Right down on the far South-Western tip of the UK, St Ives seems to live in a beautiful world of its own – a pretty, historic coastal town with beautiful beaches, enviable climate, and lots to do.
The experts, and the people, agree on that. St Ives has collected a slew of awards: The Guardian, Trip Advisor and the British Tourism Awards have all singled out the sea-side charms of the town.
There are still plenty of good reasons to go west this summer. Here are five of them:
Cornwall’s all about the coast, and St Ives has four cracking beaches around the town. Porthmeor has a Blue Flag and a surfing school with lifeguards on duty in the summer. Harbour Beach is a sheltered sun-trap with beautiful views of the working harbour. Porthgwidden is small and private, perfect for disappearing for the day. And Porthminster’s a good place to start cliff walks or enjoy some good seafront facilities.
Artists have been coming to St Ives since the early 19th century, when JMW Turner set up his easel to capture the beautiful seascapes. Today, the town’s something of an artistic honeypot. The Tate St Ives is closed until 2017, but the Barbara Hepworth Museum they run is still open. There are lots of smaller galleries and pottery studios to explore, and if you want to brush up your own painting skills there are courses aplenty in and around the town.
St Ives sits pretty on the South West Coastal Path, England’s longest way-marked trail. It’s well worth packing up the beach towel for the day and heading off with a picnic along this route. There are good, short local walks to Zennor or Lelant that can easily be done in a day. Buses or taxis will get you home if you run out of puff on the outward journey.
There are lots of gentle fun-and-games attractions in St Ives. And a little further afield you’ll find some bigger family parks, like Flambards, at Helston, where there’s an historic Victorian village and a collection of thrill rides. Paradise Park, just up the coast, is a popular wildlife attraction, and you’ll find a zoo and aquarium at Newquay.
You don’t just have to sit and look at the sea in Cornwall. The sometimes wild Atlantic winds have made the county a world-class surfing destination. And even if the surf isn’t up there are plenty of ways to splash into the sea and enjoy some watery fun. There is stand-up paddle boarding, a big water sports school in Carbis Bay, and a surfing school in St Ives itself, with coasteering along the coast. If all this is getting you exhausted, there are gentler, drier diversions to be found on a number of good local golf courses.
Cornwall’s classic park home and caravan holiday country. Choosing a static caravan or park home takes the strain of driving down Cornwall’s twisting lanes with a big ‘van on the back out of the equation. There are parks across the county, and close to St Ives you’ll find Hayle – Riviere Sands Holiday Park, and River Valley Country Park near Penzance.