If it’s the classic Cornish combination of lofty cliffs, sweeping bays and white-horse surf you’re after, then Cornwall’s north coast fits the bill. Battered by Atlantic breakers and whipped by sea winds, the shoreline between St Ives in the south and Bude to the north is arguably the county’s most dramatic stretch of coast. Unsurprisingly, this was poet John Betjeman’s favourite part of Cornwall, but it’s far from a well-kept secret; you’ll be sharing the scenery with everyone from weekend surfers to coasteerers and celebrity chefs.
The heart of the action is Newquay, North Cornwall’s long-standing party town and the capital of the county’s surf scene. The beaches here are spectacular. If you prefer your sands quieter, head west towards the coastal villages of St Agnes and Perranporth, or east towards Padstow and its booming culinary culture. Even quieter are the out-of-the-way beaches east of the Camel Estuary towards Tintagel and Boscastle.