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.
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.
WHEN TO WALK
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
Find a shorefront property welcoming well-behaved four-legged visitors…
WHATEVER THE WEATHER
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.
SWIM FOR YOUR SUPPER
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…