Life in Polperro revolves around the sea, and it has done for centuries.
From its initial foundings as a fishing village, to its lucrative but illicit smuggling trade, to the hordes of tourists that visit the village every year as a tourist destination, Polperro and its surrounding seas go hand in hand.
So it goes without saying that there are some beaches in Polperro – although, you do actually have to look a bit further than you think.
While Polperro does have a beach, it’s not as expansive as some of the other beaches in Cornwall, and it’s very tidal.
However, I’ve put together these tips for enjoying Polperro’s beaches and some information about surrounding beaches, that you can either hike, bus or drive to.
I’ve spent a lot of my life in Cornwall, as I live in Devon, the next county along, and my family is Cornish.
And as Polperro is located in South East Cornwall, I’ve spent many a summer’s day lazing on these beautiful beaches!
Beaches in Polperro
There’s only one beach actually in Polperro (although Talland Bay is a short walk away).
Here’s everything you need to know about the two closest beaches to Polperro!
One of the best things to do in Polperro is to sit on the harbour wall and take in the beautiful sight of the village’s boats – or turn around and see a panorama of cottages clustered behind you.
But Polperro Beach? It’s very tidal, meaning that it’s covered with water during high tide.
Plus, it’s tiny and can easily fill up on a busy summer’s day (especially as Polperro is one of the most popular places to visit in Cornwall!).
There is a fascinating smuggler’s cave on the west side of the beach, which sits below William Wilcox’s house; he was a notorious smuggler back in the day.
I wouldn’t visit Polperro just for the beach, but I’d go for the town itself (it’s similar to Cornish fishing villages like Mousehole and Port Isaac in that there isn’t really a vast stretch of sand, but it’s well worth seeing for its other attractions).
However, if you’re staying in town or want to visit to have a mooch around the scenic village and enjoy the restaurants, whitewashed cottages, smuggler’s museum and shops, then you could pop to Polperro Beach too!
Talland Bay also isn’t huge, but it’s a pleasant bay with two beaches. These are both dog-friendly.
It’s great for rock pooling and you’ll find that there’s often space here when there isn’t on Polperro Beach and the beaches around Looe.
There are two car parks and a cafe at Talland Bay, but it’s certainly one of the quieter beaches around Polperro, largely due to the fact that it’s 30-40 minute walk from the village on the coastal path or a 13-minute drive.
Beaches near Polperro
13 minute (5 mile) drive from Polperro
With views out to Looe Island, Hannafore Beach stretches from Hannafore Point in West Looe all the way to where the cliffs start rising away from the town.
Hannafore Beach is popualar with dog walkers and rock poolers – it mainly consists of rock pools!
It does see a lot of sun thanks to its positioning, but it also doesn’t have much in the way of sand, which means that all of the tourists to Looe tend to spend time at East Looe Beach instead!
You can walk from Polperro to Hannafore Beach in about an hour and half on the coast path. There are also bus connections between Polperro and Looe.
Take a look at my Looe to Polperro walk guide for information about this South West Coast Path hike!
Lantic Bay Beach
16 minute (5 mile) drive from Polperro
Lantic Bay Beach is a true Cornish hidden gem; and probably my favourite beach in all of South Cornwall.
Sitting between Polperro and Polruan, Lantic Bay Beach is surrounded by cliffs – the only way down being to hike down a bath.
With crystal-clear blue water and white sand, this beach looks like it could be on a postcard for a Caribbean island.
There’s no lifeguard cover here, and it is very isolated with no amenities, so do be extra mindful of tide times to stay safe.
East Looe Beach
14 minute (5 mile) drive from Polperro
The main beach in Looe, East Looe Beach sits just to the south of the high street.
It’s a fairly small beach, but it’s well-guarded and is a popular place for swimming – although there is no lifeguard cover.
It’s probably the most “urban” beach on this list, being in proximity to Looe town centre (although, with just over 5,000 inhabitants, Looe is hardly a big city!).
This means that it’s easy to grab some snacks or enjoy other amenities before or after a trip to the beach; but it also means that this is one of the busiest beaches in South East Cornwall!
19 minute (7 mile) drive from Polperro
Plaidy Beach is one of the best beaches around Polperro to visit in the summer months, as it’s quite remote (best accessed by walking from Looe on the coastal path and there isn’t much parking!).
The beach is close to a residential area, so it feels a little more like “real” Cornwall away from the tourists.
At high tide, the beach is mostly covered, whereas at low tide there’s an expanse of beach with lots of rock pools.
There’s no lifeguard service, but it’s quite sheltered and a bit of a suntrap thanks to its south east-facing location.
9 minute (2.5 mile) drive from Polperro
Sitting about halfway between Polperro and Fowey is Lansallos Beach, which is a sand and shingle affair run by the National Trust.
It’s very remote, with no facilities of lifeguard cover, but there is a gorgeous waterfall here, so it’s definitely worth walking down to the beach and enjoying the surroundings!
The closest parking is in Lansallos Village, from which it is about a 20 minute walk down a footpath to reach the coast.
Like Lantic Bay, it’s quite remote – not an ice cream van in sight – but this is a goo dthin in the busy summer season, as there are far fewer tourists than elsewhere!
16 minute (4.7 mile) drive from Polperro
Like Lansallos and Lantic Bay, Lantivet is looked after by the National Trust.
It’s quite a small affair and is best explored at low tide. Like the other bays in the area, there’s no lifeguard cover.
However, there is a National Trust Car Park with toilets, and the organisation has but together a Lantivet Bay Circular Walk that you can follow to take in some of the area’s immense natural beauty.
25 minute (10 mile) drive from Polperro
Not to be confused with Seaton in East Devon (or Seatown in West Dorset!), Seaton, Cornwall is right next to Downderry – in fact, at low tide, you can walk between the two beaches.
An expansive pebble and sand beach, this bay is usually quite quiet (it’s possibly the least touristy stretch of Cornish coastline!), and while there’s no lifeguard cover, swimming is usually considered safe.
There’s also an abundance of rock pools to enjoy. It’s not a “bucket and spade” type of beach, but is ideal if you want somewhere in Polperro where you won’t encounter hoards of other tourists.
44 minute (8.2 mile) drive from Polperro
I love Readymoney Cove, which sits at the end of the River Fowey in Fowey.
It’s only a small beach, but it’s backed by trees and buses, and the bright blue waters invite paddling.
A small castle, St Catherine’s Castle, stands on the cliffs here, although it’s quite hard to access. If you’re keen on seeing more castles in Cornwall, check out this blog post.
There are no lifeguards here, but there is a small shop and cafe.
28 minute (10 mile) drive from Polperro
This shingle beach is well-sheltered and provides ample safe swimming opportunities.
Backing onto Downderry Village, it’s close to amenities like toilets, a cafe and restaurants along with public toilets.
If you’re planning on visiting, it’s worth mentioning that there are nudist parts of this beach; the part nearest the village is “clothed” whereas the further you get from the village, the less clothes people seem to wear!
Dog-friendly beaches near Polperro
The following beaches around Polperro are dog-friendly:
- Talland Bay
- Lantic Bay Beach
- Hannafore Beach
- Downderry Beach
- Seaton Beach
- Lantivet Bay
- Plaidy Beach
Is there a sandy beach at Polperro?
Yes, Polperro Beach is sandy.
Can you swim at Polperro beach?
As the beach is very tidal and close to the harbour, it’s quite tricky to swim here. Instead, a lot of people visit Chapel Cliff Pool, which offers swimming and paddling opportunities.
Does Looe have a sandy beach?
Yes, East Looe Beach is very sandy; so pack your bucket and spade!
Other amazing beaches in Cornwall
If you’re on a Cornwall road trip, you might be interested in visiting the other best beaches in Cornwall.
- Fistral Beach, Newquay
- Carbis Bay Beach, near St Ives
- Perranporth Beach, Perranporth
- Widemouth Bay Beach, Bude
- Sennen Cove Beach, Sennen
- Gyllngvase Beach, Falmouth
- Praa Sands Beach, near Penzance
The Best Polperro Beaches!
Hopefully, this list of beaches near Polperro, with options all over South Cornwall, will help you plan your holiday to the picturesque fishing village!
Don’t forget that there are plenty of other things to do in town too, including exploring the coast path, boat trips and smuggling history.
Check out my Cornwall archives for more posts on visiting the Duchy; I have lots of insider information!
If you have any questions about visiting Polperro or anywhere in Cornwall feel free to reach out on Instagram and I’ll do my best to help.