Dog-friendly beaches all year round in Cornwall
Staycations in Cornwall are good news for our four-legged friends. With over 330 beaches along its 250 miles of coastline, Cornwall regularly tops the charts as the most dog-friendly region in the UK. With the number of dog owners at an all-time high (a third of UK households now own at least one dog, up 10% on pre-pandemic levels), it’s no surprise that they continue to head to Cornwall’s shores year after year.
All but four of Cornwall’s beaches welcome dogs, and although dog bans come into place from 1 July 31 August on many beaches, over 130 of Cornwall’s beaches have no restrictions at all. Dogs are part of the family and beach days just aren’t the same without them, so here’s our pick of some of our favourite beaches where you can take your dog at any time of the year.
Port Isaac and Port Gaverne
The dog-friendly, sheltered coves of Port Gaverne and Port Isaac are just a 20-minute stroll from each other. Port Gaverne beach is flanked on either side by the headlands of Port Isaac and Port Gaverne, so it doesn’t tend to get the big Atlantic swell that the north coast of Cornwall is famous for and stays relatively protected whatever the season, so the shallows are perfect for a bit of doggy paddling.
This sandy beach sits at the heart of the village and offers a massive expanse of golden sand when the tide is in or out, perfect for tiring dogs out whatever the season. Lifeguards keep watch over the waves during the summer months, as well as October half term, so a great choice if you’re holidaying with children, too.
This vast, two-mile stretch of sand on the edge of Newquay is popular with surfers, sun seekers and dog walkers — fortunately it’s so huge there’s plenty of room on this beach for everyone. A miniature village has formed around the beach, with several dog-friendly cafes and restaurants, including the brilliant Watergate Bay Hotel at the centre. There’s a car park near the beach so access to the beach is easy if you’re not staying locally.
Cornwall’s world-class surfing beach often boasts perfect rollers, with golden sands and lifeguarded waters, but it’s also a brilliant place to let your dog run free at any time of the year. Newquay is one of Cornwall’s most dog-friendly places — most cafes, restaurants and shops will welcome dogs through their doors.
This idyllic beach sits either side of the river Gannel as it makes its way down the sand towards the sea. There are lots of wonderful walks to explore with your dog along the coastal path which skirts the beach. The dog-friendly C-Bay Bar just off the path is a top spot for lunch.
Holywell Bay, Newquay
Backed by huge grassy dunes, this lifeguarded beach is great for exploring with dogs and children, with the amazing Holywell Cave — revealed at low tide — as well as a stream running down the middle of the beach and fascinating rockpools on either side.
Mexico Towans, Hayle
When the tide goes out, several beaches along this strip interconnect to form one huge beach a quarter of a mile wide, although dogs are only permitted all year on this central stretch. The vast grassy dunes are full of wildlife, birdlife and rare species of wildflower — you’ll need to keep dogs on leads near the RSPB reserve but they’re fine on the beach. The nearest car park is at Riviere Towans, a few minutes’ walk, and dogs must be kept on a lead until you reach the steps down to the beach.
Getting to this beach is a bit of an adventure and involves scrambling down cliffs — not the easiest task with dogs in tow — but those that make the effort will be rewarded with white sands and beautiful clear waters. In the spring months, low tide allows you to walk to the neighbouring Porthcurno beach, where you can access the car park (but keep dogs on leads are there are restrictions in place on this beach).
Grebe and Durgan, the Helford River
Lining the Helford River is a string of coves, some of which are dog-friendly all year round and all accessed via the South West Coast Path which runs just above. Grebe and its neighbouring beach Durgan welcome dogs all year and are peaceful spots for a run around.
Coverack Beach, the Lizard
This wild beach is good for a doggy day out, with great rocks to explore and easy access via steps from the village. There are a number of good dog-friendly cafés in the village, such as the Harbour Lights Cafe.
Cadgwith Beach (North), the Lizard
Cadgwith village, a working fishing village set in a beautiful cove, has two south-east-facing, shingle beaches; the northern beach, home to the village’s small fishing fleet, is dog-friendly all year round. There’s a car park a five-minute walk from the village and the South West Coast Path heads away in both directions — this wild, remote area of Cornwall has one of the quietest and most spectacular stretches of the path.
Mullion Cove, the Lizard
Accessible only at low tide is this small cove on the edge of Mullion village. If you’re feeling energetic, there are wonderful clifftop walks in both directions along the coastal path with amazing plant and wildlife. There’s a small car park a five-minute walk from the beach where you will find toilets and a café.
Lantic Bay, Fowey
This gorgeous National Trust beach between Between Fowey and Polperro is dog-friendly all year with sandy shores and turquoise waters on a bright sunny day. It’s a bit of a trek and then a scramble down the cliff from the car park (National Trust), so make a day of it: pack a picnic and don’t forget your dog bowl and water — there’s not much in the way of amenities at this secluded spot.
Vault Beach, nr Mevagissey
If you don’t mind a little walk to get here (about 15 mins from the car park), this beach is one of south Cornwall’s best; it’s off the beaten track so stays relatively quiet, even in peak season. The gently shelving shale beach stretches for over a kilometre and is great for swimming and snorkelling, especially towards Penveor Point where you’ll find rookpools. Stick to the eastern end unless you want to bare all — the western side is unofficially a nudist beach.
Pendower, Roseland Peninsula
This National Trust beach is dog-friendly year round; at low tide it merges with Carne beach next door (also dog-friendly) to create one long expanse of sand over a mile long. It’s also home to a quirky café set back from the beach — the Shallikabooky Beach Hut welcomes canine companions and is the place to refuel on light snacks, pasties, ice creams and hot drinks.