Porthtowan Beach

Porthtowan is a popular surfing beach backed by dramatic cliffs and sand dunes on the north coast of Cornwall.

Porthtowan beach is a large, golden sandy beach surrounded with cliffs and sand dunes. It is a popular tourist destination and has been since the victorian times. The beach and surrounding area is in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

One thing you will notice about Porthtowan and the landscape around here is the number of old mining buildings. The mining heritage of Cornwall is on show and engine houses and related mining buildings are dotted all around. Some of these buildings are still in use as holiday lets and homes.

Porthtowan roughly means sandy cove or cove of sand and this is reflected in much of the beach. At high water though there is a fair amount of shingle and during the winter the amount of sand on the beach drops.

There is a secluded tidal pool here at low tide, it can be a challenge to get to though down some steep steps. If you head north east from the beach to the right along the cliff path you will see the pool from the cliff. At high water the pool disappears so you need to wait till low tide. Being surrounded by cliffs, care needs to be taken if you do venture down to it as the cliffs in this area do suffer from erosion.

Porthtowan is renowned for it’s surf, during the winter it becomes a beach for experienced surfers, during the summer however newer surfers may enjoy the conditions. The beach does have notorious rip current however so care needs to be taken. The lifeguards will designate an area where surfers can enter the water.

Getting To & Parking At Porthtowan

On the A30 take the Chiverton Cross roundabout and exit onto the B3277 signposted to St. Agnes. A few miles along the B3277 you will come to a left hand turn just opposite the Seven Milestone Garage, take the left hand turn which is signposted to Porthtowan. This road leads all the way down to Porthtowan, at the end of this road there is a left hand turn marked beach.

There is a fairly large car park at Porthtowan beach just past the Unicorn Inn on the right. There is also some road side parking which may be available out of season but there are restrictions so check the signs.

Access and Facilities

The access from the car park to the beach is level, just across a road and a sandy/grassy verge and suitable for disabled access and push chairs.

There is a block of public toilets in the car park which include disabled facilities.

Lifeguard Patrol

There is a RNLI lifeguard patrol at Porthtowan daily between the beginning of May and the end of September. There is also a patrol during the Easter school holiday and October half term plus weekends and bank holidays in October. For a list of exact dates please check the RNLI website here.

Porthtowan isn’t really a beach to swim at, if you are going to bathe here then only do so in the designated area marked by the lifeguard patrol.

Surfing At Porthtowan

Porthtowan is a popular surfing beach and is often consistent. The beach break can change depending on where the sandbanks have formed. During winter, large swells mean the conditions are more suitable for experienced surfers. There are some dangerous rip tides here that you need to be careful with.

Dog Friendly?

Dogs are allowed on the beach during the winter. During the period between Easter and the beginning of October no dogs are allowed on the beach.