Surf breaks and beach schools, summer days treading sea-backed sand dunes and a dog walker’s paradise, dig a little deeper into Hayle life and you’ll find a boundless stretch of sand with a lot to offer and rarely any need to share it.

Days start well when you’re sipping a perfectly poured flat white made by Tilly Sanders, who is (wo)manning the coffee machine at Hayle Surf School HQ, as the instructors float out back with an eager group of learner surfers.

We’re joining the mums and dads who are reclining in the low-slung deck chairs dotted out front, with arguably one of the best views around – ocean, sand, lighthouses, St Ives Bay – they watch on as their little ones make bids for waves under the watchful eye of Hayle Surf School co-founder Ruaraidh Monies. “We love the beach. We love the sea,” he says, “It’s where we’ve grown up. This is us; this is our home; surfing is special. It’s what we do and we want to share its joy.”

“Even in the height of summer it feels really different from other local beaches.”

And Tilly agrees, “I love this beach”, she says, and as one of the newest members of the team, freshly on board for the summer season, it hasn’t taken her long to get the measure of the Towans. “Even in the height of summer it feels different from other local beaches,” she says. “It’s very chilled out. Lots of families and loads of dog walkers.”

She’s right; you don’t have to look far to find a tail parading through sandy paths en route to roam free on the sands. “We live locally”, says dog walker Jenny. “I look forward to walking our collie Mable. The beach seems different every day, and I never tire of it. And neither does Mable.”

Stay in Hayle

A hundred or so meters back from the dune peaks at Mexico Towans, you’ll find Dune Store and Surf LTD. Well-stocked with fresh local produce and boutique beach wares by Ruaraidh’s partner Aimee. From flower burst sunnies and soft collapsible eco buckets for the kids to pastel-hued cool boxes for keeping beach beers chilled, Aimee’s curated laidback beach-style is alive on every shelf. Together, the pair have been working hard to put this section of Hayle Beach on the map, establishing their surf school, lifestyle shop, takeaway, and café in 2023. Since taking over the space, they’ve invested in the local community: opening up more ways to celebrate and showcase this often-overlooked strip of coastline.

“We love to tap into local practitioners to bring more to the beach.”

“We love to tap into local practitioners to bring more to the beach”, says Aimee. “We help facilitate and share regular sessions for everyone and everything, from yoga to breathwork, and it’s all available to anyone who wants to come along.”


One of these ocean-loving individuals is part-time Hayle Surf School coach and nature guide ​​Nik Waites, with her nature-focused brainchild, The Wild Within. When she’s not showing groups the surfing ropes in the water, you can often find her leading Beach School sessions on the sand.

From making sundials to learning about the patterns and rhythms of nature, drop-in to regular get-togethers, “Little ones (and us adults!) are encouraged to understand and bond with the environment”, explains Nik, “building up caring relationships and creating great memories to take home, share and cherish.”

Underwater swimmer

Image credit: Nik Waites, The Wild Within

While new life and activity are emerging in this central part of sea and sand, on its most westerly point, heritage is holding fast. You don’t have to walk far on the Towans to see a beachgoer brandishing a Philps pasty bag, tucking into one of their famous flakey pastry creations. Dominating Hayle’s lunch hour fare for the past three generations, with queues often weaving out of the door, Philps is a Hayle institution.

“Hayle Towans is memories of late-nights hunting glow worms.”

Perched on Hayle’s East Quay next to the mouth of Hayle Towans, their connection to the beach is strong. “Hayle Towans is memories of late-nights hunting glow worms,” says Sam Philp, Hayle royalty having taken the pasty baton from former generations of pasty makers.  “In summer and stamping feet on sandy pathways to scare away the sleeping adders; a freshly baked pasty in your pocket as a hand warmer in the winter.”

Whether it’s a board, a dog lead or a pasty in your hand, make your way down the dusty tracks – there are many to choose from – and discover for yourself the secrets of this quieter stretch of coastline.

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Hayle and its towans

Walk, surf and explore with us as we tap into one of Cornwall’s better-kept beach secrets.

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Sam Beverley in our Owner Services team shares her favourite things about these West Cornwall towans.  

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