March 07, 2022
For such a small town there is a wonderful array of things to see and do. We don’t have fairground rides, water parks or multiplex cinemas, but we do have lots of fun, quirky and delightful things on offer.
You can’t come to St Ives without going to at least one beach. There are seven of them in St Ives, yes seven! Each one has a different feel, different sand, different sea conditions and often really different weather. They all face different ways, so if the wind is blowing a hoolie on Porthmeor, go round to Harbour Beach and it will (usually) be nice and calm.
The seven beaches are Porthmeor Beach, Porthgwidden Beach, Bamaluz Beach, Breakwater Beach, Harbour Beach, Lambeth Beach and Porthminster Beach.
5 minutes drive down the road is Carbis Bay Beach (beautiful but expensive to park) and then further on there is the stunning Porthkidney Sands (incredibly beautiful, big, popular with dog walkers). Further on from that are the beaches at Hayle where they have 3 miles of golden sand. We really are spoilt for choice with beaches in St Ives!
Boat trips don’t run all year round due to the weather conditions. However, they do start running around March time and keep going after the Summer as long as possible.
The main boat trips go to either Seal Island (about 3.5 miles down the coast) or to Godrevy. There are also boats for private charter and fishing trips.
A fairly new addition to the boat trips in St Ives is the glass bottomed boat, Nemo, which looking amazing. Apparently dolphins have been seen under the boat and all sorts of other amazing wildlife.
You can also sail with the St.Ives Lifeboat JAMES STEVENS No.10, which has been recently restored and looks amazing!
If you are looking for something a bit more high adrenaline, there is the Blue Thunder Fast Rib Ride which will whip you up into a mound of seafoam.
The Island in St Ives isn’t really an island, it’s actually a promontory and is quite firmly attached to the rest of St Ives! It’s a beautiful place to visit. There are benches to sit, lots of grass to picnic on and there is a fantastic path all the way round. The views from up there are sensational and it is a great place to spot wildlife. There is often a kestrel hanging about and in the bushes overlooking Porthgwidden beach there is an incredible amount of little bird-life!
Sitting on top of the island is St Nicholas Chapel. The building further on from that is the Surfhouse St Ives where lots of cool events take place - including the Summer Island Disco. The white building sitting right at the end of The Island is the Coastguard Lookout.
A magical thing to do (if you like to get up early) is to go down to one of the beaches that faces out towards Godrevy Lighthouse and watch the sunrise. On a clear morning it is utterly magical!
The Summer is never complete for us without a few evenings sitting on Porthmeor Beach watching the sunset. It is a really chilled out vibe with friends and families still playing on the beach and in the sea till dark. Grab yourself a picnic rug and a cold drink and soak up the atmosphere. Further down towards West Beach (the bit with the long white building at the end of the beach) they often play music and serve cocktails in the evenings. Bliss!
Getting you away from the beach, St Ives has some beautiful little gardens.
St Ives Memorial Gardens sits in Market Place by the parish church. It is full of lush semi-tropical planting and is a lovely place to sit on a Sunday to listen to the church bells. It has the St Ives War Memorial here which is in the shape of a celtic cross.
Trewyn Gardens is really hidden away in St Ives. It is behind Fore Street, up a little hill. It is beautifully planted and can be a peaceful place to sit, away from the hubbub of the main town. At the far end of the garden there is a memorial to Barbara Hepworth called Megalith by John Milne.
The Malakoff is at the top of Tregenna Hill and is a lovely place to stop. It has pretty planting, the Barbara Hepworth sculpture called Epidaurus, and amazing views across town and over Porthminster Beach.
Porthminster Gardens are a beautiful spot with incredibly lush planting and a kitchen garden for the cafe.
Why would you want to visit a cemetery? Simply because it is stunning and full of St Ives history. Barnoon Cemetery sits overlooking Porthmeor Beach and has the most stunning views. During Springtime the wild flowers grow and it is simply stunning. Summertime brings the more exotic flowers and autumn you can blackberry pick here.
The main part of the cemetery is fascinating to wander through. It has graves of those poor souls who were lost in the shipwreck of the SS Alba, the St Ives Lifeboat disaster in 1939 and Stephen Curnow and William Carbines who lost their lives on the Titanic. It also has the impressive grave of the artist Alfred Wallis which is decorated with tiles made by his friend Bernard Leach, of Leach Pottery fame.
The Barnoon chapel is actually two chapels of rest, arranged back to back, like mirror images of each other, each with a small bell-cote holding a single bell. It is now used as a funeral directors.
Man’s Head is the knobbly shaped rock that sits on the far West of Porthmeor Beach. From certain angles it looks like an old man. It is a lovely place to walk and our children love to climb the rocks there. We love the view of Porthmeor Beach from here and you get to watch the waves from side on.
You can pick up the South West Coast Path and walk all the way to Zennor. We often do a circular walk from Man’s Head to Clodgy Point (the next big rocky outcrop if you are walking towards Zennor) and then head up the hill to Brallan (Burthallan Lane). This comes out at Ayr and you can loop back down Ayr Terrace and Porthmeor Hill.
The walk to Zennor is a lovely one, but it can be tricky in places, especially if it has been raining. It is about a 6 mile walk to Zennor and from there it is possible to catch the bus back into St Ives. In Zennor itself is the lovely Zennor Wayside shop and Moomaid cafe, plus of course The Tinner’s Arms pub. The church is also really interesting to look around with it’s carving of the legendary Mermaid Of Zennor.
The walk to Carbis Bay along Hain Walk is really lovely. From Porthminster Beach take the path by Porthminster Cafe and follow it up, over the railway line and up the steep hill. Make sure to stop to look at the view, admire the huge houses and the little Huer’s Hut.
The walk is about a mile long and is quite steep in places. You end up on Carbis Bay Beach where you can find refreshments and dip your toes in the sea.
St Ives Community Orchard is a real hidden gem in St Ives. It sits at the back of the Penbeagle Estate (turn up the hill by the fire station on The Stennack). It was taken over in 2015 by volunteers and it has since been transformed into a place of beauty.
There is now an amazing orchard with hundreds of fruit and nut trees. There are bee hives, an edible forest, a living willow dome, veg garden, pizza oven and so much more. They hold many wonderful community events, courses and I believe there are even more things in the pipeline being planned! It is free to visit at any time and volunteers are welcome to join work parties on Tuesdays and Sundays.
Turn up the road by the Cornish Arms on the road to Carbis Bay and take the left hand fork all the way to the top of the hill. Here you will find the amazing Steeple Woodland Nature Reserve.
It is a 40 acre public open space with Knill’s Monument sitting at the top. It overlooking St Ives Bay and is a lovely place to explore the woods and heathland.
It is free to visit at any time and there a volunteer work sessions, usually held on a Wednesday.
Back to the beach now and it is time to go rock pooling! This is one of the most fun things to do with young children. Their excitement over spotting a blenny or shrimp is heartwarming to me! The best place to rock pool in St Ives is the West side of Porthmeor at low tide. Please do keep a good eye on the tide and wear protective footwear as the rocks can be quite sharp on bare feet.
I’ve lived in St Ives for over 10 years and the birdlife in Springtime here never ceases to amaze me. Yes we have the seagulls (herring gulls) but there is so much more.
The Island is a great place to spot birds, including birds of prey.
Porthgwidden Beach is brilliant for watching cormorants on Merryn Rock (the rock to the right of the beach). Once you start looking for birds you will be amazed at the diversity here!
I’ve only been lucky enough to spot dolphins (when not on a boat) in St Ives a handful of times. They are really tricky to see and are usually a fair way out. They once came right into the harbour and it was bleddy fantastic! Sunfish (quite weird looking big round fish) often lurk around Smeaton’s Pier too.
The best time to try to spot seals is when the fishing boats come in to land their catch. Smeaton’s Pier is a good place to watch, but keep out of the way of the fishermen as it is a working pier.
Another good place to spot seals is on a walk round The Island and by the rocks on Porthgwidden Beach. There are plenty around, you just need to keep your eyes peeled.
I’ve never spotted a whale in St Ives, but apparently they do appear from time to time!
If you are keen to spot some of these wonderful creatures, follow the NCI St Ives page as they often post about what wildlife they can see from their vantage point high up on The Island.
When the wildflowers bloom over the cliffs and heathland around St Ives it is simply stunning. Get your flower book out and get spotting. We get the most diverse range of flowers, including orchids on the cliff. Spring and early Summer is especially amazing, and so colourful!
During Autumn and Winter in St Ives we get some cracking storms. Gale force winds batter the town and brew up some magnificent waves. They are truly impressive to see, but please please do take care.
A fun place to spot big waves is on the walk from the RNLI along what is known as Lambeth Walk on the way to The Warren. Lambeth Walk is actually called Pedn Olva Walk on the maps but no one actually calls it that (apparently it was nicknamed this during the 2WW). During stormy weather big waves come crashing onto Lambeth walk and wash onto the street behind.
Another great place to watch the waves is from a place of warmth any comfort in the big windows of the Pedn Olva Hotel. Sitting there with a glass of something delicious watching the weather come crashing into St Ives is really amazing.
Spring Tides can cause a bit of chaos in St Ives. Spring tides have nothing to do with Spring but occur twice each lunar month all year round. Spring tides are really high tides, which if combined with bad weather can cause flooding, especially on Wharf Road and The Wharf in St Ives. That is what all of those sandbags you see in shop doorways along the front are for!
Why is The Stennack called The Stennack - it is named after the river than runs down the side of it and underneath it. In 1894 it caused a terrible and destructive flood (google it, it is really interesting). You can follow the river down The Stennack to where it comes out into the sea over Lambeth Beach.
Consols Pond is found at the very top of The Stennack, behind the roundhouse at the junction. At Eastertime there is a town tradition of sailing small boats on it, which has recently being revived.
There are 5 main hills to climb up around St Ives, each which gives a wonderful view across the land to the sea. If you are into walking, nature and views then give them a go!
Penbeagle Hill/Carnstabba. This is a favourite of ours and we often walk up there via the park and St Ives Community Orchard.
Steeple Nature Reserve. This is a lovely walk up through the heathland to Knills Monument. The views across St Ives Bay are outstanding.
Rosewall Hill and Buttercup (Trevalgan) Hill. These 2 hill are within walking distance of town (albeit a little hike). They are opposite sides of the road before it all dips down towards Nancledra and swoops off towards Zennor. They are really popular with dog walkers and there is a little free car park at the bottom.
Trink Hill. This is about a 3 mile walk from St Ives and has the twelve o’clock rock at the top.
Trencrom Hill. This is about a 5 mile walk from St Ives but well worth it for it’s far reaching views and Neolithic hill fort. It is owned by the National Trust and there is a free car park at the bottom of this hill.
Okay, I’m going to hold up my hands here and say I’m not a surfer. I’ve tried it, I’ve had lessons, it is just not for me. Plenty of people really do enjoy it though and the best place to give it a go is on Porthmeor Beach.
The St Ives Surf School there is really top notch. They give lessons to all levels and seem incredibly good and patient with beginners. You can hire equipment there too if you just want to give it a go.
If you are surfing, always stay between the black and white checked flags and listen to any announcements by the lifeguards.
Now this is more my cup of tea! I love a bit of stand up paddleboarding on a nice calm and warm day. You do need a good bit of core strength and good balance if you are to stop yourself falling into the ever brisk waters around St Ives.
The best places to try SUP are Porthminster Beach and Carbis Bay Beach.
Bodyboarding is so much fun and it is pretty easy to do. It doesn’t require a huge amount of skill. You just need a board, probably a wetsuit (depending on how hardy you are) and a good amount of enthusiasm.
Lots of people come down to St Ives and buy the cheap body boards from the well known cheapy shop down here. There is a big push to stop people from doing this as they are terribly for the environment and often just get thrown away at the end of the holiday. You can hire body boards from the surf schools and lots of places are now letting you borrow them for free!
Body boarders need to stay between the red and yellow flags - you are NOT surfing!
People swim in the sea all year round in St Ives. Not me, I hasten to add, I have an aversion to too much cold! I’ve got lots of friends down here that swim in the sea not matter what the season and they love it.
If you do fancy a dip, always tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to be back. Don’t go in bad weather, don’t go if there are red flags on any of the local beaches (not all of our beaches are flagged, but if you are being advised not to swim in one place it is sensible not to swim in another).
If you are swimming without a wetsuit (and plenty of people do) make sure to have something warm to put on afterwards and a warm flask of something. Dry Robes are a go go down here in St Ives and it is quite normal to see people walking round town in their swimmers with a dry robe over the top. Don’t come to St Ives if you are hoping for a fashion parade!
There is a group of wild swimmers in St Ives who I believe meet on a Monday morning on Porthminster Beach. They have a facebook page and always are welcoming to newbies, visitors and anyone who is game for a swim!
If swimming in the sea isn’t for you, then there are a few swimming pools in St Ives that you might like to try.
The main one is in the St Ives Leisure Centre. You can’t fail to miss it, it is the big shiny building on top of the hill by the huge Trenwith Car Park. It is run as a normal leisure centre so you don’t need to be a member to swim there.
There are several smaller swimming pools in various hotels and spas around St Ives. There is one at the St Ives Harbour Hotel, Tregenna Castle, Pedn Olva Hotel, Carbis Bay Hotel and Una Spa. You need to check to see if you can use these without staying there or being a member. Sometimes they let you, especially if you are eating there or having a spa treatment.
We use the swimming pool at Una (we have a membership) and I can tell you that it is lush.
There used to be a swimming pool at The Garrack Hotel. This has now been knocked down and I believe they are building a new pool as part of the Ayr Caravan Park. I’m not sure what they are planning on doing with it in terms of letting the general public use it. I’m hoping though that they will bring back the term time swimming lessons as this is where my children were learning to swim (Jo - very good swimming teacher).
St Ives has tennis courts! They are just above Porthminster Beach on Primrose Valley. They are synthetic clay courts and are open all year round. Visitors can use the courts on a pay and play basis - just give them a ring to book.
You can hire a self drive boat from St Ives Boat Rides in the harbour. This costs £70 for an hour and can seat 5 adults or up to 6 including children. Dogs are welcome on the boats too.
You can hire a jet ski from St Ives Boat Rides too, for an adventure tour. These tours either take you North East, up past Godrevy towards Portreath, or down the coast towards Zennor.
It being an above the water activity, I love kayaking. You can take scenic kayaking trips around the coastline with St Ives Surf School and Ocean Sports on Carbis Bay Beach.
If you have brought your own kayak with you , it is worth having a chat with the people who run the surf school. They had an information leaflet last year about tides and advice on the seas around here that was really useful.
You can go mackerel fishing or wreck and reef fishing from St Ives Harbour. The main boat to do this (the one you often see with all the fishing lines sticking up into the air) is the Blue Fin Charter - google St Ives Fishing Trips. No experience is needed and they provide all the rods, reels and tackle.
You can go line fishing in St Ives. You can catch mackerel or flat fish on lures from St Ives Harbour and pier.
3 miles out of St Ives are the Amalwhidden fishing lakes and the Nance fishing lakes. They often run coarse fishing competitions from here, and you can also get tuition.
There are several stables where you can horse ride in St Ives.
The 2 closest stables to town are the Standing Stone Stables in Carbis Bay (near Una) and the Penhalwyn Trekking Centre in Halsetown.
Further afield is Old Mill Stables in Lelant Downs, but this isn’t within walking distance of town.
Horse riding is quite popular, especially with the local kids. If you would like to book a lesson or a hack during your holiday I would advise you to book in advance.
The stables often advertise Own Your Own Pony days and little fun events for children. These are usually put on their Facebook pages.
There are 2 18 hole golf courses in St Ives.
There is an 18 hole golf course surrounding Tregenna Castle which I believe is open to the public.
West Cornwall Golf Course is 3.5 miles out of St Ives in Lelant. They have an 18 holes Par 69 Championship Course, a practice ground, chipping and bunker facilities and a putting green. They also have a very well stocked Pro-shop and an indoor fitting center. Visitors are welcome.
There are 2 putting greens in St Ives; one on Porthminster Beach and one above Porthmeor Beach. Pre-covid these were used every Summer but I’ll have to see if they are going to be running this year. Last year they let the Porthmeor one go wild - great for the bees but no good for putting! I did see last week though that they have cut Porthmeor and I had heard the putting green was back on for this Summer, woo hoo!
St Ives Skate Park had a complete revamp in 2021 and is now a impressive place to skate. It has the Hepworth Vortex - a loop the loop which was designed to acknowledge Barbara Hepworth, and eight foot California bowl drop and the “volcano”. Work is also underway to set up a cafe there which will be excellent!
It is a very popular place with the St Ives youth. You will often see them riding home down The Stennack at a rapid and hair-raising speed still on their skate boards.
St Ives has 3 play parks - of the swings and slides sort - but you have to walk for them, there is nothing right in the heart of town.
The nearest to town is the Ayr Play Park. Walk to the top of Porthmeor Hill, turn right and you will see it after the row of shops (Ayr Stores, Hair St Ives and the E-bike shop). It is quite a small park aimed at slightly older children. It has a good climbing section with a very steep slide, a bucket swing and a bouncy thing. There is a nice sized field that is used mainly by dog walkers, but is also good for kicking a ball around. There is a path that runs around it which my children like to scoot on.
The most well equipped park is all the way up The Stennack, turn right at the Fire Station and walk up the hill. This park is called the Palemon Best Recreation Ground, but is known as Penbeagle Park. It has slides, climbing frames, a roundabout, swings and balance bits. It has a big football field and a zip wire. Behind the main park is the amazing new skate park and the St Ives Orchard.
If you drive (or walk) out of St Ives towards Carbis Bay, there is a park on the left hand side called Richmond Play Park. It has swings, slides, spinny things and a dog walking field. I believe there is funding in place to get this park overhauled, but they have been talking about it for a few years and nothing has happened yet. Just a word of warning, it gets really cold at this park as it faces out to sea! Bring warm things to wear if you are planning on standing around while your child plays.
The Rugby Club in St Ives isn’t just for car parking! The St Ives Hakes play there regularly and have both senior and junior teams. Come and watch them play - their fixtures are announced on the board by the Consols Pond junction into St Ives.
Okay, I’m not actually recommending you do this. It is dangerous, especially if you don’t know the tides and depth of water. But plenty of locals do it and it is hair-raising to watch!
So what is tombstoning? It is where you jump off the end of the pier into the sea. Lots of the local kids do it, you will see it happening and I just thought I’d mention it so you know what it is. DO NOT DO IT unless you are 100% sure of the depth of water, tides and you have all your eyes on the incoming boats. It is honestly really dangerous.
Tombstoning is such a thing in St Ives we have had to include a tombstoner on the game (look closely by Smeaton’s Pier lighthouse and you will see a little figure leaping off the end).
During the less stormy months you can take part in yoga classes on the beach. Showcase Studios St Ives offer a great selection of yoga classes and retreats, both on and off the beach.
The Tate St Ives is such an icon of the town. Built in the old gas works above Porthmeor Beach, it is a really eye catching and unusual building.
It exhibits works by modern British artists with links to the St Ives area.
Entry to the Tate is £10.50 for adults - under 18s go free. There is a lovely cafe and gift shop at the top.
During the holidays The Tate St Ives often has family art days. We have been to lots of these which are really inspiring for the children (and us adults!). Check the Tate St Ives website for details - I also post about upcoming events on my Facebook page.
The Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden is a wonderful place to visit. It is right in the heart of town, but is so tranquil and magical.
'Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic’, wrote Hepworth. ‘Here was a studio, a yard and garden where I could work in open air and space'. This quote feels so true even today, with lots of visitors. The place has a timeless and still quality, with wonderful light.
It costs £8.00 to visit.
Throughout the town you can see various Barbara Hepworth Sculptures. Epidaurus at The Malakoff over looking Porthminster Beach; Dual Form outside The Guildhall on Street-An-Pol are definitely worth a visit.
Sitting a little way up The Stennack, almost of the edge of town is The Leach Pottery.
The pottery was founded in 1920 and was originally an old cow shed and tin ore store - there were mines and farming all around this part of St Ives.
The site was renovated and reopened in 2008 as a working studio pottery, museum and gallery.
You can take courses there and they often have children’s workshops during the holidays.
If you are looking for arty crafty things to do while you are in St Ives, there are lots of places that run workshops and courses.
The Barnoon Workshop is a lovely little workshop up by Barnoon Car Park overlooking Porthmeor Beach. They hold lots of courses and workshops, including outdoor painting and drawing.
Porthmeor Studios runs courses
Cygnets Arts School runs art courses at The Island Centre.
The Sloop Studios are tucked away at the back of The Sloop car park (behind The Sloop Inn!).
Walk through the doors into a wonderful courtyard full of small shops, galleries and studios. You can watch artists at work here and buy amazing works of art and crafts, direct from the maker.
Porthmeor Studios is located on Back Road West and is a wonderful place to visit.
Artists have been working here since the 1880s, alongside the fishing nets (there is such an interesting studio showing how this worked).
The studio holds exhibitions, workshops and classes.
I’m always blown away by the amazing building and the view out to Porthmeor Beach and the sea from the enormous windows.
As well as the main studios, you must wander around the back streets of St Ives, as there are so many art galleries and studios tucked away. They are often manned by the artists who exhibit there, most of whom love to chat about their art.
Well if you insist, mines a large glass of white wine please!
St Ives has some great pubs in town. The ones on the harbour - The Sloop Inn and The Lifeboat Inn are probably the most well known, but venture further back on Fore Street and High Street and you will find some great pubs such as The Castle Inn, Union Inn and The Queens.
Most of them serve local ales and do cracking Sunday lunches. They also host live music, quiz nights, sporting fixtures and every so often the amazing Shanty Shout Outs.
St Ives Farmers’ Market is held every Thursday morning in The Guildhall on Street-An-Pol in St Ives. It is a wonderful market full of local producers and growers. Well worth a visit!
You can’t visit St Ives without having a Cornish Pasty. If you have been put off eating pasties by chomping on certain well known lesser tasting versions, then I urge you to try again!
The Cornish Pasties baked by the bakers of St Ives are simply delicious. The pasty is flaky and crumbly with a beautiful brown sheen, the fillings are sumptuous, hot and so tasty. Nothing like the pale, tasteless versions you know I am talking about!
Most people have their favourite Cornish pasty shop in town. Mine is the St Ives Bakery which is the shop with the glorious window display on the corner of Fore Street and The Digey.
A shortcrust steak washed down with a cup of tea has to be one of the finest lunches ever. Especially if it is eaten in a seagull free, sunny corner on the beach.
Jam first, jam first! Whatever you do put your jam on first, you are in Cornwall for heavens sake, not Devon!
A freshly baked scone with homemade jam and clotted cream is beyond devine! There are lots of cafes that do a superb cream tea.
One of my favourite places to get a cream tea from is the Allotment Deli.
Cor blimey who doesn’t love a nice chunky proper Sunday lunch out? No cooking, hurrah, no washing up, even more hurrah!
There are lots of great places in St Ives to have a Sunday Lunch. A couple of my favourites are The Loft Restaurant - simply yum, and The Queens on the High Street.
I’ll be honest, these are the ones I have most recently sampled and I’m happy to be told there are other ones that do good Sunday lunches too!
Fish & Chips down here in St Ives taste completely different to eating them anywhere up country. The fish tastes fresher, the batter is crispier and the chips are the most chippiest! Honest!
If you are in the heart of the town, you can’t go wrong with The Balancing Eel. This is tucked up the slope by The Wharf Post Office, and you can eat in or get a takeaway.
Slightly off the beaten track is the very up and coming By The Sea (nice name guys), which is just off Royal Square down Chapel Street. They used to be called The Albatross but it fairly recently changed hands and I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews about them. Again, you can eat in or take away.
There are two slightly out of town proper Fish & Chip takeaways. The one we use is called Sharkeys, which is up at the top of Penbeagle Hill in the industrial estate.
My parents love Becks, which is on the main road in Carbis Bay. My Mum has to eat gluten free (not a fad, she is massively allergic!) and they do the best gluten free batter she has ever eaten!
St Ives has an amazing range of places to eat out in. From top notch fine dining, to takeaways. I'm in the middle of writing an epic blog post about all the different options for eating out in St Ives.
You can buy lovely fresh fish in St Ives. When the fishermen are landing their catch you can buy it from Smeaton's Pier or around Mount Zion. The Beach on Wharf Road has a wet fish counter. Mathew Stevens on Penbeagle Industrial estate does sell direct to the public (give them a ring). Celtic Fish and Game do home deliveries too.
Work is being done on setting up a fish market on Smeaton's Pier. Once I know more about this I will post more information.
If you are coming to St Ives, you must try some St Ives Cider. Made by a lovely local family using apples from local orchards, they brew the most delicious ciders that keep winning awards! You can buy their cider from most of the local markets.
St Ives Brewery is another local booze maker that you must check out. I mean, how can you not want to drink a beer called “Meor”, “Porth”, “Alba” or “Hella”!
The Allotment Deli is the gorgeous shop on Fore Street with the lovely windows and fruit and veg outside. It’s so pretty we had to feature it on our game!
They sell a wonderful array of locally sourced food, such as breads, cheeses, Cornish pies and pretty much anything you could want for the best picnic ever!
There are some super ice cream shops in St Ives. Our favourite is Moomaids Of Zennor. Their parlour is on the corner of Street-An-Pol and St Andrews St. Their ice cream is made from milk from cows rearer in Zennor and is simply delicious. Shipwreck is the best!
Inside the parlour there is also a little shop where you can buy some lovely gifts and when in season, locally grown flowers.
The question is though, have you ever had your ice cream stolen by a seagull? If you have you can call yourself a true St Ives lover.
Does a fancy afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, cakes, cream tea and bubbles take your fancy? You can get this at the St Ives Harbour Hotel or Carbis Bay Hotel, where you can pretend to be all posh!
Smeaton’s Pier is the image most people have in their heads when they think of St Ives. It is named after the engineer John Smeaton who designed it around 1767. Interestingly it has a reservoir at it’s base which fills up at high tide and reduces the wave action in the harbour.
Smeaton’s Pier has 2 lighthouses - the smaller one halfway along was built when the original pier was much shorter. They extended the pier is 1890 and built the new, larger lighthouse.
Why the 3 arches underneath? These were built to help with the circulation of water to prevent the sand building up in the harbour.
Smeaton’s Pier is a working pier where fishermen land their catch. There is a harbour office which is open most days.
On the seaward side of the pier is a lovely place to sit under shelter. There is a Leach Pottery mural and some lovely engravings on the benches.
The little chapel at the start of the pier is called St Leonard’s Chapel. It has been there since medieval times and is where the fishermen used to pray before setting out to sea.
The oldest house in St Ives is found at 5 Fish Street. It is reputed to have been built in the 1600s. There were of course much older houses than this, but in the 1930s they were cleared in the slum clearances. The most notable of these was the demolition of Pudding Bag Lane.
The St Ives Museum is an amazing little museum, packed full of St Ives history. It isn't open all of the time, so you will need to check opening times.
Alfred Wallis was a Cornish fisherman, who took to painting when his wife died. He started painting at the age of 70 and he painted fishing scenes from around St Ives. His style is called naive and was not appreciated until after his death in 1942.
He died a pauper and his friend Bernard Leach (of the Leach Pottery) made the tiles for his beautiful grave, which can be found in Barnoon Cemetery in St Ives.
His works of art are now displayed in the Tate St Ives.
The St Ives Parish Church is the big church in town near the RNLI station. The church is built of Cornish granite from Zennor and the tower is one of the tallest of the cornish churches, standing over eighty feet high, like a shepherd watching over its flock on land and sea.
The church is open daily and the Sunday said mass is at 8am with a full choral sung mass at 9:30am.
The coal ship the SS Alba was wrecked on the Three Brothers Rocks on 31st January 1938. The lifeboat was launched but capsized in huge waves, leading to the loss of 5 of the Alba crew. The boat broke up and all that now remains of it are the boilers which can be seen at low tide on Porthmeor Beach.
Visit the holy well of St Eia, which, until 1843 was the main water supply for the Downalong area of St Ives. It is now used during the St Ives Feast Day celebrations. The well is found at the bottom of Porthmeor Hill, at the bottom of Barnoon Cemetery.
Knill’s Monument is the spire on top of the hill overlooking St Ives. You have probably seen it and wondered what on earth it is! It was built by John Knill as a memorial to himself! He also left money to the town for the monument's upkeep, as well as putting on the Knill ceremony every 5 years in his honour!
If you don't make it for the ceremony (the next one is on the 25th July 2026, a walk up through Steeple Woodland Nature Reserve up to the monument is a lovely one, with far reaching views across St Ives Bay.
St Ives Library now houses the tourist information - it used to be in The Guildhall. Pop in to grab all the brochures and bumph and ask any questions - they are lovely people in there.
There is also a little shop there where you can buy books and gifts.
The library itself is worth exploring. They have a fascinating range of books about St Ives history and some super works of art.
The RNLI is a huge part of St Ives. The station sits at the bottom of the aptly named Lifeboat Hill. You can take tours around the station and there is a lovely shop next door where you can buy souveniers.
The NCI Coastguard Lookout station is right at the top of The Island, overlooking the whole of St Ives Bay. It is run by a team of volunteers who watch over the coastal activity in St Ives Bay. They also monitor weather and sea conditions and provide information for mariners, walkers and other users of the sea and coast.
To help with fundraising they have a little second hand book stall in the lookout. Donations of books are welcome, as are buyers! You can also visit the station when they aren’t too busy.
If you are on Facebook, follow NCI St Ives as they post lots of really interesting and useful information about the sea and wildlife they have spotted.
St Nicholas Chapel is the tiny building perched high on the top of The Island in St Ives. A structure has stood there since pre 1434 and it is believed to have been used as a place of worship until the main St Eia Parish Church was built in 1434.
Its uses have been varied; as well as a place of worship it was used by revenue officers on the lookout for smugglers, smugglers as a lookout for revenue officers, and it was later used by the war office during WW2.
These days you can walk up there to visit it and pop inside when the doors are open. You can also hire it for blessings (but you can’t legally get married there).
Have you ever wondered what those fairly unprepossessing wooden building are on the harbour? The are the Fishermen’s Lodges. There are two on Wharf Road - Shore Shelter and Rose Lodge, and Shamrock Lodge is the one by The Sloop. They were used by fishermen waiting for the tide and are now used for socialising and keeping traditions alive. Money is being raised to help bring them back to life - lots of repairs are needed!
Interestingly, swearing in the lodges is strictly forbidden. But spitting and smoking is fine!
The Baulking House or Huer’s Hut can be found on Hain Walk if you start walking from Porthminster Beach towards Carbis Bay. It was used as a lookout by a “Huer” who would spot shoals of mackerel in the sea. He would raise the alarm by shouting “Hevva” to let the fishing boats know where to fish.
Kidz R Us are an amazing amateur dramatics group who put on shows in the St Ives Theatre on The Stennack. The quality of their productions is always outstanding and if there is a show on when you visit, you must get tickets.
St Ives Cinema is a little cinema opposite the St Ives Theatre on The Stennack. We use it lots and I don’t think many people know it is there, as we have often been the only people watching a film (perfect in the times of Covid!). They put on the major new releases and also stream live shows, such as ballet from London. The mini merlins sessions held on weekends are super cheap too at only £2.50 a ticket.
The Guildhall on Street-An-Pol is a great place to check out for entertainment. They often have comedy and live music events, plus regular markets such as the St Ives Farmers’ Market, The Collectables Market and the St Ives Artisan Market.
During the Summer the cinema comes to Porthmeor Beach. A huge screen is put up, deckchairs, bean bags and blankets are set out, cocktails and mixed and some of the best and most cheesy films are shown. Tickets always sell out fast so grab them quickly when they go on sale - check out Cornish Cinema Club or our Facebook Page for details.
The Surfhouse St Ives is the middle building on top of The Island. They hold some lovely events, such as gin tasting, “Seafood, Views & Epic Booze” (with live DJ) and the Summer Island Disco. Check out their facebook page for details - I have a feeling they will be adding lots more events now we are (hopefully) coming out of the pandemic.
Check out my blog post with all the local events that go on throughout the year. There is loads of amazing stuff happening all around St Ives and West Cornwall.
There are regular quiz nights (Hosted by Liz’s Quizzes) at The Queens and The Castle Inn in town. There are also ones at the St Ives Rugby Club. Check out St Ives Liz’s Quizzes on Facebook for details.
Lots of the pubs in town have live music and open mic nights. The Kettle n Wink, The Sloop Inn and many more have regular live music. Check out Una Spa too who have live music on the weekends.
If you are really lucky, you might come across a Shanty Shout Out in the pubs in town. These are where groups of singers go around the pubs, singing sea shanties and other traditional songs. The local shanty shout group is the Bamaluz Bootleggers, and on organised Shout Outs, there can be up to 20 different groups going around the pubs in town.
The St Ives Arts Club (the wooden clad building on Westcott’s Quay) is a brilliant place for events. They host art events and exhibitions, music, poetry, drama, comedy and films.
Harbour Amusements on Wharf Road is a lot of fun, especially for the young at heart. It has a range of quintessentially British seaside amusements, such as the shooting gallery and 2p machines, plus ride on things for the very small ones and arcade games for the older ones.
Upstairs is the St Ives Harbour Pool & Billiards club, which is a members only club. You can get temporary membership though, at only £5 per week. It has a bar, serves food and has full size Snooker and Pool tables as well as darts and other games. If you can get a table in the window you also get one of the best views of the harbour!
A great idea on a rainy day in St Ives is to go to the Escape Rooms. Get a team together, book a room and there is 60 minutes on the clock to escape!
The St Ives Mermaid swims into the harbour once in a blue moon. With a flick of her blue tail she dives into the water and lands on a beach - usually Porthminster. She loves to meet children and have her photo taken. Please donate anything you can to her charity Mind as she does this to raise money for the charity.
She does post on Facebook when she is making an appearance, so you can either check her own page out, or I will post it onto mine (St Ives By The Sea) to let you all know she is coming.
Can you call yourself a St Ives fan if you haven’t had your photo taken in front of the Green Door? What on earth am I talking about I hear some of you say? What is the Green Door? The Green Door is a beautiful old door hidden away on Virgin Street. It allegedly dates back to 1802 and apparently The Tate offered to buy it from the owners - who thankfully refused!
Many visitors to St Ives take their photo in front of it and post their pictures onto Love St Ives. Only then can you call yourself a true St Ives Lover!
Have you seen the invisible man? He lives overlooking Bamaluz Beach on Wheal Dream - a more St Ives-y sentence I could not write! In good weather he is there, ready to have his photo taken (£1 donation please). When the wind blows too strong he becomes well…invisible!
You can hire a lovely little beach chalet on Porthmeor, Porthgwidden or Porthminster Beach. They are teeny tiny but perfect for storing all your beach gear in. You have to admit, it would make life a lot easier for most of us harassed parents, in our attempts to lug the kitchen sink to the beach!
When the deckchairs on the harbour prom come out you know it is a sign that the good weather is coming. You can hire the traditional blue and white striped chairs, or they have the more easy to get and and out of directors chairs, complete with pop up table. I especially love the little chalk board signs that you can hang on your chair with your name on! Last year their prices were between £3 and £5 for the day - a bargain for such style and comfort!
If you look in the tide line after big winds or a storm on the beach, you will find pieces of seaglass. These are pieces of glass that have been lost into the sea and churned and polished by the waves. They make beautiful momentos and my daughter loves to turn them into pictures and mosaics. The best places in St Ives to collect seaglass are Harbour Beach and Porthmeor Beach.
Have you heard of Shanty Baba? He is a legendary storyteller who takes groups around St Ives after dark. He tells tales of ghosts, pirates, smugglers and all things spooky.
Head past the loos by the RNLI station on Wharf Road and you will get to Lambeth Walk Beach. At low tide it is a dog walker's heaven, with a vast, sandy beach at your disposal (all year round!). At high tide it is just rocks. Or is it? Look closer and you may see some strange and almost unnatural looking sculptures! I’ve no idea how it is done, but it is fascinating to watch and see the towers of beautifully balanced stones defy gravity.
It may sound like a big claim, but I think the train ride from St Erth to St Ives one of the most picturesque train journeys on earth!! The train hugs the coast round the estuary around Lelant and Porthkidney Sands. It then turns towards Carbis Bay, along the cliffs and through to St Ives and Porthminster Beach. It is simply breathtaking!
It’s not too pricey either. At the time of writing an adult return cost £4 and there are around 2 trains per hour. Dogs are allowed and under 5s go free. The trains run from about 7am to 10:30pm but do check current times and costs with the train company.
The open top bus is an amazing bus trip from St Ives to Land’s End, all along the coast. It is the bright blue double decker bus you can’t failed to have missed, driving in and out of St Ives. You catch the bus in St Ives from The Malakoff (top of Tregenna Hill by the train station) and you can hop on and off the bus if you want to explore places in between like Geevor Mine, Sennen and Porthcurno. This year prices have really been cut and it looks like an adult day pass on the open top bus is £5. Dogs are allowed and you can use bus passes too.
A sit in the sunshine at Kitty’s Coner is a must for any visitor to St Ives. Kitty’s Corner is an iconic spot in St Ives. It is the little corner on the Harbour Beach by the sweet little cottages and the dream Quay House. It is called Kitty’s Corner after the lady who used to live there with her cats. She could often be seen feeding them and the seagulls on the beach. Because of the way that corner of the beach faces, it is often warm, sheltered and sunny, even in Winter.
The St Ives Jumbo Luggers are the small open sailing boats with rusty red, almost square looking sails. There are 3 of them that sail from St Ives harbour.
There are 2 really stunning murals in St Ives. They are both on The Stennack at the entrance to the laundrette car park.
The one on the left (if you are looking into the car park) is by the freehand aerosol artist Sketch86. It is of a man, a woman and a little dog in the fishing boat SS226. If you look closer there are lots of details such as the Cornish flag and an engine house.
The one on the right was painted much more recently, in May 2021. It is by the artist Joe Greenaway and is of the local potter Callum Trudgeon, who is a very successful local potter at the Leach pottery.
Due to some diligent campaigning by a local dog lover (Doggone Shame - St Ives Empty Beaches on Facebook), the dog restrictions on the beaches of St Ives have eased somewhat.
Porthmeor and Porthminster Beaches allow dogs on all year except from 15th May to 30th Sept between 10am and 6pm. Porthgwidden and the Harbour Beaches allow dogs on all year except from 1st July to 31st August between 10am and 6pm. Bamaluz, Breakwater and Lambeth Beaches allow dogs on all year, but access is limited at high tides when the beaches disappear.
There are lots of places offering some quite wonderful spa treatments in St Ives. The big grand hotels have quite elaborate (and expensive) spas with pools. They offer some super spa treatments and you can also pay to use the facilities for the day. There are also a few smaller salons and shops that offer lovely treatments too.
St Ives is a brilliant place to go shopping. As well as having some big high street names such as Fat Face, Seasalt and Joules, there are lots of amazing independent shops. Fore Street is the main shopping area, but there are some excellent shops in The Drill Hall, just off Royal Square, and along Tregenna and the High Street.
Most of us at some point or other have dreamt about moving to live in St Ives. For most of us it is an idle dream, for some of us it does happen.
For the dreamers, here is the house that many people would love to live in! It is called Quay House and sits right on Harbour Beach in St Ives.
On first glance, the beaches around St Ives seem very clean. But start looking closer and you start to see all sorts of litter. It is especially bad after a very high tide or storm – or during the Summer when the visitor numbers are really high!
There are lots of organised beach cleans in and around St Ives. Check our facebook page (St Ives By The Sea) as we do post about them. If there isn't one on, do one yourself, it is always REALLY appreciated!
St Ives is a place that inspires people to create not only art, but literature. There are lots of wonderful books that are either about St Ives or set in St Ives or visit St Ives. Some of the best are the children's ones. If you pop into the wonderful bookshop called the St Ives Bookseller on Fore Street you can see some of the best ones to read.
Don't panic, car parking in St Ives is honestly not as awful as people make it out to be. Yes, you probably won't be able to park in the centre of town in the height of Summer. I mean, St Ives is a really small town and thousands of people flock to visit, most of you with a car. Where are we supposed to put you all, on the beach? There are several big car parks slightly out of town. The main council car park at Trenwith does get full quickly. I always tell people to park at the locally run Rugby Club where I've been told they always have spaces. They also have a shuttle bus that will drop you just outside the Tate, above Porthmeor Beach. So you don't have to tackle the hills with your beach bags and surfing gear.
And yes I know car parking isn't exactly a "brilliant" thing to do. However, if you sort out your car parking you will enjoy the other 100 things all the better!
A visit to St Ives is made even better by playing our fun filled game, The Great St Ives Pasty Dash. You will get to know St Ives like never before, and it is the perfect thing to do on a rainy afternoon.
You can buy the game here on our website, and if you are in St Ives you can come and collect it from us in person. Use the discount code STIVESLOCALPICKUP to get free delivery and we will email you with when and where to collect it.
Is there anything you like to do in St Ives that you think should be included? Send me a message on our contact us page and I will try to include it for you.
If you like St Ives you will love playing it!
July 27, 2022
Soft play can be a lifesaver on a rainy day with kids in Cornwall.
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