Cornwall Beaches and Watersports Cornish Riviera

The Cornish Riviera has a wide range of beaches to choose from and there is sure to be one that will suit your particular requirements.

There are ‘family friendly’ beaches such as Looe, Hannafore and Par Sands which all the family can enjoy as there is car parking, facilities, toilets and they are accessible if you have small children in pushchairs or disabled members of your family. Many have lifeguards in the summer.

There are also hidden beaches and coves with no facilities at all and which are difficult to get to, often involving a walk down a steep cliff path. Often, car parking can be difficult and they are best accessed by walking along the coastal path. Lantic Bay, between Polperro and Polruan, is a good example of one such beach. If you want quiet seclusion, then these beaches are definitely for you.

There are ‘ surfer beaches’ which offer opportunities for beginner and intermediate surfers such as Whitsand Bay.

Whatever you are looking for in a beach, you will find it on the Riviera Coast. We are developing our beach section to have a search facility but for now, enjoy reading about the beaches and choose one or more that meet your needs. For sure, you could spend a happy week on the sheltered, sunny Riviera Coast and visit a different beach or two everyday if you wanted to !

We have found an excellent site on the internet  - the Cornwall Beach Guide. For your convenience, we have provided links to this site from every beach listed and so whether we have reviewed the beach ourselves or it has been reviewed by Simon Lewis, webmaster of the Cornwall Beach Guide, you can discover information about the beach, it’s facilities and location. 


Please note that all information provided is copyrighted and may not be used for commercial purposes without express permission of or, in the case of linked information . Photographs which appear in this section are also copyrighted by either or by


Carlyon Bay

Carlyon Beach is the site of a £200m privately funded regeneration project that will turn it into a ‘destination resort’ with over 500 holiday dwellings, leisure and retail facilities. The development, first approved in 1990 has attracted a huge amount of controversy and is now subject to a Public Enquiry to take place in late 2006.

 Carlyon Bay is actually made up of three beaches, Crinnis, Shorthorn and Polgaver and all three are said to be essentially made up of waste material from the china clay industry (the quartz grains in the sand are very similar to those found in the large mounds seen around the St Austell area) which has been deposited since the mid 19th century. 

 The beach has an interesting history. In the first quarter of the 20th century, development of beachfront facilities started and Edward VIII & Mrs Simpson are said to have visited the beach whilst on holiday in Cornwall. In 1936, The Coliseum was built and as a concert hall, was famous in it’s heyday with acts such as Queen, The Who, Tina Turner and Elton John appearing there. The Colesium shut its doors some years ago.  American troops practised for the D-Day landings on Carlyon Beach and Polgaver Beach was until recently Cornwall’s only ‘official’ Naturist Beach.

 It is the generally held view that now is not a great time to consider a lazy day on Carlyon Beach, naked or otherwise, and what it will be like in years to come remains to be seen.


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide

Castle Beach

For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide

Cawsand & Kingsand

Rame Peninsula is surrounded on three sides by water and in addition to Kingsand and Cawsand, the villages of Cremyll, Millbrook, St.John, Sheviock, Crafthole, Antony & Whitsand Bay itself are located here.

The twin villages of Cawsand and Kingsand  are on eastern side of the Rame Head and offer a pair of shingle beaches to enjoy. The villages are home to a number of pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops and with their twin sheltered beaches and rockpools, are popular with families.

Cawsand and Kingsand are located just near Mount Edgumbe and the Cremyll foot ferry linking Cornwall to Devon at Plymouth as it has done for centuries. They are very sheltered with Rame Head to the west and Picklecombe Point to the east.


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide


With a good pub on the beach, Inn of the Shore, and a large sand and shingle beach with rock pools at low tide, Downderry is very popular with locals and visitors alike. Sometimes referred to as ‘Lord Elliot’s Beach’, the main Downderry beach is easily accessible. The eastern end of the beach is difficult to access and involves climbing a very steep cliff path. It is possible to walk along the beach from Seaton at low tide but check before doing so.

There are lots of facilities at Downderry – parking, a pub, restaurants, shops, toilets and even a post office. Dogs allowed at certain times of the year

Downderry offers excellent snorkelling on a good day, and if you are lucky you could stumble across the ‘Gypsy’, the sister ship to the ‘Cutty Sark,’ that is hiding under a kelp bed not far from the shore line. There is a slip road to the beach enabling cars to drive right down on to the beach to launch boats and jet skis.

Gorran Haven

For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide

Hannafore Beach

Hannafore Beach stretches from Hannafore Point along Marine Drive and actually consists of two beaches, Hannafore Beach & Wallace Beach. It is predominantly a rocky beach with shingle and some patches of course sand at low tide. Above the beach there are grassy banks and benches along Marine Drive. The beach is probably best known and best enjoyed for it’s fantastic rockpools, that are uncovered twice daily as the tide retreats and for it’s view across to St George’s Island, now more commonly known as Looe Island. With a south east facing perspective, the beach is a suntrap for those who prefer a less populated beach than the sandy beach across the Looe River mouth.

 There are public toilets at the beach and a the island view café, opening times for both of which are seasonal. Tom Sawyers and Hannafore Point Hotel both overlook the eastern end of Hannafore Beachand you can certainly find somewhere to eat and drink throughout the year.

 There is no lifeguard at the beach and swimming, whilst possible, is probably not advisable for this reason. The beach is accessible by all members of the family including babies and small children with pushchairs. There is a bowling green and tennis club towards the end of Marine Drive. Dog are allowed on Hannafore beach all year round

 Rockpooling is a pursuit enjoyed by many and the rocky reef that is exposed at low tide is the perfect environment for you to discover interesting sea life such as sponges and sea-squirts, sea anemone various, Furrowed Crab, Hairy Crab, Scorpion Spider Crab and Squat Lobsters. The reef has large areas of flat slate and deep gullies as well as large pools so there is a good mix of habitats for sealife. If you are particularly interested in Rockpooling, why not check out the British Marine Life Study Societypage which describes in more detail the sea life found at Hannafore by a rockpooling group from Sussex, including the probable find of a sea slug never previously known on British shores.

Opposite Hannafore Beach is St George’s Island, an area of outstanding natural beauty now owned by Cornwall Wildlife Trustand run as a nature reserve. The island has a recorded history dating back to the building of a Benedictine chapel in 1139 and was a landing place for smugglers. Until recently, the island belonged to two sisters Evelyn and Babs Atkins until they died in 1997 and 2004 respectively. Evelyn wrote two books, - "We bought an island" and"Tales from our Cornish Island",about the island and their lives and experiences. One can visit the island which is non-commercialised by boat and possibly, at extremely very low spring tides, by foot.

Hemmick Beach

For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide

Lansallos Beach

Located midway between Polperro and Polruan, Lansallos Beach is a lovely sheltered beach of sand & slate shingle also known as West Combe beach. Almost perfectly semi-circular, the beach is generally quiet and is known as a good resting point for those walking along the coastal path between Polperro and Polruan.

Lansallos Beach can be best reached by walking there along the cliff path from Polperro or by walking down from the Lansallos car park near to Lansallos Church. In our opinion, the path down to the beach makes access too difficult for wheelchairs and pushchairs. There is a small car park in Lansallos.

Lantic and Lantivet Bay

Located between Polperro and Polruan, Lantic and Lantivet beaches are a collection of small but perfectly formed coves of which Palace Cove is the most stunning.

The white sandy beaches of Lantic and Lantivet Bay are basically a secret and are likely to remain so, due to the extreme difficulty associated with accessing them.

The climb down to them is hazardous and nearby Pencarrow Head which provides the coves with shelter rises to 400 feet. Frankly the very best way is to get there is go by boat which is what we do when we get a chance !. This means finding someone to take you there and pick you up – not impossible for one of our guests . . ..

There are no facilities, no toilets and no car parking so as one might imagine, these beaches are totally unspoilt by progress . . .and long may it continue. Swimming is considered dangerous due to currents.

Looe Beach

The main EastLooe Beachis a large sandy beach with man made seating areas and rocks to one side and Banjo Pier to the other. At low tide, it is a vast expanse of flat sand and even at high tide, a very large area of beach remains. The sandy shelf means that the sea is shallow for a long way out and so you can enjoy paddling or swimming.

 It is a very popular beach for families and in the height of the season, it becomes very busy, with trampolines and other activities taking place on the beach. If you venture in an easterly direction, the beach becomes quieter and rockier.

 There are toilets by the beach and of course the whole of East Looeprovides facilities for drinking, eating and shopping. Dogs are banned from the beach all year round. ‘ Banjo Pier’ is a very popular place for a spot of rod & line fishing and for watching the fishing trawlers and other boats leave and return to the harbour. Banjo Pier in its current form was the creation of Joseph Thomas (1838 – 1901) in the late 19th century.  Joseph Thomas is a very important entrepreneur and engineer in the history of the development of Looe and he was responsible for such developments as Hannafore Road, Hannafore Estate, the quayside in East Looe and the rail link to Liskeard. More information about Joseph Thomas may be found in a  very interesting document produced by the Cornwall Industrial Settlements Initiative. There was an existing pier that had been constructed to prevent sand from silting up the Looe Riverwhich wasn’t working and Joseph Thomas conceived the idea of constructing a circular head to the pier. Apparently he was so convinced that the idea would work that he refused payment until it was proved to have done so ! Just down from Banjo Pier on the Joseph Thomas’s quayside you can book boat trips, fishing trips and even take a glass bottom boat to view the local sealife.

 Looe Beach is ideal for anyone that is looking for a ‘traditional holiday beach’ and whilst it is probably overly busy in the summer, with the fine weather that Cornwall enjoys all year round would be an ideal spot to sunbathe either side of the height of season.

The beach immediately east of the Looe Beachis known to the locals as ‘Second Beach’ and offers fantastic snorkelling on the days with good visibility. Bass fishing from this beach is very popular as the ‘king of the sea’, as it’s known to anglers, swims in very close to the shore to feed as the tide rises. Large schools of Mullet are often seen in the large sandy patch that is uncovered at low tide, about half way down the beach. At low tide you can walk along the beach to Plaidy Beach.

Looe Beach is the setting for the annual Looe Music Festival, set over 3 days in September there are over 60 live bands and acts to enjoy. Full details can be found at


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide


Located about 1 mile east of Looe is Millendreath Beach. It once had a watersports centre, shop and café but the last time we visited Millendreath Beach, everything was in a state of some disrepair. We are re-visiting this beach shortly and will report shortly on the current condition.

One point of interest for Millendreath is that there is an American Flying Super Fortress sunk approximately ¾ of a mile from the beach. This makes for interesting diving. Boats and jet ski’s can be launched from Millendreath beach.

Par Sands

Par Sands is a wonderful, wide sandy beach situated on the sheltered coastline of South East Cornwall. Located at Par, a lovely village between Fowey and St Austell, the beach is very popular with families as it offers lots of sand, safe bathing and has achieved the Mandatory Water Quality standard.  There are sand dunes providing a perfect environment for children to explore and there is a lagoon that attracts interesting wildlife. Windsurfing is very popular and dogs are allowed all year round. The beach provides Disabled Access, toilets and a café and there are local shops and The Britannia Inn pub in Par. There is a large car park and picnic area. Par Beach can be reached by public transport as there is a bus stop at the entrance and a mainline railway station at Par itself.


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide


Pentewan sands is a private beach but access is allowed from Pentewan village. A short walk past the old harbour takes you to the long stretch of sandy beach, which offers safe bathing and offers the award for high quality water. There is a small green area for playing ball games and a park on the beach for the younger child. Water sports, refreshments and toilets can all be found in the holiday park adjoining the beach.

Pentewan village is found between St Austell and Mevagissey offering a peaceful, picturesque setting. Here you will find The Ship Inn offering an extensive lunchtime and evening menu, the School House restaurant offering a superb a La Carte menu and a shop/café with a wide selection of ice creams. The car park in the village is small so arrive early.

 Dogs are banned from the beach all year.

Plaidy Beach

Plaidy Beach is a sandy beach with rock pools. It is largely covered at high tide.  It is about ½ mile from Looe beach along a nice footpath. Plaidy Beach is utilised by holiday makers staying at the Millendreath Holiday Village but as there are no facilities, toilets or car parking at Plaidy, it can be reasonably quiet. Dogs are allowed at certain times of the year. It is possible to park at Millendreath and walk along to Plaidy.


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide


Unspoilt by progress, the ancient fishing village of Polperro is a Conservation Village surrounded by an area of outstanding natural beauty situated in a sheltered cliff inlet.

At low tide, the small sandy Polperro Beach appears as the waters of the Outer Harbour recede only to disappear again a few hours later as the tide returns. Obviously it is a nice clean beach !

The other side of Peak Rock, the large rock that defends the entrance to the harbour, is Chaipel Pool, a part natural, part man-made sea water swimming pool. There are many wonderful walks to have from Polperro, either eastwards towards Talland Bay or westerly towards Lansallos.

Every day from Easter until October there are ½ hour boat trips available along the coast and also mackerel trips by arrangement or possibly on spec. There is lots to do in Polperro with a museum displaying the smuggling & fishing history of the village, lots of pubs, restaurants and cafes as well as shops and a variety of stores.

Click this link for more information on Polperro


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide


Polruan has a tiny beach which is only exposed at low tide next to the quayside at Polruan.

 It is from this quay that the foot ferry leaves for Fowey and the beach is overlooked amongst others by locals and visitors enjoying a pint at The Lugger Inn and the shipbuilders at Tom’s Boatyard. There isn’t much privacy but its ideal for exhibitionists with perfect figures and children who really don’t care. Personally, I like the little beach and always have a paddle as a minimum when I am taking the ferry across to Fowey.

There are toilets at the quayside and shops nearby. Car Parking is difficult in ‘lower Polruan’ but there is plenty of parking at the top. Polruan is very interesting and the local history includes attacks by the Spanish in the 14th century and by the French in the 15th century. There are the remains of a 14th century defensive ‘Blockhouse’ at Polruan from which a chain was hung to a similar structure on the Fowey side preventing attacking ships entering the harbour.


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide

Porthluney Cove

For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide


 The waters here have reached the UK standard for high water quality.

The beach offers a small car park close by, toilets, disabled access and a snack shop open during the summer season.

Dogs are banned here from Easter to 1st October.


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide


For a review of this beach, please visit the Cornwall Beach Guide

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