These are some of our current favourite places - the links give further information.
Our favourite Beaches (but note that there are many, many others that you might prefer):
Porthgwarra - very steep descent on foot down to small sandy and rocky beach with caves at the head of a little cove on the south coast. Generally quiet and sheltered except from the south. Water can be full of seaweed at times, and there is often a seal in the bay. Good for small children as it is quite compact and shallow. Small café and lots of car parking at the top. Located W of Porthcurno.
Lamorna - small harbour on the south coast with rocks for sitting and watching the world. Swimming from the rocks or slipway. café and shop and car parking. Good place for a walk E to Mousehole or W towards . The Lamorna valley is famous for its artistic connections. Good place to launch kayaks, and popular with Scuba divers.
Mousehole - Village and harbour are worth a couple of hours wandering about if you like the smell of the sea and watching boats. Good for an evening visit and fish and chips on the harbour wall. Keep an eye open for Mousehole events as the locals hold some fantastic happenings - their Christmas lights are world famous.
Prussia Cove - Worth the long walk from the small, free car park to several rocky coves and a very long sandy beach (Kennegy Sands) reached by a bit of a scramble down the cliff path. A classic gently shelving sandy beach, ideal for beach games often with gentle surf. The access prevents it becoming crowded, so it often seems almost deserted. Be careful you don't get cut off by the tide as it will mean a very steep climb up the escape path. There are no facilities here.
Chapel Porth - National Trust beach on the North coast near St. Agnes.Good for sandcastles, swimming and for low key surfboarding and bodyboarding. Rocks with exciting caves exposed near low water. Has a very good café and lifeguards and marker flags. Can get crowded near high tide as the beach disappears.
Loe Beach - Unprepossessing stony beach at the head of Carrick Roads by Feock that serves as a boating centre. Extensively used by local people who enjoy the handy moorings and often come down after work for a barbeque. The Loe Beach Watersports Centre offers sailing lessons and courses for adults and children and also hires canoes, windsurfers and dinghies for sailing on the extensive sheltered waters. We have spent a lot of time there over the years as we used to keep our boat on a mooring off the beach while we were in Cornwall, and love its rough charm. This is an ultimate small boat sailing area. There is a pleasant café and a car park that fills up in good weather. Its disadvantage is that it is about 40 minutes drive from the cottage. TR3 6SH (Watersports Centre Tel: 01872 864 295, café 01872 864 433. Loe Beach Map
Marazion - A pleasant village with a long sandy beach on the mainland opposite St Michael's Mount. Very shallow water good for small children. It is on our regular visit schedule, and home to a number of art galleries. Our favourite is The Avalon Gallery run by Sally, a good friend to many Cornish artists, which has, over the years, tempted us to spend immoderately! Alas, the prices are now mostly out of our reach, and we are left wishing we had bought more. Still, we treasure a Fred Yates oil of St Michael's Mount that we bought before he hit the big time, a couple of Dot Searle oils and a fun Hazel Brown (see also the Hazel Brown in the cottage, above the fireplace).
St Ives - A lovely little town with several popular sandy beaches (Porthmeor is good for surfing) and charming narrow streets with lots of fascinating shops and literally dozens of restaurants. Famous for its wonderful light, an inspiration to artists. Gets rather crowded in the summer. The Tate Gallery is great and has a good restaurant on the top floor, with fantastic sea views. Barbara Hepworth Museum, Leach Pottery. Parking VERY expensive so worth getting the train from Lelant Saltings – a treat in itself as it trundles along the cliffs.
Godrevy - Headland on the far side of St Ives Bay. National Trust property with plenty of parking, a light house offshore (thought to be Virginia Woolf's inspiration), beaches with sand, pebbles, rocks and rock pools. Swimming offshore can be dangerous. Some very high cliffs to the East including the terrifying Hell's Mouth and a spectacular cove that is often home to a seal colony (hold tightly to small children).
Hayle and the Towans - Three miles of golden sand between Hayle estuary and Godrevy point. Lovely for walking, sandcastles, surfing and kitesurfing.
Sennen Cove - on north coast near Land's End. Big sandy beach. Cafes and a couple of nice galleries. Good cliff walks to Land's End. Great place to watch big waves in windy weather.
Cape Cornwall - on north coast near St Just. Lovely spot to watch the sun set.
These have varied as our children have grown up, but if you need a theme park Flambards takes some beating because of the range of attractions from old aircraft to fairground rides to the world's largest collection of wedding cakes! And that's without the amazing Victorian village reconstruction. The gardens of Cornwall - National Trust and private - are always a treat, and some of the historic houses have become favourites. Land's End is not particularly recommended!
Flambards - by Helston, see above. (TR13 0QA Tel: 01326 573404) Flambard's website
Trebah - in a valley running down to the Helford river - it's a favourite with us because we often go and anchor off the beach at the bottom of the garden. (TR11 5JZ Tel : 01326 252200) Trebah website
Jeepers Creepers - Go Karting off the Causeway at Hayle usually gets a visit for the kids to have a few races. Young children can ride as passengers, which is exciting for them. You need to be 3'6” tall to go solo.
The Eden Project -An excellent day out (it is best to go on a sunny day - it gets packed when it is raining!)(PL24 2SG Tel:01726 811911) The Eden Project website
Paradise Park - Hayle. Bird and that is not as naff as its name suggests, and is very close to the cottage. Sound breeding program and decent standards! Good for children. Paradise Park website
The Minack Theatre - Spectacular and well loved open-air theatre built into the cliffs with a superb backdrop of the sea at Porthcurno. Very popular and usually booked up months ahead, so check and book online before you go. Can be a bit bracing in bad weather so take lots of warm clothes! Essential annual pilgrimage for us. (TR19 6JU Tel:01736 810181 ) Minack website
Geevor Tin Mine (near St Just) - fascinating for older children and teenagers. Also the National Trust mine and beam engines nearby.
St Michael's Mount - a great favourite - cross the causeway at low tide or go in a small boat at high tide, then walk up the steep island to the castle at the top.
Godolphin House - beautiful old Cornish House between Helston and Hayle recently acquired by the National Trust
Chysauster and Carn Euny. Ancient settlements with interesting interlocked houses - enjoyed by children for running around - and lovely views.
The coastal path goes all the way round West Penwith and keen walkers will know of the miles and miles of spectacular walks in the area, but for the less energetic here are a couple of short stretches that we do quite often.
Zennor - West from Zennor to Gurnard's Head and back via the lanes makes a good short walk, or climb down the gully just after Zennor and you get down to some massive rocks on the beach after an exciting climb around the stream. We have picked delicious mussels off the rocks here and take them back to the cottage for dinner, but I expect it is now illegal or dangerous or both! Or reverse the walk and get back to the Gurnard's Head restaurant in time for a well earned meal.
Lamorna - >Another short walk that is popular is West from Lamorna towards Mousehole, and back or get someone to pick you up as the road is not a very safe for walking.
Trencrom Hill - no visit to the cottage is complete without a walk up Trencrom (a short walk from the cottage or you can park at the bottom). For a short sharp climb it rewards with the most fantastic panoramic view of both coasts. Good for kite flying and hide-and-seek. You can see how the giant on Trencrom was able to throw rocks at the one on St Micheal's Mount (and even some of the rocks they threw).
Restaurants in Cornwall, as in any predominantly tourist area, tend to vary from year to year as the staff are usually employed seasonally. In the main holiday season it is advisable to book by early afternoon, or at least phone ahead to confirm that there is room. We usually stick to a few places either near the cottage or near the boat (but hopefully you will be more adventurous – and add your recommendations to the log book!).
Beck's Fish Bar - Carbis (very close to the cottage via the back lanes). This is the standby when we haven't booked and haven't bought any food. Take the excellent fish and chips down to the beach at Carbis Bay and enjoy watching the gigs launching and recovering through the surf for rowing practice!
Mousehole Fish and Chip Shop - Another standby, with the harbour or the rocks to the East to sit and eat and admire the view.
The fish and chips in Newlyn are also exceptional, with interesting fish such as John Dory.
Scarlets café and shop on the roundabout at Lelant Saltings. Good stock of interesting wines and speciality foods, and a very nice coffee shop café-restaurant with WiFi. Lovely bread. Excellent evening meals. Wood burner. Highly recommended.
Gurnard's Head - Out in the wilds by Zennor on the North coast, this restaurant and hotel must now rate as one of the best in south Cornwall. The menu is always exciting and it seems to get better each time we go. It is moderately expensive but very good value at around £30 - £40 p.p. (TR26 3DE 01736 796 928 ) Gurnard's Head Map - Gurnard's Head review - Gurnard's Head website
There is a sister restaurant in Mousehole which we haven't yet tried.
Ben's Cornish Kitchen in Marazion - sounds like a cream tea shop but actually an upmarket restaurant.
Godolphin Arms Hotel in Marazion - delicious lunches with a great view of the Mount and the beach.
General - Hayle has most small shops, a new ASDA, a SPAR and a COOP supermarket (the ASDA allows 3 hour parking but beware – it photos your car and you will be issued a fine if you stay longer!). There is an M&S food shop on the Hayle bypass. Penzance has a Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrison, all on the coast road A30 coming into Penzance. Penzance and St Ives have a wider range of quite individual shops selling clothes, crafts etc. If you want a wide range of standard city shops then Truro is about 40 minutes away.
Meat - Hayle has a good traditional butcher - Hampsons, who also makes our current favourite pasties (if you visit in the morning you may be able to watch them making pasties). They also sell cheese, pies etc. Behind the car park opposite the White Hart.
Pasties -A staple part of the Cornish diet and of ours when on holiday there (see 'top tips' for advice about eating them!). A wide choice of suppliers in Hayle to suit all tastes. Philps and Warrens are the big producers and both are good. We tend to go for those the Hayle butcher makes (see above).
Vegetables - There is a greengrocer in Hayle but see also Farm Shops below!
Bread - standard bread from Warrens in Hayle, or the supermarket. Some organic bread available from the café along the promenade in Hayle, but it sells out quickly. There is also a keen bread maker who supplies the café at Logan Rock, or try farm shops. Last year we discovered Vicky's bread - it really got the seal of approval, especially the sourdough. You can buy it in Scarlets in Lelant by the roundabout as you go to Hayle, or in the farm shop E of Marazion - see below.
Organic Meat - There are a number of organic meat producers that advertise, and IF you can find one that is open you should count yourself lucky ! Our resolutions to try them are usually thwarted by closed farm gates.
Fish - Its perhaps not as easy to get good fish as it ought to be when so closely surrounded by sea! The best place is Newlyn, just west of . There are two wet fish shops linked to the wholesale fish trade just down the road from the biggest wholesale fish market in and opposite the new marina style moorings in the old harbour. You can get anything local on the day its landed, and you'll find many local fish that don't appear among the tired fish in you home supermarket!
New farm shops appear every year and their produce is usually of outstanding quality.
Farm shop at the fishing lake behind Trencrom - For vegetables, eggs and many other items, about a mile from the cottage through the lanes.
On the B3311 between Nancledra and Penzance. Rapidly becoming a favourite. Fresh home grown veg, home produced meat, fantastic home baking - here you can buy Vicky's bread.
East of Marazion on the A394 near Goldsithney. Varied and interesting organic produce - fruit, veg, salad and groceries.
Roadside stalls - Keep an eye open for stalls selling fruit and vegetables, and sometimes mackerel. In it is almost all home grown produce. The are several major strawberry growers locally, so it pays to keep a carton of cream in the fridge in the season!
Tesco: Penzance and St Ives/Carbis Bay - he nearest big supermarkets - Penzance is 24 hour but has a slightly downmarket air - The St Ives branch is a bit nearer to the cottage and slightly smaller.
M&S food - Hayle bypass
Sainsbury - on the way in to Penzance from the A30.
Morrisons - Penzance
Asda - Hayle (beware of overstaying the 3 hour parking!)
We hope you find this useful - let us know if you hit on anything special and we'll include it next year - click here to email us.