The beaches of North Cornwall are world renowned. They are generally rugged with wild water, fun to splash about in, surrounded by fantistic scenary and supported by local cafes and shops without excessive tourism.
Crackington Haven Beach
It may happen to be the local beach and only 2 miles away (all downhill, some steep) but it is one of the most interesting beaches in Cornwall and I have heard many people including those who live around Cornwall saying it is their favourite beach. The pay and display car park holdes fewer than 100 cars and there is not much more parking so it nicely limits the number of people on the beach in the summer.
The beach is wedged between two particularly high and geology-wise interesting cliffs with a mixture of sand, stones and rocks. Plenty of interest for young children with the stream running through the sand, and lots of explore for older children and adults (take care with the tides). If the wind is calm it makes particularly good swimming, but more-often the waves provide fun for paddling, belly-boarding and surfing.
Only 20 minutes up the coast from Crackington Haven, Widemouth Bay is an enormous, long, sandy beach. It’s dotted about with cafes and restaurants, and just a 5 minute drive from the relative calm of Bude (except during the annual Jazz Festival).
A 20 minute drive down the coast from Cracking Haven is probably the most interesting beach in Cornwall. If you arrive at hide tide then you are in for a 2 hour way before you will be able to get to the beach – and on a stormy spring tide the sea crashes right up to the road and there is not chance of walking through the single hewn passage way to the sea. But then the sea rolls back leaving a mile-long smooth sandy beach edged with huge barnacle covered rocks with rock pools all around, which you have quite a few hours to enjoy (I estimate 6, but go by the tide-times, not me) before you need to make your way back. Beware, every year a few tourists (let’s use the Cornish ‘Grockles’ for this situation) are trapped and have to be rescued. Delicious pasties from the cafe and the Port William (just out of reach of the sea) has a good reputation.
This is a particular flat beach which means the sea goes out a very long way for low tide, and at the same time children can paddle quite a long way out before it gets deep. For the same reason it’s very popular with belly boarders and surfers, and has several surf schools for beginners. There is also a large campsite only over the road from the beach if the weather turns particularly good.
Perhaps I’ll do them more justice sometime, but there are many more fantastic beaches for swiming including Sandy Mouth, Northcott Mouth, Summerleaze Beach, Crooklets Beach, Constantine Bay and Daymer Bay. Furthermore, if you want a beach to sit and admire rather than swimming in the deliciously cool sea, then park at pretty much any coastal car park (join the National Trust and then many are free) and take the coast path – many of the beaches you come across do not have vehicular access and so are only frequented by walkers and those making an effort with a picnic!