St Ives Beaches: The Ultimate Guide


If art is at the heart of St Ives then her beaches make up her pretty face. This art-centric seaside town in the far western reaches of Cornwall boasts four major sandy havens within a stone’s throw from its centre and each one of them is well worth visiting (well, there’s also a fifth called Bamaluz but it only exists at low tide and is pretty small so we prefer recommending the other four grand beaches). And if that quartet wasn’t enough then there’s a plethora of other beaches on the doorstep of the town that are each under 25 minutes away by car. So, here is our ultimate guide to both the St Ives beaches that enjoy the fine golden sands and the clean ‘n’ clear blue waters of St Ives Bay and the stretches of sand that are damn close by (but note: we’re not including beaches around Penzance here as they may be only 20 minutes away by car but the town gets its own beach guide here). Welcome to the ultimate St Ives beach guide…

St Ives beaches: the four sandy paradises in town

Porthgwidden Beach

Suitable for: Families and sunbathers
Location: Off Burrow Road on the most northerly tip of St Ives

Porthgwidden Beach is St Ives’ smallest stretch of golden sands. It’s really well sheltered and is popular with families because it’s such a great sun trap on a hot day. It’s not the town’s most convenient beach but, let’s face it, it’s hardly a long walk from the bars and art galleries, sitting on ‘The Island’ (which is, in fact, a peninsula) that juts out on St Ives‘ most northerly point. Soft sands to play or sunbathe on. Perfect.

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Porthmeor Beach

Suitable for: Beach lovers who want bars, shops, restaurants and art galleries nearby
Location: Off Porthmeor Hill at the top of the town centre in St Ives

Wake up. Go to the famous Tate St Ives art gallery. Go to an awesome beach. Go for fish and chips. Go back to bed. Yes, you can do all in this in literally just a few metres if you want. The Tate St Ives is pretty much on Porthmeor Beach, as are loads of places to eat, drink and shop. And the beach is a safe and serene sandy paradise with good swimming and surf out there. Welcome to sandy heart of St Ives.

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Porthminster Beach

Suitable for: Beach lovers who like convenience, space, fine sand and fine views
Location: Off the A3074 and Skidden Hill on the town’s more southerly coastline

If Porthmeor is the king of the St Ives north then Porthminster is certainly the queen of the south. This white stretch of fine white sands boasts an almost tropical feel with its palm trees and green-blue waters. Green hills and white cottages surround the bay and there’s a real holiday atmosphere here, whatever time of year it may be. It’s a quick walk from the town centre too, so, er, what are you waiting for?

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St Ives Harbour Beach

Suitable for: Kids who love building sandcastles, families and fishing boat watchers
Location: Off Wharf Road, practically in the centre of the St Ives seafront

When you hear ‘harbour beach’, you’re generally put off due to the perception that dirty sand and water awaits. Not so at St Ives Harbour Beach. Here, it’s clean and spacious and great for kids and families or those of you who love watching local fishermen bringing in their fresh catches. It’s all really central too with a quaint backdrop to die for (just look at that pic above!). Enjoy this fine family-friendly sun trap.

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Beaches on St Ives’ doorstep

Basset’s Cove

Suitable for: Naturists
Location: Off the B3301, just over a mile south of Portreath and 14 miles from St Ives

We weren’t really sure whether to include Basset’s Cove in this list because it’s just over 25 minutes away from St Ives by car but since you can go round Hayle and use the A30, it’s worth the trip – but only if you’re a naturist! Yes indeed, this beautiful (but pretty hard to reach, so be careful on your descent) beach that reveals itself at low tide is reserved for the skinny dippers among us. Go on, bare all!

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Carbis Bay Beach

Suitable for: Families and watersports enthusiasts
Location: Carbis Bay, a mile or so east from St Ives

It may as well be one of the big quartet of St Ives beaches. But it’s not. Carbis Bay Beach is its own entity, about a mile south (and up the hill) from the town centre. It’s worth the hike, though, because this sandy beach with clean waters is surrounded by subtropical plants. Perfect for families due to the safe swimming and also great for surfing, sailing, kayaking and paddleboarding due to its watersports centre.

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Gwithian Towans Beach

Suitable for: Families who want literally acres of space outside of town and surfers
Location: Off the A30 and B3301, four miles from Hayle and about 10 miles around the bay from St Ives

Worth the 15-minute journey by car from St Ives if you’re someone who wants space, gorgeous sands, turquoise waters, stunning views and the feeling that you’re no longer in a town. Gwithian Towans Beach is a great north coast spot for surfers and windsurfers, and it’s an ace spot for families as there are dunes, rock pools and plenty of sand for the kids to play in. Also try to spot a seal. It’s all happening here.

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Hayle Towans Beach

Suitable for: Families, surfers and sunbathers who like their beach big
Location: At the end of North Quay, Hayle

If you can walk the mile or so to Carbis Bay Beach from St Ives you can manage the next three or four miles to Hayle, right? Oh, you’d rather drive? Yeah, we would too. Hayle Towans Beach sports great views of St Ives around the coast. And it’s a monster, known as ‘three miles of golden sands’, so there’s always space for a picnic, a sunbathe or for the kids to play. Surfing is also recommended off these pretty shores.

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Mutton Cove

Suitable for: Seal watchers
Location: Off the B3301 near Godrevy and Gwithian Towans Beach, just north of Hayle

So what have we learned? St Ives has four fab beaches in town and then some giant stretches and even a naturist beach on its doorstep. Wait, that’s not all? No, it’s not. St Ives also has a beach entirely reserved for grey seals 25 minutes away by car. Just north of Gwithian Towans Beach is Mutton Cove. You can’t go on it. But you can watch the resident seal colony from the clifftop. Just keep the noise down.

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