Sheltered from most of the Atlantic swell, Gylly (or Gyllyngvase to give it its full name, meaning ‘shallow inlet’) is a perfect year-round swimming and paddleboard spot, and its rocky reefs on either side are great for snorkeling. Its waters are mostly flat year-round and is lifeguarded in the summer. In 2019 it was awarded Blue Flag status for its clean, safe waters and subsequently awarded a Seaside Award in 2023. This area is perfect for rock pooling; book your very own rock pool safari guide with The Rockpool Project. If you want to venture out on the water, you’ll find paddleboard and Kayak hire on the beach. The award-winning Gylly Beach Café is right on the sand, serving delicious food from its cool, contemporary glass-fronted building. You can pick up a loaf from its bakery next door.
A slope leads down to a platform lined with colourful beach huts and the Castle Beach Cafe, which sells breakfast and small bites, as well as sourdough toasties, soup and ice cream. The clear waters are great for snorkelling at high tide, when the beach disappears completely; low tide reveals a narrow strip of shingle and sand, and rockpools where children can hunt for crabs. The Gylly Beach Cafe and Bakery is an easy 10-minute stroll away. If you want to try your hand at diving, Dive in Falmouth is a fantastic school and water sports centre based off this beach with a range of courses on offer.
To the west of Falmouth, but still only a 20-minute walk from the centre, Swanpool is a sand and shingle cove backed by a nature reserve, which is home to 100 different species of bird (pick up some bird seeds at the cafe to feed the swans and ducks). It’s not lifeguarded, but it’s a calm spot for a swim or paddle — there’s kayak and bodyboard hire at the watersports centre by the cafe. The wonderful Hooked on the Rocks seafood restaurant & bar overlooks the nature reserve and beach, whilst the beach cafe sells teas, snacks and ice cream, including the famous Hedgehog, a decadent cone of ice cream, hazelnuts and clotted cream.
An easy 30-minute walk along the coast path from Swanpool —and just a couple of miles out of Falmouth — Maenporth has glorious views across Falmouth Bay towards Pendennis Castle. Although it isn’t lifeguarded, this beach is a great choice for families with younger children, with its beachside cafe, soft sand, sheltered waters, and stream running down the beach for paddling and dam building. At low tide, the fascinating shipwreck of the trawler Ben Asdale can be seen. There are also caves further along the beach but check out the tide times before you head off to explore. There’s a fabulous seafood restaurant tucked behind the dunes, too.