Big ones, small ones, sandy ones and shingle ones… for a small town St Ives is well endowed with beautiful beaches that lure bathers, bucket and spade brigades and surfers. What with lifeguards on duty throughout the holidays, pods of dolphins passing through and seals popping their whiskered noses above azure waters, it’s no wonder that St Ives beaches are rated as some of the best in the UK. Choose your patch of golden sand from sheltered coves to surf-lashed shores:
Take the train into St Ives and disembark right beside the perfect crescent of white sand that is Porthminster beach. Build sandcastles, make footprints along the shoreline and dip your toes in calm, clear waters. Ideal for families, Porthminster boasts excellent facilities including beach huts for hire, a beach kiosk and café, toilets and a putting green. There is also the eminent Porthminster Café serving world-class food bang-on-the-beach, and it’s a short stroll across the pearly sands to reach the hub of town.
No dogs between Easter and October.
Porthminster beach in Summer
Backed by chic boutiques, art galleries, beach bars, arcades and gourmet eateries, the tidal, sandy-bottomed harbour beach is a stunning sun trap in the heart of town. Tuck into pasties, fish and chips and ice cream with your toes in the sand, and watch local fishing boats landing fresh seafood ready to be flipped into the frying pans of local restaurants. Just watch out for sea gulls swooping down to share your picnic!
Dogs permitted only between 7pm and 8am during summer months.
Our favourite of St Ives’ enviable necklace of beaches, Porthgwidden is tucked into the nook of The Island, gazing across the bay towards Godrevy Lighthouse. This idyllic sandy cove is the perfect place for swimming, launching a kayak, basking in the morning sunshine and lounging around in one of the beach huts for hire. Another spot that beckons families, not only is there loos and a snack kiosk, you can also keep an eye on the kids building sandcastles from the terrace of the Porthgwidden Café – one of St Ives’ foodie hotspots.
No dogs between Easter and October
More exposed to the Atlantic swell, Porthmeor is where the surfers flock to ride peeling waves. Learn from the experts at St Ives Surf School and hire any equipment you need, or simply rent a deck chair and watch friends and family hit the waves from your front row pew. As well as luring surfers and sunbathers, Porthmeor draws the arty crowds from the beachside Tate St Ives; after all, with blood-red sunsets, rich coastal hues and such mesmerising scenery, it’s no surprise that world-class artists have been coming here for many years. Soak up the scenery and watch the sunset over tapas and delectable local cuisine at the Porthmeor Beach Café.
Facilities include toilets and beach huts. No dogs between Easter and October.
The next stop along the branch line from St Ives, or a short stroll along the South West Coast Path, Carbis Bay’s sweeping sands beckon families seeking safe bathing, Blue Flag water quality, and bucket and spade territory. Beachside facilities include parking, toilets and a café, making this an ideal place to visit with young children. If you’re looking for a dash of ocean adventure, you can castaway on a kayak, SUP or Hawaiian canoe and explore the stunning coastline or, if you fancy swanky seaside dining or a sunset cocktail simply retreat to The Beach Club or chill out on the heated deck at The Shack. Alternatively, take a stroll over Hawke’s Point to neighbouring Porthkidney Sands, or follow the coast path back into the hub of St Ives.
Dogs permitted from 5am–8am during the summer months.
Carbis Bay beach
Bamaluz and Lambeth Walk
These two small, tidal coves are the only beaches in St Ives that allow unrestricted access to dogs year-round. Bamaluz is located between the Harbour and Porthgwidden (in front of the St Ives Museum), and Lambeth Walk is located behind the Lifeboat station. At low tide Lambeth Walk extends all the way to the lighthouse at the end of Smeaton’s Pier, except for the main harbour area during the restricted daytime hours.
Lambeth Walk beach
St Ives’ stunning beaches are just footsteps Carbis Bays Holidays’ luxury holiday cottages. Bag a boutique bolthole beside the pearly sands of Porthminster Beach or perhaps a chic self-catering cottage overlooking Carbis Bay.
If you wish to explore the coast further afield, check out our recommendations for secret beaches and coves, or discover even more dog friendly beaches in Cornwall.