Porthmeor Beach is possibly my favourite beach in St Ives (and not just because it is the closest one to our house). Every time I get to the top of Porthmeor Hill and see the beach vista, it takes my breath away. It is so incredibly vast, dramatic and beautiful. Even if I see it every day for a month, it never lessens!
It is the best surfing beach in St Ives, with waves of some sort on all but the very calmest of Summer days.
Porthmeor Beach is a pretty big beach, even at high tide, with lots of different places to sit, depending on what you fancy doing.
Starting at the Island side there is a sort of alcove which is often sheltered from the wind. It is a great place for a cheeky picnic in Winter. There are lots of rocks and pools to explore here at low tide. The tide line is also an interesting place to rummage around in. We are always finding little bits of Lego (washed up from a cargo ship in the 90s).
Most people congregate in the middle area in front of the cafe and the Tate. There is the Surf School here, so you get lots of people with surf boards and body boards. The Lifeguard station is also here and the swimming area is usually around this bit, depending on the tide.
The West side is a great place to take the kids on a warm day. There is a waterfall which is superb for playing around. My kids and their friends love making a dam and then body boarding down on the river when it bursts its banks. There are also loads of rock pools to explore at low tide.
Getting To Porthmeor Beach
It is easy to walk to Porthmeor Beach from the harbour (5 mins flat walk, although a wee bit cobbly!).
There is no bus access directly from the town centre.
There is a bus during the holiday season from The Rugby Club. This goes down Alexandra Road, down through Ayr (past Ayr Caravan Park) and down Porthmeor Hill. There is also one that runs from the large, Trenwith car park up by the leisure centre.
You can drive to Porthmeor Beach from the town center through the VERY NARROW streets of St Ives. We DON’T recommend this, only do it if absolutely neccessary! During the Summer it will frustrate the pants of you as people walk in front of cars and everyone is on dawdle mode.
You can drive to Porthmeor Beach from the back of town (Ayr side), down Porthmeor Hill. There is a drop off point at the bottom by the Tate St Ives and there is a very small carpark. This is good if you need to drop off the family and beach stuff. You may find you need to park the car elsewhere though, as the car park gets full very quickly and it is only a short stay one. I always suggest the rugby club car park.
Please do be aware that you cannot drive into town FROM Porthmeor Beach. There is a one way street as the road is really narrow.
Access Down To Porthmeor Beach
There are 3 main access points down onto Porthmeor Beach. Most people use the steep slope, or steps which are both in front of The Tate in the centre of the beach. On the West side by the car park there are lots of steps down. There is also access over by The Island. You can get from The Island car park onto the beach down some steps, or if you go along Porthmeor Road you will get to a much flatter slipway by Lower Saltings.
Facilities On Porthmeor Beach
There are public toilets open to all underneath the cafe. There are also toilets in the car park. If you are over by The Island side, it may be quicker to walk up the steps onto The Island and use the loos in that car park.
There is a VERY SMALL car park at the bottom of Porthmeor Hill. This is a short stay council car park which is usually pretty full. There is a bigger car park at the top of Porthmeor Hill, overlooking Porthmeor Beach called Barnoon Car Park.
Bus Service. During the holiday season there is a bus from the layby (by the benches). This goes up to the rugby club car park, or up to the big Trenwith car park by the leisure centre.
Food & Drink
There is a cafe/restaurant in front of the Tate St Ives called Porthmeor Cafe. Porthmeor Cafe also have a takeaway cafe below the restaurant, at beach level. On the wooden beach veranda there is an Ice cream shop, smoothie bar and beach shop. At the West Beach (opposite side to the Island) there is the West Beach Bakery. This sells amazing baked goods and is a fab restaurant and takeaway. Their breakfasts in the Summer are a real treat! Please do note that all of these places close over the Winter season. During the Summer The Fish Shed is open. I've not tried this one yet but I've heard great things about it!
Surf equipment hire and surf school (lessons) from St Ives Surf School. The beach is usually good for surfing and body boarding, although during the Summer it is often calm enough to SUP and kayak too.
Lifeguards are on Porthmeor Beach from 1st April to 29th October 2023
Dogs allowed out of season. The rules seem to change year on year, but this Summer (2023) dogs are not allowed on Porthmeor Beach between 15th May to 30th September between the hours of 10am and 6pm. This means you can take your dogs for morning and evening walks all year round. Just please pick up your poo and bin it!