Like much of Cornwall, despite being the same area, the landscape of South Cornwall varies massively, stretching from Porthleven all the way up to Falmouth and beyond. From vibrant towns and peaceful creeks to rugged moors and dramatic cliffs, South Cornwall is home to a plethora of communities, coves and lifestyles. For wild beauty, spend a day exploring the Lizard – watch clifftop ponies graze and lace up your boots for some serious cliff path walking. For a tranquil, sheltered day, go crabbing on the Helford or visit any one of the areas subtropical gardens (Trebah is our favourite). If you’re after a lively atmosphere to spend a day meandering in and out of pubs and shops, engaging in the historic art of people watching, be sure to visit Falmouth. Whatever your fancy, South Cornwall oozes character, and never fear – there’s always a sheltered sandy beach nearby.
The job of choosing a handful of the best beaches in South Cornwall is not an easy one. There are so many on this stretch of coastline and our biggest recommendation is to simply explore – you may even find a hidden gem that we don’t know about!
One of our favourites has got to be Gunwalloe Church Cove. This underrated cove is so beautiful that some may spot it from scenes in Poldark. Backed by a church steeped in history, this little cove is often much quieter than some of its neighbours – like the dramatic Kynance. If you’re visiting in the summer, Kynance tends to get a little overcrowded, but Church Cove will deliver the goods.
With a beach cafe, kayaks to hire and a huge beach when the tide is out, Maenporth really is hard to beat. It’s got plenty of car parking nearby so accessibility isn’t too tricky, and the cafe and toilets mean that even the most unprepared can enjoy an impromptu day at the beach.
For the more adventurous among you, pack a picnic bag and take to the coastal footpath on the southerly side of The Helford River. From Helford Village, walk east and discover all manner of sandy coves, sheltered by the mouth of the river. The largest of these is Bosahan Cove, but if you’re up for an adventure then take to the coastal footpath anywhere on this coast and discover your own quiet haven (Lankidden near Coverack is a stunner!).
From restaurants with breathtaking views to hidden gems to book up months in advance, Cornwall’s south coast has no shortage of places to eat – in fact, you’ll even find the best restaurant in the county (according to Tripadvisor) nestled in an alleyway in Falmouth…
The Wheelhouse in Falmouth has famously never done any self-promotion, with only a Facebook page to its name. This tiny restaurant sits perhaps 30 people – probably less – and is literally booked up for months. If you’re staying anywhere in Cornwall, not just on the south coast, as soon as you’ve booked your holiday, book a table here. Serving only seafood and sides and exquisite wine and beer, this affordable restaurant offers a dining experience like no other, with amazing staff, absolutely superb flavours and a cosy, comfortable setting.
In Helford Village sits the picturesque Shipwrights Arms. With its thatched roof, sprawling decking and riverside location, The Shipwrights offers excellent food all year round, with an outdoor pizza oven in the summer. Enjoy a whole host of local ales and spirits in this traditional pub, and discover local history from the photos and memorabilia adorning the walls.
Voted Westcountry Pub of the Year, if you’re staying in South Cornwall then you must book a table at Trengilly Wartha. The pub is renowned for its excellently executed food, and their menu features vegetarian, seafood and meat dishes that are all utterly delicious. With a huge garden to wander through and great live music on Wednesdays and Sundays, it’s one of our favourites.
There’s plenty to be done along the south coast of Cornwall, from exploring the numerous beaches to discover small seaside villages. Our top picks have been condensed down to suit all kinds of people enjoying our retreats, from young families to quiet couples.
If you’re after a rainy day activity to suit everyone, head to the Maritime Museum in Falmouth. The brilliant place hosts different exhibits along with permanent favourites, from lifeboats to climb in and on to the incredible Tidal Zone where, at high tide, you below sea level and can look out into the harbour, often spotting fish darting past.
If you’d rather be on or in the water than reading about it, there are numerous companies who can facilitate this. Sailaway in St Anthony-in-Meneague are one of our favourites, hiring out kayaks, motorboats and rowboats to explore the river on. For something a little more exhilarating, get to know the Falmouth coastline by jumping off it on a coasteering trip with ElementalUK, or contact WeSUP for a paddleboarding adventure!
Of course, there’s just as much fun to be had on-land as there is on the water. The Helford River is a particularly lush part of South Cornwall and boasts some spectacular sub-tropical gardens, our favourites being Trebah and Potager – we’d highly recommend a visit to either, but if you go to Potager (much smaller), go with an empty stomach as their cafe produces some stunningly original dishes.