, and The Rashleigh Inn complements it perfectly with fresh fish, ales and ciders and a balcony overlooking the historic harbour.
The Watering Hole
The phrase “Watering Hole” is a familiar monicker for a bar yet conjures up images of a gathering place in the middle of a vast area of arid sand, and somewhat counter-intuitively that is exactly what this place is. When someone tells you that a bar is on the beach, you do not expect the statement to be literally true! But somehow this has been achieved; it’s possibly the only one of its kind and demands a visit for that reason alone. Excellent food, drink and music on the sand in front of Perranporth’s excellent surf breaks complete an irresistible case for The Watering Hole.
The Tamar Inn, Calstock
OK, it’s not quite “by the sea” in the way the others are, but its Tamar waterfront location is renowned and a big part of the Tamar’s appeal – the water here is salt and tidal, so technically it is the sea, and it’s popular with watersports enthusiasts. The amount of outdoor space to enjoy is also exceptional; the pub adjoins the village green with its picnic benches and a “pirate ship” children’s playground, so visitors enjoy taking food and drink outdoors while the kids can play.
Blue Bar, Porthtowan
The Blue Bar is the least traditional drinking place on our list – not quite a typical pub but an exceptional venue in every way. With beer, wine, spirits and hot drinks as well as great food, it delivers the pub service with a modern beach bar vibe, right by the stunning Porthtowan sand, with views of the cliffs and surf.
The Ship, Porthleven
What’s in a name? Well, there are at least five Ship Inns in Cornwall, and they’re all good! So perhaps there’s something in it. The Ship in Mousehole should also make the list, with its harbourside position overlooking what is arguably the most beautiful of Cornish ports. But its Porthleven namesake also has a shot of the title. Right by the harbour and overlooking one of Kernow’s most famous surf spots, it’s one of the premier storm watching locations in the UK. And boy, does Cornwall do storms!
Blue Peter Inn, Polperro
Popular with locals as well as holidaymakers, the Blue Peter Inn is a very traditional cosy pub with a reputation for live music and a delicious and ever-changing menu. Awarded Silver for ‘Pub of the Year’ in the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2017/18, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the picturesque harbour and the cobbles and narrows of Polperro town.
This famous pink pub stands above the beautiful surf beach and dunes of Crantock and mixes traditional snugs with bohemian bars. The food selection is equally varied and complemented by a large selection of wines, local ales, ciders, spirits and an incredible selection fo Cornish gin. Frequented by surfers, locals and tourists alike, it’s an impressive place that has to make our top ten.
If you’d like to come to eat or drink by the sea, then do visit Kernow some time. We have many superb cottages available to rent through Cornish Traditional Cottages at any time of year.