I have to confess that I’m not one for lying around on a beach, but I also have to confess that I do like seeing them, and with all this good weather around at the moment it seems as good a time as any to mention a few.
St. Ives is one of those places that is blessed with some lovely sandy beaches, but for this article I’m excluding the large expanses of sand at Carbis Bay and Hayle and just concentrating on the town beaches.
There’s not a lot that can be written about them except to say that they are all ideal for just lying around on, and taking a casual dip every so often into the shallow turquoise sea; perfect for kids and sun-worshippers alike, weather permitting of course.
Consequently, this post is mainly a pictorial one to show where the beaches are and what they look like.
If you arrive in St. Ives by way of the scenic St Ives Bay Railway Line the first thing that you’ll see, apart from the platform, is Porthminster Beach. It’s a great introduction to the town because it gives people an idea on what to expect from St. Ives.
Porthminster gets its name from the minster that was here up until the 15th century, and is a sheltered beach of golden sands that stretch for almost half a mile.
It’s great for families, because not only is it safe for bathing, but also has facilities such as a café, restaurant and beach huts
It’s an easy walk into the town, but if you’re feeling a bit more energetic there’s a cliff top walk back to Carbis Bay as well.
From Porthminster, ‘The Warren’ leads round to The Harbour and its beach, which as you might imagine, can get busy at times, especially when the tide comes in and restricts the amount of sand left for people to sit on. For someone like me, I prefer it when the tide’s out and there aren’t so many people around. At these times, it can look almost perfect.
If you want to find somewhere quieter it’s worth making your way around to Porthgwidden which sits under ‘The Island’. This is the smallest of the town’s bays and a veritable suntrap where you can come and soak up the sun all day without too much interference. There’s also a café here that will keep you topped up with any refreshments you may need.
On the other side of ‘The Island’ is Porthmeor, the largest of St Ives four beaches.
All these Porths can be a bit confusing and I’d like to be able to tell you how to remember which one’s which – but I can’t. What I can tell you though is the meaning of the word ‘Porth’, and in this context it means ‘Bay’.
Porthmeor is the only one of the town’s beaches not enjoying the protection of St. Ives Bay. Whereas the other three beaches are idea for sunbathing and swimming, Porthmeor is better suited to surfing.
The waves that travel across the Atlantic hit this side of the Cornish coast producing some good surfing conditions, and as a consequence, facilities here cater for those who enjoy the sport including a surf school.
If you prefer walking to surfing then you can take the short walk around to Carrick Du. This greenstone outcrop resembles a man’s head and is often referred to as such. There are no facilities here but if you return to the beach there’s a beach café half way along. It tends to cater for a younger crowd but if that isn’t quite your scene then behind it the Tate St Ives has a very nice café with a terrace overlooking the beach below. Although there is a charge to enter the Gallery there is no charge to visit the café or shop.
In a nutshell then, St Ives has four beaches – Porthminster is best for families, the Harbour for convenience, Porthgwidden for seclusion and Porthmeor for surfing; in other words, a beach for everyone – apart from me that is.