Porthcurno - where the internet surfs


There are three beaches at Porthcurno

The main Porthcurno beach is a large family beach with seasonal lifeguard cover, an easy 200m walk from a bus stop, cafe, toilets, pub, telecoms museum, car park, and the scenic coastal footpath.You can simply walk from the bus stop and carpark to the lifeguard hut directly above this sandy beach without climbing, though this short and fairly level path direct from the carpark is somewhat rough surfaced. From the RNLI lifeguard hut the final short bit down to the beach is currently a steep section on sand or steps that could be challenging coming back up for someone who is not fit or mobile, especially if the normal access by steps is closed when there is less sand on the beach. This steep sandy path does have a robust rope handrail fitted by the National Trust, who own the beach. The convenient concrete steps to the beach have at times been chained off due to a large drop forming below the lowest step where sand has receded. When sufficient sand returns to the beach to make the lowest step safe, the chain may be removed: this is up to nature and tides. In 2021 there is plenty of sand and the steps are open.

From this beach the Minack Theatre is also directly accessible via a very steep but scenic coastal footpath up the cliff, starting from some concrete steps by the waterline with no handrail. As the beach faces southeast it is not often a surfing beach, and under some weather conditions the RNLI lifeguards put up flags limiting access to the sea. The tourist season is from May to September approximately and during the summer season Porthcurno beach has lifeguards, but dogs are not allowed from 8am to 7pm from 1 May to 30 September. Full info on lifeguards on this beach is available on the RNLI website. The beach is owned by the National Trust, having been donated to them by the previous owner, the Cable and Wireless company. A small stream runs down one side of the beach, providing great amusement to children, and two concrete fortifications from the Second World War still exist above the beach, as well as a closed up mini house built into the cliffside by Minack theatre founder Rowena Cade.

Although these toilets are not charging in 2021, please note that you may now have to pay 20p for each use of the public toilet above Porthcurno beach in the public carpark, so if so you would need to bring a supply of 20p coins for a family day out on the beach. There is also virtually no mobile phone signal on the beach or in the steep-sided Porthcurno valley, except possibly for Vodafone in the carpark and museum area.

Nearby to the west is smaller Porthchapel beach, accessible by a steep climb, which can be reached from the coast path or from the footpath from St Levan church. This beach has no lifeguards. Porthchapel beach has a seasonal dog ban from 8am to 7pm daily, but only below the high water mark on the beach, as stated in the official Cornwall Visitor Guide for Dog Owners.

For more info on dogs on beaches please see Visit Cornwall, who previously offered a downloadable leaflet with map and chart.

To the east is the spacious naturist beach at Pedn Vounder

reached by a very steep climb down from the coastal footpath near Treen. Pedn Vounder nude beach is sheltered and barely visible from the coast path, but can be cut off by the high tide and may require wading through waves to enter or leave. In years with plentiful sand you can even walk all around the bay on the sand, but you need to be careful to come back in time so as not to get stuck in a cove waiting for the tide to go out. Proper walking shoes or boots are needed to climb down the last sheer rockface to reach the beach, and it is not easy to carry any equipment down or up and anything carried can get wet in the surf at the base of the path as the tide comes in. Rip tides occur on this beach and have caused fatalities as recently as 2020.