The north west facing Gwithian Towans is located in St. Ives bay and makes up part of the large expanse of sand facing out into the Atlantic. It is really an iconic beach of the north Cornwall coast along with Godrevy and sums up what people think of when holidaying in Cornwall.
Towans refers to a whole stretch of sand dunes and the word Towan means Sand dunes. The Towans or sand dunes themselves stretch for over three miles but sections have been given their own names. So over the course of the Towans you will find Hayle Towans, Riviere Towans,Mexico Towans, Common Towans, Phillack Towans, Upton Towans and Gwithian Towans.
Gwithian is a sandy beach that spans roughly a mile and is backed by sand dunes that give the Towans their name. The village of Gwithian sits just a short distance from the sand dunes and provides the access down to the beach.
Gwithian beach has view right across St. Ives bay, all the way back along the Towans and straight across from Gwithian to the east around 4 miles away St. Ives itself can be seen.
A notable feature of Gwithian is the “Red River” which lies to the eastern end of the beach. The Red River is a small river, about 8 miles long that runs into the sea between Gwithian and Godrevy beach. It gets its name from the tin mining industry close by which created mineral deposits staining the river red. Mining has since ceased in the area and the distinctive colour is now gone. A pub in Gwithian The Red River in takes it’s name from this feature.
Surfing at Gwithian Towans is the main activity you’ll see happening in the water. There is reliable and consistent surfing conditions all year round. The size of the beach means you can find some space although it will get more crowded during peak season.
The further toward Godrevy (right side of the beach) the surf tends to be bigger. If you are a beginner you can find the waves gradually taper down the further away from Godrevy you go, meaning you can usually find something you are comfortable with.
Getting To and Parking At Gwithian Towans
From the A30 at Hayle take the exit at the roundabout signposted B3301 Hayle. Pass Lidl and take the right at the double roundabout marked Portreath B3301. This road will continue for around 2 miles, before you reach the village of Gwithian there is a small left hand turn signposted Gwithian Towans Parking.
Down this small access road there are 3 car parks. The first two small car parks you come across are mainly to access the sand dunes and are some way away from the beach. The main beach car park which has a capacity of several hundred cars is further up the same access road.
Access to Gwithian
If you park in the main car park there is access to the beach down a path which leads to some steps. The two smaller car parks require a small walk through the sand dunes to get closer to the beach.
There is a daily lifeguard patrol present at Gwithian Towans between early May and the end of September.
Lifeguard cover is also provided on some weekends and bank holidays as well as Easter school holidays and October school holidays so please check the RNLI website for full details of dates and times.
Dogs are allowed on the beach during the winter months but are restricted between 1st May to the 30th September to between 8am and 7pm.