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Kids activities in Cornwall

by Craig Burkinshaw

Splish, splash, splosh

Our nearby beaches provide the perfect place for youngsters to play and build confidence in and on the water. From dipping their toes into throwing themselves headlong into a whole range of water sports, there’s a way for kids of every age and ability to enjoy the sea. And the best way to ensure they’re in the safest hands is to go through one of the many local professional organisations that specialise in water-based activities for kids. Here’s my directory of the ones we trust.

Surfing in Cornwall for kids at Gwithian and Godrevy Beach

Surfing at Godrevy

Surfing is synonymous with Cornwall. Imagine the sensation of catching your first wave – it could be the highlight of your holiday. To help make it happen, Three Mile Beach runs a Surf Connoisseur Service with expert tuition by dedicated surf instructors. It’s an amazing experience for families with kids who want to learn to surf together. All the equipment is provided, including high-quality wetsuits and surfboards. Lessons can be private or group-based.

How far? On your doorstep.

How old? 8+

Paddleboarding and Sea Kayaking – Hayle


Designed for beginners, Lizard Adventure (in partnership with the National Trust) offers two-hour paddleboard or sea kayaking trips from Hayle harbour. It’s more sheltered here than in other locations, so it’s the best place to learn.

How far? 10-minute drive.

How old? 8+

When? All year round. Three trips a day around high water times.

Find out more

SUP, Kayaking, Canoeing, and Sailing – Carbis Bay

Sailing with kids

Carbis Bay is a sheltered Blue Flag beach with calmer waters than Gwithian and Godrevy. It’s the ideal place to introduce kids to these activities, and the Ocean Sports Centre Club runs a morning Kids Club during the summer. This beach also has a great selection of places for the adults to eat and relax while the youngsters have fun out on the water in the care of the tutors.

How old? 10 to 15.

How far? 25-minute drive.

When? 9.30 to 11 am, three mornings a week during peak season.

Here’s more information

Coasteering – Lizard or St Ives


If you haven’t heard of it, Coasteering is an adrenaline-pumping combination of traversing rocks, floating through gullies, sea swimming, exploring caves and negotiating rock jumps.

And it all takes place in a safe environment, under the guidance of fully qualified beach lifeguards and coasteering instructors. Full gear is provided.

How old?

Kids aged 8+ can go coasteering with Lizard Adventure from their base on the Lizard peninsula (45-minute drive).

Kids aged 12+ can do it with St. Ives Surf School on Porthminster beach (a 25-minute drive or take the train from St. Erth).

Sea Safaris – Penzance

St Ives Boat Trip

If you and your kids are interested in getting better acquainted with Cornwall’s marine life, head over to Penzance, where you’ll find several companies offering boat trips and sea safaris. We recommend Marine Discovery, who offer a selection of tours. Sightings aren’t guaranteed, but it’s possible to see Risso, Common and Bottlenose dolphins, Minke whales, basking sharks, grey seals, Atlantic bluefin tuna and all kinds of seabirds. Plus, you get to explore the beautiful coastline around The Minack Theatre and Porthcurno.

How old? From 3+ but varies depending on the tour.

How far? 20-minute drive to Penzance.

When? Trips run between March and November on most days (every day between May half term and mid-September).

Seal-watching Boat Trips – St Ives

Grey Seals

It seems that seals love our coastline as much as we do, and sightings are common in local waters. Of course, the best way to see them is to get yourself out to sea. St Ives Boats run a one-hour tour on the ‘Dolly P’ around the coast to Seal Island, home to a colony of grey seals. They also do a one-hour trip to Godrevy Lighthouse for a chance to spot dolphins and even whales. St Ives Boats are the only operator accredited by WiSe, a national scheme dedicated minimising disturbance to marine wildlife.

How old? All ages. Little ones under 12 months go free.

How far? 25-minute drive or take the train from St Erth.

When? Daily from April to the end of October.

Find out more


For more things to do with your kids, take a look at the best family-friendly beaches in St Ives Bay.


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