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A Guide to St Ives - Gateway to Beaches and Art

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Known as the jewel in Cornwall’s crown, St Ives is a seaside town with golden beaches fringed with azure waters, in the south west of England. Its name is said to have originated from the Irish missionary St la, who according to legend, drifted to Cornwall from Ireland on a leaf. Rich in seafaring history, mining heritage, and modernist art, this small resort oozes charm and is a family favorite.

4 soft sand beaches


This north-facing bay is home to 4 beautiful golden-sand beaches and sheltered coves that are fringed with crystal-clear cobalt waters. The foreshore at the harbor and Smeaton’s Pier attracts families, fishermen, and artists. Porthminster, Porthmeor, and Porthgwidden are picture-postcard beaches with cafés, restaurants, toilets, and water sports like surfing and kayaking. You can lick Cornish ice creams on the beach while building sandcastles with little ones, take a dip in the calm sea, or unwind with a glass of wine on the terrace of Porthgwidden Café and watch the sun go down.


  • Porthmeor Beach, St. Ives TR26 1JZ; Website: Porthmeor Beach

  • Porthgwidden Beach Café, Porthgwidden Beach, The Island, St Ives TR26 1PL; Tel: +44 1736 796 791; Website: Porthgwidden Beach Café

Harbor and Smeaton’s Pier


The harbor has been the beating heart of St Ives for centuries, and it’s still a working port today with fishing vessels and leisure boat trips. Dating back to medieval times, the harbor was used to land mackerel and pilchards, and Smeaton’s Pier opened in 1770. When the fishing trade declined in the 20th century, tourism took its place and the harbor became the inspiration for artists who visited St Ives. Today, the harbor is bustling with cafés, bars, shops, and seafood restaurants, like The Rum & Crab Shack, where you can order the catch of the day.


  • The Rum & Crab Shack, Wharf Road, St Ives TR26 1LG; Tel: +44 1736 796 353; Website: The Rum & Crab Shack


Bay boat trips


Taking a boat trip around the bay is a great way to explore St Ives' jagged and steep granite cliffs. Self-hire boats are perfect for picnics with friends, and leisure cruises take families on dolphin watching day trips. Seal Island is a craggy outcrop where Grey Seals sunbathe on the rocks, and there are fishing trips if you’re looking to catch fresh mackerel for your dinner. Rib rides speed along the coastline and provide a thrilling experience, or you can hire kayaks and take in the views at your own pace.


  • St Ives Boat Rides, Slipway next to Sloop Inn, The Wharf, St Ives TR26 1LP; Tel: +44 7824 633 447; Website: St Ives Boat Rides


Vibrant art scene


St Ives' natural light and sea views have inspired many famous artworks over the decades, and British artist Barbara Hepworth worked and lived in the town. Its vibrant arts scene includes music and literary festivals, food and drink events, and harbor fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Try a pint of Boilers or Korev Cornish ale in The Sloop Inn on The Wharf, or enjoy cocktails and sea views at a beach restaurant. Don’t miss the Hurling the Silver Ball on Feast Day in February, a traditional rugby-style event that dates back over 1,000 years.