Cornwall has so many cute little coves and picturesque spots its hard to choose which are the best, but the rugged South West coast, where we have spent many summers, definitely has some of the top secret beaches. Here’s our guide to which ones to visit.
Nanjizal, also known as Mill Bay, is a truly enchanting beach set amongst rugged cliffs in the parish of St Levan. It doesn’t only boast a beautiful cove of golden sand, scattered with huge boulders, but is also home to the Song of the Sea Cave. The Song of the Sea Cave is a tall narrow cave which looks magical as the sun’s rays shine through the slit in the rocks reflecting in the tidal pools.
Nanjizal is hidden between the popular tourist attraction, Land’s End and the white sands of Porthcurno Beach and can only be accessed by foot via the South West Coastal Path. See our Guide to Nanjizal Beach to find out the best ways to get there.
Due its location it is never crowded, even in the peak season. There have only ever been a handful of families enjoying this little piece of paradise when we have visited.
We’ve been lucky to stay within walking distance of Nanjizal, so have visited at all times of day and in different weather conditions. Each time we have loved it, as it has such a magical feeling whether you are swimming in the tidal pools, climbing over rocks or enjoying an evening picnic sipping a glass of something refreshing while watch the sunset.
Nanjizal has stolen a little piece of my heart and I am always planning when I can next return.
When we first discovered Pedn Vounder beach we didn’t know its name, so our girls named it the secret beach. It was during our first visit to Porthcurno beach and as the tide went out we noticed that you could access a smaller, completely empty beach a few hundred meters to the east of Porthcurno. We waded through the shallow water and found ourselves on the beautiful white sands of what we now know is called Pedn Vounder.
The girls loved being the first people to set foot on the beach, making footprints in the sand and exploring all the caves in the stunning rugged cliffs of Treryn Dinas. The beach looks out onto beautiful turquoise waters and is watched over by Logan’s Rock to the east.
This beach can also be access from the coastal path via an extremely steep and difficult to navigate path that involves scrambling down the cliffs. We have never tried to go this way with the children and have always just waited to walk round from Porthcurno, as it can be dangerous. If you walk round at low tide you have to be aware of tide times, as even the best swimmers could get into trouble with rip tides being common here.
There is a car park at Porthcurno beach, which does get very busy in the summer so make sure you arrive early, or a grass car park at Treen which is a 10 minute walk to the steep path that leads down to Pedn Vounder.
Porthchapel is again found between Porthcurno and Land’s End (our favourite bit of coastline) and is accessed down a steep path from the main coastal path. It is more easily accessed than Pedn Vounder, but it is still wise to wear trainers or walking sandals as at times you need to scramble down the rocks.
We found this little beach while on a walk and fell in love with the dramatic cliffs that surround it and on the day we visited the waves were particularly spectacular. As we ate our picnic we enjoyed watching the waves crash against the huge boulders scattered across the golden sand, sending spray shooting into the air in a very impressive display.
This beach is quiet in comparison to the nearby Porthcurno but still has amazing views over the azure sea framed by rugged cliffs on either side. Not as difficult to access as Pedn Vounder or Nanjizal, as there is a nearby car park at St Levan Church which is a 5 to 10 minute walk through a wooded valley.
Pentire Steps is one cove away from the famous sandy beach of Bedruthan Steps. Situated on the North Cornwall coast between the popular resorts of Padstow and Newquay, Pentire Steps is the complete opposite of its neighbour. At Bedruthan you will find a busy car park with a cafe and a beach peppered with people, whereas at Pentire Steps you will find a quiet golden cove backed by tall cliffs.
The view from above is spectacular and if you make the tricky descent down to the beach itself you will be rewarded as very few people venture down. Enjoy the peace and quiet listening to the turquoise waters lap against the shore in your own little bit of Cornish heaven.
Beware that swimming is not advised at anytime due to strong rip currents. The beach is also almost completely covered at high tide so it is advisable to check tide times before visiting.
Leggan Cove is a beautiful, pretty much undiscovered beach which is also practical to visit with children. You do not need to take your life in your own hands by scrambling down cliff faces. However, it is quite a walk from the nearest parking at Rosenithon, a small village nearby, so it remains quiet even during peak season.
It is situated on the sheltered eastern side of the Lizard Peninsular and is backed by gently slopping cliffs. The sea is often a lot calmer here and therefore safer for swimming and great for snorkelling. For those that want to stay mainly on dry land, rock pools are revealed at low tide which always entertain my girls for hours.
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Laura loves travelling across the UK and abroad. She has two children and a husband who are often her travel companions. Beach holidays, cosy cottages, treehouse adventures and brunching are just a few of her favourite ways to spend her travel time.