Facing northwest, Porthmeor beach is an iconic north coast beach situated just a small distance from the centre of St. Ives. One of four beaches in St. Ives, Porthmeor is a wide expanse of coarse shell based sand. When the tide is out the beach seems huge, surrounded by rocks on either side at low tide and to the right of the beach you have the headland called “The Island”.
Out of all the beaches in St. Ives it is the most dramatic at times, facing northwest it exposed to the Atlantic swells slightly more than the beaches in St. Ives bay. This makes it a popular surfing beach and because it has some protection from the wind the waves can be fairly clean and hollow. It’s also because of this that swimming is more advisable at the other beaches in St. Ives, when the lifeguard patrol are stationed in the summer a flagged area will be marked for bathing.
All the beaches in St. Ives are within walking distance of each other which makes it easy enough to find a spot to yourself. It does get busy in the summer months with such easy access from the town to the beaches.
Porthmeor beach looks quite unique in the respect that buildings are right on the head of the beach. Artist’s studios, galleries and holiday cottages are all right on the beach and all overlooked by the Tate, St. Ives.
The Tate at St. Ives exhibits works of art from artists all over Cornwall and the UK. St. Ives is somewhat of a hub or melting pot for artists who seek inspiration from the beautiful area in and around St. Ives and the quality of light. There are plenty of galleries with work for sale and exhibits throughout the town.
Getting To and Parking At Porthmeor Beach
There is a car park close to Porthmeor Beach called Barnoon but it is often full quite early during the peak season. There is a main car park for St. Ives about 600 metres up from St. Ives town centre this is often the best car park to use in the summer.
There is also a park and ride at the train station at St. Erth that is quite a scenic route into the heart of town avoiding the traffic and walking up or down hills.
To Get To The Main Car Park
On the A30 just to the west of Hayle take the roundabout signposted to St. Ives A3074. Just along the A3074 you will come to the roundabout at Lelant where you can either carry on straight into St. Ives centre or you can take a left signposted for St. Ives day visitors.
The route for day visitors enters the town from behind, closest to the main town carpark and is often quicker in the summer with plenty of road signs along the way.
If you carry on along the A3074 you will see the road signs for visitor parking just opposite the St. Ives Harbour Hotel. Follow this road along with the signs and you will get to the main car park.
Access and Facilities
There are steps down onto Porthmeor all along the beach at various points there is also a ramp down to the beach opposite the Tate St. Ives which is suitable for disabled use and pushchairs.
There are public toilets in the centre of the beach near ramp down and also at Barnoon car park.
Lifeguard Patrol and Swimming
There is a lifeguard patrol stationed on Porthmeor between Easter and September and also on some bank holidays and Autumn half term, check the RNLI website for more up to date timings.
Swimming is only really suitable on calm days when the lifeguard patrol have flagged a designated area to bathe in. The other beaches in St. Ive are more sheltered than Porthmeor and make for a better choice to swim at.
Surfing at Porthmeor
The surf at Porthmeor beach is fairly consistent and reliable. Conditions are best with westerly swells and southerly winds. The beach is fairly sheltered by the headland and can produce some clean waves. There is a surf school at the beach during the summer months.
The beach is dog friendly out of season. During the months between Easter and the end of September there is a ban on dogs being allowed on the beach