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Lifeguarded beaches in Cornwall

Forever Cornwall Poldhu Lifeguard Kit At Waters Edge

With the summer season in full swing, Cornwall’s beaches are filling up with families making the most of the waves. Of Cornwall’s 330 beaches, around 60 are lifeguarded, so whatever sort of beach you’re after — a little off-the-beaten-track gem or a huge expanse of sand with surf schools and places to eat right on the sand — you’ll be able to find something nearby to suit you.

The main lifeguard season lasts from May to September between the hours of 10am and 6pm, with many others providing cover over the October half term, too. Exact dates and times vary from year to year — and beach to beach — so it’s always best to check ahead of your visit. If you’re visiting with your dog, check about restrictions — some operate a dog ban between 10am-6pm during the school holidays.

Even on a lifeguarded beach it’s important to be aware of potential hazards in the water. The RNLI has all the information you need on how to keep your family safe by open water, including how to identify the flags, details of their ‘float to live’ campaign, as well as how to spot potential risks, such as rip currents, and what to do should you find yourself caught up in one.

North Cornwall

Chapel Porth, St Agnes
Lifeguarded: May–September

Forever Cornwall Chapel Porth From Above

Hidden down a long winding lane, this lovely beach near St Agnes plays host to the annual bellyboarding championships in September, and the lovely Chapel Porth Cafe by car park is open for breakfast and lunch, and weekend feast nights during the summer hols.

Lifeguarded: Easter–September, plus October weekends and half term
One of the north coast’s most popular beaches, Constantine is a favourite spot for swimming and surfing, thanks to its gently shelving arc of golden sand and reliable Atlantic rollers.

Crantock, Newquay
Lifeguarded: May–September
To the south of Newquay, Crantock beach straddles the river Gannel as it makes its way down the sand to meet the sea. It’s a brilliant place for kids — and dogs, who are welcome all year round.

Fistral, Newquay
Lifeguarded: April–end of October half term
With its extensive lifeguard presence, the north coast’s watersports mecca is a constant lure for families, with its hire facilities and places to eat right on the beach. Dogs are welcome on this beach all year round, too.

Lifeguarded: May–September

Gwithian Towans beach, Forever Cornwall

Even in the height of the summer, it’s easy to find your own secluded spot on this huge beach, with its rocky outcrops perfect for scrambling children, great surf and sheltered shores.

Lifeguarded: April–September, plus Oct weekends and half term
With its huge expanse of golden sand and lifeguarded shores, Gwithian is perfect for families, surfers and swimmers. There’s board hire at Global Boarders nearby, and the brilliant Hungry Horsebox Co cafe right by the grassy dunes.

Mawgan Porth
Lifeguarded: April–September, plus October weekends and half term week
Midway between Newquay and Padstow at the heart of the little village of the same name, this massive beach is great for surfing as well as lazy beach days, with brilliant rockpools and caves that are revealed at low tide. Perfect for tiring dogs whatever the season — they’re welcome all year round.

Lifeguarded: April–September, plus October weekends and half term
With its Blue Flag status and Tris Surf Shop for lessons and board hire, Porthtowan is one of north Cornwall’s most popular surfing beaches. At low tide you can walk to neighbouring Chapel Porth, which is lifeguarded between May and September.

Watergate Bay
Lifeguarded: April–September, plus October weekends and half term

Holidaymakers at beach near holiday accommodation in Newquay by Forever Cornwall

This vast, two-mile stretch of golden sand on the outskirts of Newquay is popular with surfers, sun seekers and dog walkers — there’s lots of room for everyone, and plenty of surf schools, too. It’s dog-friendly all year round.

South Cornwall

Gyllyngvase, Falmouth
Lifeguarded: May–September
With its Blue Flag status and proximity to Falmouth, Gylly is one of south Cornwall’s most popular beaches, with paddleboard and kayak hire on the beach and the award-winning Gylly Beach Café right on the sand.

Gunwalloe, the Lizard
Lifeguarded: July–September
With the tiny church of St Wynwallow perched on the headland, this sheltered sand and pebble beach is known locally as Church Cove; Poldark fans may recognise it from the shipwrecking scenes. It’s a lovely walk over the headland to Poldhu, lifeguarded between May and September.

Kennack Sands, the Lizard
Lifeguarded: May–September

Kennack Sands, the Lizard Peninsula

There’s plenty of interest for families on this beach on the remote Lizard Peninsula, with rocky outcrops to explore, board hire and intriguing rockpools. It is actually comprised of two beaches – the one furthest from the car park, hidden behind the hill that separates the two, is a nature reserve and often goes undiscovered by visitors.

Poldhu, the Lizard
Lifeguarded: May–September
One of our favourite beaches on the Lizard, Poldhu is a great place to try out watersports or go for a paddle with the surf school set just off the sand and the popular beach cafe next door.

West Cornwall

Marazion, nr Penzance
Lifeguarded: July–September
A mix of pebble and sand, Marazion Beach leads on to the cobbled causeway of St Michael’s Mount, which disappears completely when the tide’s in. Plenty of rocks to clamber on, stunning views, and several cafes and restaurants by the car park.

Mexico Towans and Upton Towans, Hayle
Lifeguarded: May–September
Upton Towans and Mexico Towans connect for form one huge beach a quarter of a mile wide backed by grassy dunes are full of wildlife, birdlife and rare species of wildflower; the estuary is a RSPB reserve and popular with birdwatchers.

Porthmeor, St Ives
Lifeguarded: April–end of October half term

A Dog Running On Porthmeor Beach

It may get busy in the summer, but justifiably so, with its sheltered waters, gentle waves and beautiful golden sands, with St Ives just behind.

Porthminster, St Ives
Lifeguarded: May–September
Whilst neighbouring Porthmeor attracts most of the surfers in the town, this one is a particularly safe spot for swimming and bodyboarding families, with lovely views over St Ives harbour. 

Praa Sands
Lifeguarded: April–September, plus October weekends and half term
Brilliant waves, white sands and plenty of amenities, including Global Boarders surf school, Praa Sands is the perfect family-friendly beach – and big enough to find room to yourself whatever the season. 

See here for a full list of lifeguarded beaches in Cornwall, or to find your nearest.