Best beaches near Padstow: for hiking and surfing!

Port Quin

If you’re looking for beaches near Padstow, this article will help you out! Padstow is a trendy tourist town in North Cornwall. Famous for its range of restaurants and beautiful harbour scenes, it’s no surprise that tourists flock to Padstow every year. 

Although Padstow sits slightly inland, one of the best things to do in the town is to enjoy the beaches. You can walk, drive or take a bus to many of the best beaches near Padstow – this guide will detail all of them and tell you how to get to each one! 

Does Padstow have a beach? 

Many tourists are surprised when they visit Padstow and realise that it isn’t actually coastal.

In fact, Padstow sits about two kilometres inland on the River Camel. It’s very close to the beach – you can walk to a variety of them from the town centre – but it’s not on the beach. 

Due to this, it’s essential to have a good idea of what the surrounding beaches have to offer and who they are suitable for! 

From the friendly beach of Polzeath to the quiet estuary beaches, this guide will help you find them! 

What is the nearest beach to Padstow? 

The nearest beach to Padstow as the crow flies is Rock Beach. This is a tidal river beach, but it’s a great place to enjoy the sand at low tide. You can take a ferry from Padstow to Rock. 

The closest beach if you are walking is St George’s Cove.

If you are driving, Butterhole Beach and Trevone Bay are both around a 10 minute journey. 

However, all of these North Cornwall beaches are easily accessible from Padstow!

The Best Padstow Beaches

Port Quin Beach

Port Quin

Port Quin is an unspoilt cove, located about 3 miles west of Port Isaac – a small village that has found fame for being the filming location of Doc Martin. Port Quin is even smaller – there isn’t even a shop or public loos – but it’s a stunning secluded cove beach, and you can rent stand up paddleboards and take to the calm waters here. 

Port Gaverne Beach

Port Gaverne Beach is just half a mile from Port Isaac. Port Gaverne has a large beach with dining opportunities in the hamlet. It’s a lot bigger than Port Isaac beach, so if you’re visiting Port Isaac to see the Doc Martin sights you may prefer to head to Port Gaverne for some beach time!

Port Isaac Beach

View of Port Isaac

Port Isaac is one of the most popular spots on the North Coast of Cornwall. However, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Port Isaac just for its beach – it is a small affair, and you’ll have to share the space with lots of boats! However, there are plenty of other things to do in Port Isaac, so it’s well worth visiting! 

If you’re a Doc Martin fan, you can do a Doc Martin tour of all filming locations. You can also listen out for the Fisherman’s Friends, who sing sea shanties by the harbour and visit the church for an exhibition about Port Isaac’s history. 

Of course, you can go to the beach as well! Just beware if you are eating in Port Isaac – the seagulls are vicious here. 

You can get to Port Isaac from Padstow by taking the buses, but the bus system in Cornwall isn’t amazing – you will need to take the 11A bus to Wadebridge and change to the 95, and you might find yourself waiting for an hour! If you have a car, it is a 35 minute drive, or you can access it by a day’s walk on the South West Coast Path! 

Polzeath Beach

Polzeath beach near Padstow

Polzeath is a popular beach on the other side of the Camel Estuary. It’s a chilled-out surf town that is very fun to visit. You can take to the waves here by booking a lesson with one of the many surf schools, or simply enjoy the sands and sunbathe!

Restaurants and bars are abundant here, and there is also a local SPAR shop, toilets and a seasonal lifeguard. It’s a popular family beach, but it’s also a great spot if you are in Cornwall on a group trip with friends. 

To reach Polzeath from Padstow, either drive (30 minutes) or you can also take the boat to Rock and walk from there – this takes about 1 hour 15 minutes on the South West Coast Path.

You can also take the boat to Rock and walk to the Rock Clock Garage (about 1 mile) and then hop on the 95 to Port Isaac, which stops in Polzeath.

Alternatively, you can take the 11A and 95 buses (changing in Wadebridge) but expect this to take up to 2 hours. 

Booby’s Bay

If you’re looking for dog-friendly beaches near Padstow, Booby’s Bay is your answer! This large sandy beach is a beautiful spot, popular with surfers and hikers, but you can also drive here from Padstow. 

The golden sands of Booby’s Bay are appealing at low tide – and at this time, you can explore lots of rock pools. However, at high tide, the beach is nearly completely covered. 

It is a lifeguarded beach in the summer months, but the water is often flagged as too dangerous for surfing or swimming. Even if the water is safe, you should only try surfing here if you are very experienced. 

It’s an 18 minute drive from Padstow to Booby’s Bay, or a half day walk on the coastal path. Unfortunately, there are no public transport links. 

Trevone Bay

Trevone Bay near Padstow

Trevone Bay is a beautiful area between Padstow and Porthcothan. It’s a small village with a beach that has been designated an area of geological interest. It’s also one of seven beaches in Cornwall that have been awarded a blue flag! 

The beach is in a sheltered location, but the sea is immensely popular with surfers – beginners shouldn’t try it here, as there is a powerful rip off the beach. Only surf when lifeguards are present, which is May – September every year. 

There are a few cafes and pubs in Trevone, as well as public toilets. 

To reach Trevone from Padstow, you can drive for 10 minutes, or hike along the South West Coast Path (5.3 miles, relatively easy). You could also take the seasonal Atlantic Coaster to Trevone Turn and walk for 20 minutes to the bay. 

Porthcothan Beach

Porthcothan Beach

Porthcothan Bay Beach is a delightful beach halfway between Padstow and Newquay. It’s one of the best surf beaches near Padstow, with Waves Surf School favouring this beach for beginner lessons and when the waters are a bit rough elsewhere. 

Hikers will also love Porthcothan – you can climb up cliffs on either side of the beach, and there are some beautiful dunes to traverse. 

The spacious beach is also great for people who want to relax or play games in the sand. 

Porthcothan is also a year-round dog-friendly beach – great news if you’re bringing your four-legged friend along! There are lifeguards in the summer months (10 am – 6 pm) and the beach has a small shop and cafe where you can purchase sandwiches, baked goods, confectionery, coffee, and beach supplies. 

There is a large car park run by Cornwall council, and toilets are available in the car park – bring 20p per person to pay for them (card not accepted). 

You can also reach Porthcothan by taking the seasonal Atlantic Coaster which connects Padstow with St Ives, or the 56 bus, which runs year-round. 

Rock Beach

Rock Beach Near Padstow

Rock Beach is a tidal estuary beach that is probably the easiest to reach from Padstow – just hop on the Rock – Padstow ferry. There’s a wide expanse of sand here – you’ll be able to marvel at the sandy shores which stretch all the way from the coast near Polzeath. 

The water is not safe for swimming due to boats and currents, and under no means should you try to swim to Padstow – this is really dangerous. 

However, Rock Beach is a picturesque spot, and the walk from here to Polzeath along the coastal path is charming. You could end the walk with a refreshing dip in the sea at Polzeath and take the 95 bus back to Rock! 

Rock has lots of trendy al-fresco restaurants and beautiful scenery as you walk around the town. 

Harlyn Bay Beach

Harlyn Bay Beach is one of the closest beaches to Padstow, just a 10 minute drive away. You can also walk here on the coastal path! 

This is a popular family beach, with a long stretch of sand perfect for sunbathing and relatively calm waters that newbie surfers love. When the tide is out, there are lots of rock pools to explore. 

Harlyn Bay beach is one of the safest beaches near Padstow, and it has a lifeguard in the summer months. The village of Harlyn has pubs and restaurants, toilets, and car parking. 

The 56 and Atlantic Coaster buses both run to Harlyn Bridge which is near Harlyn Bay. 

Daymer Bay Beach

Daymer Bay Beach

Daymer Beach is one of the best beaches near Padstow. It traverses from Rock toward Polzeath and has epic views across the Camel Estuary. 

This isn’t a beach for swimming, but it’s popular with hikers as it forms part of the South West Coast Path. 

Long Cove Beach

Located in Mother Ivey’s Bay, Long Cove beach has a huge expanse of sand, turquoise waters, and dramatic views from the nearby Trevose Headland. 

It’s a quiet but stunning beach, and it’s definitely worth visiting as a side trip to Padstow!

Constantine Bay Beach

Constantine Bay Beach is one of the best surfing beaches near Padstow as it faced directly west. At low tide, you can enjoy the stunning rock pools – they’re a favourite with kids!

Constantine Bay is right next to Booby’s Bay, so you can explore both at the same time. You’ll need to walk over a rocky point to go between the beaches. 

There is a seasonal lifeguard at Constantine Bay (daily from 1st May to 26th September). 

St George’s Cove

St George's Cove

St George’s Cove is half a mile from Padstow Harbour – this makes it the closest beach to Padstow!

St George’s Cove is an inlet that looks into the Camel Estuary and Daymer Bay. 

Swimming is not advised here because the estuary has strong currents and there are no lifeguards. 

Hawker’s Cove

Hawker's Cove

Hawker’s Cove is another beach that is within walking distance from Padstow. It sits at the mouth of the River Camel. 

At high tide, this cove becomes cut off, but it is never really busy at any tide – a far cry from the hectic beaches of Polzeath.  

Bedruthan Steps and Bedruthan Beach

bedruthan steps in North Cornwall

Although Bedruthan Steps isn’t really a beach, and it’s not super close to Padstow, I had to include it in this list of beaches in Padstow – it’s one of my favourite spots in North Cornwall! 

These rocky outcrops stick out into the sea and are one of the most instagrammable places in Cornwall. 

There’s a sheltered cove and sandy beach, but this is currently closed due to a rockfall. 

You can hike along the coast for a while and enjoy the views, and there is a cafe nearby.

If you continue heading west from Bedruthan steps, you’ll get to enjoy all of the best beaches near Newquay too!

Why is Padstow so popular?

Padstow Harbour in North Cornwall

Cornwall’s all about the beaches, right? So why is a town that doesn’t have any beaches so popular? 

First thing, there’s much more to do in Cornwall than the beaches – check out this blog post about things to do in Cornwall in the rain for more information. 

Second of all, Padstow has a reputation as the gastronomical capital of Cornwall. Thanks to chefs like Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth, Padstow has countless excellent restaurants serving top quality food. 

It’s also famous for its picturesque harbour and variety of tourist activities any time of year. 

Is Padstow worth visiting? 

Even though Padstow doesn’t have a town beach, it is still a popular coastal retreat for thousands of tourists every year. With countless beaches with golden sands just a short drive – or even walking distance – away, as well as a delicious food scene, plenty of watersports, and a beautiful harbour, Padstow is a definite must-do on your Cornwall staycation!

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