North Cornwall beach guide

Bude Canal and Summerleaze Beach

Beach Surfing Guide
North Cornwall


Watersports in North Cornwall


From quiet nooks and coves to exciting surfing venues, all flanked by magnificent coastal scenery, North Cornwall has some of the cleanest beaches in Cornwall - and that's official.


The North Cornwall area is home to some of the best beaches in Cornwall, which are perfect for family holidays. There are also some excellent surfing beaches, such as Polzeath and Harlyn Bay. Polzeath Port Isaac.


There are picturesque coastal villages to visit too, such as Port Isaac or Boscastle. The region is easily accessible via the A30, A38 and A39 roads, though the A30 gets heavily congested towards the end of the summer.


Also of interest is the ruined castle at Tintagel, rumoured to be the Camelot of Arthurian legend. For the walker, the coastal scenery is spectacular and inland the north of Bodmin Moor can be explored, including Brown Willy the highest point in Cornwall.


Sandy Mouth
Northcott Mouth
Bude - Crooklets
Bude - Summerleaze
Widemouth Bay
Crackington Haven
Trebarwith Strand
Daymer Bay
Porth - Newquay
Lusty Glaze - Newquay
Tolcarne - Newquay
Great Western - Newquay
Towan - Newquay
Fistral - Newquay

Holywell Bay
Harbour Cove
Trevone Bay
Harlyn Bay
Constantine Bay
Treyarnon Bay
Porthcothan Bay
Bedruthan Steps Beach
Mawgan Porth
Watergate Bay

Seaside Award -from the Tidy Beach GroupLife GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToilets Sandy Mouth

This beach is in prime condition with sand, rocks and many rock pools. The cliffs surrounding the beach are moderately unstable but provide a great variety of wildflowers. The area around Sandymouth is classed as a Heritage Coast, and therefore, walking is recommended but keep an eye on the tide. Some areas may be cut off by the incoming tide and the cliffs offer little escape. National Trust leaflets provide information about the beach as does the Heritage Coast Exhibition in the Visitor Centre in Bude.
Lifeguard Seasonal, Tidy Britain Group Award , Swim, Surf, Toilets, Cafe, Car Park, Shop .


Life GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopNorthcott Mouth

The sandy beach at Northcott is approximately one third of a mile long and proves to be popular with surfers and swimmers. The bay is bordered by Menachurch Point to the north and Maer Cliff to the south and bathing can be dangerous in these areas. There is much to see on the coastal path, heading along the Heritage Coast, in the way of views and wildlife.
Lifeguard Seasonal, Swim, Surf, Car Park, Cafe.


Life GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToiletsNo Dogs from Easter to Sept 30Disabled ToiletsBude - Crooklets

The small bay at Crooklets is due north of Summerleaze and adjoins it at low tide. The bay is formed by the rocks of Wrangle Point to the north and outcrops of rocks to the south. Due to the small size of the beach it does tend to become quite congested in the summer. The coastal path around Crooklets provides marvellous views over to Efford Down, Millook and the Cornish north coast.
Lifeguard Seasonal, Swim, Surf, Cafe, Toilets (Dis.), Shop, Car Park, Dog Ban.


Bude Canal and Summerleaze Beach

Bude - Summerleaze
Life GuardCar ParkToilets Disabled Toilets

This has proved to be one of the most popular beaches of the area and hence it becomes congested in the height of the season. The beach is surrounded by dunes on one side and the canal on the other. The sand dunes are undergoing restoration at present and have been planted with marram grass to increase stability.

Situated in the Crescent car park is the Bude Visitor Centre where the Heritage Coast Service has an information section on the area and its wildlife. The cliffs to the south of the beach provide a network of pleasant walks over Efford Down and along to Efford Beacon and beyond.
Life Guard - Seasonal, Car Park, Shop, Cafe, Toilets (Dis.), Swim, Surf.


Millock Haven near Widemouth BAy

Widemouth Bay / Blackrock
Seaside Award -from the Tidy Beach GroupLife GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopNo Dogs from Easter to Sept 30 Disabled Toilets

In comparison to many beaches in North Cornwall, the beach at Widemouth Bay consists of a mile of flat sand backed by low cliffs and grassy fields. The beach is rocky in places providing many rock pools harbouring marine wildlife.

Due to the accessibility of the beach, it becomes very popular during the summer months although there are footpaths over the ascending cliffs that allow escape from the busy sands.

Widemouth bay is popular with surfers and its coastal paths provide excellent views towards Millook and the coast north of Bude.
Life Guard Seasonal Dog Ban Widemouth only , Tidy Britain Group Award, Swim, Surf, Toilets ( Dis.), Car Park, Shop, Cafe.


Crackington Haven -mmf

Crackington Haven
Life GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToiletsNo Dogs from Easter to Sept 30

A long descent into Crackington Haven leads to a small yet popular beach encased on either side by steep dark cliffs. Due to its popularity in the summer and the small size of the village, the beach can become quite congested with surfers and bathers alike. However, there are walks along the coastal path that will take you away from the sand and surf.

The coastal path to the south of the bay leads over National Trust land to High Cliff which provides an excellent vantage point giving magnificent views for miles around all the way to Boscastle. Crackington lies within the Heritage Coast area.
Life Guard - Seasonal, Swim, Surf, Dog Ban, Car Park, Shop, Toilets, Cafe.

Crackington Haven -mmf


Crackington Haven -mmf

Trebarwith Strand, Nr Tintagel

Trebarwith Strand
Life GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToilets Disabled Toilets

The beach at Trebarwith is at the bottom of a deep valley with many attractive views along the Heritage Coastline towards Gull Rock. Rocks must be negotiated before you reach the rocky sands of the beach.

The high tide covers the beach completely for about two hours so care must be taken. Signs at the top of the beach warn of the dangers. The coastal path north leads to Tintagel and makes a wonderful scenic walk.

The village of Tintagel provides much to see including the old Post Office, King Arthur's Hall and the ruined castle. Tintagel itself has no beach and therefore Trebarwith Strand is the closest.
Life Guard - Seasonal, Swim, Car Park, Shop, Toilets (Dis.), Cafe.

Camel Estuary

Seaside Award -from the Tidy Beach GroupLife GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToiletsNo Dogs from Easter to Sept 30 Disabled Toilets

Polzeath can be found in the Camel Estuary in Hayle Bay. The beach is well used by surfers and bathers and is regularly cleaned. Information in the form of a board describes the area as well as giving details of water quality.

Sailing on the Camel Estuary

National Trust land adjacent to the beach provide footpaths leading to Pentire Point giving superb views from the Rump headlands.

The Heritage Coast Service regularly organises "Seashore Searches" of the rock pools near New Polzeath as part of its summer programme.

L ife Guard Seasonal Dog Ban, Tidy Britain Group Award, Cafe, Swim, Surf, Toilets (Dis.), Shop, Car Park. Polzeath Voluntary Marine Wildlife Reserve

Daymer Bay

Daymer Bay

Car ParkCafe-ShopToilets

This bay is situated to the south of Trebetherick next to National Trust land and consists of approximately one third of a mile of sand.

The coastal path to the north of Daymer Bay leads to Polzeath and provides some picturesque views of Padstow harbour and surrounding area.

Swim, Car Park, Toilets, Cafe, Shop, NO LIFEGUARD.

Porth - Newquay

Porth is a large expanse of golden sand, very popular with families due to the safe bathing in the area. A spectacular feature of the beach is the blow hole at the end of the island which can be seen at mid tide - especially on windy days.

The area around the beach is well developed with all amenities - beach shops, mini market, toilets, and cafes. There is parking close to the beach.

Directions: Porth is on the Padstow to Newquay Road (B3276) just north of Newquay.

Lusty Glaze - Newquay

The name Lusty Glaze is derived from the Cornish for 'A place to view blue boats'. This beautiful cove is naturally sheltered by high cliffs and provides a safe environment for all the family to enjoy all year around. Lusty Glaze is a privately owned cove and is open free of charge, all year to the public and is now the headquarters of the National Lifeguard and Rescue Training Centre, a training school with an international reputation for its involvement the training of Emergency Service and Rescue Personnel.

This sheltered cove is home to one of Newquay's finest tourist beaches with superb beach facilities for the visitor. Purchased in 1999 by Jeremy and Tracey Griffiths, the beach and its facilities has undergone a total refurbishment and now offers the visitor modern comforts such as:

Children's Crèche. Open Daily from 11 am - 4pm. An opportunity for Mums and Dads to enjoy a snooze on the beach, a beer in the bar, or a swim in the surf, while your child is entertained and cared for on the beach by our team.
Beach Bar and Restaurant. Licensed and Open all year. All dishes are homemade and freshly prepared on the premises, The normal menu ranges from fresh local fish, meat and vegetarian dishes. During the summer months we hold weekly themed evenings such as Caribbean nights, Thai night and Beach BBQ.
Beach Shop. Lusty Glaze Beach Shop stocks a wide variety of beach goods ranging from wetsuits and clothing, beach chairs and tents, through to buckets, spades and children's games.
Cafe and Takeaway. A traditional beach cafe with a full menu ranging from chips to fish and chips, fresh sandwiches and baguettes etc. to takeaway.
Daily Beach BBQ. A range of hot dogs, bacon burgers and kebabs cooked El fresco!
Hire Shop. A range of wetsuits, body boards, surfboards, deck chairs and sun beds for hire. Beach huts also available for daily, weekly or seasonal hire.
Toilets. Spotlessly clean, attended male and female toilets with baby changing facilities.

Directions: During the peak season the best access is from Newquays town car parks. There is a small car park which over looks the beach, but this is generally full during the summer months. The beach is signposted from the Narrowcliff/Henver Road (A3058).

Tolcarne - Newquay

Tolcarne beach, is a west facing beach with a large area of sand backed by 150 foot cliffs. The beach is one the most popular family beaches in Newquay. The westerly aspect makes Tolcarne a good surfing beach. The beach is a short walk from the town, with a long descent- over 200 steps- down the cliff. The area is well worth a visit if only for the stunningly beautiful views of the Headland and Harbour.

The beach has a shop, surfing school and shop, toilets, crazy golf and cafe. Lifeguard during the summer months.

Directions: Park in the main town car parks and walk to the beach.

Great Western - Newquay

Newquay's Great Western beach is a popular family beach, comprising of several west facing sandy coves, backed by towering cliffs, sheltering it from the elements. Great Western has a wide range of facilities, including surf and deck chair hire, refreshments, shop, toilets and showers. The beach has a private lift which descends through the cliffs from the Great Western Hotel.

Directions: Access to Great Western beach is via a steep winding path between the Blue Lagoon Leisure Centre and the Great Western Hotel. ach.

Towan - Newquay

Towan has a good sized expanse of sand and rocks. The beach is the closest to the town centre and is often referred to as "Town Beach". The proximity to the town and the level access, makes it very busy during the summer. The beach has a small, sea filled swimming pool for families to use in the summer season.

The beach is overlooked by the The Newquay Sealife Centre, situated on the promenade and Towan Island connected to the cliffs by Newquays famous suspension bridge, depicted in many picture postcards. Towan beach is next to the harbour entrance, which means that it is very sheltered.

The beach has all facilities close by . Lifeguard during the summer months.

Directions: Park in the main town car parks and walk to the beach.

Fistral - Newquay

Fistral is Newquays most popular beach. Located to the west of Towans Head; Fistral is Newquays largest beach noted for its fine golden sands and surfing. The west facing beach is almost a mile long - backed by steep sand dunes which provide a degree of shelter. The westerly aspect of Fistral beach creates some of the best surfing conditions in Europe. Fistral has made Newquay famous as a surfing centre and many national and international competitions are held here each year. Lifeguard during the summer months.

Directions: There is a small car park adjacent to Fistral beach - follow the signs from the town centre to Fistral beach and The Headland- but this is usually full during the season. It is generally advisable to park in Newquays long stay car parks and walking to the beach.

Holywell Bay

Tolcarne beach, is a west facing beach with a large area of sand backed by 150 foot cliffs. The beach is one the most popular family beaches in Newquay. The westerly aspect makes Tolcarne a good surfing beach. The beach is a short walk from the town, with a long descent- over 200 steps- down the cliff. The area is well worth a visit if only for the stunningly beautiful views of the Headland and Harbour.

The beach has a shop, surfing school and shop, toilets, crazy golf and cafe. Lifeguard during the summer months.

Directions: Park in the main town car parks and walk to the beach.

Harbour Cove

Car ParkHarbour Cove

Harbour Cove is situated in a Site of Special Scientific Interest, north of Padstow. There is no car park as such but during the summer there is parking for approximately 150 cars at Lellizzick.

Permissive access is given from the car park to the beach. Walks along the coast path give excellent views over Padstow and Rock as well as Pentire Point and Trevose Head. Padstow Tourist Information Centre contains much information about the wildlife and the surrounding area and also features an information section by the Heritage Coast Service.

Summer Car Park NO LIFEGUARD.,

Trevone Bay

Trevone Bay
Life GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToiletsNo Dogs from Easter to Sept 30 Disabled Toilets


Trevone Bay is located to the south of Trevose Head and to the north of Harlyn Bay.

This beach is situated in an area of great geological interest. There is ample parking during the summer season.
Life Guard Seasonal Dog Ban, Cafe, Car Park, Toilets( Dis.), Shop.

Harlyn Bay
Seaside Award -from the Tidy Beach GroupLife GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToilets

On the eastern side of Trevose Head sits Harlyn Bay. The two thirds of a mile of sand and pebbles are backed by the dunes which are themselves surrounded by the cliffs towards Cataclews Point. These cliffs form Big Guns Cove. The south east corner of Harlyn village provides the access to the beach next to a stream that flows on to the beach. The remains of an old iron age cemetery were discovered behind the beach below the sand. The cliffs at Trevose Head give superb views towards Pentire Head and Newquay across the rocky sea. To the north east of the bay lies Mother Ivey's Bay. On the northern shore of this rocky cove stands the Padstow lifeboat house. Wildlife and walks information is available from the Padstow Tourist Information Centre which has a Heritage Coast Information section within it.
Life Guard - Seasonal, Tidy Britain Group Award , Swim, Surf, Car Park, Toilets, Cafe, Shop.


Booby's Bay

Booby's Bay
Life Guard

South of Trevone Head sits Booby's Bay. There is a small National Trust property adjacent to the bay which is popular in the summer. There is limited car parking and it is best to park at Constantine Bay and walk along to Booby's Bay. Walks to the north of the beach provide superb views from Trevose Head along the Cornish coast as well as a great variety of wild flowers.
Life Guard Seasonal Swim, Surf. (Nearest facilities Constantine)

Constatine Beach

Constantine Bay
Seaside Award -from the Tidy Beach GroupLife GuardCar ParkToilets Disabled Toilets

The beach at Constantine Bay is backed by large dunes blanketed in marram grass and is defined by the low headlands and rocky islands that head out to sea. The dunes to the rear of the beach have been planted with marram grass to help stabilise them.

The rocky beach can provide many rock pools well worth exploring. The coastal path traces the perimeter of the bay over the low cliffs with some seaward views that should be seen.

Life Guard Seasonal Tidy Britain Group Award , Car Park, Toilets (Dis.), Swim, Surf, Shop 400m up the road.

Treyarnon Bay
Seaside Award -from the Tidy Beach GroupLife GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToilets

Treyarnon boasts one of the most unspoilt beaches in North Cornwall. Its sandy bay lies in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty next to Constantine Bay. It also boasts one of the cleanest beaches. The coastal path provides some of the most spectacular views in North Cornwall.
Life Guard Seasonal , Tidy Britain Group Award, Car Park, Swim, Surf, Shop, Toilets (Dis.), Cafe.


Life GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToilets

The sandy beach at Porthcothan is located south of Constantine Bay. There is plenty of parking although at high tide the area of sand on the beach is restricted. The coastal path gives splendid views both to the north and south as well as displaying a variety of wildlife.


Bedruthan Steps

Bedruthan Steps
Car ParkCafe-ShopToilets

Bedruthan Steps Beach, one of Cornwall's most dramatic beaches. Bedruthan Steps gets its name from the slate rocks that are scattered over the beach. It has been said that these rocks were put the by Bedruthan, a giant who used them for stepping stones.

The beach stretches for over a mile

at low tide, revealing many interesting places to explore. There are many warning signs as the cliffs are dangerous and the tides have the potential to cut walkers off at high tide

Mawgan Porth

Mawgan Porth
Seaside Award -from the Tidy Beach GroupLife GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToilets

Mawgan porth is a sheltered sandy beach at the end of a in a lush green valley just a few miles north of Newquay.

Mawgan Porth Beach with it's golden sands attracts large numbers of peeople during the summer. There are refreshments, cafes and facilities etc. all available in the village of Mawgan Port. There is a bus service to and from Newquay, just across the road from the beach.

With its proximity to the village, Mawgan Porth is a fantastic self-contained surfing beach. The beach itself produces high quality, and deceptively powerful waves. The river mouth also generates high quality waves, especially in medium sized swells . Mawgan Porth has something to entertain all levels of surfer.


Watergate Bay
Life GuardCar ParkCafe-ShopToilets

Watergate is a large, open bay west facing bay with a two mile long stretch of golden sands. The beach is located at the foot of some very steep cliffs, though there are several paths down to the beach. the easiest access is in front of the hotels in the valley.

As with all the beaches in Newquay Bay, Watergate Bay is very popular with local surf schools including the Extreme Academy, due to its size and location provides some good waves. The Extreme Academy offers sports like kite surfing and kite buggying.

Watergate Bay is also home to a branch of Jamie Olivers' Fifteen Restaurant which is right on the beach.

The beach has toilets and refreshments available, with a Lifeguard during the summer months.

Directions: Watergate is on the Padstow to Newquay Road (B3276) just north of Newquay. Car parking available by the hotels in the valley.


Beach Safety In North Cornwall

The wild and rugged coast of north Cornwall with its shining surf and golden beaches, holds both immense natural beauty and hidden dangers for visitors to the area. Beach safety is essentially an exercise in common sense, and if you and your family take note of the advice that follows then you will enjoy a happy and safe holiday in north Cornwall.

The 14 main tourist beaches in the district are covered by lifeguards throughout the summer season and their instructions should be obeyed at all times. Remember to listen for their whistle, you may be in danger.


Where there is no lifeguard, please seek local advice and always read warning notices before entering the water.


Lifeguard patrolled beaches employ the tried and tested flag system, which is easy to understand and very hard not to notice. The simple rules are that you should always bathe between the red and yellow striped flags and must, on no account, enter the water when the red flag is flying. A major hazard of bathing in the ocean is the rip current. This is the seaward movement of water caused by natural drainage of water brought in towards the beach by the tide. These currents test all but the strongest swimmers and are invisible to an inexperienced eye. The best advice is always to bathe only on patrolled beaches. These currents, along with offshore winds also dictate that inflatables should never be taken into the sea. It is all too easy to loose control and be swept out.

There is a large rise and fall of tides in north Cornwall and the times of high and low water, as laid out on this page, should always be checked before you set off on long walks on the foreshore. The incoming tide rises rapidly and consequently it is very easy to find yourself cut off. We want you to enjoy your holiday, so please do not take any unnecessary risks. If in doubt, seek expert advice - remember, it is not only your life but the lives of the emergency services that can be put at risk by you not taking the time to think!
Beach Safety Officer, North Cornwall District Council.




Be alert to people who may be in distress. You could save a life. If you see a red flare, orange smoke or a craft or person in difficulty, find a phone quickly, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.



  1. Spot the dangers:
    If in doubt stay out! Look for a beach patrolled by lifeguards with zoned areas, i.e.
    RED over YELLOW FLAGS for swimming, belly and boogie board riding.
    BLACK and WHITE CHEQUERED FLAGS for surf craft.
    A RED FLAG means do not enter the water DANGER.

  2. Know the difference: You may be used to a nice warm indoor pool, but its not so easy in cold outdoor water

  3. Check new places:
    New places, may have dangers that you do not know about.
    Ask the lifeguards, the locals, somebody who knows.

  4. Take Safety Advice:
    Special flags and notices warn you. Know what they mean, do what they tell you.

  5. Do not go alone:
    Children should always go with a grown up, even at lifeguard patrolled beaches, lifeguards are not babysitters.

  6. Learn how to help:
    You may be able to help yourself and others if you know what to do in an emergency, "so" join a lifesaving club at most swimming pools or at a beach surf lifesaving club near to you.
    For details contact the Beach Safety Officer on 01208 893410

  7. Strange Objects:
    Don't touch strange objects.
    Dangerous items such as flares or canisters of chemicals may sometimes be washed ashore.
    Tell the Coastguard or the Police.


  • Keep well clear of the cliff edge, it may be unstable and even dry grass can be slippery.
  • Before walking along the beach under cliffs, check the tide times, you don't want to be cut off.
  • Don't climb on cliffs unless properly equipped. You should always notify the local Coastguard of your intentions.
  • Don't dig into soft cliff faces. They could collapse and bury you.
  • Don't sit on or walk close over rocks about to be washed by the sea. You could be swept off.




Unsafe. Picks up any swell hitting the North Coast. Badly affected by westerly winds.
Dangers; Unsafe north side. Unsafe low water + 2hrs . Very experienced surfers only.

Good beginners beach. Faces west, works best with the easterly winds.
Typical Beach break with no defined peaks.
Wave quality alters with the tide and position of sandbanks.
Usually surfed low to 1/4 tide, with fast hollow waves.
Dangers Watch out for unsafe currents at low water + 2hrs. Rocks at high water. Ferocious rip currents in surf over 5ft.

Northcott Mouth
Southern end of Sandymouth. Rips make it unsuitable for beginners unless surf is small. Best surf low to mid water.
Dangers Unsafe low water + 2hrs.

Works well in easterly winds, low tide through to high tide. Five minutes out of Bude, popular with the locals, crowded in Summer. Good right off Wangles Point to the north.
Dangers. Rips can be strong at low tide.

Summerlease Beach.
2 minutes from the town centre. On low tide a fast left hander breaks outside the harbour wall. As the tide rises, a right hander off the breakwater develops and short lefts off the swimming pool.
Dangers. Rip at low tide by the breakwater in surf bigger than 4ft.

Widemouth Bay.
Good beginners beach. Works well on all stages of the tide. Popular with all kinds of craft and abilities.
Dangers. Currents around rocks, especially at low water.

Crackington Haven.
Good left break off rocks at southern end.
Best low water to 3/4 tide. Cliffs give shelter from the wind.
Dangers. Strong rips at southren end at low water. Rocks at high water.

Trebarwith Strand
No beach at high water. West facing picks up a lot of swell.
Northern end protected from north winds.
Dangers. Watch the tide!

SAFE. Good beginners beach break. Right hander off Pentire Point headland at low water.
Popular with all types of surfcraft. Can get crowded in summer.

Daymer Bay
One of the U.K's most popular wave sailing venues good for all abilities.
Good right hander at most stages of the tide. Wave size often increases as the tide rises.
Dangers. On big high tides a nasty shore dump can develop, best avioded by beginners.

Constantine Bay
West facing bay one of the best swell pullers in North Cornwall. Mid to high tide a wave breaks left and right in most swells. At the southern end a left hander breaks over the rocks. Any wind not from the east can ruin the wave.
Dangers. Notorious rip currents , be careful ! Not suitable for beginners, rocks at the west end.

Boobys Bay
Northern end of Constantine. Excellent right hander for experienced surfers only off the the rocks at the northern end of the beach from mid to low tide.
Dangers. Not suitable for beginners. Strong rips and dangerous rocks!

West facing often above average beach break waves. Can be a left hander at the southern end of the bay.
Dangers. There is a strong rip round and out of the bay.