With so much coast, it was a really difficult job to narrow down the top 10 swims in Cornwall. From the wilder North Coast through to the more gentle Southern Coast there is something for everyone. It’s often possible to choose your swim dependent on the sea state and tides on a daily basis.
The benefits to both mind and body of Outdoor / Wild swimming have been well documented in recent times and there is no doubt that there is a huge movement towards swimming outside in the UK. Coupled with the world being turned upside down by the pandemic there has never been a better time to grab your costume / trunks and head outside! We encourage everyone to swim safely, respect the sea at all times and if in doubt – don’t do it!
Cornwall has beaches galore, hidden coves accessible only by foot with some short but sharp walks to access them, sea pools (both natural and man made) and inland quarries when the sea is too rough, giving swimmers a guaranteed swim – every day!
Cornwall Top 10 Wild Swims
- Cawsands – best at sunrise!
- Lantic Bay, Lanivet and Lansallos beach – South Cornwall
- The beautiful Bude Sea Pool
- Goldiggins Quarry – a hidden gem
- Colona Beach – access only on foot
- Polkerris Beach – a sheltered swim
- Coves on the Lizard Peninsula
- St Ives and Carbis Bay
- The Exquisite Harlyn Bay
- Port Gaverne Cove
Cawsands can be accessed via ferry from Plymouth or over the Tamar Bridge and round the Rame Peninsula. There is a wonderfully quiet swim, between two villages, Kingsands and Cawsands that is best in the early morning when the sun is just coming up!
2. The Three L’s: Lantic Bay, Lantivet and Lansallos Beach
These three are the hidden beaches of South Cornwall. With a steep downhill walk to all of these beaches: Lantic Bay, Lantivet and Lansallos beach, swimmers are rewarded with the beaches to themselves and unrivalled clear water – bliss!
3. Bude Sea Pool
Bude Sea Pool is well known and therefore can get very busy. We would recommend visiting when the weather is not great to get your guaranteed fix in the water, when it will be less busy, and because it is a naturally sheltered pool. It’s not the clearest water for some reason but well worth a visit.
4. Goldiggins Quarry
Located on Bodmin Moor, this is maybe an unusual choice but the water’s clear and it’s big enough to get in a proper swim. Look out for Quarry cliff jumpers parading their acrobatics (we would not recommend this!), and always be cautious of the dangers of deep quarry swimming and be aware of the very cold nature of the water you are paddling in!
5. Colona Beach
This beautiful hidden inlet is accessible only on foot! For those fancying a walk and swim take the coastal walk from Goran Haven to Mevagissey. Portmellon beach is also worth a look as is the wonderful King’s Arms in Mevagissey – with seafood brought in every day. Just ask for Kris!
6. Polkerris Beach
It is best to swim this sheltered gem in the morning or early evening as it does get very busy. With it’s own little harbour, its also sheltered in bad weather.
7. The Lizard Coves: Cadgwith / Coverack / Mullion Cove
These three are all stunning beaches on the Lizard Peninsula with islands, blow holes and hidden beaches ripe for exploration. Each has it’s own flavour and is distinct and unique – we think they are truly unmissable! (Top Tip: during the height of summer avoid the beautiful Kynance Cove like the plague – far, far to many people!)
8. St Ives + Carbis Bay
There is stunning swimming at Atlantic blast at Porthmeor Beach, just watch for a few rocks in the middle of the beach, and swimming in a sheltered dip at the “Caribbeanesque” Carbis Bay. The best way to access these beaches is via the train from St Erth which stops at Carbis Bay and St Ives.
9. Harlyn Bay
This is an exquisite beach on the North Coast, best visited before high tide and normally protected from Atlantic swell. A popular surfing beach which can get busy in the afternoons.
10. Port Gaverne
We love this beautiful cove for swimming. It is normally very calm. Swim through tiny inlets and relax afterwards at an amazing pub, the Port Gaverne, just off the beach. Quieter than its neighbouring Port Isaac!
Active England’s swimming holidays are the perfect balance of exploration and relaxation, immersing guests in some of the most iconic swims and walking trails throughout Cornwall. Join one of our friendly groups, meet like-minded people and discover new and iconic swims – from the water up!
Our wild swimming holidays are for all types of swimmer with a number of different swims planned every day. On this tour you will swim in deserted coves, inaccessible by car, walk to hidden beaches which look like the Caribbean, dip or dive in sea pools at low tide and visit some of the iconic swims which are fast becoming bucket list “must swims”.