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The Ultimate Guide to the Cornish Coast in Cornwall

Are you dreaming of getting away from it all? Where better to holiday than beside the sea, and where better for a seaside holiday than the Cornish coast? World-renowned for its breathtaking beauty, Cornwall is home to abundant wildlife, as well as natural landmarks likely to make your jaw drop. It’s one of the longest stretches of coastline in the world, running for 422 miles, and its picturesque fishing villages and seaside towns make for the best coastal getaway you could hope to find.

Picture yourself relaxing on the best Cornish beaches, exploring the coast with your family or friends, enjoying all the charm of Cornwall and dining on fresh, locally sourced seafood and produce. Could there be a dreamier place to visit? If you tire of the sandy beaches and secret coves, take a break to visit some local landmarks and learn about the rich history of the area.

With this Cornwall beach guide, we offer some tips on finding the best beaches and Cornwall coastal activities to make your seaside holiday dreams come true.

Beach Activities in Cornwall

Picture your perfect day on the beach. What does it entail? Are you relaxing with a
good book, exploring rock pools, hunting for sea glass, and building
sandcastles with the kiddies, or participating in sports like surfing,
coasteering, and paddleboarding? Cornwall beaches have something for everyone,
so you are sure to find the perfect spot for your ideal day by the sea. 

  1. Porthcurno is one of the top beaches in Cornwall, with golden sand beneath towering cliffs. This is truly one of the prettiest places in Cornwall, and, indeed, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, as evidenced by its many awards. There is a bit of a climb necessary to access the beach, but once you have made it down the cliff path, you will understand why this incredible spot has received so many accolades and is such a favourite.
  2. Head to Pendower Beach, on the gorgeous Roseland Peninsula, for fun with your four-legged family members. This National Trust beach is sheltered and south-facing, with a soft, sandy shoreline and tranquil seas perfect for idyllic bathing when the weather is calm. On days with high winds, it is also popular with surfers! Throughout the year, your canine companions are welcome to frolic alongside you and enjoy the sea.
  3. Praa Sands, located just beyond Penzance, is a mile-long stretch of sea-kissed sands. This beach is one of the best for families, with its easy beach access, abundant facilities, and protective lifeguards. While there are some seasonal restrictions on dogs in the summer season, the beach is dog-friendly during the rest of the year, making it a perfect destination for the shoulder months.
  4. In Newquay, you will find Fistral Beach and Mawgan Porth, beaches with very different types of appeal. Fistral is the crème de la crème of surf beaches, known for its barrelling waves that draw beginners and expert surfers alike. Mawgan Porth, on the other hand, is a ruggedly beautiful beach with golden sands, where dogs and kids can play all year long. Rock pools pepper this sandy stretch, there are caves to explore, and even a little stream running across the beach, where little ones can play and paddle. In the village, you will find shops and cafes, and lifeguards protect swimmers in summer.
  5. A short ferry ride from Fowey, in Polruan, Lantic Bay offers a beautiful place to relax off the beaten track. You can access this lovely stretch of shoreline by taking some relatively steep steps down a sloping cliff path, and once you are there, you can spend time simply enjoying the sunshine and breathing the sea air.
Coastal Attractions in Cornwall

Coastal Attractions in Cornwall

Should you ever grow weary of the breathtaking beaches, there are plenty of other things to do while you are visiting the coast of Cornwall. In fact, some of the top seaside spots in Cornwall do not even involve sand or surf!

  1. Walk in the footsteps of pilgrims to St Michael’s Mount. At low tide, you can walk across the causeway to Marazion’s iconic castle atop a hill. Once there, explore this sea-bound fortress, learning its rich history and enjoying not only the turrets and cannons but also the sub-tropical gardens. If you time it right, you can work with the tides to hope a ferry back from the ancient harbour.
  2. What could be more stunning than the Minack Theatre, an open-air amphitheatre carved into cliffs? Visit to enjoy a theatrical production, but do not be surprised if unscripted dolphins and mesmerising scenery pull your focus. You can even go when there is no show, just to appreciate the sub-tropical gardens planted into the cliffside or take in turquoise ocean hues above the rugged coastline and pristine white cove.
  3. The iconic Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII, overlooks the entrance to the River Fal. That spot is also the world’s third deepest natural harbour, and there are plenty of panoramic sea views to enjoy as you picture life when the castle was protecting the coast. There is also green space to explore, and interactive exhibits for those interested in history. Its sister castle, St Mawes, is a short ferry ride across the estuary.
  4. Visit Tintagel Castle to get swept up in Arthurian mythology. Atop a wave-lashed granite promontory, accessible by a footbridge, the 13th-century ruins of Tintagel Castle await! There is a bronze sculpture inspired by the legend of King Arthur, and exploring the castle it is easy to believe the local lore linking Tintagel to his birth. Enjoy locally sourced food and drink at the beach café and listen to the echo in Merlin’s Cave before you follow the footpath to the Arthurian-themed village.
Marine Wildlife in Cornwall

Encountering Marine Wildlife in Cornwall

    As appealing as any sun-kissed beach or towering castle, the wildlife in Cornwall is varied and abundant. Gentle, basking sharks, tiny, multi-coloured anemones, seabirds with astonishingly large wingspans, and doe-eyed seals lounging on the beach are but a few of the animals you can enjoy from a respectful distance. 


  1. Seals: You are likely to see seals gliding through the water or snoozing on the beaches as you walk the coast paths, particularly because 40 percent of the global population of grey seals live around Cornwall’s coast. These gorgeous creatures can grow to 2.6 metres long and weigh up to 300kg. More rarely, the smaller common seals can be spotted in the county’s waters and shores. To learn more and get a closer look, visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, near the Helford Estuary.
  2. Marine Mammals: Dolphins, porpoises, and whales can be seen around the coast of Cornwall, and guided boat trips can give you an excellent opportunity to see many different species of these exciting creatures. Even on the shore, you are likely to see dolphins out in the water.
  3. Basking Sharks: The second largest fish in the world, the basking shark is a peaceful, plankton-eating filter-feeder. These gentle animals can grow to be 10 metres in length and weigh up to 1,000kg. Spotting one is not easy, as they only make appearances in spring and summer and are not likely to draw attention to themselves.
  4. Seabirds: If you are interested in birdwatching in the UK, Cornwall is the place to be. Seabirds of all shapes and sizes flock together on the cliffs, islands, outcrops, and beaches of the Cornish coastline, including common species as well as migrant birds. The endangered herring gull, puffin, razorbill, cormorant, kittiwake, and gannet are a few of the species you can enjoy watching in their natural habitats.

Enjoy the Best Beaches in Cornwall, Within Easy Reach of The Old Quay House Hotel

When you are looking for scenic walks, waterfront dining, and sandy beaches, Fowey is the place to be. And when you are looking for a relaxing place to stay during your Fowey holiday, The Old Quay House Hotel is the perfect place to stay.

Nestled in the heart of Fowey, in a beautifully picturesque location at 28 Fore Street, this riverside boutique hotel offers a modern-day bolthole away from life’s stresses and chores. Check with us for special offers, let us help you make your stay even more special. Stay in one of our 13 luxurious bedrooms and you will enjoy not only big comfy beds and every amenity you need for a decadent stay.

 Our location is perfect for exploring the quaint, bustling, seaside town and cultural gems of Fowey, enjoying its cafes, boutiques, and galleries, and our restaurant is one of the most popular in the area. There, you will enjoy fine dining, with delectable menus for breakfast, lunch, afternoon high tea, and dinner, in a gorgeous setting, where you can watch life on the estuary unfold from your vantage point on the terrace.

In a town set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we strive to provide each of our guests with a unique experience. Once a refuge for sailors, The Old Quay House is deeply connected to the area’s history, and the character of each bedroom is meticulously crafted to tell its own story, in keeping with that rich tradition.

In our Victorian building, you will find friendly staff ready to make your stay comfortable and memorable, and while we cannot accommodate children under the age of 8, in most cases we welcome well-behaved, friendly dogs. Call ahead to make sure that your canine companion is allowed with your particular package.  For more information about our rooms, special offers, or our restaurant, call +44 0172 683 3302, email [email protected], or contact us through our website.

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