Porthkidney Sands stretch from the mouth of the River Hayle in Lelant to Hawk’s Point in Carbis Bay. The beach is around a mile long and at low tide the sea goes out a long way leaving a vast expanse of usually almost deserted sand. The fact that one can barely discern the river mouth from beach level gives the impression the beach goes on practically to infinity! The beach is many visitor’s first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean as they round the corner on the St Ives branch train. The track runs along the length of the beach as it climbs up to Carbis Bay. The beach is overlooked by one of the areas top golf clubs too; the West Cornwall Golf Club.
At the Lelant end the beach is backed by gentle dunes and there are several access points from the coast path. As the beaches approaches Carbis Bay the dunes rise sharply to form a steep cliff from which the view along the coast is impressive. There is a path down from this end but it is a little more precarious and far from accessible to all. On the lowest of tides it is possible to walk around the point to Carbis Bay beach, or visa versa, to make an intersting detour from the coast path. A word of warning though, the tide moves fast here, so don’t get caught out.
The northern end of Porthkidney beach is a popular, but incredibly fickle, surf spot – Hawk’s Point. It needs a very big swell before it breaks here but can get good. Swimming is less advisable, particularly closer to the river mouth and on turning tides. Strong, unpredictable currents and a lack of any lifeguard cover make it potentially dangerous.
Porthkidney Sands are one of West Cornwall’s all year dog friendly beaches with no restrictions. Given the huge amount of space at low tide even the most energetic dogs should be satisfied.
The small village of Sennen Cove is located around 12 miles west of St Ives and is just short of Land’s End. The village’s main attraction is its beach, a mile long stretch of pristine sand facing into the full might of the Atlantic Ocean. As you can imagine, Sennen beach is a popular spot with surfers all year round. Generally speaking the waves get bigger the further down the beach you head, so there is something for all levels. If you fancy surfing and don’t have a board (or a clue!) there are boards for hire and lessons available.
In the Summer the beach can get busy but there is plenty of parking so this generally doesn’t cause a problem. It is a great family beach with plenty of facilities and the experienced lifeguard team are very much on the ball, and well equipped making it pretty safe. It’s only a 3 minute walk into the village from the beach if you need a shop. There is also ‘The Beach’ restaurant which, as you may imagine, is right by the beach – the food here is good but pricey.
Located less than a mile out of St Ives is Carbis Bay. It is a wide sandy beach with good facilities making it particularly popular with families. It is also fairly sheltered both from the wind and the waves owing to its position in the lee of large, tree covered cliffs.
In times gone by the beach was known by various names including Barripper, Porthrepta and Carrack Garden Cove. Back in those days the beach was mainly used by fishermen to launch their boats. Despite its sheltered aspect there have been several shipwrecks at Carbis Bay, 3 of them in one night in 1893. At low tide it is possible to see the remains of the Cintra in the centre of the beach.
On rare occasions it is possible to surf at Carbis bay but this requires an enormous northerly swell. When there is surf it is particularly popular with body boarders with powerful, wedgey waves occurring close to high tide.
Carbis Bay is also convenient to get to. Being outside of St Ives you can avoid the worst of the Summer traffic and in addition it also has its own station on the St Ives train line.