Fine golden sand, crystal clear water. Awake to the gulls' cry, dress quickly and jog down the cool granite streets for a solitary early morning walk along the beach. Cool sand and warm water caress your soles, tickle your toes. Back to the hotel feeling a little pleased with yourself - sand between your toes before breakfast - a very long way from the busy rush of working life. Do this every day of your stay and with so many beaches to choose from you would never tire.
A strange ripple, a little nose - a seal pops up in the harbour to say hello and to hold court with the intrigued throng. Dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks in the Bay, a myriad of little undersea worlds of shrimp, crab and anemone, rock pools to explore in timeless fashion. A precious twinkling jewel, sparkling colours, wonderful friendly people. The Bay of St Ives has more than its fair share of beaches and for fifty miles along the length of Cornish coastline there are magnificent open stretches of silky white and glowing sands.
They are clean too; the completion of the £100 million 'Clean Sweep' scheme for Mount's Bay, St Ives and Hayle, the West Cornwall area can boast probably the cleanest bathing waters in Western Europe. There are award-winning beaches at Porthminster and Porthmeor, St Ives and at Sennen, near to Land's End where European Blue Flag and Tidy Britain awards have been given for several years. Today the West Cornwall beaches measure up to the European Commission guidelines through South West Water's ambitious programme.
Each beach has its own charm and appeal; there are busy family beaches, popular watersports venues,wide-open flat sands and tucked away hidden suntraps. Porthmeor, Porthminster and Carbis Bay beaches employ fully-qualified lifeguards during the summer months.
Porthmeor is our Blue Flag Atlantic Ocean family and surfing beach with surf school, fine golden sand, good sunbathing by day and spectacular sunsets. During the summer trained lifeguards ensure the bathing is as safe as possible. There are restaurant and cafe facilities right on the beach; toilets and beach huts on the terrace behind.
Porthmeor is dog-friendly from the first of October to the Sunday before Easter Day. For the remainder of the year, i.e. during the summer months there is a 24-hour ban on dogs on this beach. For summertime dog-friendly beaches see the end of this page.
Our tidal, sandy-bottomed harbour is still a working port where you can watch the local fishermen landing their daily fresh catches of locally caught seafood. It's also very sheltered, a perfect sun-trap in the heart of town. There are toilets in the Sloop car park and behind the Lifeboat station on West Pier. All facilities surround you here.
Porthgwidden is a delightful small sandy cove and sun-trap with safe bathing (but keep inside line of buoys]) beach huts for hire and handy toilets. The brilliant white terrace houses the relaxed Porthgwidden Cafe and there's a kiosk for coffee and snacks. Porthgwidden is an ideal beach to catch the morning sun and stay all day.
Sheltered Porthminster beach boasts almost half a mile of golden sands with calm sea conditions ideal for families. Porthminster has restaurant and café facilities, a scenic cliff walk to Carbis Bay on the South West Coast Path, a putting green, beach huts for hire, toilets and level access to the town centre. The St Ives branch line trains draw up at the top of the steps above the middle of the beach.
All the main St Ives bathing beaches are dog-friendly between the first of October and the Sunday before Easter of the following year. During the summer months there is a 24-hour dog ban on Porthmeor, Porthgwidden and Porthminster beaches.
Dogs are permitted on Carbis Bay beach from 5 a.m.- 8 a.m. and the harbour beach allows early morning dog walking up until 8 a.m. and evening dog walking after 7 p.m. through out the summer months (defined above). These areas are unrestricted in the winter, as are the main beaches.
There are two small tidal beaches in the town which allow unrestricted dog access all year; Bamaluz which is located between the Harbour and Porthgwidden in front of the St Ives Museum), and Lambeth Walk which is located behind the Lifeboat station. At low tide Lambeth Walk beach extends right down to the Lighthouse at the end of Smeaton's Pier and you may also take your dog around the far side of this pier, but please do not encroach into the main harbour area during the restricted day-time hours. Also please take great care accessing this beach over the rocky entrance from the pavement.
Choose your piece of paradise to doze in the warm sunshine. Let your imagination run free on beaches of soft sand with award-winning bathing waters.
Carbis Bay has a large sandy privately owned Blue Flag beach with very safe bathing and almost always calm conditions. It is a lovely spot for children and has good facilities including café and toilet. The branch line train station is above the beach and there is convenient parking. The cliff walk to nearby Porthkidney Sands or St Ives starts just above the beach at the rear of the Carbis Bay Hotel which is open to non-residents for selected meals, drinks and other services.
Porthkidney Sands is a vast expanse of sand backed by sand dunes and the West Cornwall Golf Links. The parking area by Lelant Church in the village is extremely limited in capacity so it is a good option to walk from St Ives along the coastal path to get to Porthkidney. A train ride to Lelant Saltings from St Ives should also be considered as this is inexpensive and a great hassle free way of accessing the beach, especially if you wish to enjoy the year round dog walking. At low tide it can be almost a mile to the water's edge from the coastal pathway and beware the tide can come in very quickly across the flat sand. This beach is never overcrowded; but has no facilities.
On the opposite bank from Riverside, Lelant, the Hayle Towans beach begins at the end of Hayle harbour and curls around to a wide expanse of flat bay side beach.
Bathing is safe well away from the very dangerous tidal river. There is ample parking here and good facilities at the cliff top overlooking the bay. Sandy pools are left by the receding tide.
Beachside, Hayle, is an open sandy beach under the Black Rocks cliffs, the start of Hayle’s famous three miles of golden sands stretching to Godrevy.
There are seasonal lifeguards to promote safe bathing within designated areas. Beach shops are on the approach to the beach which is served by bus services and adequate car parks.
Upton Towans and Gwithian (with parking at Gwithian Towans, free in winter) offer small coves, rock pools, sand dunes, surfing, windsurfing and safe bathing in designated areas with lifeguards in attendance. A popular area year round, there is often a range of activities in progress and the surf cafes on Gwithian Towans are justly popular.
Godrevy is famous for its lighthouse, immortalised by Virginia Woolf in her book "To the Lighthouse". The surfing eastern end of Gwithian Sands gives way to rocky inlets and small beaches backed by a wave cut platform. Be sure to keep out of the dangerous channel between the lighthouse and the beach. There are seasonal lifeguards and the excellent Godrevy Café by the National Trust car park serves generous portions.
DO bathe within areas patrolled by lifeguards, if possible and pay attention to their advice.
DO take notice of the two red and yellow flags and only bathe between them in the patrolled area.
DO keep a constant eye on the children and others of the family who cannot swim very well. Even quite shallow pools can be dangerous.
DON'T bathe in areas marked by black and white chequered flags. These are ONLY for Malibu boards and canoes.
DON'T allow your family to use inflatables in the water except under strict supervision. These can be carried away by the wind or currents and are EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.
DON'T bathe directly after a meal or for at least one hour each side of low tide.
DON'T ENTER THE WATER WHEN THE RED FLAG IS FLYING
If you see anyone in danger alert the lifeguard at once or use the RED emergency telephone.
WE WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY AND SAFE HOLIDAY