Category: Door to shore

Instant beach

Freedom. Ease. Drop-of-a-hat adventuring. As you wake to the stirring sounds of the ocean, surf-check from your balcony and pace your day to the pattern of the tides –you’ll soon discover the joy that comes with staying a stone’s throw from the shore.

From first-light swims and car-free beach days to nature spotting and late-night sundowner suppers on the sands – strip back the stress, dial-up the magic and put the best of the coast at your fingertips by staying footsteps from the beach.

Fancy staying in a holiday retreat with a hot tub? Check out our cottages with a hot tub for a relaxing getaway.


Bracing waters in the light of a fresh day, nothing starts the day off quite like it. Staying so close to the sand means first-light dips in the vast blue are as simple as rolling out of bed, gathering the troops or going it alone, getting the coffee on to brew and being back in time to warm up your hands up with a mug or two.

Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

While you’ll find yourself a solitary swimmer in small coves and harbours, such as Port Isaac and Mousehole, in other larger bays, such as Gyllyngvase in Falmouth, you’ll likely meet fellow dawn dippers who’ll share a comradely nod.

Sea temperatures reach their zenith in August at around 18.5°C degrees on the North Coast, while the South Coast can be up to 2°C cooler – but the bravest swimmers dive in whatever the season. Always check the conditions, and let people know where you’re headed.


Stretching way beyond the beach, a water-front stay invites you to explore some of Cornwall’s most tranquil wending waterways. These easy reach river hideaways will soon have you in tune with the daily river rhythms, rills and runnels, ebbs and flows.

Lean into the low-key ease of a lazy paddle out on the River Fowey, where you can hire boards straight from the harbour. From here, let the surging river tide push you towards Golant for a beer at the Fisherman’s Arms and back in time to catch a late lunch at Captain Hank’s on the water’s edge.

Or, for big groups with a thirst for adventure, lash your boards together for a float down the Gannel estuary, where you can disembark, prop up your paddleboards and head up the steep steps to the Fern Pit Café, where refuelling means crab sandwiches and a stellar sea view.


If your hound is in the holiday party, staying beach-side is a real boon. While some beaches are open all hours to dogs, others have restricted access between 10am and 6pm. Staying within walking distance of the shore means cutting out the drive and making the most of freshly tide-washed sands with your faithful friend in tow. And if you’re an early riser, you’ll often have the beach to yourself.

Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

Dogs are free to roam year-round anytime on Perranporth and Watergate, while other spots such as Porth and Sennen means hot-footing it to the sands before the crowds descend.

Find a shorefront property welcoming well-behaved four-legged visitors…

Interested in looking at our developments? Check out our holiday developments across Cornwall.


Azure blue skies, splinters of sun bursting from behind clouds, and brooding black veils signalling storms on the horizon – weather watching takes on new dimensions when you’re this close to the coast. Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

Sit back and savour sublime vistas on your seafront balcony, or let the pattern of the skies shape your day. Seek out gentle sunny hazes to set the scene for your little ones paddling in the shallows at Porth, embrace fat-rain raucous swims with your whole gang on Croyde, and take advantage of your seaside spot at Gylly to be the first out onto the sand when the sunshine’s on your side.

And as the hours ebb away into evening, capture a clear horizon and take yourself down to the sands for a North Coast Cornish sunset – if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the elusive green flash.


A glimpse of a dorsal fin dipping below the surface, the swoop and caw of a low-flying kittiwake, and the bobbing head and bristling whiskers of a seal; with the sea within your sights, nature’s bound to put on a show.

Beachside dwellers regularly catch sight of playful pods of dolphins as they skirt the bays and wave ride next to surfers. Keep your eye on the waters and take yourself to the closest cliff top or headland for a clearer view. Lucky sea-watchers recently caught a rare glimpse of a majestic humpback whale not far off the Pentire headland in north Cornwall – best keep your eyes peeled.


As the day rolls on into the evening, explore the epicurean offerings of your stone’s throw beach-front stay. Whether it’s a post-swim hand-stretched pizza under romantic festoons at The Jam Jar just a short stroll from Crantock, or bringing some crowd-pleasing Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips back to your blanket at Padstow – why not leave the culinary work to someone else when you’ve escaped to the coast.

From rolling dunes to endless white sands, river-front retreats to bustling bays, get the instant beach experience from your holiday…

Embark on a coastal adventure with our guide to exploring seven bays in seven days, uncovering the best of Cornwall’s seaside splendour.

Board stories

From the far west to the overlooked south east, via the unmatched north, there’s a bay and a board for everyone. Keen board riders and paddlers reveal their chosen craft and coast…

Cornwall’s winding coastline reveals countless unmissable stops for enjoying and exploring the sea by board. Samantha Bruce and Georgia O’Carolan of Whitsand Bay Ladies Surf Club, Matt Hawken at Newquay Activity Centre, and Dan Bassett at Surf St Ives tell us which board they reach for and where they’re heading…

Fancy staying in a holiday retreat with a hot tub? Check out our cottages with a hot tub for a relaxing getaway.

Whitsand’s welcoming waves

Organised by the Adventure Bay Surf School, Whitsand Bay Ladies Surf Club was Georgia O’Carolan’s first surf experience. “Outrageously, I didn’t start any board sports in the water until joining the Club when I was 27 because I thought I was too old to learn, which I now think at nearly 30 is just beyond silly.

“Our swells might not come in as big and fierce as the north coast generally, but we’re a great surf destination when it’s in.”

“We have all ages, sizes and abilities in our club and it doesn’t matter how good you are, as long as you’re safe – which might mean a lesson or a lifeguarded beach – you belong there in the sea. My tip for a novice would be to just go out and do it!”

Image credit: Adventure Bay Surf School

Georgia – RNLI lifeguard – says her corner of Cornwall on the south east coast is a little quieter which can mean more choice and opportunities to catch waves out in the bay. “Our swells might not come in as big and fierce as the north coast generally, but we’re a great surf destination when it’s in, and great for beginners and intermediates.”

And when she is paddling out at Whitsand she opts for a Mick Fanning Sugar Glider, either 7ft 6in or 7ft. “It’s fast and fun, and the first time apart from a rescue board, I’ve used a single-fin board.”

Fancy staying in Whitsand Bay? Have a look at our Whitsand Bay holiday properties.

Image credit: Adventure Bay Surf School

Fellow Ladies Club member Samantha Bruce goes for the KORE 7ft 2 Fun board when she’s catching waves at Tregonhawke or northwards at Bude.

What makes a great surfing beach? “A long sandy beach, with minimal rocks, a short approach – so I’m not carrying my board for miles – and even better if there’s a coffee van or food shack for a refuel and hang after,” says Samantha.

Her preferred conditions are 3-4ft, slightly wild waves. “I enjoy the challenging conditions and having a laugh with the girls while navigating them,” she adds.

For first timers, Samantha recommends a small group or 1:1 lesson. “Speaking as someone who wanted to surf for years but was apprehensive, you’ll know instantly if it’s for you, then find a group to be part of.”

“At about mid-tide you can dot in and around Little Lusty through the rocks, and there’s even a secret cave to paddle through.”

Paddle north

“It’s beautiful and so peaceful – teaming with wildlife and amazing views. It can be difficult to find a good launch spot, if you don’t know the area, and it’s definitely worth knowing your tides, but it’s one of the best spots to paddleboard on the north coast.”

Matt Hawken, paddleboard instructor at Newquay Activity Centre, is talking about the River Gannel which meets the sea at Newquay. Staying with the whole family or all your best friends, everyone can enjoy stand-up paddleboarding along the Gannel.

Image credit: Newquay Activity Centre

“Because it’s so sheltered, it’s an awesome spot for all skill levels,” says Matt. “With the right tide and the best spots, the water barely moves and it’s great for enhancing your skills.”

Waterborne explorers can venture upriver to Trevemper or downriver to Crantock Beach, with a guided tour the best way to find the ideal launch spots and tidal conditions. A calm, laidback board choice, paddleboarding reveals views and coastline locations hidden when exploring on land.

Image credit: Newquay Activity Centre

As well as floating down isolated creeks along the Gannel, Matt recommends the expanse of Newquay Bay on a calm summer’s day. “It’s surprisingly sheltered for the north coast of Cornwall. At about mid-tide you can dot in and around Little Lusty through the rocks, and there’s even a secret cave to paddle through. And then down to Porth beach for a quick break and back towards the harbour. The water is crystal clear, the sun is shining, there might even be seals and dolphins enroute.”

Wood for waves

Surf St Ives’ Daniel Bassett chooses an Alaia, a fin-less style of wooden surfboard originating from Hawaii, for his board-based excursions.

Wooden surfboard crafters, Otter Surfboards, describe the Alaia as “a thin, narrow, solid wood surfboard with a round nose and square tail and, most importantly, no fins. They originated in pre-contact Hawaii where they were shaped from Koa wood left over from producing canoes and they were usually around 7-12 feet long. Modern Alaias usually come up between 5 and 8 feet long.”

Image credit: Daniel Bassett @surfstives

Daniel says he likes to be out on the Alaia at Godrevy, near Hayle, but is happy catching a wave along the coast as long as it is breaking on his left side as he glides towards the sand, known simply as a left.

Spacious beaches and September swells are the best conditions for Daniel who surfs to “escape the worries of everyday life and be at one with the elements.”

“I’d recommend spending time on a bellyboard for learning how to read the ocean and feel comfortable in the water, before progressing to surf-craft,” he says.

All along the coast, wooden bellyboards can be hired for free thanks to Surf Wood for Good. A bellyboard for acclimatising to the waves can be picked up for the day from just inland of St Ives Surf School at Little Goat Gruff. And there’s more than 10 locations across Cornwall to pick-up a borrowed bellyboard for wave-seeking elsewhere.

Read our blog on the best things to do in the sea in every season!

A secluded stay for two or a celebration pad for everyone, choose where you’ll stay for your chosen board time…