Sunshine, sea and surf in Cornwall
We have just returned from a lovely five-day stay in a mobile home near St Merryn on the North Cornish coast. Before we set off, the forecast didn’t look too promising, but in actual fact we had sunshine every day of our holiday, with temperatures averaging 15-16° C – warm enough for us to sit/play on the beach and dip into the sea for long periods in our wetsuits.
Another positive was the rapid journey to reach this part of Cornwall. It only took us three hours from Oxford, which is much faster than the four hours we predicted. Given that it was the half-term school holidays and that it normally takes us 3 ½ hours to get to the closer North Devon coast, it shows what a difference it makes when you drive on a dual-carriageway for most of the journey.
In terms of beaches, you are spoilt for choice here. In just five days, we visited five different beaches, none more than 20 minutes drive away. Here are our recommendations.
This lovely sheltered cove offers lots for the family to see and do, although it can get busy. Apart from surfing, canoeing, body-boarding, fishing and crabbing, there are rock pools to swim in and a fantastic gorge-like walkway known as ‘the crack’ for you to swim through at low tide. Here you can jump off rocks into the sea and even swim through a cave to reach a sheltered inlet where we saw seals. There’s a campsite here and a youth hostel. All-day parking is £4 and you can buy lunch from several takeaway vans and a local shop. The ice-creams and coffees from Rose’s caravan are delicious. Try jaffa cake or mint choc chip and you’ll never want a shop-bought cone again. My teenage son loved it here. The walks above the beach are very picturesque, although make sure you hold on tight to any young children as there are lots of unfenced sheer drops.
This is a wide, sweeping, sandy beach, which is popular with surfers. This is a good beach for the family if you want to get away from the crowds. There aren’t many facilities here, so make sure you bring your own picnic. Parking is limited.
This beach joins up with Constantine and is less sheltered. Again, it is popular with surfers and there are lots of rock pools to explore. We parked at the top of the road, which runs alongside the golf course, but I can imagine that in high season it’s difficult to find a parking space. No facilities here.
There is lots of parking at this popular family beach. Again, the cost is £4 for the day although you can purchase a season ticket, we were told. There’s a coasteering school here, which we’d love to try when we next visit and there’s a van selling drinks and snacks. The day we visited, it was very windy and there was little protection from the elements.
Another lovely family beach, with lots of parking (£4) and a nice café and surfing shop. We walked towards Padstow along the coastal path and loved seeing so many wild flowers in bloom as well as some beautiful rock formations. The surfing area is quite limited but, as with the other beaches, there are lifeguards here to keep a watchful eye over the surfers and body boarders.
It’s difficult to say which is the best beach as there are lots of factors in play in terms of how good the surf is, how strong the wind is on any particular day. We loved Constantine for its beauty and tranquillity, but the lack of parking is a negative. In high season, it might be better to opt for a beach where you know you are sure of getting a space.