Three miles of golden sand

Hayle Towans Holiday Cottages

Our Hayle Towans beach chalets and holiday cottages are located just moments from the beach, tucked behind the grassy dunes on this epic sweep of golden sand, which stretches for four miles from St Ives Bay to Godrevy. Unsurprisingly, this area is all about the water — getting out in it, on it, or under it, and you’re close to several watersports centres offering paddleboarding, kayaking and kitesurfing, ideal for those wanting to try the sport for the first time or honing their skills. Gwithian’s award-winning surf and coasteering school, Global Boarders, offers private lessons and group and family lessons, as well as coasteering sessions along the stunning coastline. Facing west, you’ll be treated to some incredible sunsets along the coastline.

Hayle is a lively place and has some brilliant places to eat in eat and drink, from rustic beachside shacks right on the sand selling delicious seafood to ice cream parlours, pasty shops and delis.

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The Hayle guide

Hayle Estuary, Porth Kidney Sands *4*

Miles of golden sands

At low tide, Hayle’s beaches combine to form one vast expanse of sand stretching over three miles from Hayle Towans at the mouth of the Hayle Estuary and up towards Mexico Towans, and the beaches of Gwithian and Godrevy beyond. The sheer size of this beach (it’s about a quarter of a mile wide at low tide) means it never, ever gets crowded, even in the heat of the summer. In the opposite direction, heading towards St Ives, you can follow the South West Coast Path from the Hayle Estuary for two miles to Carbis Bay, and then to the beaches in St Ives, which is about an hour’s trek (if your legs aren’t up to it, hop on the little train back from St Ives to Hayle, which takes about 25 minutes).

If you’re looking to get out on the water, you’re spoilt for watersports options here — CS Watersports Academy offers kitesurfing lessons and hire and SUP lessons, whilst Hayle Watersports (run by Lizard adventure) runs kayak trips.

Brilliant birdlife

The Hayle Estuary, which consists of tidal pools and marshes forming one of the UK’s most renowned RSPB reserves, is home to masses of birdlife. It’s a refuge for dozens of species of wetland birds, including curlews, oystercatchers, little egrets, little grebes and wigeon, who take up residence each year amongst the grassy dunes and mudflats. Winter is the best time to see the birds, when up to 20,000 birds in search of milder climes descend on the estuary.

Spring and autumn are great seasons to see wading birds, gulls and terns, whilst summer visitors may be treated to a sighting of the magnificent osprey. There are several different areas to explore, including Ryan’s Field with its hide for spying on waders on the tidal lagoon and saltmarsh, Copperhouse Pool, where there’s a great circular walk around the mudflats, Lelant Saltings — a sanctuary for gulls and ducks — and Carnsew Pool, a favourite haunt of grebes and best visited at low tide.

Local heritage

Gwithian Beach and dunes, St Ives Bay, Cornwall

Hayle’s beaches

Hayle Estuary is the start of over three miles of beach that stretches from St Ives Bay to Godrevy. The beaches include Upton Towans, Mexico Towans and Hayle Beach, all of which are dog-friendly all your round; when the tide goes out, they all interconnect for form one huge beach a quarter of a mile wide. The vast grassy dunes are full of wildlife, birdlife and rare species of wildflower; the estuary is a popular RSPB reserve and a favourite with birdwatchers. The Towans also have a fascinating industrial history; in the 19th century the National Explosive works were established here, used to supply the local mining industry. Low tide reveals hidden caves from this era.

Gwithian beach dunes, Cornwall


A short stroll from Hayle Towans and backed by sand dunes, Gwithian’s lifeguarded arch of golden sand is perfect for beach life. It’s one of the most popular spots on the north coast for surfers, and it’s great fun watching kitesurfers take to the air. There are vast rockpools when the tide recedes, and several cafes peppered along the coast, from the brilliant Hungry Horsebox Co right on the beach, to the legendary Sunset Surf Cafe up on the cliffs. On a calm day, the waters are dotted with swimmers and paddleboarders, families playing beach games and kids finding their feet with bodyboards.

Godrevy lighthouse, Gwithian beach, Cornwall


With its rocky outcrops, great surf and sheltered shores perfect for sunbathers, Godrevy is the beach for those looking to find their own secluded spot of sand. When the tide is in, the size of Godrevy is greatly reduced in size, but head up onto the rocks and watch the waves crash. Godrevy is under the watchful eye of seasonal lifeguards, so children can play happily in the sea, or explore the many rockpools and sandpools. It looks out towards Godrevy Lighthouse, the inspiration behind Virginia Woolfe’s To The Lighthouse, and has a great little cafe by the carpark. It’s one of our favourite spots to watch the sun set, turning the sky a deep red as the sun slips down behind the lighthouse — bring a barbecue for an idyllic Cornish evening.

Food & drink

Trevaskis Farm Shop

This brilliant farm shop a couple of miles inland from Hayle Towans is the go-to place for all your locally sourced produce and artisan food supplies. The huge shop has a bakery, meat and fish counters, and shelves packed with Cornish produce, much of it coming from the family’s surrounding 28-acre farm. The award-winning Farmhouse Kitchen Restaurant next door is open from 8.30am-3pm serving breakfast and lunch, including an extensive children’s menu, and cream teas and cakes are available throughout the day. There’s ‘Pick Your Own’ throughout the year, from apples and beans to raspberries and strawberries.

1200x800 Pasty

Pasties in Hayle

For a small town, Hayle has more than its fair share of places to pick up a pasty. With two shops in the town, Philps Pasties have become the best-loved pasty makers in the area. They still use the same secret recipe that has been passed down the generations, with all the ingredients coming from local suppliers and farms, much of it within a 5-mile radius. At the other end of town, Hampsons of Hayle originally opened as a butcher in 1966 and now sells a range of deli goods, Cornish drinks, and a range of delicious pasties, which you can watch being filled and crimped as you browse the shop.

Local food in Hayle

Gwithian itself may be small, but it’s surprisingly well served by local shops selling fresh produce. There are two brilliant farm shops within a couple of miles of the village and its surrounds, showcasing all the very best local produce, from fish and meat to veg and deli goods. For more choice head to Hayle, just down the road, where you’ll find delis, ice cream parlours and two popular pasty shops.

Find out more about buying local in with our handy Local Food Guide to Hayle

Sunset Surf cafe at Gwithian beach, Cornwall

Eating out in Gwithian

Neighbouring Gwithian a couple of miles north has a number of great places to eat. For beachside cafes, try Sunset Surf Cafe overlooking the beach, The Jam Pot set back from the sand, and, at the other end of the beach, the kid friendly Godrevy Beach Cafe. You can’t beat the Hungry Horsebox Co. for delicious lunches and great coffee, right on Gwithian’s sandy beach. Other options include The Rockpool, which serves small bites and sharing plates, hearty main meals, such as sea platters and seafood chowders, burgers and ribs.

Things to do
Red Panda At Paradise Park, St Ives Bay, Cornwall

Paradise Park

One of our favourite attractions in the area, this brilliant wildlife park has over 130 species of birds including eagles, parrots and flamingoes, as well as red pandas, otters and miniature donkeys. Children can get hands-on with the animals with a number of experiences, including penguin feeding, handling rabbits and guinea pigs in the pets corner, and the chance to hold a barn owl. There’s a jungle express train and various play areas dotted around the site. Over the summer there are eagle flying shows and if the children still aren’t tired out, make sure you take them to the Jungle Barn, the park’s whopping indoor soft play area. There are a number of places to eat and drink around the site, including the Bird in Hand pub at the site’s entrance.

Ride the waves

Hayle and Gwithian is one of the best spots for surfing on the north coast, with the waves that roll in off the Atlantic providing constant entertainment for surfers, sea kayakers and kitesurfers. There are numerous surf schools around Hayle, including Global Boarders, based at the Sunset Surf beach cafe a five-minute walk from Gwithian beach. They cater for all ages, abilities and group size, and organise coasteering adventures along the coastline, too. Lizard Adventures, located at Hayle Harbour, also runs a number of watersport activities for families and individuals, from sea kayaking to paddleboarding and rock climbing.