With its rugged coastline stretching over 400 miles, and no inland area more than 20 miles from the sea, Cornwall is almost entirely beach. This historic county with world-class seafood and postcard villages is expecting a flock of visitors this summer as Brits fall back in love with the Great British Holiday. The beaches with the best surf are well-known to locals and tourists alike, but this veritable water world is littered with hidden coves and secret sands, perfect for a secluded swim.
This secret cove lies one mile south-east of Land’s End and has no direct access from the road. You can reach this slice of paradise by the South West Coast Path from Land’s End in the north, or from Porthgwarra in the south.
Also known as Mill Bay, the sandy cove at Nanjizal Beach was once the site of a watermill. Its ruins still exist today, giving the area a distinctly pirate-y feel. The natural stream that powered the mill now flows over the rocks and across the beach, emptying into the sea in front of the Song of the Sea. This is a tall narrow natural rock arch that captures the rays on a sunny afternoon.
By far one of Cornwall’s loveliest beaches, Nanjizal is also one of the emptiest, so you can enjoy your own private beach with no sun lounger fights in sight.
Bedruthan Steps is a stunning cove of azure choppy water between Padstow and Newquay. It get its name from the mythical giant Bedruthan, who hopped along the beach’s rocks as if they were steppingstones. The first written record of the name is in 1847, supporting the theory that the legend was a colourful Victorian creation to drum up tourism in the area.
Swimming isn’t recommended at the Steps due to the strong currents and large rocks, but it isn’t forbidden. So, if you go in for a dip, just take care. Moreover, each of the rocks are affectionally named from north to south; Queen Bess, Samaritan Island, Redcove Island, Pendarves Island, and Carnewas Island.
The nearby and well-known town of Padstow is also worth a visit for lunch. The Beach Hut at Watergate Bay is also a great spot for a seaside lunch, serving local seafood and handpicked wines.
This small, yet totally secluded beach, looks like it could be somewhere along the Grecian or Croatian coast. In fact, these unbelievably clear-blue waters belong to one of the southern-most beaches in Cornwall.
The headland to the east of the beach is the location of the famous Logan Rock. A 80-tonne rock, it’s angled so that a single person can move it back and forth. Discover Minack Theatre a few miles down the road. Less than a hundred years old, this open-air theatre is perched on the cliffs and adds to the Grecian-style scenery.
If you’re up for an adventure, this hidden beauty is worth a visit.
From the National Trust car park (a mile east of Polruan near Fowey), take the well-marked footpath across the road into a field. The stunning sand and shingle beach, with its cove and towering cliffs, will greet you as you walk over the brow of the hill.
The trek down to the inviting waters takes about 20 minutes, so take time to enjoy the view. Camping, campfires and swimming are encouraged in the bay but beware, as on all Cornwall beaches, the currents are strong.
Surrounded by subtropical gardens and ancient woodland, Bosahan is a secluded cove only accessible by foot. You can either walk roughly a mile along the coast, arrive by boat from a neighbouring beach, or walk through the beautiful Bosahan Estate, if it’s open. The surrounding woodland and relative quietness of this beach give it a distinctly ‘shipwrecked’ feel, and with a view framed by coastal trees, you’ll want to stare at the passing yachts all day.
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