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A popular South Coast resort that still maintains a sizeable fishing fleet. East Looe consists of numerous small shops, cafes, hotels and guest houses in a maze of narrow streets and courtyards. West Looe is approached via a seven arched Victorian bridge where further retail outlets are available.
The town offers:
Beaches with rock pools popular with children hunting crabs and shrimps
A 16th century guildhall museum
Boat trips - deep sea fishing - shark fishing - mackerel - fishing from the quay
Walks: estuary, woodland and coastal
Numerous little fishing hamlets – coves – headlands - all within easy reach
Close to Plymouth city with excellent shopping, harbour frontage, theatre etc
Click here for some views of Looe and the surrounding area
Summary: a popular resort, the most popular in South East Cornwall
Looe is an exceedingly old town there are records of it being mentioned dating back to 1201. In medieval times Looe consisted of two separate towns, East Looe and West Looe divided by the River Looe.
The two towns were joined in 1411 by an estuary bridge, the earliest in Cornwall, records show that it had 14 arches. This bridge was replaced in 1853 having seven arches and now forms the main road in and out of the town.
East Looe forms the main part of the town and has numerous shops, including high street names and specialty shops. There is an excellent selection of tea rooms, restaurants and pubs all within easy walking distance of one another. As the town is so old with narrow cobbled streets, the buildings are quite small and full of character. Being one of the main Cornwall Tourist resorts for this part of the county the influx of visitors during the summer months is quite considerable, this as with all other Cornish resorts brings a problem of parking. Looe, seems to be one of the few that have made the best of it. There is a small car park with river frontage right at the entrance to the town, this is often full in high season, and more often and not, full during off peak periods as well. Just on the western side of the town bridge there is an extremely large car park with spaces usually available. This is also convenient to the town with a short walk across the bridge.
East Looe also includes the Fishing harbour and the main beach.
The fishing harbour is home to the 2nd largest fishing fleet in Cornwall and is popular with visitors who watch the fish being unloaded. The harbour is also a popular placed for fishing, either for bass, flounder, Pollack, mackerel or just children with handlines catching crabs, of which there are many.
Boat trips of every shape and size can be had at the harbour from deep sea fishing, shark fishing or just trips around the bay, perhaps dropping off at Looe Island.
Looe Beach or East Looe Beach
A large sandy beach with man made seating area to one side and the Banjo Pier on the other. At low tide, it is a vast expanse of flat sand, even at high water the beach is quite large.
Being easily accessible, lovely sand, safe bathing, all services close at hand, (the main town is only a stones throw away), it is understandably a very popular beach with families and in the height of the summer season becomes very busy. Down one side of the beach is the famous Banjo Pier. A favourite with walks and an excellent vantage point to see the fishing fleet returning.
West Looe is more residential but still has its shops, pubs and restaurants. From West Looe you get to Hannafore Point and Marine Drive. This has a long sea frontage overlooking Looe Island, a favourite with walkers or those just wishing to relax and enjoy the view.
The Hannafore has two beaches stretching all the way from Hannafore Point.
Hannafore Beach and Wallace Beach.
Predominantly a rocky beach with shingle and patches of rough sand. Above the beach there are grassy banks and benches. There are some exceptional rock pools uncovered by the retreating tide with lobsters, crabs, eels, shrimps, all a favourite with the children with their nets. The whole stretch is a real sun-trap and popular with those who prefer a less populated beach rather than the much busier sand beach at East Looe. Just off Hannafore is Looe Island or to use its proper name, St Georges Island, once home to a monastic community. Just off the mainland, on exceptionally low tides it is possible to walk to it, but usually boats take visitors on short trips. Services include toilets and café (seasonal) No Lifeguard service and whilst bathing is possible is probably not advisable for this reason.
Looe Tourist Attractions:
The attractions in Looe are quite low key compared to some, it does not have such major attractions such as:
The Eden Project, this is about a 45 minute drive
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, just over an hours drive
The Tate Gallery and Barbara Hepworth Museum at St Ives, just over an hour away
The Rick Stein Restaurant at Padstow, around the 1 hour mark
The National Maritime Museum at Falmouth, around 1 ½ hours
It does provide: A lovely family holiday in a beautiful area.
Places of interest include: The Monkey Sanctuary - home to a colony of woolly monkeys
In the West Looe Valley, Kilminorth Woods, a local nature reserve rich in woodland plants and wildlife. The area has been wooded sinced at least 1600, here can be found the ancient monument know as 'Giant's Hedge', a 6th century bank about 15 miles long running between Looe and Lerryn.
The Seaton Valley Country Park: A woodland walk along a river valley. Now a nature reserve with a level path suitable for wheelchairs.
Porfell Animal Wildlife Park: 15 acres of fields bounded by streams and woodland with wallabies, marmosets, lemurs, zebra to name but a few.
Looe Beaches: Undoubtedly, the main beach for Looe, and by far the most popular is the East Looe beach. However, the whole area, as with most of Cornwall is surrounded by beaches, just a few close-by include:
Plaidy Beach - just east of Looe, a small sheltered sandy beach with numerous rock pools.
There are no facilities, the nearest car park is at Millendreath Beach which is a short distance to the east. Neither of these beaches has toilet facilities. Dogs are permitted at Plaidy beach all the year.
Millendreath Beach - just to the east of Plaidy beach, a nice sandy beach with rock pools, car park but no facilities. Dogs are not permitted for all the year.
Portwrinkle Beach - just to the east of Millendreath Beach, a tranquil sandy/rock beach situated just across the River Tamar from Plymouth. Very popular with families but access is by a steep path. Facilities include, toilets/dogs Oct/March, Parking.
Whitsand Bay Beach - East from Portwrinkle and the best beach in the area. A 3 mile stretch of excellent sand. Access is a steep walk. Suitable for surfing but owing to finance cuts there is no lifeguard service.
Number of parking spaces along the coast road. Toilets and café at the Tregonhawke part of the beach. Dogs are permitted.
Moving west from Looe:
Talland Bay beach - just over 3 miles from Looe. Nice little sandy beach - café/toilets/car park. The approach road to the beach is quite narrow and it is often necessary to reverse to allow others to pass.
Lantic and Lantivet Bay
Has two tiny remote beaches, Great Lantic beach and Little Lantic beach. There is a steep descent from the coast path. Surprisingly the beach gets a lot of day trippers during the summer as the road to Polruan passes within 500 metres. The beach is sand/pebbles/shingle/cliffs.
Facilities – None
The surrounding area is National Trust.
The accommodation in Looe is quite spread out as the town itself is quite small.
In the town centre there are primarily:
Looe guesthouses - these are often large houses converted into guesthouses.
Looe self catering - these are split into two categories:
Cottages in Looe, these are quite numerous, many are basically second homes being let out when not in use by the owners. Unfortunately, like most popular places in Cornwall this tends to increase the cost of property putting it out of reach of the local population.
The hotels in Looe are not numerous considering the town's popularity but they tend to be of excellent quality.
Many of the hotels in Looe are to be found on the approach roads or near the beaches.
The Looe camp sites and caravan parks of which there is an excellent selection are all on the outskirts on the approach roads and surrounding countryside.
For further information on Looe or any other area in Cornwall.
Full details can be obtained from the Cornwall Tourist Information office Tel. 0345 484950.
Getting to Looe
Looe is just east of Plymouth and most visitors to the town arrive by private car. The road is mainly dual carriageway, but shortly after Plymouth the road deteriorates into single carriageway.
By Air - to Newquay airport - hire cars available