Secret Beaches in Cornwall

Secret Beaches in Cornwall

Cornwall is adored for its magical coastline, decorated with picture-perfect beaches and secluded coves. Ranging from popular golden-sand beauties at the foot of thriving towns to greenery-draped gems hidden between lofty cliffs, they offer something for everyone throughout the year 

If you are already familiar with some of Cornwall’s most famous beaches and are looking to expand your shoreside repertoire, we have curated just the list for you, from our favourite out-the-way bays to not-so-secret secret beaches in Cornwall.

West Cornwall

Pedn Vounder, near Porthcurno

Looking down from the cliffs across the golden sands of Pedn Vounder beach in Cornwall, with rugged cliffs behind and blue seas and skies beyond

Cornwall’s coast is home to many hidden treasures, none more captivating than Pedn Vounder (also known as Treen). Tucked around the corner from Porthcurno near the Minack Theatre, this beauty spot is a vision of white sand and turquoise sea perfection. Backed by hulking cliffs that reflect the sun’s warmth and blanketed with an iridescent blue lagoon, it evokes Caribbean scenes and invites for paradisiacal hours by the water. 

To reach this (unofficial naturist) beach, park at Porthcurno car park and walk along the coast path. You can reach Pedn Vounder from Porthcurno beach at very low tide, but you only have a small window to do so. Otherwise, you can don sturdy footwear and descend the steep, narrow cliff path down onto the beach, ready for a little scramble at the end. Bundle up some water, snacks and reef-safe suncream and head down for a wild adventure, paddling in crystalline water and basking on sugary sands. 

Gwynver, near Sennen Cove

A grass-backed beach with golden sand and clear water at Gwynver in Cornwall

Located just along the coast from Sennen Cove, Gwynver beach beckons for unforgettable days by the surf. Accessed via a walk along the South West Coast Path from Sennen or a stroll from Gwynver beach car park, its approach features steep gradients and lots of steps but is well worth the energy for its divine aesthetics. Upon arrival, choose a blissful spot upon the golden sands that blend with its waterline and absorb the incredible views over rugged coast and glittering sea. 

In summer, this dog-friendly beach is lifeguarded; however, you’ll often find its rolling swell lends itself better to bodyboarding and surfing than swimming. As there are no facilities at this beautifully secluded beach, a hamper packed full of sweet and savoury delights will serve as the perfect accompaniment to shoreside spells.

Bamaluz Beach, St Ives

A little harbour beach with golden sand and backed by rocks and cottages

Bamaluz is a stunning beach hidden in plain sight in the centre of St Ives in West Cornwall. Nestled between the harbour and Porthgwidden beach, it is often overlooked in favour of the town’s most famous beaches, including Porthminster and Porthmeor, yet promises sublime moments of relaxation and play. What’s more, this beach is also dog-friendly year-round, meaning that your canine friend can revel in seaside daydreams with you. 

Benefit from the beach’s close proximity to an abundance of cafés, ice cream parlours and restaurants to keep you fuelled and refreshed throughout your day and enjoy the beach’s sheltered aspect for hazy days under the sun. There’s no lifeguard service, but on calm days the mirror-like sea is perfect for bathing in its crisp, cool waters.

Housel Bay, the Lizard

Rugged cliffs and green fields tower above the rocky cove at Housel Bay in Cornwall

A picture-perfect coastal arcadia, Housel Bay on the Lizard Peninsula exudes calm in summer and wild drama in winter. Just around the corner from mainland Britain’s most southerly point, it occupies a special location within the country’s furthermost reaches and shelters between high cliffs draped in tumbling greenery. For a salt-kissed day at Housel, park in the Lizard village on the green or at the National Trust’s Lizard Point car park and walk over. 

Whichever way you choose, you’ll need decent footwear for the walk, which culminates in a bit of a clamber over rocks at the bottom of sea-worn steps. At the foot of the cliffs, the welcome here is hard to beat, with a jaw-dropping swathe of white sand lapped by shimmering waters. One of the best secret beaches in Cornwall, it has no amenities closeby, but shops and eateries aplenty can be found in the village itself.

South Cornwall

Durgan, near Falmouth

Trees and small cottages sit on the banks of the Helford River in Cornwall

Residing next to a small clutch of cottages at the foot of a luscious valley in South Cornwall, the delightful Durgan beach captivates all those who gaze upon it. Park in the National Trust car park within Durgan village and meander through a valley of sub-tropical greenery to emerge on its tranquil crescent of shingle and sand. With very little to do other than spot birds, skim stones and watch the quiet activity of the Helford River, this dog-friendly beach is perfect for halcyon days spent picnicking and paddling. 

If you love being on the water, this secluded gem is also popular with local sailors and yachties who make the most of the river’s sheltered waters to moor boats and explore winding creeks. Pop some supplies and a towel in a bag and venture over, ready to soak up the otherworldly atmosphere of this verdant Cornish hideaway.

Lantic Bay, Fowey

Rugged cliffs tower over golden sand and turquoise waters at Lantic Bay in Cornwall

The spectacular Lantic Bay is one of the county’s best-kept secrets located on a quiet stretch of coast between Fowey and Polperro. A tranquil bay set below cliffs and with a steeply shelving shore, it boasts postcard-worthy scenes with unspoilt coastalscapes overlooking a rolling blue ocean. Best of all? This peaceful haven is often void of crowds, with visitors often arriving by boat to enjoy its serene sanctuary. 

If you would like to reach this sand and shingle beach on foot, you can follow footpaths from the nearby National Trust's Lantic Bay car park and navigate winding, uneven paths down the cliffs to reach the beach. Requiring a good level of fitness, this path may not be suitable for children and dogs, but it is perfect for romantic adventurers looking for secluded sojourns by the sea.

Hemmick Beach, the Roseland

Waves lapping against the golden shore of Hemmick beach in Cornwall with cliffs in the background

Hemmick beach lies to the west of Dodman Point on the gorgeous Roseland Peninsula. Sitting pretty within a quiet nook of the famed Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, its nearest car park is half a mile away following a meandering country lane and is adjoined either side by the South West Coast Path. 

Overlooked by one little cottage at the top of the beach, it offers a welcome escape if you’re looking for somewhere out the way to relish coastal relaxation with a charmingly remote and untouched feel. As with many of Cornwall’s hidden beaches, there are no facilities, yet this only adds to Hemmick’s timeless appeal for easy days under open skies.  

Talland Bay, Looe

Rolling countryside sits above the rocky coves around Talland Bay in Cornwall

Talland Bay is home to two beautiful beaches that set the most idyllic backdrop for nostalgic seaside days. Found between Looe and Polperro, this mesmerising stretch of coast is so beautiful and history-rich that it is designated both a Heritage Coast and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

At the top of the bucket and spade list for secret beaches in Cornwall, its sandy shores interspersed with rocky pockets promise a dreamy destination for hours chasing sunshine and sea, yet are often missed in favour of more well-known areas. Park your car in Talland hamlet’s car park and cross the road to reach the dog-friendly beach. There’s no lifeguard service here, but the beach is served by a popular shop and a hidden beach café, a rare bonus enjoyed by only a handful of Cornwall’s secret beaches.

North Cornwall

Duckpool, near Bude

A river flows down to the sea at Duckpool beach in Cornwall

North of Bude’s beaches, a wilder coastline awaits. In particular, Duckpool, at the foot of the Coombe Valley, proposes an enchanting escape, dissected by a flowing river and shouldered by ancient woodland and vast cliffs. With a rocky foreshore that gives way to a soft carpet of sand, this heavenly corner is looked after by the National Trust and creates an atmospheric setting for days on the Cornish coast. 

Overlooked by the hundred metre tall Steeple Point, its only landmarks come in the form of striking natural formations, with no trappings except for a seasonal ice cream van. Park in the car park above the beach and enjoy the short wander down to the waterline, arriving during an ebbing tide to make the most of the space to explore and unwind. 

Bossiney Cove, Tintagel

A small golden beach nestled between towering cliffs at Bossiney Cove in Cornwall

If you are looking for a real adventure during your Cornish retreat, then Bossiney Cove on the North Coast may pique your interest. Set below the village of Bossiney and only a mile along the coast path from the world-famous Tintagel, this secret beach rests out of sight below towering cliffs and joins up with neighbouring Benoath Cove at low tide. Covered by soft sand and with a gently sloping shore, it rewards all those who visit with a heavenly oasis painted with coastal hues. 

If you would like to explore Bossiney and the surrounding coast, park in Bossiney Cove car park and walk the half a mile to the beach. Good news for dogs, it welcomes pups all year round. For the finest conditions, head down on a sunny day at low tide and pack a delicious picnic to take with you.

Crackington Haven, St Gennys

Towering cliffs loom over the pretty beach at Crackington Haven in Cornwall

Crackington Haven is a spectacular beach that takes pride of place at the foot of a picturesque seaside village in North Cornwall. Though not as well-known as some of its neighbouring coastal gems, the beach here is a true dream for spontaneous trips and ocean dips. Found at the base of a narrow valley, its sandy shores expand at low tide to reveal large expanses of shore, peppered with rockpools and wave-washed boulders. 

Once used as a harbour for boats in the nineteenth century, today its sandy basin provides a soft cushion for easy beach days, luxuriating in the shelter produced by the beach’s rocky spine of tall cliffs - which lead to some of the highest in Cornwall. A wonderful advantage for Cornwall’s quieter beaches, Crackington Haven is served by local shops and cafés in the village and also has lifeguard service in summer.

Polly Joke Beach, Newquay  

Golden sands and rugged cliff formations at Polly Joke beach in Cornwall

Also known as Porth Joke, Polly Joke beach near Newquay is etched into a narrow bay protected by rugged headlands. Affording plenty of space, this beach could easily accommodate large crowds, yet rarely feels busy thanks to its location between two of the north coast’s most popular beaches, Crantock and Holywell Bay

To revel in oceanside days, park in Polly Joke car park and walk the half a mile through patchwork fields to reach the coast path and the head of the beach. Dogs are welcome all year, and the beach’s shallow river, mini mermaids pools and shallow waters make for idyllic playgrounds for all generations. Remember to pack up reef-friendly suncream with you, along with lots of water and luxurious snacks, and bask in the golden beams of Cornish sunshine for the kind of nostalgic fun that endless summer dreams are made of.

To enjoy spellbinding moments between sea and sky while keeping our beaches beautiful, please be respectful of the environment and leave only footprints behind you. Checking local tide times and being mindful of uneven terrain and beach conditions will help ensure your visit is as dreamy as can be. 

Feeling inspired to explore your favourite secret beaches? Take a look at our luxury retreats in Cornwall.

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