If you’re coming to Cornwall for a holiday this summer, we’ve put together a list of the best swimming beaches, including lifeguard cover, those need-to-know facilities and whether dogs are allowed.
So all you need to do is pick your favourite and enjoy those blissful summer days relaxing on the long, golden stretches of sand, soaking up the sunshine and splashing about in the shimmering blue seas...
Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes
A sand and shingle beach with turquoise blue waters, Trevaunance Cove in the laid-back village of St Agnes is a great family-friendly, sheltered beach. There’s a shop, toilets and cafes nearby, plus The Driftwood Spars is only a short stroll away and a great place for a delicious meal. Lifeguard cover is in place between 15th May – 26th September, 10am – 6pm and dogs are allowed all year but must be on a lead. There are two small car parks – one by the beach and the other a short walk up the hill.
Perranporth Beach, Perranporth
With miles of golden sands, the spacious beach of Perranporth is a great place for surfers, bodyboarders and those looking to have a splash around in the sea. Enjoy a spot of lunch at the Watering Hole, a bar and restaurant right on the beach, and there are plenty of other cafes and restaurants in the town. There are also a couple of car parks within a short walking distance. Lifeguard cover is available from 2nd April – 31st October between 10am – 6pm, and dogs are allowed all year but must be kept on a lead from 9am – 5pm in July and August.
Summerleaze Beach, Bude
Head to Bude for a day at Summerleaze Beach - a sandy beach with its own wonderful sea pool. The powerful waves attract surfers, so the tidal pool is a great alternative for those looking for a gentle, safe and sheltered place to swim. There's a great selection of cafes and restaurants just a short walk away. Lifeguard cover is in place from 1st May – 26th September and during October half term and Easter holidays, and the beach is dog friendly all year, although dogs must be kept on a lead in the popular months.
Harlyn Bay Beach, near Padstow
A large sandy beach popular with families, Harlyn Bay in Padstow is a great place for a swim. You can also hire watersport equipment and receive surfing, sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding lessons from Harlyn Surf School. Plus, there’s plenty of interesting rock pools to discover. Lifeguard cover is daily between 1st May – 26th September, 10am – 6pm. There’s a car park beside the beach and a shop nearby.
Daymer Bay, near Rock
The serene, still waters at the sandy Daymer Bay along with the incredible views of the Camel Estuary make it the perfect spot for enjoying a dip in the sea, but be aware there is no lifeguard cover here. If you get peckish, you can access the restaurants of Rock by walking along the estuary. Dogs are allowed year-round and there’s a large car park nearby.
Gyllngvase Beach, Falmouth
A glorious Blue Flag beach in Falmouth, Gyllynvase is a great place for a dip in the sea or trying out a new water sport, such as stand up paddleboarding lessons at WeSUP. There’s a shop and watersport equipment hire, and you can also stop for coffee and a delicious lunch at the bustling Gylly Beach Café. Lifeguard cover is from 15th May – 26th September 10am - 6pm, and dogs are banned from Easter Sunday until 1st October between 10am and 6pm.
Swanpool Beach, Falmouth
The beautiful sand and shingle beach with pretty blue waters is fairly sheltered and lovely for sea swimming. Kayaks can be hired on the beach and there’s a café (don’t forget to try one of their famous ice creams – ice cream covered in clotted cream and the topping of your choice!) and play a game of crazy golf. There is no lifeguard cover here and dogs are banned from Easter Sunday – 1st October. There is a large car park located across the road from the beach, along with public toilets.
Pendower Beach, Veryan
Golden sands and gentle waves make the south-facing Pendower Beach in Veryan a tranquil place for a swim. Rock pooling, swimming, sailing and snorkelling are all fun activities, however there is no lifeguard cover here. There is a large car park behind the dunes and toilet facilities. Dogs are allowed year-round but must be kept on a lead during the summer months.
Porthcurnick Beach, Portscatho
Head to the beautiful Roseland Peninsula to discover the gorgeous south east facing cove with golden sands and plenty of rockpools perfect for keeping the children entertained. The dreamy Hidden Hut is tucked away behind the beach offering a delicious selection of food and drink. There’s a car park just a short walk away from the beach and dogs are allowed year-round. There is a shop and toilets open in the public, however there is no lifeguard cover here so you would need to take care and be aware of rip currents.
Maenporth Beach, Falmouth
A sandy cove with shallow, inviting waters situated two miles from Falmouth town centre, with a cafe, toilets and a car park. You can also hire out a range of watersport equipment. There is a seasonal dog ban in place from 1st July - 31st August 10am - 6pm. Be aware there is no lifeguard cover at this beach and there can be strong rip currents.
Take a look at our holiday cottages in South Cornwall here.
The gorgeous white-sand beach and the stunning blue seas of Carbis Bay make it the perfect place for sea swimming. It is safe and sheltered, with lifeguard cover between 10th July – 5th September, 10am – 6pm. Dogs are banned from 15th May – 30th September, 10am – 6pm. You can hire stand up paddleboards and kayaks from Ocean Sports Centre located on the beach and there’s a beach café and toilet facilities too. Carbis Bay beach does have a car park, however it gets quite busy, so a great alternative is to walk the stunning coast path from Hayle or take the dreamy train journey from Hayle or Lelant with its gorgeous views of St Ives Bay.
Very popular with surfers, Sennen Cove is a great spot for catching waves. Safe swimming areas are marked clearly within the flagged areas by lifeguards in the summer season. Take a look at our Sennen webcam to keep an eye on the conditions (plus, you can watch the breath-taking sunsets!). The Surf Beach Bar serves lovely food and there’s a car park and toilets above the beach. Lifeguard cover is in place 2nd April – 31st October 10am – 6pm and dogs are banned in the summer season.
Porthminster Beach, St Ives
A sheltered and sandy Blue Flag beach with calm, turquoise waters. On sunny days, the colour of the water is simply stunning. Enjoy a delicious dinner afterwards at Porthminster Beach Café, and water sports equipment can also be hired from the beach if you fancy kayaking or paddleboarding. There are toilet facilities and a car park nearby, however parking in St Ives in the summer can be difficult, so public transport is recommended – the views on the train journey from Carbis Bay are breathtaking! Lifeguard cover is in place between 15th May – 26th September 10am – 6pm, and dogs are banned from Easter Sunday until 1st October.
Porthmeor Beach, St Ives
Admire the white sands and turquoise seas at this Blue Flag beach in St Ives. Enjoy a dip in the sea followed by a delicious lunch at Porthmeor Beach Café which is a wonderful spot for food in the sunshine. There’s a surf school on the beach and lifeguard cover is provided between 2nd April – 31st October 10am – 6pm. Toilet facilities are available and there is parking nearby but best avoided in the summer as it is very busy. There is a seasonal dog ban in place from 15th May - 30th September 10am - 6pm.
Have a look at our guide on beaches in St Ives here.
Godrevy, St Ives Bay
A dreamy place for rock pooling and swimming, Godrevy Beach is nestled on the edge of three miles of golden sands. Keep your eyes peeled for seals! This beach has lifeguard cover 15th May – 26th September 10am – 6pm and dogs are not allowed on the beach in July and August between 10am - 6pm. There’s a large National Trust owned car park, toilets and a wonderful café serving fresh, delicious produce.
Mexico Towans, Hayle
Situated close to the middle of the three miles of golden sands, Mexico Towans is a fairly quiet beach. This is a great spot for surfing and enjoying a swim, however, it’s best to avoid swimming near or in the estuary as there are strong currents in the area. Lifeguard cover is in place 15th May – 26th September 10am – 6pm, and dogs are banned from Easter – October. There’s a car park nearby at Riviere Towans.
Kynance Cove, Lizard Peninsula
Ah, the inviting blue waters and breath-taking views of Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula. We’re sure you’ve seen this beach all over Instagram! As there is no lifeguard cover, this is only recommended for strong swimmers and please take note of the conditions, as the riptides are strong during low tide. There are toilet facilities and a lovely café, plus a large car park – however this does get very busy during the summer!
A gorgeous, mile-long sandy beach perfect for those looking to swim and try out a water sport. There’s lifeguard cover daily between 1st May – 26th September 10am – 6pm and there is a pub, Sandbar, where you can enjoy meals with a view. There are a few car parks in Praa Sands but they do get very busy, and toilets can be found in the car park close to the beach’s main access.
The majority of the beaches that we have listed here are patrolled by lifeguards during the summer season, however we would always recommend caution when entering the water. If there is no lifeguard cover, only enter the water if you are a strong, confident swimmer and check the tide times and weather conditions. We recommend looking at the RNLI website for more information on safe swimming.
So, does a Cornish coastal retreat take your fancy? Would you like to wake up and be beside the sea so you can enjoy some open water swimming from your doorstep? Have a look at our Cornwall cottages by the beach here. And if you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to dog friendly beaches in Cornwall, you can find it here. Happy swimming…