The Ultimate Penzance Beach Guide


Yeah, it’s a bit cheeky to call this a ‘Penzance Beach Guide’. Because it’s not really a guide to the beaches along Penzance‘s seafront. Because there aren’t really any beaches along Penzance‘s seafront. Well, there are a few little areas on the stretch between the town’s harbour and Newlyn Harbour – which accounts for the biggest chunk of the Penzance seafront – that could be classed as beaches but, really, they’re just good for the rockpooling crowd (we don’t mind Longrock Beach or Newlyn Tolcarne Beach which are on the edge of town but we think there’s much better). No, the true beaches that need to be experienced lie on the doorstep of this fantastic town (but note: we’re not including beaches around St Ives here as they may be only 20 minutes away by car but the town gets its own beach guide here). So, without any further ado, welcome to the ultimate Penzance beach guide. Or, as we like to put it, welcome to those incredible stretches of sand that are within half-an-hour’s drive from this bustling Cornish town centre…

Church Cove

Suitable for: Romantics, nature lovers and history buffs
Location: Gunwalloe, near Mullion on the Lizard peninsula and about 30 minutes’ drive from Penzance

Yes, we know. You certainly can’t call this a ‘Penzance beach’. It’s half-an-hour away by car. It’s a Lizard peninsula beach. Well, our point is that it is just half-an-hour away from Penzance and it’s so beautiful here that you have to experience it. Soft golden sands, dunes rich in wildlife, the Loe Pool nearby, fab rock pools, historical buildings just inland and views that’ll take your breath away. Justified this choice yet?

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Dollar Cove

Suitable for: Nature lovers, treasure seekers and shipwreck story fans
Location: Gunwalloe, near Mullion on the Lizard peninsula and about 30 minutes’ drive from Penzance

If we give you Church Cove then we must also give you her sister, Dollar Cove. This beach is literally next door and it’s wild, rugged and full of stories of smuggling and shipwrecks. The name itself comes from the countless silver dollars that spilled out of a ship that met its end here in the 17th century. There may be some coins still buried beneath the sands so get digging. Or, at least, enjoy the views and the sunset.

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Gwenver Beach

Suitable for: Surfers, sunbathers and spectacular sunset lovers
Location: Off the A30 near Sennen Cove and Porthcurno, just under eight miles from Penzance

About 15 minutes by car in the opposite direction to Church and Dollar coves is this royal princess of a beach. Gwenver Beach, named after King Arthur’s legendary wife Guinevere (probably), is slap bang in the middle of a designated Area of Natural Beauty and boasts fine white sands and spectacular views. Stormin’ waves bring the surfers here and it’s a total sun trap so sunbathing is a must on a hot summer’s day.

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Nanjizal Beach

Suitable for: Beauty lovers who like a good walk into the wilds
Location: Near Trevescan and Porthcurno, about 25 minutes’ drive from Penzance

You could say the absurdly beautiful Nanjizal Beach is under half-an-hour from Penzance. Well, you’d be lying because it takes about 25 minutes to drive south-west to the hamlet of Trevescan and park up, and then another hour to walk to this otherworldly paradise. But you could say it. Ah, we don’t care. The fact is that Nanjizal is utterly stunning. If your base is Penzance, you’d be a fool not to take a trip here.

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Penberth Cove

Suitable for: Swimmers, snorkellers and history buffs
Location: At the end of the Penberth Cove fishing hamlet, near Porthcurno, around 20 minutes away by car from Penzance

A small pebbly beach with some boats on it. Hardly seems worth the 20-minute drive from Penzance, right? Wrong. Penberth Cove is well worth the visit for the views, the atmosphere and the history, thanks to this being a traditional haven for fishing. The waters out from here are damn pristine, so a swim or a snorkel is highly recommended. This is a hidden gem in our book, just minutes outside of Penzance.

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Pedn Vounder Beach

Suitable for: Nature lovers and stargazers
Location: Next to Porthcurno BeachPorthcurno, around 20 minutes away by car from Penzance

Are you in Penzance, wondering which beach to head to today? Do you love tropical beaches? Yeah, you know where to go, then. Pedn Vounder Beach is unreal when it comes to natural beauty and stunning vistas. It’s like being on a beach in Fiji. Crystal clear turquoise waters await next to pristine white sands, all framed by sheer rugged cliffs. There’s a reason why Cornwall has a love affair with this special beach.

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Porthcurno Beach

Suitable for: Families, couples and lovers of sheer beauty
Location: Off The Valley, Porthcurno, around 20 minutes away by car from Penzance

The picturesque Minack Theatre looks over Porthcurno Beach from its perch high up on the clifftops. But the drama doesn’t stop there. Down at sea level, the beach plays out an epic scene of white sands flanked by steep cliffs and crystal clear waters. Act one should see you leaving Penzance, act two should see you laying out your towel and the finale should be you enjoying a unique stretch of Cornish sands.

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Praa Sands

Suitable for: Beach bums and kids armed with buckets and spades
Location: Praa Sands village, between Porthleven and Marazion, around 15 minutes away by car from Penzance

Just eight miles along the coast, past Marazion, on the way to Porthleven lies Praa Sands. Why make the journey? This is why: it’s over a mile long, it’s backed by sand dunes, the water is crystal clear, the sand is fine and golden, there’s usually plenty of room, there’s some great walks from here, there’s a historical war memorial to visit, the surf can be ace and the local pubs are worth hitting up. We’ll see you there.

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Prussia Cove

Suitable for: Romantics and history buffs interested in smuggling stories
Location: Off the A394 at Rosudgeon near Praa Sands, between Porthleven and Marazion, around 15 minutes away by car from Penzance

Pretty crappy beach here but you don’t make the trip to Prussia for the sands. You come here for the stunning scenery and the smuggling stories. There’s an intriguing past of smuggling and shipwrecks here, in fact, all centring around a notorious smuggler known as the ‘King of Prussia’. Stories of treasure abound, of course. You may find some coin on your trip but it’s more likely you’ll catch a golden sunset instead.

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Sennen Cove Beach

Suitable for: Surfers and sunbathers
Location: Next to Sennen village, two miles from Land’s End, just over 15 minutes away by car from Penzance

One of Cornwall’s most westerly beaches is also one of its most picturesque. Next to the quaint village of Sennen, with its olde-worlde lifeboat station, Sennen Cove Beach is one of the first to receive waves rolling in from the Atlantic, making it feel as rugged as it does remote. It’s worth the trip from Penzance to experience this majestic beach. Well, all the beaches on this list are worth it. Thank us later.

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