You might say all beaches are great for kids, but I’ve come to realise that some have the edge and in my opinion are best family beaches in Cornwall. It’s to do with practical things like access, space, safety and facilities, but it’s also about variety. I’m happy to say that our very own Gwithian and Godrevy beaches are tailor-made for families as they have a bit of everything. And I also know some other winners nearby.
Believe me, we have all the kit at Three Mile Beach, from bucket and spades to beach tents, buggies and wetsuits, so there’s no need to lug all that stuff down with you.
Effectively, these two beaches merge into one stretch of golden sand. The best thing about that is there’s always plenty of open space, and it never gets too crowded, even at the height of the summer holidays. At low tide, there are acres of sand to run about on, play beach games and build sandcastles. And that’s also the time to go rock pooling.
Gwithian has a large, deep pool with a sandy bottom, called the Sheep Dip, which is safe for little ones to play about in while older kids love jumping from the rocks above. Godrevy has the Red River, rushing down the beach and areas where kids can collect interesting pebbles and shells.
Access to both is brilliant. If you’re fully loaded with all the hardware you need for a family day out, then it’s a relief to know that it’s just a five-minute walk from Three Mile Beach to the steps leading down to Gwithian (turn left) and Godrevy beaches (turn right). And when it comes to the ice-cream run or lunchtime, there are cafés and restaurants close by.
These are also fantastic waters for body boarding. And if you’re keen to try out surfing, our Surf Connoisseur package is the perfect way to start.
Parking gets trickier the closer you get to St Ives (where it can become impossible). We strongly recommend leaving your car at St Erth Park & Ride (15-minute drive) and enjoying the wonderful scenic train ride to Carbis Bay (7 minutes) or St Ives (13 minutes).
Lying just around the coast towards St Ives, Carbis Bay is within easy reach of Three Mile Beach, and if you’ve caught the train, it’s just a short walk down the hill from the station.
I love this Blue Flag beach with its soft white sand that’s perfect for younger kids to play on. It’s unique for North Cornwall in that it’s sheltered on both sides by rocky headlands, ensuring the water is for safe paddling and swimming. These calm conditions also make it ideal for kayaks, canoes and SUPs, and the Carbis Bay Ocean Sports Centre runs a Kid’s Club in the summer for youngsters aged 10 to 15.
Food-wise, I’ve heard good things about the Carbis Bay Beach Club Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they have a kid’s menu too.
This is another beach that’s a godsend if you have armfuls of paraphernalia and kids in tow as it’s just a short walk down a buggy-friendly path from St Ives station. At low tide, it’s lovely and shallow – perfect for paddling, and the soft sand is a sand-castle builder’s dream. There’s no shortage of places to eat, and a table at the Porthminster Beach Café is always a treat.
This is St Ives’ largest beach and the only one with Blue Flag status. However, it has the least calm waters of the three, so little ones might be better off at Carbis Bay or Porthminster. On the plus side, the waves make it a top surf beach, so it’s a good place to watch the experts or get a lesson yourself.
Porthmeor’s rocky regions are fun to explore, and the wilder sea makes it a great place for beachcombing; along the water line, you can find shells, interesting stones, and bits of sea glass. If that’s something your kids enjoy, then the beach to the right of West Pier and the Lifeboat Station on the harbour is also good for a treasure hunt, but please note that it’s very stony here. For an eating spot with a sea view, I recommend Porthmeor Beach Café. The outside booths are perfect for a family, and they’re heated in winter. Although, it’s a challenge trying to bag one in the height of the season.
For more on the wonderful beaches there are to explore in West Cornwall, take a look at our Hidden Beaches in Cornwall blog.