West Country beach holidays

Discover the pleasures of the English Riviera

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Ronnie McCluskey

Ronnie McCluskey
HomeAway travel expert


West country beachThe tide gently lapping at your toes; a paperback in one hand and an ice-cold beverage in the other; the sun, blistering and bright, working its magic on your tan. Well, perhaps you can discount that last part – nonetheless, the usual conventions of a beach holiday can easily be enjoyed without leaving the British Isles. The West Country is a perfect example of this, combining a distinctly English charm with seaside sensibilities and some truly spectacular scenery. With a spot of luck, the temperatures of Spain and France may even venture north for the duration of your stay, contributing towards a truly unforgettable holiday experience. 

The West Country has no true parameters as an unofficial region. The consensus, though, suggests that anywhere along the southwest coast – Gloucester to Torquay, stretching along the peninsula to Land’s End – falls within this category. The locals will certainly proudly boast of that distinction, and after a visit, it’s clear to see why. 


 

Top five West Country beach holiday destinations


   

Beach holidays in Torquay Beach holidays in Torquay

Don’t let Basil Fawlty put you off visiting Torquay. The barmy hotel owner was in a state of exasperation – but perhaps if he'd taken a break from berating guests and strolled along one of his hometown’s beautiful beaches, he’d have felt more at ease. Meadfoot beach is among the finer choices, the craggy terrain affording the perfect opportunity to explore the rock pools for signs of life. Keep a keen eye on the water too: it’s not uncommon for dolphins to be glimpsed just off the shore. 

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Beach holidays in Penzance Beach holidays in Penzance

Reaching far into the English Channel at almost the tip of the country lies the town of Penzance, famed for more than the fictional pirates that loom large in the opera for which it provides the setting. Promenade beach and Battery Rocks beach are both superb options for their landscapes and seaside sensibilities; but unfortunately the very existence of both is at the mercy of the tide on a day-to-day basis. For peace and quiet, not to mention a safe swimming area, Eastern Green is a pretty safe bet.

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Beach holidays in St Ives Beach holidays in St Ives

It’s consistently voted as Britain’s best seaside town, and to spend one day on the beaches around St Ives is to fully appreciate why. Porthmeor is the largest and most popular with families and surfers alike, offering fantastic views as well as challenging waves for those occupying a board. After dipping your toes, duck into famous Porthmeor Café for a cold jug of Pimm’s or a slice of cake. Sheltered by the fully functional harbour walls, Harbour Beach is another terrific place in town to whittle away a few hours.

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Beach holidays in Hayle Beach holidays in Hayle

Just across the bay from St Ives lies the somewhat lesser-known Cornish port of Hayle. It’s a small wonder why the beaches of this sleepy town haven’t yet managed to challenge for their neighbour’s crown; but with a three-mile stretch of delightful golden sands to explore, you’ll be glad it’s not teeming with tourists. The area is popular with bird watchers keen to catch a glimpse of the lesser-sighted osprey and avocet, but the likes of sprawling Towans Beach is another fine venue for surfings and even kite buggying.  

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Beach holidays in Weston-super-Mare Beach holidays in Weston-super-Mare

Nestled on the coastline just a short distance from the urban hub of Bristol, you can find what some lovingly refer to as the Blackpool of the South. In fairness, the comparisons are fairly evident. The beach is one of the longest in the UK and an undeniably pleasant experience all round; especially if you take the time to explore the wonders of the Grand Pier and the family-orientated SeaQuarium. Don’t forget to purchase a “kiss me quick” souvenir hat before you leave. 

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West Country Holiday Rentals

The Queach Z45, traditional, stone and slate cottage with stunning sea views

150 yards up from Mousehole’s bustling little centre of shops, pubs, cafés and pretty harbour is The Queach, a very traditional, stone and slate cottage with stunning right-out-to-sea views. A few granite steps and a pretty bit of front garden rai...

Clovelly Cottage Z47, granite cottage with fine long views out to sea

A mile inland from Mousehole by hedgerow lane is the hamlet of Sheffield (cluster of sturdy granite cottages surrounded by farmland), perched high looking seaward. Recently discovered artefacts reveal this area has been inhabited since Mesolithic ...

The Old Watch Tower Z44, comfortable detached house with spectacular views

100 yards from Pendeen lighthouse, with spectacular views down the coast and right out to sea, The Old Watch Tower has been restored, spruced up and made into a comfortable detached house with a difference. Its sturdy frame has been a landmark sin...

Venwyn Manor Z442, single-storey, stone-built cottage, well-decorated

1½ miles inland from both Carbis Bay and St Ives but peacefully in farmland, a single-storey, stone-built cottage, semi-detached from the owners’ house. Plenty of space outside; own patio and garden area looking on large courtyard with fishpond an...

Lamorna Studio Z432, ground-floor apartment, brilliant for a car-less holiday

In the historic heart of St Ives, a short walk from Porthgwidden and Porthmeor beaches and from the harbour, a ground-floor apartment for two, once the pilchard cellar of an early 19th cent. fisherman’s house. Neatly renovated; small, but an excel...
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