Perranporth is a quintessential beach town which has managed to retain its laid back charm, despite the huge volume of visitors it receives. It’s like the land that time forgot, and a million miles away in terms of vibe to the commercial hub of Newquay which is just 15 minutes away. It has a quaint range of shops and restaurants on the high street, picture perfect sand dunes, a sea pool, and a breathtaking sunset; it’s worth visiting Perranporth for sundowners alone.
Perranporth hosts a range of live music events during the summer season, with plenty of stand alone gigs and the popular Tunes In The Dunes multi day festival.
There is a large pay and display car park in front of the beach at Perranporth (which allows level beach access), and there is also a smaller car park up on the cliff top above Droskyn.
Mon – Sun 08:00 – 00:00
1 Hour – £1.00
2 Hours – £2.50
4 Hours – £5.00
6 Hours – £7.00
8 Hours – £10.00
24 Hours – £15.00
You can access Perranporth via a flat pavement which takes you down to the edge of the sand. You cross a small bridge and then you’re on the sand and free to explore.
At high tide Perranporth is its own distinct beach, but as the tide drops out it connects with Perran Sands and Ligger Bay and creates a huge expanse of sand which is 3 miles long. If you’re timing your visit for low tide and want to visit Perran sands or Penhale, rather than Perranporth itself, then the beach can be accessed from Perran Sands holiday park with a walk across the sand dunes.
You can access the beach from Droskyn corner, it’s a precarious trip down steps,
There are public toilets in the main beach car park, and up on the cliff at the Droskyn car park.
Lifeguard Patrols 2023 (Check with RNLI for latest schedules):
Daily 01 April-29 October
Patrol times 10am-6pm
Stay within the black and white flags if you are surfing
Stay within the red and yellow flags if you are swimming or bodyboarding
If you are visiting the beach outside of lifeguarded hours then read the local signs and exercise caution in the water. If you find yourself in trouble in the water, stay calm and float to survive.
Dogs are welcome on Perranporth beach year round, but must be kept on leads during July and August 9am-5pm. Check signs at the beach for updated dates/times.
The left hand side of Perranporth (as you look out to sea) is known as Droskyn, and the best waves here are between low tide and mid tide when they create really lovely left hand wedging waves.
At the opposite end of this 3 mile stretch of sand is Penhale, and its best known wave is Penhale corner. Waves bounce off the headland and create wedging right handers which will attract the best surfers in Cornwall. It’s a full leg burner to surf there as you have to run down the sand dunes, surf and then climb back up the sand dunes to finish, so keep some energy in the tank for the hike.
In the middle of the beach is Flag rock, as the tide comes up and surrounds it you get nice rebounding waves (mid/high tide).
Perranporth has the most reliable swell of anywhere on the north coast of Cornwall. So if you’re visiting and unlucky enough to find conditions pretty flat elsewhere, then as the tide starts to rise off low tide at Perranporth you can pretty much guarantee there will be a rideable wave. There is a pretty good webcam you can check.
Perranporth is also one of the most challenging beaches to lifeguard due to its strong currents. All the water that is being pushed into the beach has to escape back out, which it does by finding the path of least resistance. This is known as a rip current; there are frequent incidents at Perranporth beach so have your wits about you.
There are many options along the main high street, but a visit to Perranporth wouldn’t be complete without a stop in at the famous Watering Hole, a vibrant and fun public house right on the sand. Picnic benches with rustic umbrellas give caribbean style vibes, and the view from your table is of uninterrupted sun, sea and sand.
Perranporth has a rich heritage; legend has it that St Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall, was cast out of Ireland by being thrown into the ocean tied to a millstone. He was washed up on Perranporth beach where he built a Christian oratory in the sand dunes for his disciples, who were a badger, a fox and a bear! Don’t roll your eyes – this is a true story – the ruins of this oratory, or the ‘lost church’ as it has become known, date from around the 6th century and can still be found in the sand dunes and visited to this day.
St Piran is also credited with discovering tin, which went on to become the main industry in Cornwall for centuries. St Piran’s Day is celebrated on 5th March when people make a pilgrimage to Perranporth, to the home of St Piran and the origin of tin mining.
Perranporth is known for consistent waves and attracts surfers year round, but not many of them know that the UK’s first surfboards were made here. After World War 1, returning soldiers told epic tales of South African surfers they’d served alongside. Tom Tremewan, Perranporth’s local undertaker was inspired, and set to designing and shaping the UK’s first surfboards, naturally they were made out of coffin lids!
As you cross the bridge to the beach at Perranporth look out for Alcatraz, its a shop, which used to be a surf school, and before that was a military Pillbox. The term pillbox was used by the British soldiers because the reinforced concrete construction was the same shape as the boxes in which chemists supplied tablets during the war.