- West Cornwall
- Roseland & The Fal
- North Coast
- North Cornwall
- South East Cornwall
- Cornwall Information
- Special Offers
St Ives is undoubtedly one of the most popular holiday destinations in Cornwall. The whole of St Ives Bay could be described as one large beach with headlands and rocky outcrops jutting out into the sea. St Ives itself is a good example of this, being surrounded by the sea and beaches on three sides.
In St Ives, life seems to spread out from the harbour into the narrow cobbled streets. The streets are a maze of shops, cafes, pubs and old fisherman's cottages, all exuding character and age, one can be sure of is that the sea is little more than a stone's throw away.
Visitors come to St Ives year after year many returning on an annual basis. So what is so popular about this town, its unspoilt character, the excellent beaches, its quaint little shops and cafes, the mild climate. The effects of the Gulf Stream make it possible to grow semi tropical plants, perhaps one of the reasons the town regularly wins the 'Britain in Bloom' competition.
St Ives and the surrounding area is a magnet for artists who come because of the excellent light. Not only are there a number of small galleries but the Tate Gallery in company with the Barbara Hepworth Museum now takes pride of place overlooking Porthmeor Beach.
The Tate Gallery and Barbara Hepworth Museum have proved to be an excellent attraction for St Ives having a similar effect to that of The Eden Project to St Austell, the Falmouth Maritime Museum to Falmouth, the Rick Stein Restaurant to Padstow, and perhaps now the Fifteen Restaurant to Newquay and Watergate Bay.
St Ives does not have the same scale of night life to Newquay (thankfully some would say) and therefore does not attract the younger generation in great numbers. It is quite happy with its olde worlde pubs, cafes, and restaurants which spring into life during the evenings. This is probably the main reason it attracts so many families and people seeking a quiet relaxing holiday.
The old part of the town is sandwiched between two beaches. To the north is Porthmeor Beach.
This the main surfing beach in St Ives and more open to the prevailing winds and Atlantic rollers.
Good sand quality.
Good surfing when conditions permit.
Lifeguard service during the summer months
Parking is available at Barnoon car park just above the beach
Restaurant /café on the beach
A very popular family beach, easily accessible with all services closeby.
Moving to the southern beaches, these contrast significantly as they are protected from the winds by the headland, but one thing they do have in common is that the sand quality is of the very highest.
Moving around the headland ‘The Island’ we arrive at Porthgwidden Beach which is a quiet sandy cove.
Marker buoys denote the recommended bathing area.
The nearest car park is on ‘The Island’ just a short walk
Services include: restaurant/café/toilets and beach huts for hire.
A small sheltered beach offering safe bathing, a real sun trap.
Just a short distance away is St Ives Harbour.
The harbour is the focal point of the town and very central. It has a long frontage taking in ‘The Wharf’ and 'Smeatons Pier' with the Life Boat Station at one end.
Well sheltered from the prevailing winds it offers a safe haven for numerous small craft. The harbour frontage has several cafes/pubs/small shops and several of the St Ives Holiday Apartments are to be found in this area. Needless to say this gets extremely busy in high season, but in a nice sort of way. Perhaps the influence of its popularity with families.
Like all the beaches in the area, the harbour beach has excellent sand quality and very popular with the bucket and spade brigade. A popular pastime for children is ‘hand lining’ for crabs off the wall at high tide.
The harbour also offers boat trips for either deep sea fishing/mackerel fishing in the bay or just pleasure rides.
Fishing from the harbour wall or the rocky outcrops on the point is a popular pastime, species include bass, pollock, mackerel, flounder. Recommended baits are worm/mackerel strip or sand eels.
There are various car parks close to the harbour but in high season parking can be difficult.
Cafes/restaurants are all available.
Moving around the point and the last of the St Ives Town beaches is Porthminster Beach.
Not too far from the harbour this is a lovely beach approximately half a mile long. It offers safe bathing as it is sheltered from most winds and is virtually always calm.
Parking is available at the Railway Station which is close by.
Highly recommended for families wishing to sunbath and swim. Not good for surfing owing to its sheltered location.
Just out of St Ives on the coastal footpath and around Porthminster Point is Carbis Bay Beach.
Similar in location to Porthminster beach and offering the same safe bathing in waters that are invariably calm.
The beach has good parking, café and toilet facilities.
A very pleasant walk along the coastal path from St Ives and convenient for visitors staying at accommodation in Carbis Bay. The Carbis Bay Accommodation is closely affiliated to the St Ives Accommodation. An excellent sheltered sandy beach.
Continuing on the coastal footpath and just out of St Ives is the little village of Lelant. Lelant has a splendid beach called Porthkidney Beach.
Three miles of golden sands backed by small sand dunes.
The beach is popular but because of its size never appears busy.
Parking is a brisk 5 minute walk away.
One word of warning – it is dangerous to bathe in or near the river estuary but safe between the flags.
If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the St Ives beaches, this is the one for you, a lovely beach with plenty of room to move around.
The beaches continue to move around the St Ives Bay with the Hayle beaches. As the St Ives headland opens up so the surf increases, basically the further south along the coast the better the surf. Hayle Towans has some excellent surfing and parking is available at the top of the cliffs. All the beaches have one thing in common, beautiful soft sand.
Cornwall is a beautiful county but quite small, anywhere in the county can be reached with a pleasant drive.
Just a few ideas include:
The Eden Project at St Austell
The Lost Gardens of Heligan at St Austell
St Michael's Mount, a National Trust monument near Penzance approached by a causeway at low tide or by ferry.
Land's End - as far west as you can go without getting your feet wet. Rugged views and cliff top walks.
Just along from Land's End is:
The Minack Theatre - an open air theatre on the cliffs at Porthcurno – a truly unique experience.
Flambards Village - a lovely family day out.
St Ives is close to Penzance - enjoy a day trip to the Scilly Isles. This can be taken by boat, airplane or helicopter.
The National Maritime Museum at Falmouth is an easy drive across West Cornwall.
Paradise Park at Hayle - beautiful birds and small animals, lovely garden, a playground for children.
The accommodation in St Ives is quite spread out as the town itself is quite small.
In the town centre there are primarily:
St Ives guesthouses - these are often quaint little fishermen’s cottages converted into small guesthouses.
St Ives self catering - these are split into two categories:
St Ives apartments
Fisherman's cottages in St Ives - 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 St Ives are not numerous considering the town’s popularity but they tend to be of excellent quality.
Many of the hotels in St Ives are to be found on the approach road at Carbis Bay.
Also covering St Ives is a large chalet complex proving excellent beachside self catering in Hayle.
The St Ives camp sites and caravan parks are all on the outskirts in the surrounding countryside. The size and geography of St Ives does not lend itself to this type of accommodation.
One problem that St Ives has during high summer and it could be said is a victim of its own success, is that of parking. Vehicles into the town centre are restricted for much of the summer, advantageous for those just wandering around the streets or shops. Why not leave your car at Lelant Rail Station - trains travel at frequent intervals to St Ives and the short trip is regarded as one of the most scenic in the country.
Full details can be obtained from the Cornwall Tourist Information office Tel. 0345 484950.
Most visitors to the town arrive by private car. The road is mainly dual carriageway. As a guide, Exeter is approximately 2 hours and Bristol about 3 hours.
On the main line disembark at St Erth or even Penzance. Change to the St Ives branch line, this will take you right into the town.
By Air - to Newquay airport - hire cars available
For for further information about St Ives:
St Ives Tourist Information Centre is in the centre of the town.
For additional information for the whole of the country, the Cornwall Tourist Board will be able to assist.