Mullion is surrounded by some of the Country’s most dramatic coastline and some of Cornwall’s most wonderful beaches. Whether it’s for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, walking, rock pooling and sandcastle-building, there is plenty of choice across the area.
Popular family friendly beaches such as Poldhu and Kennack Sands have parking right by, facilities, cafes and lifeguards. Whilst the likes of Pentreath or Poltesco with its wooded valley approach offer tranquil hideaways; or there’s the surprising Church Cove, just beyond Lizard village with its collection of thatched cottages and flower filled gardens which lead to a dramatic small beach. You may recognise the tiny church set in the rocks on Gunwalloe Cove from one of the Poldark weddings, or next-door Dollar Cove where the BBC series’ shipwreck scenes were filmed. And then there’s the world famous Kynance Cove, whose dramatic beauty makes it popular all year round.
If you do intend to spend time in the sea a good fitting wet suit will make a big difference. A good budget suit will not cost much more than a supermarket one, but the difference in warmth and comfort is immense. Atlantic Forge in Mullion, on the way to Poldhu Cove, has a broad range of reasonably priced wetsuits and will make sure you get the correct fit. And remember to stay safe and #RespectTheWater
Using lifeguarded beaches is always the safest option. The Lifeguards have marked out a safe swimming zone in between the red and yellow flags; so, stay always within those. If you do get into difficulty raise one arm to attract attention. Go to rnli.org.uk for safety advice.
The most problematic issue in the sea is usually a rip. This is a forceful channel of water that is flowing out to see. The water in a rip can travel at around 5mph, far faster than us. So if you feel yourself getting pulled out don’t swim into the rip towards the shore, you will never get anywhere and will tire yourself out. Swim to the side so you can get clear of the rip, then once you are not being pushed back, swim to shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help.
Poldhu Cove is a gorgeous sandy, family friendly beach. From Mullion it is a short drive or a fifteen-minute walk along the coastal path to the Marconi Centre then down the hill. Poldhu, or ‘black pool’ in Cornish, is backed by sand and has a stream running down to the sea. The popular café is open all year, only closing for Christmas and Flora Days. If you’re in the area for Christmas, then the Boxing Day swim is a must – but remember no wetsuits.
The beach and car park do get busy; at low tide there is normally enough beach to go around but on a hot day it can get tight at high tide. Smaller children can have fun rockpooling and paddling, and older ones can body board.
Surfing: The waves are great for surfers of all standards and body boarders. The often-gentle swell and the easy access, particularly over summer, make this a great place for beginners. You can hire boards at the café -or at Atlantic Forge and take surf lessons with Dan Joel.
Walking – from the village walk towards the Marconi Centre then straight down the hill by the Poldhu Care Home. You can walk straight down the main road from the village, but this is dangerous.
Parking: Council charged carpark alongside. Parking is free in winter.
Bus: 34 stops by beach – Click Here for timetable
Lifeguards: 10am-6pm, daily 15 May – 26 September.
Facilities: Surf school, café all year; toilets.
Dog ban 1 July to 31 August, 10am-6pm, dogs are allowed on the dunes at the back of the beach.
Polurrian Cove offers a stunning southwest-facing beach, which, due to it not being easily accessible and with no facilities, does not get too busy. The village is a fifteen-minute walk from Mullion Village car park or a short walk down the coast path from Polurrian Hotel, but this does require navigating some steep steps. The final walkway onto the beach itself is a bit precarious and not suitable to those who have stability issues.
At low tide, Polurrian Cove offers a beautiful stretch of sand and shingle beach, and access to Parrot Cove behind the far outcrop of rocks and an abundance of rockpools – conversely there is not much beach at high tide. There is often a shore dump wave at high tide when swimming is best avoided.
Surf: Can be good and whilst suitable for beginners, in certain conditions, it often requires a bit more experience when the beach picks up the Atlantic swells or a storm has unearthed an outlying reef.
Parking: TR12 7HW Free village car park, fifteen minutes’ walk away.
Walking: From Mullion Village car park walk down past the park and Atlantic Forge – then turn left into LaFlouder Lane and follow the path all the way to the beach. From Polurrian Hotel, a five-minute walk down the coast path.
Lifeguards: 10am-6pm, weekends and Bank Holidays only 10 July – 5 September
Dogs banned 1 July to 31 August, 10am-6pm,
Kynance Cove offers a world class landscape, beautiful in winter or summer, but not at high tide where the beach itself virtually disappears, so always check the tide times before you set off.
Despite the long steep walk to the beach from the car park, thanks to its well earnt reputation for being a must visit, Kynance does get incredibly busy, with both car parks generally full by late morning in peak season.
At low tide white stretches of sand lock around rock outcrops and give way to fabulous caves and crevices framed by a backdrop of dark red and green serpentine rock providing great playgrounds for exploring. The sea at Kynance is good for bodyboarding, but not for surfing, and always be aware because the rips and currents here can be treacherous.
Facilities: Seasonal cafe, public toilets.
Parking: National trust carpark at top of cliff. There are two paths to the beach. The longer is about fifteen minutes down a fairly even and easily navigated path – the other is around ten minutes but is steeper and the final access to the beach is precarious.
Overflow Carpark – is around 1km from the main carpark
Walking: From Mullion it is around 1.5 to 2 hours walk along the South West Coast Path from Mullion Harbour.
Bus: Closest stop is at Lizard Village Green around 1.5 miles from Kynance via the Coastal Path.
Dogs banned: 1 July to 31 August, 10am-6pm
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Gunwalloe has two beaches, the sandy Church Cove, with a stream running down the middle and backed by grassy slopes and the dramatic Dollar Cove, with its outcrops of rocks backed by sheer cliffs. The beach is around a twenty-minute drive from Mullion, back towards Helston then turning down off the Culdrose Road.
Church Cove is so called because of the beautiful St Winwaloe Church, which is tucked into the corner, right on the beach. As Gunwalloe sits outside the shelter of Mounts Bay it is quite exposed to the Atlantic swells and the effect this has had on passing ships over the years meant the St Winwaloes became known as the Church of the Storms, with many shipwreck victims buried in its sandy graveyard. The church is also famous as the setting for the wedding of Poldark’s cousin in the BBC TV series.
The beach itself offers a fair amount of sand, even at low tide and a family friendly setting. There is usually a shelf into the sea so at high tide waves can dump onto the shore, so swimming is not advised in such conditions.
Dollar Cove gets its name from the legend that silver coins can be found on the beach, particularly after storms – a by-product from the sinking of a Spanish Galleon hundreds of years ago, which is still shedding its treasure. Dollar Cove is dog friendly year-round so is popular with owners but does not have lifeguards. Dollar is great for exploring in winter and lovely for swimming and sunbathing in low tide in summer.
Surfing: At low to mid-tide Gunwalloe often has some waves and is generally suitable for beginners. Dollar Cove can be a lot more testing – the often-precarious outcrops of rocks, the issues of access to the waves and the absence of lifeguards mean it is better left to the more experienced.
Walking – Around 30 minutes from Mullion: From the village walk towards the Marconi Centre then straight down the hill by the Poldhu Care Home to Poldhu Beach, then walk straight up the hill alongside the beach then down the hill to Gunwalloe.
Parking: National Trust carpark around 200m from Church Cove, closer to Dollar Cove.
Bus: Infrequent service – Click here for timetable
Lifeguards: 10am-6pm, Daily, 10 July – 5 September: Church Cove only
Facilities: take away café; toilets.
Church Cove: Dog ban 1 July to 31 August, 10am-6pm, dogs are allowed on the dunes at the back of the beach.
Dollar Cove: Dogs are allowed all year.
A ten-minute drive from Mullion, just the other side of Ruan Minor, lies the beautifully classic Cornish fishing village of Cadgwith. The village was the setting for the Fisherman’s Apprentice and this year made more headlines as the subject of the BBC’s Cornwall: This Fishing Life, which examined the threat to the livelihoods of the local fisherman. Thankfully the publicity and sentiment saw the Cadgwith Cove Fishing Trust reach its target to save the historic fishing huts that sit at the top of the small working shingle beach.
At high tide on a beautiful day, the beach appears to be tropical in its beauty. But at high tide it makes more for enjoying the boats hauled up on the shore and the fine scenery and cliffs that surround. A little further south along the coast path is the Devil’s Frying Pan, a 200-foot-deep hole in the cliffs formed many years ago when a cave collapsed.
Parking: TR12 7LD Village car park a five-minute walk up the hill along a winding path.
Facilities in village.
No lifeguard cover
Dogs banned 1st July to 31st August / 10am to 6pm
Poltesco, a mile further or so from Cadgwith, is a peaceful valley with a woodland footpath down to the pretty Carleon Cove. The cove is the historic base for the area’s Pilchard fishing industry, which gave way to a Serpentine factory in the 1800’s, the remains of which can still be seen.
Whilst the Cove itself is a lovely spot to sunbathe, paddle at low tide and do some nature spotting, it is the industrial heritage which makes it most interesting. Within the ruined factory walls of at back of the beach you can pick out remnants of the huge chimney and the wheel pit. Space in the car park is very limited and at high tide the stony beach is sparce.
Parking: Small National Trust carpark
No Lifeguard Cover
Dogs allowed all year.
This popular beach is on the more sheltered eastern side of the Lizard Peninsula, and with its parking facilities and closeness to Kuggar’s holiday parks means it does get busy. The beach has plenty of sand and easy access from the car park.
A rocky outcrop, which makes for some lovely rock pools, separates Kennack’s two beaches. The further away eastern beach is dog friendly all year round, but not patrolled by the lifeguards. At high tide the eastern beach can only be reached by walking on the hills at the back. This stroll is enlivened with the sight of the World War II defences and the pill boxes.
Surfing: Kennack is a popular surfing beach, great for beginners and often provides a viable alternative for the more experienced when the other side of the coast is too windy.
Parking: Private carpark alongside.
Lifeguards: 10am-6pm daily ,15 May – 26 September.
Facilities: Surf school, cafés (seasonal), toilets.
Dogs are allowed on eastern beach (furthest from car park) all year
Coverack is a gorgeous fishing village with a delightful, working traditional Cornish Harbour. At low tide, Coverack provides a long stretch of sandy beach and calm waters great for swimming and paddle boarding. But at high tide you would be better to just enjoy a stroll around the village and visit the harbour.
The beach is a short walk from the village car parks, but to access it does require walking down a long stretch of steep steps, and depending on the recent weather, a tricky walk across rocks at the bottom to reach the sand. But in the right conditions it is a great family beach, where you can bring your dog all year round and if you’re there for Christmas, then you can join in with the popular Christmas day swim.
Often visible from the beach at low tide is the earie Manacles reef, which has been responsible for the wrecking of more than 100 ships and the loss of more than 1,000 lives over the years.
Surfing: Only really feasible here when the winds on the opposite coasts have red flagged the beaches.
Parking: Council carparks 200m away
Facilities: All facilities in village – shops, food outlets, toilets.
No lifeguard cover
Dogs welcome all year.
Porthkerris is a shingle beach surrounded by dramatic lines of imposing cliffs. A fairly quiet beach popular with dog walkers and mainly divers, thanks to the dive school located there. To the north of the beach is an old MOD Torpedo Testing Station.
Facilities: Toilets and café seasonal.
Parking: Private car park.
Dog ban 1 July to 31 August, 10am-6pm.
No lifeguard cover
Dogs allowed all year
Porthoustock beach, a couple of miles from the village of St Keverne, is a mixture of shingle and pebbles with quarry workings at either end. The sheltered beach provides access to the sea for a handful of working fishing boats, which you will often see ‘parked’ up.
The enormous concrete silo that stands out on the southern tip of the shore is a disused store aggregate from quarry, which is still operation, as testified by the loud explosions that sometimes break the tranquillity. On the opposite end of the beach is a quay where aggregate is loaded onto boats.
With a car park right on the beach, access is easy, but Porthoustock is more suited for a walk with a dog, which doesn’t mind stone underfoot, than a family day out at the beach. Although it is a great spot for stone skimming, has wonderful views and depending on the prevalent conditions there can be a decent stretch of sand exposed at low tide.
No lifeguard cover
Dogs allowed all year
Parking: Large car park on the beach.
Around a mile along the coast from Porthoustock is Porthallow Beach, a small, sheltered cove, on the of shingle and pebbles and patches of sand and rock pools at low tide. This lovely walking spot provides spectacular views across Falmouth Bay
The recently re-opened Five Pilchards at the start of the beach provides a respite after a brisk walk, and you can browse through the collection of shipwreck relics and photographs paying homage to those vessels which have succumbed to the treachery of the Manancles.
Facilities: Café, pub and toilets
Dogs allowed all year
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Sandwiched in between Porthoustock and Porthallow are a couple of beaches which have no parking, no facilities, no lifeguard cover and are fairly remote, unless stated they are all dog friendly all year round. But if you fancy a trek to a quiet spot away from it all these are options -they’re remoteness and lack of facilities generally means they will not be crowded. You can also start from Roskillys Farm, where you can enjoy one of their delicious ice creams on returning.
The sheltered Godrevy Cove, – don’t get confused with Godrevy beach near Hayle – is a large stretch of beach, which, if you can manage the walk down alongside the stream from the closest parking then you can enjoy a quiet unspoilt beach backed by a large grassy area.
On the other side of Godrevy Cove is Leggan Cove, which mirrors its neighbour’s tranquillity.
The two beaches look out to the Manacles, a Marine Conservation Zone, and are popular with divers.
Parking: Very limited parking in Rosnithon, TR12 6QR – but often better to walk from St Keverne or Roskillys, TR12 6NX.
Lankidden Cove is a mile and half trek along the coast path from Kennack Sands. It is a classic Cornish cove with sand and rock outcrops vying for space on the beach. The area is popular with snorkelers and fisherman, getting an advantageous spot off the rocks.
Parking: TR12 6SH at Kennack Sands 1.5 miles away.
The Lizard Village has a handful of picturesque coves, which can be stunning at low tide. None have direct parking, all facilities are back in the Village – and there is no lifeguard cover. At low tide they often make for good snorkelling spots and rock pooling or just sitting and enjoying the magnificent views.
Polpeor Cove a tiny beach situated just off Lizard Point, is the home for the dramatic Old Lizard Lifeboat Station. The rocky outcrop, at the end of a steep staircase is not safe for swimming. The beach is probably best enjoyed from the top of the cliff at one of the cafes or using the National Trust telescopes to spot the seals and birds of prey.
On the other side of Lizard Point is the picturesque Housel Bay. After a stroll along the coastal path followed by a bit of scramble down the cliffs you reach a small stretch of sand leading to a clear sea. Dogs are banned here from 1st July to 31st August at 10am to 6pm.
Parking: Limited parking at TR12 7NU or National Trust Lizard Point car park, TR12 7NT a five to ten minute walk away or free parking on Lizard Village Green, TR12 7NH, 15 to 20 minutes’ walk.
After walking past Church Cove’s (OS grid ref. SW 7148 1278) collection of thatched cottages and flower filled gardens you reach a slip way at the head of a dramatic small beach. Low tide affords a small amount of sand to be enjoyed amongst the rocks but most of the time the picturesque setting is best enjoyed from higher up. Dogs are banned here from 1st July to 31st August at 10am to 6pm.
Parking: Limited free carpark around half a mile up the road in Landwednack: TR12 7PH or Lizard Village Green, TR12 7NH, 15 to 20 minutes’ walk.
On the Lizard side of the Helford Estuary, there are many small beaches which provide gorgeous settings to enjoy the calm waters and beautiful scenery. Most are only accessible by foot along the South West Coast Path from or by boat from the estuary. For that reason, if you can reach them, they are idyllic hideaways which don’t get too busy. Few have facilities and all are dog friendly unless stated. The sheltered waters of the Helford make for wonderful swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding, but beware of the strong tidal currents in the deeper water and the passing vessels.
Gillan Harbour (OS grid ref. SW 7851 2515) sits in between Parbean Cove (or Men-aver Beach as it also known) (OS Grid Ref: SW 79561 24918) and Flushing Cove (OS grid ref. SW 7851 2515) a trio of small, sand and shingle beaches alongside each other at the mouth the mouth of Gillan Creek. They make for perfect stop off spots for a rest or a picnic for those walking in the area. Although Parbean is a bit rocky, on a hot day Gillan and Flushing provide an irresistible spot for a refreshing dip in the sea.
Polnare Cove (OS grid ref. SW 8001 2510), a tiny sand and shingle beach sits at the base of Nare Point. It is fairly inaccessible and only a few rocks give any evidence that there is anything there at high tide. But it does provide a good spot for experienced divers or snorkellers. Of key interest to walkers is the National Coast Watch lookout hut which sits above and givers information on the area.
On the opposite side of Gillan Creek is St Anthony In Meneage ((TR12 6JW) which has a small shingle beach and makes for a great spot for exploring further afield. St Anthony has all facilities, there is a small carpark, and you can hire sail, motorboats and Kayaks.
St Anthony or the Helford Village car park by the sailing club are the best places to access a trio of beautiful little coves on the edge of the Helford Estuary, nestling at the foot of the luscious gardens of the Bosahan Estate.
Around a mile walk through the woodland path, from the Helford Car park, and about the same if you are approaching from the St Anthony carpark, you will come across Padgagarrack Cove, a small sandy inlet. A few minutes further on and you will arrive at Bosahan Cove, (OS grid ref. SW 7734 2627) from where, if you carry on toward St Anthony, you will reach Ponsence Cove (OS grid ref. SW 7772 2612). The walk is not arduous, but as much of it is a forest trail, often uneven and narrow and sometimes precarious. You can access the beaches through the Gardens of the Bosahan House Estate itself, however this has been closed for some time and there is no indication when it will re-open.
The Helford’s clear calm waters are great for swimming and snorkelling. The views over to the Northern banks of the Helford estuary, always lively with yachts, from the beach’s shores, are breath-taking. Despite their allure, the relative inaccessibility means these beaches do not get too busy – however they are only small, especially at higher tides, and it does not take many visitors to make a crowd.
If you can make the walk, and can do without facilities, then these are lovely, secluded spots for families to spend the day, or to take a break on a coastal path walk.
Parking: Council car park Helford Village, TR12 6JU; St Anthony car park TR12 6JW – both about a mile away from beaches.
Facilities – Helford Village and St Anthony
No Lifeguards service.
Dog friendly all year round.
If you are visiting Porthleven for a stroll round the harbour and some food at the number of fine restaurants and cafes, then the sandy beach is worth a visit. Like Porthleven itself, the beach does get busy, and there is not much space at all at high tide.
The pleasant beach is great for playing games on and making castles. But a dip in the water can be risky, the sea is often rough, and the rips and pulls are notorious, so always stay within the Lifeguard’s flags.
At low tide Porthleven beach affords a glorious three mile walk all the way to Loe Bar (never, ever swim here) and you can either walk back the same way or through the Penrose Estate. The eastern end of the beach, furthest away from the town, is dog friendly all year round.
Surf: In the right conditions, Porthleven’s Infamous reefs are reckoned to make for some of the UK’s best breaks. This means that it does get very busy, and if you don’t have your wits about you are liable to get a board in the head – and it’s unlikely to be a foamie. It also means that the waves here are not for the faint-hearted and definitely not for the inexperienced. If you’re not confident just grab a Rattler, find a good vantage point and enjoy the action.
Parking: Car parks in Town (Kittos Field TR13 9JA) and harbour side. At Loe Bar, First Downs Car Park, TR13 9ES and Penrose National Trust: TR13 0RE.
Facilities: All facilities are available in the town
Lifeguards: 10am-6pm, Daily, 10 July – 5 September
Dogs banned on main beach from 1st July to 31st August / 10am to 6pm: Dogs allowed on Easterly beach all year.
Praa Sands, around 25 minutes from Mullion, off the Penzance road, is a Mediterranean style long beach of fine golden sands. With lifeguards for an extended season, all facilities and parking right by Praa is a great family beach. Whilst Praa may be a gem it is definitely not hidden, so it is very popular, and it does get quite cosy in the area in front of the cafés and the car parks – cheek by jowl when the tide is in. Conversely its size means if you’re prepared to walk a bit further along, away from the facilities, you can normally find some space. But be aware that you will be outside the safety of the Lifeguard’s flags and Praa does have quite a notorious pull.
Surfing: Praa is one of the best-known surf spots in Cornwall, so the black and white flagged area does get crowded. Its popularity peaks when the north coast surf spots are out of action. It is generally a good beach for beginners, but beware of the rips, particularly at low tide.
Lifeguard service: 10am-6pm. Easter School Holidays 02-18 April; Weekends Only 24 – 25 April; Daily 01 May– 26 September; Weekends and Bank Holidays Only 02-17 October; October Half Term 23-31 October
Facilities: Surf School, cafés all year; toilets, beach supply shops.
Dogs banned from 1st July to 31st August / 10am to 6pm