Like a pearl in an oyster shell, the iconic St Michael’s Mount commands the bay. It’s been inhabited since neolithic times and is now managed by The National Trust. The mount attracts thousands of visitors each year, most of whom reach it by foot at low tide by walking across the medieval causeway from Marazion. You’ll find a beautiful little harbour to explore with narrow winding cobbled streets and little boutique shops, as well as the castle and gardens.
The bay itself starts in the east with Porthleven, a working fishing harbour which has excellent eateries including Rick Stein’s, and popular fine dining establishments such as Kota Kai (our favourite), Amelies and The Square. Local businesses, charities and bands line the streets for the annual Porthleven Food and Music Festival in April, which is a great celebration of local produce and music.
The dramatic cliffs west of Porthleven make memorable walking, and take in the beautiful stretch past Rinsey with iconic Wheal Prosper mine engine house – as used in the filming of Poldark. Here you may spot seals or even dolphins and basking sharks. Further along you’ll find the mile-long stretch of Praa Sands, with its famously pure and white sand. This is a lifeguarded beach, and one of the best in the region. Heading west, next up is Prussia Cove, famous for its smuggling connections – and then the village of Perranuthnoe, which has a fabulous award winning gastro-pub, and other great little cafés. Our stunning apartment ‘North Wing’, part of the magnificent Acton Castle, can be found between Prussia Cove and Perranuthnoe.
Most people discover Marazion as the parking place for visiting the mount – but it’s a beautiful village with lots to explore in its own right, including some notable restaurants. Between Marazion and Penzance you’ll find a crescent of superb sand, gently sloping into the sea for family-friendly access, but also a mecca for windsurfers. Penzance itself, the main town in the area, is host to much of interest, including art deco Jubilee Pool, stunning Morrab Gardens, a mile-long promenade, the intriguing museum and art gallery at Penlee House, and a host of independent shops, art galleries, antique shops and hostelries including the famous Admiral Benbow, which features in the beginning of ‘Treasure Island’. If you enjoy a cultural festival, check out Golowan in Penzance every June, or Newlyn’s Fish Festival in August.
Penzance is also home port for the Scillonian III. The ferry sails to the Isles of Scilly daily. It’s really worth a day trip to see these beautiful islands for yourself in just a few hours (or you can fly from Newquay or Land’s End). Nearby are the National Trust gardens of Trengwainton with delightful tea room and amazing ‘Noah’s Ark’ vegetable patches, said to be made to the exact length of the ark. Or Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens. Or visit nearby Polgoon vineyard…. we could go on.
At the far western end of the bay you will find the fishing village of Newlyn. This really is a Cornish harbour the way it should be, with working boats bringing in the catch – one of the best places to buy fresh fish (or let someone else cook it at legendary Lewis’s fish and chip shop). Or simply wander the town’s narrow streets. Our two fabulous holiday cottages, Artist’s Retreat and Kiln Cottage are here. Beyond is the undeniably quaint harbour of Mousehole, which offers boutique shops, beautiful views from all aspects and famous harbour illuminations at Christmas time. Whichever bit of Mount’s Bay you find yourself exploring you will definitely find astonishing views, plenty of culture and history, unique festivals and friendly people – what more could you ask for?!