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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > United Kingdom > England > St Ives beaches, Cornwall

About St Ives beaches, Cornwall

A great toe of land poking into turquoise seas, Cornwall has long considered itself to be separate from the rest of England, and there’s certainly something different about this picturesque region famous for its culture, sand, surf and food. Serene and sublimely set St Ives attracts visitors to the wonderful Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth museum, but has a lot more tricks up its sleeve, including some of Britain’s finest beaches.

Beach:

Pristine Blue Flag Porthmeor is overlooked by the St Ives Tate Gallery. It’s a family beach, where the gentle waves are good for tentative surfers and the golden sands perfect for basking. There’s a surf school, restaurants and cafes, and lifeguards in summer.

Nearby, the glittering soft sands of Blue Flag Porthminster beach are backed by palm trees and subtropical plants. The calm seas are ideal for families, and a restaurant and café facilities are on hand.

To the north of town lies St Ives Bay, a golden curve of gleaming sand, lapped by glimmering-blue sea and stretching from Godrevy lighthouse in the north to Hayle Estuary in the south. It’s thought to have inspired Virginia Wolf’s To the Lighthouse. Gwithian beach, south of Godrevey, is another surfing spot, with great Atlantic swells.

Beyond the beach:

Penwith, west of St Ives, features some of Cornwall’s most dramatic scenery, dotted with prehistoric sites. Here you can visit Geevor Tin Mine (www.geevor.com), 8km (5 miles) from St Ives, which was the last Cornish mine to close.

Family fun:

Exploring further:

Whilst in the area the Eden Project is well worth a special visit. The two enormous greenhouses built into a 50-metre- (164ft-) deep claypit overlook St Austell Bay. Through plants, the dome promotes environmental awareness enabling visitors to understand ‘the vital relationship between plants, people and resources’. The most impressive of the two giant domes is the Humid Tropics Biome that’s filled with towering plants from the tropics, including balsa teak and mahogany, and there is also a Malaysian stilt house and garden as an example of how one culture uses its natural resources to survive.

Splashing out:

Relax at the Ocean Spa at Treganna Castle Estate (www.treganna-castle.co.uk). Situated in a beautiful ivy-clad hotel overlooking St Ives bay, the spa offers a full range of pampering services from facials and massages to manicures and holistic treatments.