It’s hard not to fall in love with a hidden, secret beach – especially one in a busy place like Cornwall. That’s exactly what I found with Pentreath Beach, a charming sandy bay not far away from the famed Kynance Cove. Fair warning: it’s not easy to get to, but it is absolutely beautiful!
Popular with locals and surfers, Pentreath Beach isn’t suitable for everybody. But for those who don’t mind a bit of an intrepid adventure and are happy to forego facilities like cafes and bathrooms, Pentreath Beach is a gorgeous place for a beach day.
Why should you visit Pentreath Beach?
Ah, because it’s absolutely gorgeous?
No, really – I fell kind of in love with this beach as soon as I caught glance of it from the coastal path. It reminded me of Australian beaches, with a huge swathe of sand and deep blue ocean.
This is Cornwall, of course, so it’s surrounded by dramatic cliff-faces and countryside. During my July visit, there were lots of wildflowers around which only added to the isolated feel.
Best of all, visiting Pentreath Beach really makes you feel like you’re off on an adventure. Getting down to it is a challenge, and one that scares off most visitors.
As a result, there are only a few brave souls – usually including a few surfers – and you really feel like you have it practically to yourself.
Great for dogs and surfers!
Another benefit of Pentreath Beach is that it is dog-friendly all year round! While many of the beaches on the Lizard Peninsula and elsewhere in Cornwall have a seasonal dog ban, your pooch is welcome 365 days a year at Pentreath.
Finally, this beach is a favourite for local, experienced surfers (it is not good for beginners due to the strong tides and submerged rocks). Now, I must confess that the only time I tried to surf I achieved nothing but gulping in mouthfuls of sea water – but I did love watching some pretty amazing surf action from the shore.
A note on safety at Pentreath Beach
Even though Pentreath Beach is absolutely gorgeous, there are a few things to think about before deciding to visit. If in doubt, you can always just look down at it from the South West Coastal Path, or alternatively pick any of the other Lizard Peninsula beaches instead.
When I said “it’s not easy to get to” earlier – I mean it’s really not. There used to be steps to the beach but they have been worn away by coastal erosion. As such it’s a fairly tricky, steep descent down the rocky cliff-face to get to the beach.
You’ll want to be wearing good footwear with some decent grip. In addition, you don’t want to be carrying lots of stuff down there as you’ll need to have your hands free for most of the descent.
In addition, you’ll need to be aware that the area is prone to rockfalls due to coastal erosion. Be really careful and test the ground for stability before putting your weight down.
If you have any mobility issues or are travelling with children, I don’t think you should attempt to visit this beach. There are lots of other nice beaches on the Lizard Peninsula – pick one of those instead!
If you do decide to go down to Pentreath Beach, be sure to be very, very careful.
I did not swim when I visited Pentreath Beach. As embarrassing as it is for an Australian, I actually can’t swim very well and wasn’t keen on getting the RNLI (lifeguard service) out to rescue me.
Also, I have read that Pentreath Beach has very strong currents and is not suitable for swimmers. The currents can be very strong and you can easily get into trouble, even in shallow water.
Although we did see quite a few amazing surfers at the beach, I didn’t see anyone just going for a paddle. In researching this post, I also came across quite a few historic articles about drownings at Pentreath – so I really mean it: please be careful!
There are also no lifeguards on duty at Pentreath Beach, so if you are looking for a swimming beach then I recommend going elsewhere.
Phew, just in case you weren’t kind of petrified by my warnings so far – the last one to be careful of is the tides. The tides come in really fast on the Lizard, and you can easily get trapped on the rocks.
Every year the RNLI rescues lots of people from the rocks at places like Pentreath which is, at best, kind of embarrassing. Research low/high tide before you go, and plan accordingly.
How to get to Pentreath Beach
All but the last bit of getting to Pentreath Beach is pretty easy.
There’s parking at Kynance Cove, although you’ll want to arrive early-ish to ensure you get a spot.
You’ll want to walk across the car park, back to near the entrance to the park. In summer it is manned by National Trust volunteers, and there’s a small car parking shed. The start of the walking trail down to Pentreath is just opposite it. You can ask for help if you’re not sure.
From there, it’s about a 500 metre walk until you should see Pentreath Beach looking gorgeous in front of you. The view here is absolutely stunning, so I recommend leaving a little bit of time to enjoy it and snap some photos!
How to get down to the beach is not clearly marked. You’ll want to look for a small entranceway through the rock wall.
From here, there’s a fairly clear path I followed down towards where the steps used to be. I was really, really careful! This area is prone to rockfalls and can be slippery. There’s no way I would have attempted it had it been raining or if any of the ground seemed unsteady.
(There may be other ways to get down but that’s how I did it. The reformed law student in me feels obliged to remind you that if you choose to go down it is at your own risk… I’m not your mum, but please don’t go if you don’t feel safe!)
You’ll then find yourself on the beautiful beach!
Getting back up is also a bit of a challenge, and may require a little bit of upper body strength. Again, suitable footwear and not too much equipment are important. Also watch closely for any loose rocks.
Tips for visiting Pentreath Beach
- At the risk of sounding like a broken record: BE CAREFUL! Access to Pentreath Beach is at your own risk.
- Although there are no facilities at Pentreath Beach, there is a cafe, car park and bathrooms at nearby Kynance Cove.
- At high tide, most of the sand disappears and only a small patch of rocky beach remains. I highly recommend visiting at low tide if you visit Pentreath Beach!