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  • Porthcurno
  • Polzeath beach
  • Gyllyngvase beach
  • Talland Bay
  • Town beach in St Ives

Blue Flag Beaches in Cornwall

Best Beaches in Cornwall

Being an island, Great Britain is proud of its beaches and no region more so than Cornwall. As a peninsula, Cornwall’s 400 miles of coastline is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, an area of the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the English Channel, of which 158 miles have Heritage Coast status.

Even when centred in the middle of Cornwall, at no time will you be more than 20 miles from the sea! This means beaches in all areas are quite accessible and you can be relaxing on a beach in the north of the county one hour and the south the next. Whether you like summer bathing, year round surfing or a crisp winter stroll, beach life has a lot to offer and in Cornwall there are plenty of them to choose from! In fact there are so many outstanding beaches in Cornwall that it is often difficult to pick a favourite. Depending on your need for surfing, dog walking, child friendliness or disabled access, you may have an entirely different choice.

Mawgan Porth beach

Footprints at Watergate Bay


So what does blue flag status mean?

Gaining Blue Flag status is a mark of the cleanliness, the facilities on offer and the eco-credentials of the beach. Criteria falls into four categories:

  • Environmental Education and Information
  • Water Quality
  • Environmental Management
  • Safety and Services

The award is internationally recognised and so far 199 beaches and marinas in the British Isles have been judged as worthy against its strict criteria. Once given, the beach or marina has to continue to submit data and maintain the high standard or risk losing its Blue Flag.

Gyllyngvase beach


Portmeor beach

Cornwall’s 8 blue Flag Beaches for 2018

Three beaches in St Ives, Porthmeor, Porthminster and the privately owned Carbis Bay along with Polzeath beach near Wadebridge, Porthtowan in St Agnes, Trevone near Padstow and Widemouth in Bude all lie on the north coast of the county, whilst Gyllyngvase is situated in Falmouth on the south coast. As well as gaining a Blue Flag, all have been recommended by the Marine Conservation Society due to the way the beach, sea and wildlife is protected.

The award winners

Cornwall’s Blue Flag beaches have all also won Seaside Awards:

  • Carbis Bay, St Ives
  • Gyllyngvase, Falmouth
  • Porthmeor, St Ives
  • Great Western, Newquay
  • Polzeath, near Wadebridge
  • Porthtowan, St Agnes
  • Trevone, near Padstow
  • Widemouth, Bude

A further 6 beaches have been recognised for their water quality, good management and diversity and have gained Seaside Awards:

  • Perranporth, north coast
  • Porth, north coast
  • Porthminster, St Ives
  • Sennan, west Cornwall
  • Crooklets, Bude
  • Summerleaze, Bude

Cornish Blue Flag Beaches Fact Sheet

We’ve had a look at what else the beaches have to offer to check which ones are accessible for families, wheelchair users or for recommending for our dog-friendly holidays and surfing breaks.

Whatever you enjoy about beaches, stay safe. It is worth checking tide times before heading out and surf reports can be viewed at You can also look up which beaches provide lifeguards as many Cornwall beaches are supervised during peak season.

Most of all we can help keep our beaches tidy: remember to use litter and dog bins or take rubbish home to dispose of. After all we want to keep our beaches beautiful, not just for ourselves but for the wildlife we enjoy so much. It is also worth mentioning that many beaches in Cornwall are owned by The National Trust and car parking is free to members!

Our fact sheet contains lots of useful information on the eight Cornish beaches which have been awarded Blue Flag status in 2015. Check out the location, description, accessibility, lifeguard cover, parking information, refreshments and more.


Many of the north coast beaches such as Watergate Bay and Newquay beaches such as Fistral are famous for their surf, catching the best of the Atlantic waves. Surf festivals and events go on throughout the peak season but hardy surfers can be seen out in all weathers. Whether you’re a novice or experienced, there are many academies and surf schools offering lessons and equipment hire.

Best Beaches in Cornwall

In addition to the Blue Flag Awards, Porth, Summerleaze and Crooklets beaches have all been awarded a Seaside Award for their high standards of cleanliness and facilities. Cornwall’s beaches really are some of the best in the world!

The images in our slideshow give a taste of what we have on offer in the county but are not images of the Blue Flag beaches themselves.

Mawgan Porth river jumping

O'Neill surf academy