Three Mile Beach’s right there beachesby Jasmine Greenwood
Seven beautiful, quiet Cornish beaches stretching for three miles called The Towans (Cornish for ‘dune’). And beyond to St Ives’ famous beaches. That’s our doorstep.
From Godrevy beach at the eastern tip of St Ives Bay to Hayle Sands, it’s a wild world of rockpools, dramatic cliffs, and rolling dunes. Glowworms in the grasses, larks in the sky, surfers in the surf, dolphins in the waves, seals in the rocky shallows, and dog walkers on the sands. That’s The Towans.
1. Godrevy Beach and Godrevy Lighthouse
Godrevy Beach is found at the very north end of St Ives Bay. It’s a beach with a lot to give. Seals congregate around the rocks, especially in autumn and winter. All year, experienced surfers catch the area’s biggest waves. It’s perfect for windsurfing, kiteboarding, and surfing seriously or for the first time. There are even lifeguards on watch from early May through to late September.
Overlooking it all is Godrevy lighthouse. Built in 1858, it was the inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s seminal novel ‘To the Lighthouse’, and it continues to be a handsome, life-saving landmark protecting passing vessels from the perilous rocks of Stones Reef.
Dear dogs: This could change at any time so check the sign, but you can only run riot on this beach before 10 am and after 6 pm in July and August. The rest of the year, it’s yours all yours.
2. Gwithian Beach
Next up is Gwithian Beach. It’s just a 5-minute walk from Three Mile beach to the steps that lead down to it. Turn right at the bottom of the steps for Godrevy Beach. Turn left for Gwithian Beach’s rockpools, dramatic cliffs and miles of sand stretching out towards Hayle. This is a great one for families who like to explore marine life in the rockpools and run free in the untamed wilderness.
Dear dogs: This one’s all yours, all year except from 10 am – 6 pm in July and August.
3. Upton Towans & 4. Mexico Towans Beach
Upton Towans and Mexico Towans are the next ones along. Their massive expanse makes them dog running, swimming, fetching heaven. And set back from the sand are grassy dunes brimming with wildlife, so it’s an explorer’s dream too.
Dear dogs: This one’s all yours, all year.
5. Riviere Towans, 6. Hayle Beach & 7. Hayle Sands
On the western end of The Towans, Hayle Towans Beach is more sheltered from the swell, making it a surfer’s favourite. It’s fringed by Riveria Towans and leads onto Hayle Sands, Hayle estuary, and, if you keep on walking, Hayle itself – the nearest town to Three Mile Beach.
Dear dogs: This could change at any time so check the sign but – sorry – you can’t live your best life here between 10 am and 6 pm in July and August. Not even if you beg.
The Hayle estuary area is out of bounds from Easter Sunday until 30th September from 10 am – 6 pm.
Within reach of Three Mile Beach
The beaches don’t stop there. St Ives Bay continues west to Porthkidney Beach, incredible Carbis Bay, and ends at the beloved beaches of St Ives. Walking the South West Coast Path along this stretch and dropping down into the beaches and, eventually, St Ives, is life-affirming stuff.
8. Porthkidney Beach
This beach stretches nearly a mile out to sea at low tide and is backed by dunes and West Cornwall Golf Club (duck if you hear the shout “fore”). Thanks to its unusual dune system and the nearby RSPB managed reserve, this beach is a designated Site for Special Scientific Interest. It’s northern end, Hawk’s Point, is a popular but fickle surf spot.
Dear dogs: Go for it. It’s yours all year round
9. Carbis Bay Beach
Carbis Bay is an unbelievable Blue Flag beauty. The headland at either end of the bay shelters the beach from the ravages of the surf and creates a micro-climate where sub-tropical plants flourish. It looks and feels like the Med. The calm waters are perfect for families with young children keen to paddle in the Atlantic. There are plenty of great facilities here too.
Dear dogs: Check the sign in case this changes, but you can’t walkies between 10 am to 6 pm from 15th May to 30th September. And the rest of the year whenever you want.
10. Porthminster Beach, St Ives
With a wooded headland to its Carbis Bay side and St Ives Harbour to the other, this crescent-shaped beach is one of Cornwall’s best. Being sheltered, the turquoise waters are calm and paddle-friendly. Facilities are great here too, including one of our favourites in the area – The Porthminster Beach Café (more on this little gem in the places to eat nearby blog).
Dear dogs: Between 15th May to 30th September this is a total no-no between 10 am to 6 pm. The rest of the year it’s all yours.
11. Harbour Beach, St Ives
This is where to paddle, enjoy exceptional Cornish ice cream, and take in the ebb and flow of this go-to town. It’s still a working harbour, so fishing boats are come and go in all weathers. At low tide, the beach stretches out beyond the harbour walls and makes for a lovely sun trap. Just watch out for the resident seagulls and keep your fish and chips close. They love an unsuspecting visitor.
Dear dogs: Between 1st July to 31 August it’s a no go from 10 am until 6 pm. The rest of the year, knock yourself out.
12. Bamaluz Beach, St Ives
This small beach located between the harbour and Porthgwidden Beach is often missed by most visitors looking for the more famous beaches in St Ives, but it’s great for rock pooling.
Dear dogs: This is all yours, all year round. It’s the only one in St Ives that is.
13. Porthgwidden Beach, St Ives
Facing east across St Ives Bay to Three Mile Beach, Porthgwidden Beach is a lovely, sandy cove. Sheltered to the north by the Island with a backdrop of beach huts and the Porthgwidden Beach Café, this is a family favourite.
Dear dogs: In July and August this is a total no-no between 10 am to 6 pm. The rest of the year it’s all yours.
14. Porthmeor Beach, St Ives
The final beach in the journey along St Ives Bay is Porthmeor Beach. And it’s a good one. In fact, it’s a Blue Flag one. It’s a lovely long beach with the Island to the east, Tate St Ives behind, and a rocky headland to the west. It’s the most exposed beach in St Ives making it a popular choice for surfers of all abilities, swimmers, and families.
Dear dogs: Between 15th May to 30th September this is also a no-no between 10 am to 6 pm. The rest of the year it’s all yours though.