With its rocky outcrops and golden crescents, St Ives’ peninsula is awash with beach options that rival any in the world. Enjoy outstanding surf, powdery white sands, crystal waters and, of course, some of Cornwall’s finest restaurants and cafés just a stone’s throw away.
Here, we’ve collected some of the best beaching, eating and shopping to be had in St Ives…
Beaches in St Ives
Right outside our windows, sitting between the studios and the Atlantic Ocean is the sandy strip of Porthmeor Beach. Popular with swimmers and surfers, this beach is fabulously convenient – a couple of minutes’ walk from town and right beneath Tate St Ives and the delicious Porthmeor Café. There is a seasonal dog ban in place so make sure you check before bringing a furry friend along.
Porthkidney Sands is a north-facing beach at the mouth of the Hayle Estuary, 2 miles from St Ives. At low tide the beach can stretch almost a mile out to sea and is backed by picturesque sand dunes. The neighbouring beach of Carbis Bay, which sits the other side of the Hawks Point headland, is a short walk along the South West Coast Path, which carries on to St Ives. The beach is dog friendly all year round, but they must be kept on a lead on the footpath.
The golden curve of Porthminster Beach has a definite tropical feel, with white sands and translucent waters. It looks out over Godrevy Lighthouse and deck chairs are available to rent. Less popular with the surfers, this is an ideal swimming beach and there are refreshments available from the Porthminster Beach Café. A seasonal dog ban is in place so check before you go.
Carbis Bay Beach
Carbis Bay tends to remain quite calm in terms of surf, making it ideal for young families and swimmers. Served by the picturesque St Ives branch line and around a mile long, the beach bathes in the glittering light of West Cornwall and a short walk on the east side of the beach at low tide brings you to Porthkidney Sands, where you’ll find an RSPB bird sanctuary, an important habitat for sea birds. There is a seasonal dog ban in place on this beach.
Small but perfectly formed, this sheltered sun trap is a popular choice for families and sun worshippers alike. Located just below the Island carpark, Porthgwidden is a convenient picnic spot close to town and is served by the lovely Porthgwidden Café right on the beach. A seasonal dog ban is in place here.
Eating in St Ives
Nestled in the town’s historic corners or sipping sundowners on balconies overlooking the beach, St Ives foodies have the pick of the restaurants, bars, cafes and, of course, the iconic Cornish pasty.
Dine al fresco on Porthmeor Beach Café’s buzzing terrace or cosied in one of their heated booths above the sand. Its west facing location on Porthmeor Beach makes it the perfect spot for sundowners, people watching, checking the surf and even to catch the occasional dolphin show. The café serves breakfast, lunch, tapas and dinner using the freshest and finest ingredients, locally sourced where possible.
With a classic pub menu centring around fresh Cornish seafood, the Sloop dates back to 1312 and is one of Cornwall’s oldest surviving inns. It is open 365 days a year for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is a favourite haunt for locals, fishermen, artists and tourists alike. Situated right on the harbour, the Sloop is a must for any visitor to St Ives.
Bursting with authentic Thai flavor in a contemporary space overlooking St Ives Harbour, Talay serves up small plates as well as amazing Thai curries and soups. It is an ideal place to grab a quick lunch or to linger over some sharing plates and signature cocktails. They don’t take bookings and can get busy, so make sure you get in there early!
Nestled beneath the steep grassy slopes of St Ives “Island”, right on the beach with unbeatable and uninterrupted views across St Ives Bay to Godrevy Lighthouse. Open all year round for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the café specialises in Mediterranean and Asian seafood cuisine and is an oasis of calm overlooking one of St Ives’ most beautiful beaches.
Beer Huis Grand Cafe.
Nestled in a dense knot of streets known as ‘the warren’ Beerhuis is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, hole-in-the-wall beer joint. Their menu features Belgian inspired dishes such as Croque madame, moules et frites & deliciously decadent Belgian waffles. They also cater for vegans and vegetarians. But it’s the beer that make things really exciting: a wide variety of local & Belgian brews with tasting paddles available, as well as spirits including Belgian Genever gin.
Shopping in St Ives
Poppy’s quirky products begin from her sketches of everyday life in Cornwall. Having set the company up on her own in 2004 she now works with a gorgeous team of ladies throughout Cornwall who cut, sew, package and sell everything she designs. Through her trusty 1930s Singer sewing machine her little drawings spring to life and become bags, tea towels, purses, tea cosies.
“We have a very small space in which we try to fit exactly what you didn’t know you were looking for,” says manager Alice Harandon. A stone’s throw from the harbour, the store has a loyal customer base among locals and returning holidaymakers, with a children’s section bolstered by its own publishing arm, Mabecron Books.
Historically one of the most important spaces for 20th Century artists in St Ives, The New Craftsman is the town’s oldest gallery. It has a prestigious history associated with the St Ives School, the Leach Pottery and now the best in contemporary Cornish art and craft. The gallery supported the early careers of figures such as Peter Lanyon, Bryan Winter, Patrick Heron and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and continues to show original paintings by both emerging and established Cornish artists alongside a varied range of contemporary crafts including glass, automata, wood, handmade jewellery, ceramics and metalwork.
Anima Mundi’s team of professional art consultants are on hand to help you expand your art collection with exceptional contemporary work that has secured them an international reputation.
Formed by marine artist George Fagan Bradshaw in 1927, St Ives Society of Artists’ exhibition programmes feature work chosen by guest curators and invited exhibitions that are a diverse mix of contemporary art.
One of St Ives’ largest private galleries, the Porthminster Gallery specialises in Contemporary and Modern St Ives and British Art, showcasing paintings, prints, sculpture, ceramics, and jewellery, by established and up-and-coming artists. They also have a changing stock of highly-collectable works by major Post War Modern St Ives and British Artists including: Wilhelmina Barns-Graham; Trevor Bell; Sandra Blow; Terry Frost; Barbara Hepworth; Patrick Heron; Roger Hilton; David Hockney; Bryan Ingham; Matthew Lanyon; Peter Lanyon; Margaret Bryan Pearce.
Specialises in Modern British and Contemporary Art. There is a particular emphasis on work by artists associated with Cornwall from the 1930s to the present time. The gallery works with a number of artists, artists’ estates, collectors and other galleries, to produce an annual programme of changing monthly one-person and themed exhibitions usually accompanied by published material.
Some well known brands and some local companies mean here is always something to tempt you as you stroll down the cobbled streets.
Founded in 2007, Academy & Co is an independent clothing and lifestyle store featuring a thoughtful selection of delectably different products, including men’s and women’s fashion, books, ceramics, fragrance, stationery and much more.
This country clothing powerhouse needs no introduction: the perfect place to get togged up for a wet walk in style. Stock up on your nauticals and navy and get into the spirit of St Ives!
FatFace’s cosy, ‘lived in’ feel is second to none. Masters of essentials with a twist, they prioritise premium fabrics and versatile layers perfect to have with you on holiday.
With 20 locations across the Southwest and hundreds of stockists throughout the UK and Ireland, Seasalt’s story began in a tiny shop in Penzance, selling smocks, workwear and Guernsey pullovers to the local fishing (and artist!) population. Since 2001, they have been selling simple comfortable clothing inspired by Cornwall’s historic workforce.
A destination for the design- and earth-conscious alike, The Common Wanderer provides quality outdoor apparel and hardware fit that champions sustainability and function. Happy exploring!
Our list wouldn’t be complete without a surf shop, and Off The Beaten Track is stacked with surfing essentials including surfboards, wetsuits, hoods, boots as well as clothing from a range of surf brands.
Oska’s chic lines and sumptuous colour palettes have gained them quite a reputation. Browse their collection for contemporary design that is elegant, unique and sustainable.
Showcasing the finest fresh and artisan produce from the surrounding area, St Ives Farmer’s Market is open every Thursday from 9:30am-2pm. The Market takes pride in its local ethos, reducing food miles and promoting connections between St Ives’ community and the environment. Pop by for anything from groceries to pottery, cakes and out-of-this-world curries.
Roly’s Fudge Pantry’s delicious artisan fudge is prepared in traditional copper pans right in front of you in their shop on Fore Street. The Roly’s classic flavours use natural and authentic ingredients and make an ideal gift – if not eaten in transit. They’re generous with their tasters too!
The Allotment Deli stocks a wide range of Cornish produce including award winning salamis, cheeses and Cornish pies. They also have plenty of selection for vegan and gluten free customers. Their produce is sourced as locally as possible and for lunch they have freshly made salads, tarts, sandwiches and more.
Their window might be a confection of light pink meringues and chunky rocky road, but St Ives Bakery is serious about its pasties. You can go short or flaky on the pastry and choose from a variety of fillings – from the traditional steak to cheese and bacon – plus a selection of three vegetarian options. They also supply their fabulous organic bread to many local restaurants and shops – the sourdough and Turkish bread are particularly good. Oh – and don’t forget the rocky road.