Wandering through the streets of this vibrant harbour, it’s easy to understand why it was chosen as a filming location for Doc Martin and Poldark, too. Many of the cottages were built in the 18th and 19th century, with most registered as listed buildings for their historical or architectural significance – so when visiting make sure you stroll through the narrow streets and take it all in. The heart of the village is considered by most to be the harbour. With a large breakwater and headlands either side, the waters of Port Isaac are sheltered from the wind and the big, rolling waves that the coast of North Cornwall is so famous for. When the tide retreats, a sandy beach with many a rock pool to explore is unveiled – although as this is a working harbour, beachgoers will have to share the beach with the colourful fishing boats when the tide’s out.
Aside from the stunning architecture and picturesque harbour, Port Isaac is graced with an array of stunning restaurants. Celebrity chef, Nathan Outlaw, has not one but two restaurants in the town – both of which exceed expectations! For a real treat, book well in advance at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw. Situated at the top of the village on the road into Port Gaverne, this chic eatery serves a stunning seafood sample menu for lunch and dinner, and offers a matching wine flight to accompany it! If you’re not in the mood for fine dining, then head back down into the village and discover Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, situated in a 15th century fisherman’s cottage right opposite the harbour. Offering tapas-style small plates of locally sourced seafood, if you’re staying in the area then eating here is must. Aside from Outlaw’s establishments, there are a whole host of other places that will tantalise your tastebuds – try Chapel Cafe, Fresh From The Sea and The Mote for delicious evening meals or super tasty light bites. Of course there is also the Port Gaverne Hotel in the hamlet of the same name next door to Port Isaac which is well worth a visit – the fries with Cornish cheese and truffle oil are a thing of beauty!
Port Isaac offers its visitors and residents some spectacular walking along the dramatic coastal footpaths. Head west up and over the cliffs to Port Quin, where you can see for miles on a clear sunny day or have your breath taken away watching the waves crash below during the winter months. Continue west and you’ll find one of Cornwall’s best surfing beaches, Polzeath. With a brilliant surf school, lifeguards during summer and a vast expanse of sand for sunbathing, Polzeath is a great place for a beach day. If it’s dog friendly you’re after, continue along the coast to Daymer Bay, near Rock, and discover this large sandy beach that welcomes dogs all year round.
If you head east out of Port Isaac, down the hill, you’ll discover the quieter, smaller hamlet of Port Gaverne. With a smattering of houses, a couple of restaurants and a sheltered cove, if you’re after somewhere to spend a quiet day then look no further! Or, if it’s action you’re after, head to Cornish Rock Tors for some adrenaline-fuelled watersports – think coasteering, wild swimming and stand up paddleboarding. The coastal footpath continues up and out of Port Gaverne, heading towards the ever-popular Tintagel. Explore the mystical ruins of a fortress on the headland, and immerse yourself in the legends of King Arthur, or go inland to the magical St. Nectan’s Glen. This area of woodland is said to be home to faeries and piskies, who dance in the spray from the 60ft waterfall that cascades down over the granite – put your wellies on and explore this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Whether you’re after a sun seeking holiday with kids or a cosy couples wintery getaway, Port Isaac covers all bases.