11 Best Dog Friendly Beaches in Cornwall

Written by: Ben Pike

Ok ok, I get it, when we use terms like ‘Best’ we live in a world of very varied opinions and one man’s prize pig, may well be another’s scrawny swine. So, I’m gonna go that extra smidge and just find something for everyone. 

If you want that classic, accessible, long, flat, just let her off the lead and she can do the rest type sandy sliver, or a private, secluded, much more intimate and peaceful cove.

With the help of our four legged explorer, Lennie (the Mini Aussie), we’ve got the beach for you.

Lennie my Mini Australian Shepherd dog on a beach in Cornwall
Lennie my Mini Australian Shepherd dog on a beach in Cornwall

Of the more than 300 beaches in Cornwall, over 200 of them are dog friendly in the off-season (Oct 1st through to Easter Day). But with spots such as St Ives, Falmouth, and Looe pretty much off bounds here’s a full guide to 11 of Cornwall’s best dog-friendly beaches

1- Pedn Vounder

Pedn Vounder beach

Long kept as Cornwall’s biggest secret, Pedn Vounder has always been the hidden gem of the South Coast. A few viral Instagram videos and an appearance on Poldark later and I no longer have to feel bad mentioning it at the top of this list.
Make sure you get here at low tide to truly experience the full beauty of Pedn’s shallow turquoise pools surrounding its large white powder sand bank.
Just a heads-up though. It’s a nudist beach so don’t be surprised if it’s not only your dog’s danglys gracing this particular beach. Oh, and easy on the photography.

Accessibility:  Here’s the catch. Access to the beach is via Porthcurno and a very steep winding path down the cliff. If the weather is even slightly off maybe reconsider heading down.

But actually, the best views of the beach are from the much more accessible coastal cliff path which is a great place to wander with the pup whilst taking in all the pristine coves and almost Caribbean-like vistas.

Restrictions:  Dogs can visit the beach year-round but be aware that at high tide the beach can completely disappear.

Something for us humans: The nearby Logan Rock Inn is a lovely dog-friendly pub. Perfect for a bite and a pint.
And to truly make the trip worthwhile The Minack Theatre will also allow dogs on short leashes during opening hours. Only not during showtimes. 

2 – Holywell Bay Beach, Newquay

Holywell Bay

Not so famous for actually having a ‘Holy Well’ which you can still find in a cave on the far right of the beach at low tide (Definitely worth tracking it down if you like a little adventure).
When the tides fully out, Holywell graces you with a huge expanse of open beach embraced by a wall of dunes and even its own freshwater steam weaving its way to the ocean across the sand. Holywell is like something out of a fairytale

Accessibility: There are no restrictions for your furry friend all year round and with only a 15-minute drive from Newquay, it could hardly get more convenient. Oh, and it has a large inexpensive car park and a flat, simple walk all the way to the beach. And if that wasn’t enough? If the tide’s too high, there are still endless interconnecting pathways meandering through the dunes where your dog can run and play and chase rabbits like the wolf he still thinks he is.

  Holywell’s only downside may also be its convenience. In the holiday season, its popularity can change it from the peaceful quaint village beach it mostly is, to a polka-dot of sandcastles and lilos. You could also struggle to find parking.

Something for us humans: There are a variety of little shops and pubs in the village and if you really want a beautiful walk take the coast path all the way to Pollyjoke. One of Newquay’s lesser-known beauty spots where you can see a colony of Grey seals en route.

3 – Gwenver, Penzance

gwenver beach

As one of the best local surf spots on the West coast, you’ll have some great entertainment whilst Rover’s on a mission to dig himself to Australia.
Gwenver is the serene little sister to the larger Sennen, and on a crisp cloudless day, you can even see the Isles of Scilly from up on the cliff top. If the tides in, there’s also a lovely 45-minute cliff path to the dog-friendly Old Success Inn at Sennen.

Accessibility: There’s a car park at the top of the cliff and about a 15-minute hike down a well-trodden path to the beach. It’s quite a steep trot, so maybe not ideal for those with disabilities, buggies, or carrying a 40-pound picnic package.

Restrictions: At low tide, you can walk all the way across the beach to Sennen. But at high tide, you’re left with a slender strip of sand sloping steeply into the sea. Which can be dangerous.

Something for us humans:  Gwenver’s peaceful silence is owed mostly to its lack of absolutely any facilities at all. So, if want a cup of tea or a pasty you’ll have to cruise over to Sennen where you’ll find a pub and a couple of cafes.

4 – Rinsey Cove, Porthleven

rinsey cove

Something slightly adventurous for those of you who are craving a dog walk with a hint of good ol Cornish spice.
There are no amenities, no lifeguards and a steep scramble over rocks to get down to a beach that may not even be there if the tides up. But all this means that Rinsey is one of the quietest beaches on the Cornish coastline. Combine that with deliciously clear water, rock pools and caves to explore, and the chance to see dolphins playing just off the shore, and you’ve got something worth scrambling for.

Accessibility: Lying between Praa Sands and Porthleven it’s slightly off the beaten path but since it’s owned by The National Trust, Rinsey has a carpark only a 10-minute ‘walk’ (hop, skip and slip) from the beach.

Restrictions: There are no restrictions as there are no facilities so take a bag of common sense with a handful of respect and just enjoy. 

Something for us humans: Standing tall over the cove there is also a well-preserved engine house from an old tin mine. And if you keep following the coast path East to Porthleven you can reward yourself with a pint at The Ship Inn.

5 – Lamorna Cove, Penzance

Lamorna Cove

Fancy a bit of a hike through fairytale woodlands and miniature Victorian market gardens? Past the Poldark famous, Lamorna Cove and back to one of Cornwall’s most iconic fishing villages?

Starting at Mousehole it’s a 4.7mile (7.6km) round trip down a country and wooded footpath to Lamorna and to keep things fresh you can head back ducking and weaving through the tree branches of Kemvel Crease Nature Reserve where you’ll pass hundreds of quillets (Small traditional veggie gardens).

Accessibility: Park up in mousehole. If it’s been raining prepare for a slightly muddy affair. So, maybe bring those boots that are ‘made for walking’.

Restrictions:  The beach itself does have a dog ban from Easter day to the 1st of October.
Also, be aware that the Lamorna Cove car park is private and you will have to pay even to turn around.

Something for us humans: Lamorna was made famous by the TV series Poldark but also, the entire Mousehole area has long been populated with artists and craftsmen so check out one of the many artistic shops or potteries.

6 – Prussia Cove, Penzance

prussia cove wild swimming spot

Stroll off into the depths of Cornwall’s history. More a collection of coves not much has changed in Prussia for over a hundred years. Given its name by the infamous 19th-century smugglers the Carter family. John Carter or the King of Prussia, as he was locally known, would alongside his two brothers become highly successful at bringing in contraband from across The Channel in Brittany. To this day you can still see the wheel tracks carved into the rock leading up the beach where carts would have carried all sorts of delights up the cliff.

But don’t just come for the history. Prussia is also the perfect place for a dip for you and your four-legged fluffball, with some amazing snorkeling too.

Accessibility: You can walk from Pra Sands a couple miles to the east or there is a small privately owned car park that can be full by late morning on the holidays. It’s a 10-minute walk to the main cove.

Restrictions: Dogs are allowed all year round but there are no lifeguards so be responsible.

Something for us humans: There are no facilities here so instead, bring a bite to eat and enjoy Prussia for the intimate peaceful place it is. Make the lapping waves your soundtrack, lay back and let your imagination run wild with stories of old.

7 – Whitsand Beach, Looe

Whitsand Beach

You’ve just crossed the River Thames, you’re 10 minutes into Cornwall, and you’ve just got to get the car door open before your hyperactive lab bursts out the window. This 4-mile-long expanse of sand and rock formations should provide a more than welcome solution.
It’s wild. It’s raw. Only a distant chapel reminds you of a remote taste of civilization. When there are big waves, people come to surf and when it’s calm, they come to dive the HMS Scylla, an ex-naval frigate sunk off the shore to create an artificial reef.

Accessibility: There are car parks at either end but the easiest access would be near Tregantle Fort. It’s still a steep path of steps leading down to the beach.  

Restrictions: The Fort may well be remnants of coastal defenses in the times of Napoleon but, it’s still in use by the military today. If you see red flags there may be fire drills and access to the beach is strictly prohibited.

Something for us humans: There isn’t much in the way of facilities nearby but there is a golf course and country club if you fancy a swing.

8 – Lantic Bay Beach, Fowey

Lantic bay

Often compared to being in the Mediterranean Lantic Bay (actually two bays – Little Lantic and Great Lantic) is not just a hidden gem, but in the past, you would struggle to stumble upon something this beautiful without a map complete with a skull and crossbones nestled in the top corner.

It’s a solid hike. But what would you expect to keep the summer crowds away?
Anyone who has had the oomph to get themselves down that looong steep path until their toes eventually sink into Lantic Bays’ soft silver sand will most certainly rave about it as one of the UK’s best beaches.

Accessibility: There’s a National Trust car park behind the field at the top of the cliff. It’s about a 20-minute walk down but the last section is very steep so it’s not suitable for prams or wheelchairs. 

Restrictions: Dogs are allowed all year round but the rip currents can make swimming dangerous as there are no lifeguards.

Something for us humans: Only 2 miles by foot, or a short drive to Fowey and you’ll have all the amenities you’ll ever need. There’s even England’s longest zipline nearby if you want a hit of adrenaline.

9 – Porth Kidney Sands, St Ives 

Porth Kidney Sands

So close to the ever-popular St Ives, but with acres of space it never really feels busy. The River Hayle flows straight out across the beach creating a huge sand bank and in turn an enormous shallow lagoon-like emerald green shoreline perfect for the finest doggy paddle. Best visited during low tide but no matter when you get there, you’ll have a nice portion of beach and you’ll always have the dunes the play in.

Accessibility: You can get here via a short sandy walk through the sand dunes. Alternatively, for the ones who love to wander, The South-West Coast Path behind the beach is part of the 12-mile-long St Michael’s Way. Starting in Lelant and arriving at St Michael’s Mount this route claims to have been used since prehistoric times.

Restrictions: There are no facilities on/near the beach but dogs are allowed here year-round.

Something for us humans: The beach may have no amenities, but a quick stop in St Ives either before or after your walk will get you anything and everything you need.

10 – Watergate Bay Beach

Watergate bay sunset

Ready your greyhounds, because we’ve got 2 miles of exposed golden sand no matter the tide. It’s a year-round dog-friendly beach. There’s no rickety rock path clinging to the side of a cliff. No need for wellies, and with a variable buffet of world-class restaurants they’ll be no need to remember to pack sandwiches. It may be one of Cornwall’s most famous beaches, but looking at those stats. 

Of course it is!

Accessibility: Watergate is right there on Newquay’s doorstep. Just follow the peppering of brightly coloured kite surfers dancing over the ocean shoreline.

Restrictions:  Honestly apart from its popularity, I tried to dig up something in the way of restrictions but the place even offers sand chairs in the Watergate Bay Hotel. Tel: 01637860543

Something for us humans: When both you and Fido have run out of steam nip into one of The Watergate Bay Hotel’s several restaurants. The ‘après-surf Beach Hut, the Living Space with fantastic views out on the deck and all-day tapas, or up to the Zacry’s. Where you can book a ‘swim and dine’ and take in the blazing sunset direct from the indoor pool.

11 – Nanjizal Beach, West Cornwall

Song of the Sea Cave pool to swim in

To finish up the list we have one of the last beaches in the UK. At the very tip of Cornwall, only a mile from Lands End, sometimes we must go as far as we can possibly go to find something truly unspoiled. This small calm sandy beach has crystal-clear waters and the surrounding cliffs are like an oversized Japanese rock garden.
Whilst you’re up there keep a lucky eye open for basking sharks that sometimes frequent these waters. 

Accessibility: The only way in is by foot. The simplest way is a 45-minute ramble from Lands End carpark. Wear sturdy shoes and leave anything on wheels behind as the path finishes in a flight of wooden steps down to the beach. 

Restrictions: There are no toilets, cafes, or lifeguards so bring everything you’ll need and keep an eye on children or dogs swimming as there can be strong currents.

Something for us humans:
In Lands End, there is a restaurant, bar, and pasty shop. But, here at the end of the world expect to pay end-of-the-world type prices.

Bonus: The Isles of Scilly

scilly isles from an airplane

I couldn’t leave you guys without at least mentioning our very own Cornish Caribbean. Naked white sand perceivably painted off into some distant canvas. Picture perfection with barely a footstep in sight. No end to the choice of empty coves, turquoise waters, and dog-friendly paradise.

If you and your pooch don’t mind a rocky 2hr40 boat ride here’s one of those bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime, dog-walking experiences.