Set at the heart of St Austell Bay, Carlyon Bay is a stretch of almost 2 miles of coarse sand. Actually it isn't really sand but "stent", a mixture of waste from the tin and china clay industries - if you look closely you will see it is made up of large grains of grey quartz with the odd grain of tourmaline.
The length of the beach here is actually divided into three sections - Crinnis, Shorthorn and Polgaver. Crinnis is the part most people refer to as Carlyon Bay.
Back in the day Carlyon Bay was St Austell's best known beach. Much of this was due to "Cornwall Coliseum", a huge entertainment venue that sat rather unsympathetically on the beach. Despite attracting many big name performers over the years the Coliseum closed its doors for the last time in 2003, after which time it became something of a decaying eyesore.
Over recent years there have been plans to redevelop the site including a £200 million complex. However, work has never really started as the project has be marred with objections.
Today the backdrop to the beach seems to still be in limbo with various fenced of sections. However, once you are down on the beach most of this becomes unoticeable.
Also known as:
Type of beach
No lifeguard cover
Dogs friendly beach?
Dog ban in operation from Easter Sunday to September 30th
OS grid ref.
SX 0582 5208
If the proposed development goes ahead there will be a host of facilities. As it stands they are somewhat limited.
Large car parks close to beach
Carlyon Bay Video
Carlyon Bay Reviews (17)
The description is a bit inaccurate as there’s lots going on at the beach during summer, there’s a beach bar with inside seating and fire pit, a seafood shack with great food a pasty shop and jet skis! Also ive heard the theatre will be down this summer with a massive tent just Been erected. Also decent toilets for a beach!
Shameful treatment of a beauty spot.
J M AndersonJun 13th 2022
Such a shame to see what a ruin can be made out of a beautiful landscape that was Carlyon Bay with, probably, dirty money. £15 pounds for parking for the elderly and infirm with no return and to cap it all dreadful access onto a beach which had beautiful level access originally.
Then they received an award…..shameful!
If the owners are so full of themselves they wanted to keep the masses out they have certainly succeeded. One star is too many.
It’s a scandal! Our beach has been stolen!
Carlyon Bay Beach
Mike EaglesJul 26th 2020
Lovely beach and safe swimming. Shame there are plans for developments as it is a beautiful beach and great asset to Cornwall. Just spoilt by rusty piling and rocks dumped presumably by developers who want to spoil a natural beauty spot
Dogs not welcomed further than the car park ????
JohnSep 23rd 2021
Pay £3 parking then walkout to find dogs are not welcomed , security guard will stop access to the beach !! Not even to wonder and view off the beach !!!
Glorious dog friendly beach
Simon WAug 10th 2022
No idea what earlier reviews are on about, this is a long lovely dog friendly beach. At the back it’s sand and nearer the sea it turns to fine shingle. Steep in to the sea so goes deep quite quickly. Went on a very hot day in August and it was quite busy. Car park is £5 and there a sign to say it is definitely dog friendly. At the back of the beach there’s a covered area with a bar and various food outlets including Harvester Seafood Shack which was excellent and reasonable. I had garlic scallops £11 and the wife had 2 pieces of sea bass £12. Both were really good. Toilet cubicles like you get at festivals at the back of the beach. Would definitely go again.
Awful beach. Not worried about the type of sand as have been there before so knew it was different. £5 parking to go to a beach littered with rubbish not good, black bin bags that were tied to the fences and left to tear contents scattered around.Heras fencing which is rusty and been there for goodness knows how long. Bottle tops left in the sand fag ends.
SimonAug 17th 2023
Yes it’s a bit rough at the back of the beach but the beach itself is lovely and, contrary to other posts, it is dog friendly. In fact there’s a sign saying so at the bottom of the path. It’s a private beach with seafood, beer, other food and toilets. Not sand, very fine gravel and quite steep into the sea
NatalieJun 15th 2023
Lots going on large car park and loads of new bars and eating places. Shallow calm water. With plenty of toilets you can also hire beach chairs and umbrellas. Defo will return
WilliamAug 08th 2022
Why are there so many steps . I’m disabled and used to got here all the time. Now there’s no disabled access . Probably 80 steps or more. Wen I explained it was told I couldn’t dive down there it’s steps or nothing
Dogs on the beach
PaulAug 06th 2022
As advertised at the bottom of the steps “Carlyon Bay welcomes responsible owners for the 2022 trial season”.
Good on them. Let’s hope this becomes a permanent thing.
Lovely beach - nice for swimming and snorkelling
Sarah RichardsonJul 26th 2021
Been visiting Cornwall for years but only just discovered this beach. Really pleasant area and the “stent” is preferable to the usual fine sand as it doesn’t get everywhere like the finer stuff does.
Parking at £3/car or £5/van is good and makes me think that the Lake District where we are based is seriously ripping off tourists with their parking charges. The only constructive criticism I would make is it would be prudent to consider making the compounded area at the beach (presumably staff parking) also available for ones with restricted mobility, otherwise the beach becomes far less accessible. Thankfully we are all super fit and healthy but I couldn’t help thinking I would be a bit upset if I had an elderly or disabled passenger that I had to transport down to the beach - just wouldn’t happen. The compounded area surely could accommodate even just 50 cars for blue badge holders.
Nice having a really good choice of food and beverage stalls on the beach too. Yes, perhaps a little more pricey than the high street but you are paying for the convenience.
Lovely for swimming and pretty good for snorkelling. Family keen snorkellors and commented the waters were clearer and more to see here than the last trip which was in Corfu. So the question is will we return? I guess so as we’ve just had two pleasant days in a row on this beach.
Will never go back
STEVEN JOHNSONJul 04th 2021
Having been to this blue flag beach many years ago when the little train was running and refreshments where available and yes the old coliseum did look a bit dated but wow what a gem. Now after paying the parking and walking down the road to be greeted by the most uneven beach, rubble everywhere and to top it off the most obnoxious security man sat in his little box with his jobs worth hat on. I just wanted to drive down the road to pick up my 91 year old mother as she could not do the climb back to the car park to be abruptly told no.
So if I could award less then one star I certainly would and my recommendation is avoid at all cost
Dog friendly update
Dog ban kicked in already, starting Thursday 1/4/2021 instead of Easter Sunday 4/4/2021.
Great beach. Lovely and clean and great to have a beach bar (that serve amazing pizzas) and toilets too.
Car park is very close and only costs £3 for the whole day.
Sarah RoseAug 30th 2019
Had a lovely day at the beach and really enjoyed watching the dancing frog at the asylum . Fab food and drink too - worth s visit
long hike up to carpark
love this beach even if it isnt really sand, can be extremely quiet at times off peak out of school holidays. there are toilets but not been in them and places to get food and drink. my only gripe is the long hike up to the car park up some very steep steps other than that its ok.
ChrisJul 20th 2021
Absolutely beautiful beach,beautiful sand and lovely to swim in,gets deep very fast.Beautiful