Porthcurno Beach

Porthcurno beach
Porthcurno beach © Cornwall Beaches

Beautiful Porthcurno beach lies in a bay of craggy golden granite, with soft, white sand made from powdered shells and the clearest turquoise waters. Without doubt one of the finest beaches in Cornwall, if not the world…

About Porthcurno Beach

If there was an 'A List' of Cornish beaches then Porthcurno would be on there without question. In terms of raw beauty few beaches anywhere can match it; near white sand, crystal clear turquoise water and an amphitheatre of rugged granite cliffs as a backdrop.

Not only does the sand here look special - it is special. Made up of seashells pounded to smithereens by the sea over millions of years it is quite unique and is partly responsible for the beautiful colour of the sea here.

Porthcurno beach - West Cornwall

The high cliffs here provide some shelter from the wind and there is a stream flowing down the side of the beach which is ever popular with the kids. This often forms a big pool which is great for paddling. The beach is lifeguarded during the summer but towards high tide it is steeply shelving plus the waves can be extremely powerful so care should be taken.

At low tide the sand stretches all the way round to neighbouring Pedn Vounder and the scenery is at its best with shallow pools of translucent water and islands of sand forming across the beach. It is an easy walk between the two coves, but make sure you don't get cut off unless you fancy the climb up the cliff "path" from Pedn. When the tide comes in the beach is much reduced in size and things become a little cosier.

View from Porthcurno to Pedn Vounder

It is hard to say which Porthcurno is more famous for, its beach or the Minack Theatre. The vision of one woman who decided to carve a clifftop theatre at the bottom of her garden. Almost as stunning as the neighbouring cove it is well worth the climb up the cliff path to visit the Minack - if only for the view back down over the bay.

Built into the cliff side on the beach near where the path leads up to the Minack is a rather strange little house like structure with a set of steps leading up to it. This is also the work of the Minack creator, Rowena Cade. Apparently it was built as an oversize playhouse for her nephews and nieces. Today the door and window have been filled in though.

Play house on the beach - Porthcurno

Visiting Porthcurno Beach

As with all of Cornwall's beaches it is important to check the tides when planning a vist. We would recommend aiming for low to mid tide as the beach size is much reduced at higher tides. See Porthcurno Beach tide times.

When is the best time to visit Porthcurno Beach

Given the natural beauty of Porthcurno beach we would start by saying there is no wrong time to visit! Then again, I will admit the beach truly comes into its own when the sun lights up the cliffs, turns the sand white and the water iridescent turquoise. Sadly, there is no guarantee of sunshine in Cornwall whatever the time of year, but it is generally significantly warmer and calmer in the summer months!

Porthcurno beach has only become more popular over the years so it will always be busy during the summer holidays. If you can, we'd recommend visiting during the shoulder season, when the lifeguards are still on duty but the crowd has thinned out.

In terms of what is the best tide for Porthcurno we would say low, as there is much more beach and you can walk to neighbouring Pedn Vounder and explore Green Bay. On the other hand, whilst the beach is very much reduced at high tide, it is great for swimming, albeit because the beach shelves quickly.

/public/photos/Porthcurno Beach - family and footprints in the sand

Where is Porthcurno Beach

Porthcurno is located on the south coast of the very west of Cornwall. Just a few miles around the coast from Land's End the beach is backed by the same craggy granite cliffs but is more sheltered from the often dramatic Atlantic weather and waves.

Nearest town: Porthcurno

Find accommodation near Porthcurno Beach


By car: Heading from Penzance, the drive should take less than 30 minutes. The easiest way is to take the Porthcurno turning off the main A30 road between Penzance and Land's End. Continue for a few miles along the winding B3283 past St Buryan and you will see a left hand turn sign posted to Porthcurno.
Alternatively, head west along the B3315 through Newlyn until you join the B3283.

The postcode for you Sat Nav is TR19 6JX

By bus: The A1 and A3 "Atlantic Coaster" bus routes both stop off at Porthcurno roughly half-hourly. Don't miss out on the open top double-decker bus which runs in the summer months. The spectacular views from the top deck are well worth it.

By foot: Porthcurno beach is set on a stunning section of the South West Coast path. It is walk-able from Land's End, although it is around 5 miles of fairly challenging terrain. For more information check out the South West Coast Path Land's End to Porthcurno walk guide.


There is a good-sized car park about 5 minutes level walk from the beach. It has ANPR cameras and you have to pay on exiting. Don't pay on arrival as you will be charged twice!

Given the popularity of the beach the car park tends to fill up during peak season, so arrive early if you want a guaranteed space. Alternatively, if you want to combine it with a visit to the Minack Theatre, you can use their car park at the top of the hill.

/public/photos/Porthcurno beach car park

Access - How to get down to the beach

Access to the beach from the car park involves a 250 metre walk along an unsurfaced path followed by a set of steep steps or a sandy slope either side of the lifeguard hut.

Is Porthcurno Beach dog friendly?

There is a seasonal dog ban in effect at Porthcurno. Dogs are not allowed on the beach from 1st July to 31st August between 10am and 6pm.

In other words, dogs are allowed on Porthcurno beach at any time for 10 months of the year!

Does Porthcurno Beach have lifeguards

There is an RNLI lifeguard service at Porthcurno during the summer. The beach is patrolled daily from 18th May to 29th September between 10am and 6pm.

/public/photos/Porthcurno lifeguard flags

Is Porthcurno Beach suitable for swimming?

For much of the year the waters at Porthcurno are as calm as they are clear. Nestled between dramatic cliffs, the bay stretches from the cliffs of Treen to the Minack Theatre this is a beautiful place to take a swim. With lifeguards on duty in the summer Porthcurno is generally considered a pretty safe spot for swimming.

That said when there is a swell running the beach quickly becomes treacherous. The waves here are uniquely powerful and the currents strong. On high tides the shorebreak can be particularly vicious.

In short, only swim on the calm days, and preferably when there is a lifeguard on duty. Leave the waves to the surfers.

/public/photos/Swimming at Porthcurno

What facilities are there at Porthcurno Beach?

The dog-friendly Porthcurno Beach Café is located just next to the car park. Whilst there aren't great sea views there is a pleasant sun terrace where you can grab a snack, coffee or a beer. You will also find an attached beach shop offering all the essentials for a fun day at the beach. There are other cafes in the Museum and Minack Theatre, although you will need to be a paying visitor to use the latter.

There are toilets in the car park. Be warned though, there is sometimes a 20 pence charge, although this only seems to be in place from time to time.

Things to do at Porthcurno Beach

Visit the Minack Theatre: Perched atop the cliffs overlooking Porthcurno, the Minack Theatre is an open-air venue like no other. Eked out of the granite cliff by Rowena Cade and her gardeners, this theatre offers a stunning backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. Catching a performance here is a must-do experience, blending a bit of culture with breathtaking views.

Coastal Walks: This section of the South West Coast Path offers some of the most scenic hiking in Cornwall, as the path passes other nearby coves and rugged cliff tops. Whether you venture towards Land’s End to the north or the picturesque Logan Rock to the south, the views will not disappoint.

Explore the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum: This fascinating museum delves into the history of the telegraph cable that once connected Porthcurno to the rest of the British Empire, making it a hub of global communication. It's a unique insight into the area's unexpected role in worldwide communication.

Photography: With its abundance of natural beauty, Porthcurno is one of the most Instagrammed spots in Cornwall. Recreate an arty Charlie Roff photo or capture the play of light on the turquoise waters - it's hard not to be inspired.

Wildlife Watching: The cliffs and coastal areas around Porthcurno are teeming with wildlife. Keep an eye out for seabirds, seals, dolphins and during the summer you may spot basking sharks here.

Porthcurno Beach Video

Porthcurno Beach Reviews (2)



May 21st 2022

One of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the colour of sand and water against the stunning backdrop of cliffs and the Minack are unlike anywhere else.

On it’s day the waves are equally stunning and powerful, as are the currents. Need to be respected and left for experienced surfers, but on a css as lm summers day can be enjoyed by all.


Absolutely beautiful

Marilyn Gibbons

Jul 10th 2023

Must be one of the most stunning, unspoilt beaches anywhere. - absolutely love it.

We went into the sea yesterday not long after high tide, when the beach shelves very steeply. Great fun - and there were lifeguards on duty - but the powerful waves and strong undertow need to be treated with respect.

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