Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor Beach, is one of the jewels in the crown of St Ives. A wonderful mix of wild natural beauty and the quintessential British seaside along with an artistic twist.

A generous stretch of golden sand, embraced by azure waters, Porthmeor is framed by the rugged granite headlands and backed by the iconic Tate St Ives. And if that wasn't enough it is a favourite spot among west Cornwall surfers.

About Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor is arguably St Ives' premier beach and as such one of Cornwall's finest.

Blending natural beauty with artistic heritage, Porthmeor beach consists of a long stretch of golden sand bookmarked by rugged headlands. To one end, the chapel topped "Island" - which isn't an island at all. To the other the craggy cliffs of Man's Head and the West Cornwall moors beyond.

Porthmeor Beach - view from the headland

The backdrop to the beach is an eclectic mix of old artists' studios, apartments buildings and the iconic Tate St Ives art gallery built into the steep hillside. 

While it is debatable which of St Ives' beaches is the best, Porthmeor is without question the most dramatic. Sitting outside the shelter of the bay the beach faces into the full force of the Atlantic swells which crash into the granite headlands.

Porthmeor beach - rugged headland view

Porthmeor is the St Ives' surf beach, offering waves that suit all levels, from the surf schools which frequent the more sheltered western end of the beach up to the pros pulling into the hollow waves that break over the "Boiler".

As a frequent winner of the Blue Flag award Porthmeor is a great family beach and has all the facilities you would expect. These include a  choice of top notch beachside cafes, a surf school and a seasonal lifeguard service.

Surfing at Porthmeor Beach - St Ives

What does the name "Porthmeor Beach" mean?

Porthmeor comes from the Cornish Porth Meur which means "large cove"

Visiting Porthmeor 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 Porthmeor Beach tide times.

When is the best time to visit Porthmeor Beach

St Ives seems to only get more popular, and visitors are charmed by the town's appeals year-round these days. So it goes without saying that the beach will be particularly busy during the Summer holidays.

I wouldn't recommend driving to the beach in St Ives at this time of year unless you know the town well. Otherwise by the time you park and get to the beach you might be somewhat stressed!

Where is Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor is located in picturesque West Cornwall seaside town of St Ives. Renown for its narrow cobbled streets, bustling harbourside and artistic heritage, the town is also fringed by some of Cornwall's finest beaches.

The beach is found on across the narrow neck of land from the harbour and the two are separated by a maze of winding lanes. Unlike St Ives' other beaches Porthmeor is on the exposed Atlantic coast and has a more rugged, natural feel with the town ending abruptly at its western end.

This beach is easily accessible from the town centre and sits directly beneath the Tate St Ives art gallery.

Nearest town: St Ives

Find accommodation near Porthmeor Beach

/public/photos/Porthmeor beach - St Ives - Aerial view


By Foot: For those staying in St Ives, Porthmeor Beach is easily accessible on foot and is never more than a short walk away. Walking through the narrow, winding streets of St Ives is a joy in itself, simply follow the signs pointing towards the Tate St Ives or the beach itself.

By Car: Driving to Porthmeor Beach is easy in theory but, parking in St Ives can be challenging, especially during the peak summer months.

The town has several car parks, but the Island Car Park (near Porthmeor) and the Trenwith Car Park (a bit further away) are good options. From there, you can enjoy a pleasant walk to the beach. It's wise to arrive early to secure a parking spot and avoid the busiest times.

By Bus: St Ives is well-served by bus routes connecting it to other parts of Cornwall. Most services heading to St Ives bus station, or the Malakoff as it is known, which incidentally has some of the best view in St Ives! Located near the town centre, Porthmeor Beach a 10-15 minute walk away.

By Train: Travelling to Porthmeor Beach by train is a particularly scenic option and you won’t have to worry about parking. The St Ives branch line, connecting from St Erth (on the mainline from London Paddington to Penzance), offers stunning views of St Ives Bay. Once you arrive at St Ives train station, the beach is a scenic walk along the harbour front away.


Parking is always difficult in St Ives and Porthmeor is no exception. You can pretty much forget street parking as even the seasonal double yellows are enforced from March to November.

The closest car park is right above the beach. However, given it is pretty small and also serves the Tate gallery you'll be lucky to find a space after 9am, even outside the summer.

The nearest alternatives are pretty close; there is The Island car park (which fills up quickly too) just east of the beach and the Barnoon car park overlooking the beach. The latter has great views but the drawback of being at the top of a pretty steep hill.

Access - How to get down to the beach

Beach wheelchairs and buggies can be hired from the café on Porthmeor beach. There is a fairly steeply sloping paved section of road leading down to the beach in front of the Tate Gallery.

The toilets in the Porthmeor beach car park are fully accessible, although the opening times seem a little limited outside of the holiday season.

Is Porthmeor Beach dog friendly?

There is a seasonal dog ban in place. Dogs are not allowed on Porthmeor beach from 15th May to 30th September between 10am and 6pm. Dogs are welcome at all other times.

Does Porthmeor Beach have lifeguards

Daily RNLI lifeguard cover running from the Easter bank holiday (beginning of April), through to the end of October. Beach is patrolled between 10am and 6pm.

Is Porthmeor Beach suitable for swimming?

Porthmeor is often a great beach for a swim. Clear blue sea, easy access and beautiful scenery. It is relatively sheltered for a north coast beach and is not badly affected by rip currents. That said it is best to avoid swimming when there are good waves as it is a busy surf spot.

As always we would only recommend swimming when there are lifeguards on duty, but the beach is generally safe if the sea is calm.

/public/photos/Porthmeor Beach - calm azure waters - morning light

What facilities are there at Porthmeor Beach?

Porthmeor Beach is home to two cafés, both offering stunning views of the sea. Mid-beach, in front of the Tate is the Porthmeor Beach Cafe which serves breakfast, lunch and tapas through to evening dining and cocktails.

At the far end of the beach is West Beach. Open from Easter through to September this beachside cafe serves some top notch handmade pizzas.

/public/photos/Porthmeor beach - view from cafe

Things to do at Porthmeor Beach

With half a mile of golden sand, gentle Atlantic waves and a choice of eateries, there is plenty to entertain beachgoers at Porthmeor. That said, if you do get bored of splashing around in the surf, exploring the rock pools or just lying on the sand, soaking up the sun there are plenty of other options.

Overlooking the beach is the grassy headland known as The Island (although it is very firmly connected to the rest of St Ives!). It is well worth making the short climb to the diminutive chapel of St Nicholas at the top. From here there are great views of Porthmeor and the beaches on the other side of the headland.

Right behind Porthmeor is one of the town's most iconic attractions - The Tate St Ives. Exhibiting works by contemporary British artists with links to the area such as Barbara Hepworth, Alfred Wallis and Ben Nicholson this is a must-visit for art-lovers. Even if you aren't a big fan of modern art the rooftop cafe has some of the best views in town.

As with virtually all of Cornwall's beaches, Porthmeor is situated on the South West coast path. The section between the beach and Zennor is particularly lovely with the rugged landscape marking something of a contrast to the quaint charm of St Ives.

The beach is located within a few minutes walk to the town centre where you will find a plethora of cafes and shops.

/public/photos/Porthmeor Sunset

Porthmeor Beach Reviews (1)


Aug 16th 2021

There is virtually nothing I would change