St Ives and Carbis Bay occupy an idyllic stretch of coastline, boasting some stunning long, sandy beaches and glistening, sheltered bays. We’ve compiled a list of local beaches and accommodation suggestions nearby, so you can enjoy the ultimate Cornish beach break – all you have to do is choose your perfect one!
Best For: Long strolls and birdwatching
Enjoy relaxing walks and paddles along Porthkidney Sands, which stretches from the mouth of the River Hayle (an RSPB reserve) to Hawkes Point which borders Carbis Bay.
This generally quiet beach is backed by gentle dunes and there are several access points from the coast path. Porthkidney Sands is one of West Cornwall’s all year dog friendly beaches with no restrictions. The huge amount of space at low tide means that even the most energetic of dogs should be satisfied!
Stay In: Sea and Sand, located in Lelant Saltings. A quick stroll from Porthkidney, this is definitely the spot for lovers of nature (you’ll have a front row seat for birdwatching on the estuary) seeking a calmer, more restful holiday with the option of dipping into the ‘bright lights’ of nearby St Ives whenever you feel like it. For a dog-friendly property close to Porthkidney, try our historic gem, Old Court House.
Carbis Bay Beach
Best For: Basking in the sun and enjoying gorgeous views!
The blue flag beach at Carbis Bay gets very little surf as it faces northeast, making it an ideal spot for families with young children as the sea here is crystal clear and perfect for swimming.
This golden beach is surrounded by sub-tropical plants and lapped by turquoise waters – at its best you could easily mistake it for the Caribbean!
Stay In: Two-bed penthouse apartment Wavetop is the ultimate beach-side bolthole in Carbis Bay. Wake up to stunning views, and the sound of the sea gently lapping on the shore below.
Best For: Leisurely lunches and alfresco drinks
Blue flag Porthminster Beach is located just a short walk from the centre of St Ives. The award-winning restaurant Porthminster Café, which specialises in local seafood, is located right on the beach and boasts a stunning terrace with panoramic views.
There are also two takeaways on the beach serving legendary fish and chips amongst other things, plus an outdoor kitchen dishing out barbecue food all summer long, and a Cocktail & Gin Bar, so you definitely won’t go hungry or thirsty here! Porthminster Beach is home to the annual St Ives Food Festival.
Keep the family entertained onshore by trying your skills at the mini 18-hole golf course… or simply relax in a deck chair in the sunshine!
Stay In: White Lantern is a short walk from Porthminster Beach. Here you’ll have your own balcony with views over St Ives Bay, the harbour and beyond to Hayle Towans and Godrevy. Enjoy a glass of wine before strolling down to Porthminster Beach Café for a sunset dinner!
Best For: Families with young children
Porthgwidden is a small cove nestled next to ‘The Island’, and this sheltered east-facing sun trap proves very popular with families throughout the summer. Rocky outcrops on either side of the beach provide interest for snorkelers, and it’s a great spot for rock-pooling when the tide is out.
Porthgwidden Beach Cafe, with its Mediterranean feel, is a handy place to grab lunch – there’s a takeaway too if you can’t tear the kids away from the beach!
Stay In: Chywidden, located between the Island and the Harbour and only a short walk from Porthgwidden Beach, is a super bolthole for beach-loving families.
Best For: Dog-friendly stays in St Ives
Bamaluz is the only beach in St Ives itself that’s dog-friendly all year round. Situated just below St. Ives Museum, the remains of Wheal Dream tin mine overlook this pleasant little nook of sand and shingle.
Bamaluz sits between the harbour and Porthgwidden beach and goes unnoticed by the majority of visitors. At high tide the beach is greatly reduced in size and can almost disappear on a spring high. Catch it at the right time though and it’s the perfect spot to bring your four-legged friend for a paddle and play.
Stay In: Pet-friendly Pier Cottage is just a short walk from Bamaluz Beach, so your dog can enjoy a break in St Ives too!
Best For: Watersports and sunsets
Porthmeor is considered by most to be the ‘main’ beach in St Ives, and is the perfect spot to indulge in a range of watersports, including learning to surf. St Ives Surf School operates from both here and Porthminster Beach and offers a range of saltwater activities for beginners and those who are keen to improve their technique.
Situated in the shadow of Tate St Ives, Porthmeor is just a stone’s throw away from the centre of St Ives, which is bursting with shops, pubs, cafes and art galleries. In the summer, people gather on Porthmeor to enjoy the stunning sunsets, before grabbing a booth at Porthmeor Beach Cafe or West Beach to tuck into tapas, pizza and a sundowner or two…
Stay In: Sandpiper overlooks the crashing surf of Porthmeor, with its spectacular sunset views looking west over the sparkling Atlantic.
Best For: Holiday snaps!
You can’t get any more central than Harbour Beach, smack bang in the middle of one of the most iconic spots in the whole of the UK. At low tide you can stroll far out on the sands, looking back at the picturesque harbour which has captivated generations of visitors.
This soft, sandy beach, revealed as the tide goes out, should not be overlooked as a destination for beachside pottering. It’s great for building sandcastles, watching the fishing boats come and go, and people-watching while tucking into Cornish pasties and ice creams from the numerous shops along the harbour.
Stay In: Wolf Rock is located on the harbourside in St Ives and enjoys uninterrupted views from both the bedroom and the open plan living area.