Last Updated on 24th October 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
With Visit Cornwall’s recent announcement encouraging visitors to avoid the beaches at Porthcurno and the most popular beach in Cornwall, Kynance Cove, it’s time to look a little more off the beaten path. As Cornwall says no to tourists, here are 10 secret beaches in Cornwall you should visit instead!
In recent months, thanks to an unprecedented heatwave, and the fact that the value of the pound has dropped dramatically, tourism numbers in the South West have just gone up and up. And nowhere has this increase been seen more than on the picturesque beaches of Kynance Cove and Porthcurno.
And they’re even saying that Poldark is to blame! An actual statement by Malcolm Bell, Visit Cornwall chief executive literally reads: “Dear Mr. Aidan Turner and his wonderful chest and thighs walking down the water is better advertising than we could ever hope to get.”
However, there are still plenty of off the beaten tourist track locations to discover in Cornwall if you only know where to search for them. Avoid towns such as Newquay and St Ives and visit more off the beaten path villages instead. Escape the crowds of St Michael’s Mount and the Eden Project, and instead opt to visit some of the coolest castles in Cornwall.
Pretty and off the beaten path, we stumbled upon Penberth quite by accident on a recent road trip through Southern Cornwall. Though there is little by way of attractions in Penberth, the charm of the place lies in its secluded nature (there’s quite literally no signal there), and numerous secret Cornish beaches nearby.
In more recent times, the pretty fishing community has even been used to film Poldark and nearby coastal walks provide excellent views of the crashing waves below, and the rugged coastline above. Beaches of interest near Penberth Cove include a pebble beach at Penberth itself, as well as the tidal sands of Pedn Vounder Beach around half a mile away.
Read more: A Poldark filming location at Penberth
Located in the very East of Southern Cornwall, in Whitsand Bay, an area often referred to as the ‘forgotten corner of Cornwall’ this area of the country is perfect for those who wish to leave behind technology for a week and instead immerse themselves in local life.
Whitsand Bay is home to countless beaches, views of Plymouth Sound, and even a ruined hermitage by the name of Rame Head. One of the best beaches in this area of the county is that of Portwrinkle Beach, a destination close to the fishing community of Portwrinkle and a place which was once used for smuggling.
Home to lots of sand and perfect for rock pooling, pack a picnic and you’re sure to enjoy a good day out should you opt to visit this Cornish beach. While in the area, be sure not to miss Hoodny Cove, a small cove to the fringes of Portwrinkle Beach. It’s worth noting that both beaches have a steep climb down to get to them. Public toilets and a paid car park are located at the top of the beach.
Read more: the lone silhouette of Rame Head
Talland Bay Beach
A short few miles away from the beautiful fishing village of Polperro, an area of Cornwall which gets insanely busy during high season, you’ll find the much less touristic village of Porthallow. And below the small hamlet and church dating to the middle ages, you’ll find the beach of Talland Bay.
Just a short stroll from the village and a medium difficult hike along the coastal walk from Polperro should you opt to park there instead, once at Talland Bay Beach, you’ll find a lovely beach café, as well as a coarse sand. A car park can be found right on the edge of the beach.
Port Quin can be found a little down the coast from the ever-popular Middle Ages fishing village of Port Isaac. Situated somewhere between Polzeath and Boscastle, a wander through Port Quin quite literally feels akin to stepping back in time. The coastal walk from Port Isaac to Port Quin takes around an hour to an hour and a half on foot.
The hamlet itself is home to very few attractions. But then again, this may be what makes Port Quin so secluded in the first place. While in the area, be sure not to miss Port Quin Beach, one of the best secret beaches in Cornwall, as well as the walk up to Doyden Fortress, a small structure constructed as a folly by a wealthy businessman in the 19th-century.
Accessible only via the Southwest Coastal Path, a stretch of walking track which is over 600 miles in length, Porthchapel Beach is located not far from the pretty church of St Levan. Also situated not far from the iconic Minack theatre, there’s paid parking in a field alongside the church.
And while Visit Cornwall have urged tourists to stop frequenting nearby Porthcurno beach, the off-the-beaten tourist track Porthchapel Beach sees little footfall in comparison. However, it’s worth noting that the walk to the beach is steep and the cove is fairly difficult to reach, located almost a mile away from the nearest car park. Once there, there’s a sheltered cove set amongst granite cliffs to explore and seals are even sometimes spied from the shoreline.
Read more: A Southern Cornwall road trip itinerary!
The beach where Daphne du Maurier used to swim, a visit to Polridmouth Cove is perfect for beach lovers and history buffs alike. Located somewhere between the picturesque town of Fowey and the Gribbin Head Daymarker, the beach is located just below Du Maurier’s House, Menabilly. Polridmouth is also quite hard to reach and requires a half-mile walk down a steep track from the closest car park.
Bedruthan Steps & Pentire Steps
Close to the village of St Eval and ever-so-beautiful, picture this: the azure blue waves crashing onto the golden beach below, void of people and oh-so-welcoming. Well, Pentire Steps are close to Bedruthan Steps, which are so-called because of a legend where a giant named Bedruthan placed rocks across the sand to act as stepping stones at high tide.
At low tide, the two beaches of Bedruthan Steps and Pentire Steps join up, forming a long stretch of sand. Otherwise, unlike nearby Bedruthan Steps, the car park of Pentire Steps is largely empty and dogs are allowed on the beach all year ’round! Of all the secret beaches in Cornwall, this is easily one of my favourites…