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Escape to St Ives

With our motorhome
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A destination for surfers, creatives and those who love to eat, this harbour town is among the most famous pockets along Cornwall’s rugged coast.

St Ives is one of Cornwall’s top visitor destinations, boasting stunning golden beaches and idyllic vistas, a lively restaurant and bar scene, and picturesque winding streets which ooze Instagram appeal.

If Cornwall is the crown jewels of England’s coastline, then St Ives is the sapphire that glistens the brightest. Gaggles of fishermen’s cottages interspersed with small galleries and restaurants serving sparklingly fresh seafood give way to flaxen sands and azure bays. Between licks of rich Cornish ice cream and hours surfing the waves (or at the very least basking beside them), you’ll soon realise why the town’s population can treble in the summertime, as holidaymakers flock to this rugged stretch of shoreline. Indeed, you’ll need to plan your visit in spring or autumn if you don’t want to be knocking elbows.

Lying just north of Penzance on the Celtic Sea, St Ives is so beautiful, you’ll never want to leave. Its slate roofs, colourful beach huts, golden sand, and turquoise waters make it a go-to Cornish destination reminiscent of an Amalfi coast village. Despite its small size, there are a slew of stellar attractions and fun things to do in St Ives.

This appealing seaside resort was deemed the “Best Seaside Town” by the British Travel Awards in both 2010 and 2011. As a result of its magnificent beauty and a long list of attractions, St Ives has become a real estate hot spot.

Things to do in St Ives

Take the Kids Swimming at Porthgwidden Beach

Colorful huts line Porthgwidden beach, adding to its supreme holiday vibe. The crystal-clear water and super fine sand help add to its seaside charm. Due to its beauty and calm nature, Porthgwidden beach is one of the best attractions in St. Ives.

A family-friendly gem, this beach boasts smaller waves, as it’s more sheltered than some of the other, larger strands in the area. On a windy day, though, you’ll still feel the breeze.

Porthgwidden is located close to the St Ives Harbour, with many cute shops and restaurants an easy walk away. There are plenty of concessions to choose from, so you won’t need to worry about where to buy all those things you forgot (like sunblock and a hat). We suggest renting a deck chair while you’re here. They always make a beach visit more enjoyable.

Surfs up Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor was given a 2019 Blue Flag Award for its impeccable water quality, safety, and devotion to environmental management and education. It’s one of only seven beaches in Cornwall to receive the prestigious title.

This small, sandy beauty is definitely worth a stop. A mere half-mile in length, Porthmeor is one of the most popular beaches in St Ives. In addition to the soft, firm sand and rolling waves that make every beach worth visiting, Porthmeor features a bevy of tasty cafés and restaurants nearby.

Grab some takeout food for a picnic and hunker down to watch surfers frolic in the waves. When you’ve had enough sun, head into town for some retail therapy or treat your inner artist to a visit to the Tate St Ives, which backs the beach.

The St Ives Shopping St Ives

Experience the perfect retail therapy in St Ives: from independent art galleries, bookstores, craft shops and fashion boutiques, home furnishing retail stores and outdoor camping shops to bespoke gift shops and Cornish produce outlets. Take your pick from the many surf shops selling boards, equipment and surfer fashion. Discover hidden gem galleries and artist studios where you can find paintings, jewellery and ceramics. Wander to the outdoor craft market to buy a one-off, reasonably priced piece made by a local artist in residence or craftsman. Find the ideal gift to take back home as a memento of your stay, or a gift for a loved one–St Ives has something for everyone.

Hop on board a sight seeing boat to Seal Island

Taking a boat trip to nearby Seal Island is one of the top things to do in St Ives. Also known as the Western Carracks (Cornish for “rocks”), Seal Island is the largest of a few rugged isles located just three and a half miles west of St Ives.

In addition to viewing the island’s rocky shores, boat cruise visitors are almost guaranteed to spot one of the Grey Atlantic seals that call this area home. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a basking shark, and see dolphins jumping nearby.

Multiple companies offer cruises to Seal Island, so you’ll have your pick of providers. Many of the tours include a trip around the Godrevy Lighthouse (as long as the weather cooperates), and some allow fishing as well.