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A village by the sea
Gorran Haven

Gorran Haven Holiday Cottages

It may be small but this tiny harbour town has several village beaches which draw the crowds, including Gorran Haven and Little Perhaver next door; Hemmick and Vault, round the headland, are perfect for an off-the-beaten-track alternative. In the village, tiny lanes wind between cottages and you will find cafes, including a brilliant takeaway seafood shop for lunching on the sands, as well as mini galleries, pubs and shops.

Long dubbed the ‘Cornish Riviera’, this stunning stretch of the south coast has crystal clear seas in summer, with the dramatic Dodman Point providing an opportunity for a heart-thumping hike should you fancy it. If you can tempt the children off the beaches, there are plenty of things to do further afield: head to Caerhays Gardens, the Eden Project and the sub-tropical Lost Gardens of Heligan, all an easy drive. Explore Gorran Haven and beyond from our beachside holiday cottages.

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The Gorran Haven guide

Gorran Haven Mevagissey Forever Cornwall

A village by the sea

The beauty of this place is that you have everything you need on your doorstep — a fantastic village beach, brilliant places to eat just a pebble’s throw from the sand, as well as art galleries and independent shops, and some incredible off-the-beaten-track beaches just a short hike along the coast path — in fact you don’t need to touch the car all week if you don’t want to. The village beach, although not lifeguarded, welcomes dogs all year round, and with a little stream running down the middle and lots of rockpools, it’s great for a family day out. You’ll also find SUP and kayak hire here — look for Ray’s cabin, just off the sand. Wander into Gorran Haven’s tangle of backstreets and you’ll discover wonderful cafes, pubs and takeaways (including reputedly some of the best fish and chips in south Cornwall!), as well as fine dining options if you’re celebrating a special occasion. A short hike along the coastal path in either direction will bring you to some stunning beaches — slightly off-the-beaten-track, they’re quiet all year round and are amongst our favourites in south Cornwall.

 

Out on the water

Run by ‘Ray the kayak man’, as he’s known locally, Haven Kayaks and Paddleboards is located right on Gorran Haven beach and rents out watersports equipment by the half or full hour. Ray will happily suggest where to find secret coves or the best place for seal spotting. You can find another hire outfit in nearby Portmellon — The Paddle Shed rents out double and single kayaks, as well as SUPs, from their cabin in the beach carpark.

There are more options in the village of Mevagissey, a couple of miles (a hour’s walk) north of Gorran Haven. Mevagissey Ferries runs leisurely trips along the coast and up the river to Fowey, taking 40 minutes. If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, book onto the thrilling rib rides and search for dolphins and porpoises amongst the waves. Or why not try an all-day mackerel fishing trip, where you’ll get to cook and eat your catch aboard. If it’s mackerel trips you’re after, Mevagissey Boat Trips, run by skipper Matt, runs regular fishing trips throughout the summer, as well as wildlife-watching expeditions, sunset cruises and picnic trips.

Beautiful beaches

One of the best things about staying in Gorran Haven is the number — and variety — of beaches within easy walking distance of the village. Whether you’re after a beach for sandcastle building with village amenities nearby or you’re seeking solitude somewhere slightly off-the-beaten-track, there’ll be a stretch of sand to suit a short stroll away. They’re all dog-friendly all year round, too.

Gorran Beach is great — accessible, convenient, and with all the amenities a family might need for a day at the beach nearby. Heading south from village, there are three fabulous beaches within a two-hour walk, including two of our favourites — Vault and Hemmick. Vault Beach is a 15-minute walk from Gorran Haven, it’s gently shelving sand and shingle is great for swimming and snorkelling. It’s a world away from the bustling village beach but it’s easy to nip back for lunch if you forgot to bring supplies. Or head further around the headland to Hemmick: it’s a bit of a scramble down to the beach, a 30-minute walk from Gorran Haven, but that only adds to its away-from-it-all feel.

Beaches
Gorran Haven Mevagissey Forever Cornwall

Gorran Haven

This small, dog-friendly bay in Gorran Haven’s historic harbour is a bustling village beach but can get busy in summer. The harbour wall is a great spot for eating your fish and chips from the popular local chippy, or as a jumping off point during high tide. Watersports equipment can be rented from Ray on the beach — the sheltered bay is a brilliant place to get to grips with paddleboarding or kayaking. There’s a small cafe on the beach for cream teas and ice cream, a few shops for buckets and spades, and rockpools when the tide’s out. At low tide, the beach links up with Little Perhaver, the next beach along.

Lifeguarded? No
Dog-friendly? Yes, all year round

Great Perhaver

This sheltered sandy beach may just around the corner from popular Gorran Haven but a far cry from the bustling harbour beach. Walk five minutes along the coastal path and scramble down the path to this gently sloping sandy cove — chances are you’ll have the whole place to yourself, whatever the season. Flanked by high cliffs, it’s a sheltered, safe place for families to swim (although there’s no lifeguard cover). with interesting rockpools at low tide. If you don’t fancy the scramble, hire a kayak or paddleboard at Gorran Haven beach and paddle there instead.

Lifeguarded? No
Dog-friendly? Yes, all year round

Hemmick Beach

At low tide, hundreds of little coves and caves are revealed on this hidden little beach, tucked around the headland from Gorran Haven. The small National Trust carpark, about a quarter of a mile up the steep hill, is the closest parking, but don’t let the steep access put you off — this unspoilt stretch of sand and shingle is one of our favourite south Cornwall beaches. It’s worth trekking up the path up through the woods to Dodman Point — the highest point on Cornwall’s south coast — where you will be rewarded with stunning views across to the Nare Head and Vault Beach. 

Lifeguarded? No
Dog-friendly? Yes, all year round

Vault Beach

A half-mile walk along the coastal path from Gorran Haven brings you to this off-the-beaten-track beach, one of south Cornwall’s best — buy picnic supplies in Gorran Haven before you set off as there are no facilities here. The wide, 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. It’s not far from Gorran Haven if you need to nip into the shops for picnic supplies.

Lifeguarded? No
Dog-friendly? Yes, all year round

Food & drink

Gorran Haven eateries

The warm, welcoming and award-winning Barley Sheaf in the centre of the village is a popular pub serving great food with a good wine list and local ales. We’d recommend getting a table downstairs in the atmospheric bar if you can, where open fires crackle in winter. It holds regular live music nights and has a large garden for sunny waether. If you’re after some fine dining, head to The Llawnroc Hotel, a stylish bistro restaurant that serves a locally-inspired menu including Fowey strawberries, local asparagus, and scallops from nearby Mevagissey. Regularly cited as the best chippy in south Cornwall, the team at Haven Fish and Chips serve freshly cooked fish, including gluten free options, from their shop off the quay. You can chose to eat in (book in advance).

Coastal cafes

Gorran Haven alone has three brilliant little cafes, including Cakebreads, which serves takeaway breakfasts and chunky crab sandwiches, and  The Mermaid Cafe on the seafront serving coffee, picnic goodies, Cornish ales and ice cream — the water comes right up to the benches at high tide! If you’re heading out for a walk, the Coast Path Cafe on the edge of the village is, as the name suggests, right on the path and is the perfect start or finish point for any walk (and they do a cracking cream tea). Head north on the coast path from Gorran Haven to the wooden Shack at Portmellon — a friendly stop off for a drink and snack. They stock plenty of Cornish goodies, with a small shop selling a few essentials. In the opposite direction, the buzzy Caerhayes Beach Cafe has pizzas, cocktails and live music in summer — a good stop if you’re visiting the gardens of the Caerhays Estate during the spring.

Harbour Tavern Mevagissey Cornwall

Eating out in Mevagissey

Right on the quay, the popular Harbour Tavern has an extensive Cornish-inspired tapas menu, using fish landed just outside, plus shelves stocked with Cornish spirits and woodfired pizzas at weekends (also available to takeaway). The Fish Grill may look like your average fish and chip shack but alongside the more usual fish varieties you can expect sardines, mackerel and scallops with your chips. The buzzy, bunting-strewn Sharksfin Bar is also worth a visit for its friendly, laid-back atmosphere, delicious fish tacos and gorgeous harbour views.

Things to do
Newquay Fishing Boat Web Edit

Get out on the water

Run by ‘Ray the kayak man’, as he’s known locally, Haven Kayaks and Paddleboards is located right on Gorran Haven beach and rents out watersports equipment by the half or full hour. Ray will happily suggest where to find secret coves and where to spot seals. You can find another hire outfit in nearby Portmellon, two miles north. The Paddle Shed rents out double and single kayaks, as well as SUPs, from their cabin in the beach carpark. If it’s mackerel trips you’re after, Mevagissey Boat Trips, run by skipper Matt, runs regular fishing trips throughout the summer, as well as wildlife-watching trips, sunset cruises and picnic trips.

Explore nearby gardens

Ten minutes from Gorran Haven are the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a world-famous 200-acre site that includes a jungle with boardwalks and rope bridges, wonderful kitchen gardens (which supply the Heligan Kitchen and Cafe), flower gardens, a beautiful Italian garden with a distinctly Mediterranean feel, and 200-year old Pleasure Grounds. Another place worth exploring in spring and early summer is the magnificent Caerhays Castle, an 19th-century estate whose 140 acres of woodland gardens are a riot of colour in the spring. It’s an 90-minute stroll along the coast path to the castle from Gorran Haven (or an hour across the fields). Have something to eat at the Caerhayes Beach Cafe before heading home.

Walk to Dodman Point

The highest headland on the south coast of Cornwall, Dodman Point, which is 400ft high, is an easy walk from Gorran Haven. The route follows the coast path around Pen-a-Mean and above Vault Beach, where there are far reaching views across Veryan Bay towards the Roseland. It’s a great spot for bird watching so bring some binoculars — out for peregrine falcons, stonechats and gannets. Beyond Dodman Point the walks continues on to Hemmick Beach, a quiet beach thanks to the lack of parking with fantastic rockpools at low tide, before turning back towards Gorran Haven.

Further afield

The Eden Project

Perhaps Cornwall’s best-loved attraction, the former clay mine has been transformed into a multi award-winning attraction, housing the world’s largest indoor rainforest with thousands of plants in eight interlinked giant greenhouses, or ‘biomes’. Children will love the rainforest canopy walkway, rope bridge and waterfall, and the fragrant and colourful Mediterranean biome with ancient olive trees, vines and herbs. Outside there’s thirty acres to explore, sculpture, art and architecture, and an educational centre hosting demonstrations, workshops and courses on sustainability. In the summer, the site hosts music concerts and art exhibitions in the grounds at the popular Eden Sessions.

The Roseland Peninsula

The Roseland Peninsula is a magical, little-travelled area cut off from ‘mainland’ Cornwall by the Fal River, which cuts a wiggly course east from the National Trust gardens at Trelissick. The greatest draw are its beaches, which feel almost Mediterranean in summer when paddleboarders and kayakers drift lazily between the sheltered coves that dot the coastline. The area is awash with brilliant beachside eateries, such as the Hidden Hut on Porthcurnick beach, the wonderful Thirstea cafe housed in a converted horse box set back off Carne beach, and Shillakabooky Beach Hut on Pendower beach.

Charlestown

One of the best things about this area of south Cornwall is the number of historic harbours dotted along its coastline. Charlestown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most picturesque, its Georgian harbour and tall ships floating within its old walls has graced the screens of many a period drama (Poldark fans are sure to recognise the backdrop). The brilliant Shipwreck Treasure Museum will keep children entertained on wet days, and there are plenty of shops and galleries to browse, and good places to eat and drink, such as the trendy Longstore, housed in a renovated sail loft in the harbour. The village’s little sandy beach is lifeguarded (dog restrictions April-October).