It’s the smallest of the St. Ives beaches, but some say it's the best. This beach of golden sand is tucked into the lee of St. Ives Island, which is actually just a headland, and sheltered between two rocky promontories, forming a small cove that is something of a sun trap, perfect for getting a tan. The reliable guarantee of environmental excellence, the Blue Flag award, has been awarded to Porthgwidden Beach, so you know it’s of the highest standard. In fact, the beach is cleaned on a daily basis and is well provided with litter bins. This very beautiful beach can be easily reached on foot or by bicycle and has disabled access. Parking tends to be limited in St. Ives, however.
Dogs are banned from the beach from Easter Day until October 1. Swimming, however, is permitted and safe up to the buoys. Just bear in mind that you should take a little extra care because there are no lifeguards patrolling here. The beach shelves a little more steeply than some in the area, so small children should be supervised. There are plenty of rock pools and shell collecting opportunities for the little ones but, unfortunately, no donkey rides. For temporary daytime beach holiday accommodation, you can rent one of the 39 two-storey beach huts from the local council. These have two deckchairs each, but you’ll need to bring your own parasols and windbreaks or hire them locally. There are no showers on the beach, but there are toilets nearby.
When to visit
Summer is the ideal time to enjoy all that Porthgwidden Beach has to offer and when it’s seen at its best. However, there are cheap beach holidays to be enjoyed out of season, especially in self-catering holiday cottages.
How to reach
Rather than drive into busy St. Ives, it's best to park at nearby Lelant Saltings and then enjoy the scenic railway ride into the centre of the town. From here it's just a short walk to Porthgwidden Beach. However, if you prefer to drive, it's best to get to the adjacent 150-space car park early before it fills up.
Due to the beach’s location between two rocky promontories that funnel waves away past the headland, the waters off Porthgwidden Beach tend to be very calm and therefore are ideal for swimming and snorkelling, or maybe for just lazily bobbing around on an inflatable. The water is clear, making it perfect for diving down to meet the marine life. For children the sand is of a nice consistency for building sand castles, but kite flying is best undertaken on the headland as the beach is quite sheltered. Porthgwidden Beach's tranquil nature makes it perfect for couples with small children and for older people who simply want to relax. Should you wish to take to the sea, however, a slipway is available for the launching of small craft. Additionally, once out beyond the headland into open water, there are opportunities for kitesurfing and windsurfing.